Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Gopalgad fort- Anjanvel

The present day Gopalgad fort

The Gopalgad fort at village Anjanvel,Taluka-Guhagar,Dist-Ratnagiri is a sea fort with an approximate area of 7 acres . Most of the fort walls are still in a standing condition.Boulders can be seen adjacent to the exterior of the fort walls.The main fort has been extended by different rulers during different times.

The boulders parallel to the fort walls

The boulders parallel to the fort walls

Brief History

The main central fort was constructed by the Bijapur rulers in the 16th century.Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj annexed this fort during his Dabhol campaign in 1660.After the death of Shivaji Maharaj in 1680, this fort was annexed by Siddi Khairat Khan in 1699.In 1744 the Maratha warrior Tuloji Angre captured this fort and added it back to the Maratha Kingdom (then Peshwa rule).Further there was a dispute between the Angre's and the Peshwas and this fort went onto the Peshwa's in 1755.With the fall of Maratha empire in 1818, it went to the British.From 1818 till 1947 it was under the control of the British.
During his rule, Siddi Khairat Khan extended the fort walls down upto the sea level.The lower part of these fort walls is called "Padkot".The upper part of the fort walls , adjacent to the main fort is called "Balekot" and it was constructed during the rule of Tuloji Angre.Thus the Gopalgad fort consists of three parts
i.The main central fort
ii. The Balekot (upper extended fort walls)
iii.The Padakot (lower extended fort walls)

The Padkot and the Balekot

The fort walls

Why the name Gopalgad ?

There is no unanimous opinion about the name "Gopalgad".Some say that it was named as Gopalgad during the rule of Shivaji Maharaj in 1660.Some say that it was named Gopalgad during the rule of Tuloji Angre, since he was a Krishna Bhakt (follower).Still some say that during the rule of the Angre's the killedaar (guardian) of this fort was a person named Gopalrao and hence the name "Gopalgad".

The west side small entrance to the fort

Main entrance towards the east

The Fort
The fort is guarded by strong fort walls and has total 12 Buruj ( a Buruj is a cylindrical structure in the wall which enables a small troop of soldiers to be stationed).There are two main gates each to the east and the west.The gate to the west is smaller and convenient to enter the fort.As one enters through this gate one can see the guard posts on both sides of this gate.Inside the fort there are thick bushes and mango trees.But as one moves ahead, various structures are visible, the killadaar's residence, three wells, and many small and big foundations.On the fort walls is a

inscription of 1707 which reads in Persian as "If someone constructs a new building and if he dies during its construction, then the building cannot be said to be owned by anyone else.Only God is immortal.Rest all other things are perishable.This fort was constructed on the instructions of the omni-luminous ruler, but he did'nt survive to see the fort"
When there is not much grass on the fort walls, the whole fort can be traversed along the boundary walls.Interesting views of the sea and villages can be seen on this traverse.

Currently there are rumors, that this fort has been sold to some private party.However no definite information is available on this issue.Currently there is not a single notice board of Archaelogical Survey of India .Also there is no notice board of any private party.Readers are requested to share more information on this issue.

The story of Siddnaq
The story of Siddnaq is a classic illustration of the corrosive caste system in the Indian society.It demonstrates , how foreign enemies easily gained access to power by taking advantage of the differences in the Indian society.
During the year 1815-16 this fort was still under the Maratha's and this was the peak period of the caste system in Maharashtra.Siddnaq was a Mahar (untouchable) by caste and he was very thirsty.For a handful of water , he stood before the Anjanvel village-well pleading for water to be offered by someone.In those days a Mahar could not touch the village well, lest it will become impure.Siddnaq was a well-built strong man , but he could not touch the village well and was requesting the people around to offer him some water.
At this instance a message came from the fort that there was an Arabic horse trader on the fort and one of his horses has become uncontrollable.It was announced that anyone who can reign his horse will be rewarded by a honorary turban and a silver bracelet.The so called brave men on the fort did not dare to accept the challenge.The honor of the fort was at stake.Siddnaq could not withstand the humility and accepted the challenge.He offered a Johaar(a typical honorary salute) to the Killedaar and assembled on the horse with a lightening speed.As the beast sensed its rider , it galloped uncontrolled but after an hour Siddnaq returned with the horse fully tamed and its rider , riding it with a proud chest.The Killedaar's honour was saved and as declared Siddanaq was entitled for the award.But once again the caste system came into play.The Killedaar totally neglected Siddnaq. However the Arab trader was watching this incident with a keen interest.He was an agent of the British, Kernel Kennedy.The British had started a campaign to collect strong and brave Mahar men and raise their army to fight against the Maratha's.That night the Arab trader had a talk with Siddnaq and the next day Siddnaq accompanied him to Bombay .Within a short time Siddnaq became a Subhedaar (head) of the Mahar platoon and in 1818 the British gave him the assignment of assisting Kernel Kennedy in his Dabhol-Anjanvel campaign.Kennedy fully utilised the various local informations given by Siddanaