||FortHeight : 2100|
|Type : Hill forts
||Fort Range : Balaghat|
|District : Latur
||Grade : Easy|
| Udgir city in Latur district inherits a very ancient history. Udgir, located in Balaghat mountain range, was called “Udaygiri” in the ancient times. One can find it mentioned as “Udakgiri” at many places. Lendi river has its origin in this mountain range, this might be the reason that this region got its name from. The city is even mentioned in Puranas; which links a historical and spiritual importance to it. The famous battle of Udgir; fought and won by Sadashivbhau Peshave against Nizam; has made this fort familiar to the common man. Udgir fort is a land fort. The fort was in the possession of Nizam of Hyderabad; till the accession of princely state of Hyderabad into the Union of India after independence. For this reason, most of the remains of the forts are intact even today.
| Though one can find mentions of Udgir fort from 11th century stone inscriptions; we can go far back in time to find its mentions in Purana scriptures. Story from ancient text of “Karabasaveshvar” tells about worship done by Udling sage to please Lord Shiva. Pleased with his worship; Shiva offered to reside there in the form of LINGA. As promised, gradually, a Linga slowly rose from the ground. As the years passed, the spot grew to become a city named Udgir; after the name of sage - Udling. When you visit the fort, you can still see the “Udling Maharaj Monestry” and “Shivaling” inside the fort.
Pratishthan city (Paithan) was the capital of Satavahana Dynasty. All roads in the Satavahana Empire used to led to the Paithan city. Udgir; which was on one of such roads leading to the capital; hence got benefitted and flourished as a marketplace. In the years that followed, this region was under control of Chalukya dynasty, whose capital was Badami. This fort is believed to be built in the Chalukya era. This was followed by rules by other dynasties like Rashtrakuta, Chalukya(Kalyani), Yadavas of Devgiri over this region. Stone inscription; dating back to 1178 BC; by Yadava King ShinghanDev has a mention of Udgir city. The sixth Bhillam Yadav is mentioned as the ruler of Udgir.
After the collapse of Yadava Empire, in the Bahamani era; Udgir flourished as a trade centre. The 9th king of Bahamani dynasty, MohamadShah Bahamani shifted his capital from Gulburga to Bidar on 22nd September 1422. Importance of Udgir grew when Bidar was declared the capital. In the year 1422, MohamadShah Bahamani gifted the ownership of Udgir, Ausa and Kandhar forts to Quassim Barid.
In year 1526; Bahamani dyanasty split into five new dynasties. The governor of Ausa, Quassim Barid founded the Barid Dyanasty. Bidar was the capital of Barid Dyanasty and Ausa, Udgir and Kandhar were the important forts of this dynasty. In the following years, many battles against Adilshah dynasty were fought in the territory around these forts. On 28th September 1636; Mughal emperor Shahjahan won the Udgir fort.
After Barid dynasty era ended, the fort was under the control of Adilshah, then Mughals, followed by Maratha rule and finally it became part of Nizam’s empire. In the span of these 3 centuries, the lone significant battle at Udgir was fought between Marathas and Nizam of Hyderabad on 3rd February 1760. In this battle Sadashivrao Bhau Peshava led the Maratha army. The victory of Marathas led by Sadashivrao Bhau Peshava; over Nizam in this battle; made Sadashivrao Bhau Peshava; an obvious choice as a leader of Maratha army for the ensuing battle of Panipat. After the defeat of Marathas; in the battle of Panipat; Nizam took the opportunity to win back the Udgir fort. The fort remained in his possession till the accession of princely state of Hyderabad into the Union of India after independence.
|Fascinating Spots :|
| Cross Udgir village by a vehicle to reach directly to the fort. The fort and Udgir village being on the same ground level, the fort is called as “Bhuikot (Land fort)” but the fort is surrounded by deep valley on three sides; that has provided a natural protection to the fort from three sides. And the remaining fourth side; the one from the village side; is protected by a 40 feet deep and 20 feet wide trench; which has been neatly built on both edges. In earlier times; the trench used to be filled with water and the fort was only accessible by suspending, retractable bridge over the trench. The bridge used to get lifted after every sunset and in times of a war. Presently the trench from the village side is clogged and filled over with soil so that one can enter the fort directly. |
Walking towards the fort from the Chaubara chowk; a newly built, southbound entry doorway can be seen. Upon entering, on the right; the eastbound doorway of the main fortress of the original fort is seen. No visible fortification of this fortress can be seen now but one can still see some remains and relics of this fortress. Additionally, a massive, neatly built lake; can be located here. In the earlier times; the lake supplied water to the fort; through the pipes made up of mud and soil. To maintain the water level; small tower like structures were built in between; on the rock. Among them only one tower ( Uchchwas ) can be seen today.
Fort Udgir has a double fortification. The height of outer fortification is 70 feet and it has 12 bastions. It adorns 2 feet broad and 3 feet tall “Charyas” on the top edge – a repetitive pattern of petal shaped stone structures. The inner fortification is 100 feet tall and has 7 bastions. Jangyas - a small narrow window openings – are equally spaced on the Charyas, on the fortification and in the bastions, for the purpose of attacking the targeted enemy outside. After crossing the trench; an eastbound main doorway greets us. On both sides of the doorway; stands giant bastions. The last bastion on the right side has sculptures of Sharabh (mythological lion) and fighting elephants. Another elephant sculpture is located on the inner fortification wall of the “Andhari” bastion. On the left corner of the fort; is a grand octagonal (Eight sided) star-shaped bastion. This bastion also has sculptures of Sharabh and elephants fighting. The fort has four doors, one after other consequently. The first door is called as ironclad (Lohabandi) and is currently fitted with an iron door that is 14 feet tall and 7.5 feet wide. It also has six arches. Entering through this door; there is a narrow route to the left that goes between two fortifications and leads to the monastery of Udgir Maharaj. Proceed a little further from here and climb the fortification wall of the fortress; to visit the bastion; that has a 11 inches x 11 inches; Farasi scripture carved, but it is unreadable due to weathering. After descending down the bastion, on the way to the monastery of Udgir Maharaj; there is a grand squared shaped bastion on the left; known as the “Andhari” bastion or ”Telin” bastion. There is a folktale on how it got its name - Telin bastion. During its construction; all efforts made to endure it; failed as it used to collapse without getting completed. It stood strong when an oil woman (Telin) was buried alive there. Sacred red Lead powder or Shendur is smeared to mark the spot of the burial and people offer flowers at that spot. Similar legends can be heard on other forts like Naladurg, Purandar, etc. The bastion also has a sculpture carving showing the Sharabh (mythological lion) holding five elephants in its paws. Ahead of the Andhari bastion; after climbing down the stairs; on the left; there is an arch. Passing under this arch; well-structured staircases descend in 90 degrees underground to reach the small hidden escape doorway (Chor Daravaja) in the fortification above the trench. Presently there is a strong permanent bridge in front of this hidden doorway to pass the trench. There is a well ahead; to the left of the hidden doorway. The Udgir Maharaj monastery is a carved underground structure in monolith stone. It has a square shaped water tank. After viewing the monastery return to the second doorway.
The eastbound second doorway is 14 feet tall and 7.5 feet wide. The permit window (Parvana Khidaki) built in stone is the speciality of this second door. Beside the door; on the right side; there is finely carved ornamentally designed mesh window. On its right; there is a semi-circular hole; which is just wide enough to let a hand pass through it. In earlier times; it was used to inquire the travellers; verify their documents of business and only then the door used to be opened to let them through. After entering; there are porches on both sides and a small water basin that hold drinking water. The third doorway is also eastbound; while the fourth is southbound. In the inner side of this fourth doorway; wall on the left side houses a small ”Dindi” door and also a hidden underground turning path that goes inside. The small Dindi door was used when the main doorway was kept closed. Entering this doorway; on the right; there is the Archaeology department office and the storey above that has amazing decorative Terrace room; but to reach it; entry is from the left. After some stairs towards left; there is a Revenue Collector’s office building adorning five arches. On the wall; in front of the middle arch; there is an Farasi poetic inscription carved; written by Hisaam Ullah Khan. Climbing up from the Collector’s office; on the first floor; one can find a Farasi inscriptions carved on two plates; advocating philosophy of life. The meaning of this inscription in simple words is “Even if you have won thousand battles, and have made yourself famous in history, the death is inevitable”. Exiting this pavilion, turning right; one enters the second pavilion. In the middle of the second pavilion; there is an eye-shaped fountain and an intricately decorated terrace room in the wall. From the pavilion; there is an arched door to enter the terrace on the side. To the left of this door; there is a 7-line Farasi inscription of a verse carved; that means “In the era of Sarwar Ulk Malik Shahajahan; in the year of 1041 of Hijri calendar; Fateh Bastion was won (June 1636). At that time; king was served by Mughal Khan Zainkhan”. The borders on the four sides of this inscription are embroidered with design. But in reality; they are not design; but names of Allah carved from the Quran. On this doorway; there is an Arabic inscription but it is unreadable due to weathering. Passing through the door; upon entering the terrace; the wall on the right has square shaped hollow recesses that were used to keep pigeons or doves; hence it was known as the dovecote. Ahead of that; lies five arches and a Rang Mahal or a palace balanced on 15 pillars. There is a staircase to descend from the dovecote. After descending from these stairs; there is palace structure of three arches and six pillars. On the outer side of the middle arch; there is another Farasi inscription that reads “This is the Diwan- e- Aam (Hall of the Public Audience) and Khaas (Hall of the Private Audience) of Udgir ”. There is a fountain in front of the palace and the empty space in front of the palace; houses an octagonal (8 sided) well that has stairs to descend. In front of “Diwan – e – Aam” there is building with five arches.
To exit the “Diwan – e – Aam”; there is a doorway on the left. There is another building after the exit; that has a Farasi inscription carved on a plate 10 inches wide and 2 feet long that reads “in 1092 year of Hijari calendar; Saakta Mirkhan Hussain has built this building in the month of Muharram”. There are water basins on both the sides of the building; among them; one is petal shaped. There is a mosque and a water basin in front of this building (walking a little distance after entering from the fourth doorway; the mosque is on the left).
On the backside of the “Diwaan – e – Aam”; there is the Tehlani (Watch Tower) bastion that has 4 small towers and 2 storeys. From this bastion; all parts of the fort and much wider area outside the fort is visible. Standing on this bastion; if you look down towards right; the temple of Udgir Maharaj can be seen and it can be accessed by an underground hidden path underneath the Tehalni Bastion. Toilet structures can be observed in the fortification.
On the north end of the fort; there are two palaces. The first one is the Begum palace built for Sams Unnisa begum. One of the walls of the palace houses dovecote. A replica of this palace was placed just in the front but currently the replica is in the state of disrepair. Two water basins are placed in the middle of two palaces and there are four squared shaped, neatly built, fountain beds at four corners. The Khaas (private) palace is beside the Begum palace. It has 5 arches and is built on ten pillars. It also has a water basin and four fountains. Alongside these two palaces; is the granary. By going through the grain storage; the dancer’s palace behind the Khaas palace; can be visited; which also has a water basin and four fountains in the front.
Walking away from the dancer’s palace; alongside the west fortifications towards the entry doorway; there is the three storeyed Hawa mahal or a palace. In front of it; is a rectangular based, seven arched building - the horse stable. After visiting the Hawa mahal; if you continued alongside the fortification and one reaches the grand Chandani bastion. This bastion has the flag pole and two massive cannons. One is the Bangadi cannon which is 10 feet and 3 inches in size and the other is made up of Panchadhaatu ( comprising of alloy of five metals ) cannon 8 feet and 4 inches in size and the mouth of the cannon is carved into the shape of crocodile head and the end is carved a sun shape. A similar looking canon can be found on Ausa fort also. This canon; in the Udgir fort; has two Arabic inscriptions. Once you reach the doorway from Chandani bastion; the journey of the fort is completed.
|Ways To Reach :|
| 1. There are direct ST buses available for Udgir from both Mumbai as well from Pune. As the fort lies inside the Udgir village itself; it is reachable either by walking or by a transport; right up to its main doorway.|
2. From Mumbai, Pune, catch Latur express to reach Latur. Udgir – 68 Km from Latur, can be reached by private vehicle or by “Latur-Udgir” ST Bus.
|Accommodation Facility :|
| Udgir village has some Lodges available for a stay.|
|Food Facility :|
| Available in Udgir village|
|Drinking Water Facility :|
|Time To Reach :|
| 2 hourss to visit entire fort.|
| 1) On the Latur – Udgir road, 63 km from Udgir; an ancient temple of Neelkantheshwar in the Nilanga village; can be visited.|
2) On the Latur – Udgir road, 74 km from Udgir (11 km from Nilanga village) at Kharosa there are ancient Hindu caves and a depilated fortress.
3) On the Latur – Udgir road, 97 km from Udgir (23 km from Kharosa) there is fort at Ausa
4) All places mentioned above can visited in a day if a private vehicle is arranged and one can return to Latur for a stay.
5) The information about Ausa fort is made available on this website.
Important Instructions: - Forts of Marathwada region, Udgir, Ausa, Solapur and Naladurg; are under control of Dept. of Archaeology and have staff appointed by the department who looks after the forts. At the entrance of the fort, the department has put up a signboard with following instructions:
1. The visiting hours to the fort are from 9 AM to 5 PM. The doors remain closed outside visiting hours.
2. Fort visit requires prior permission from the Department.
3. Photography is prohibited inside the fort.
Now consider these two points:
1. The office of the Department of Archaeology for the Marathwada is at Aurangabad. Tourist coming from Mumbai, Pune or elsewhere; is unlikely to go to Aurangabad all the way to collect written permission from the Department to visit the fort. This might be the situation as tourist may not have slightest idea that one needs at all such permission to see a fort in Maharashtra. And even if such thing is known; nobody is going to waste time and money to outreach the odd visit of Aurangabad to get the permission to see these forts. On the contrast; the fort is easily accessible to the local villagers to take their cattle to graze inside.
2. In the current era of modern technology, Google easily makes available clear images of the forts; showing every corner of the fort; all the structures can be clearly seen. With such facility being available; it’s a puzzle; why photography is banned at the fort.
The Department staff takes undue advantage of this situation and ask for too much of money for allowing a visit to the fort and doing photography there. After some bargaining, less amount is charged. Charging for a visit to the fort; people wouldn’t mind paying to the Department as such. It is obvious that; maintaining a fort – Cleaning, Repairing and staff salary; all these costs. In Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and many states in south India; they charge tourist for a visit to the fort. At some places; you need to pay additional charges for photography. In such arrangement; charging a fee for a visit to the fort; is beneficial to both tourist as well as to the Department; as tourist won’t have to bargain with the staff and department will also get its share. So, if you are thinking of visiting this fort; better keep these points in the mind.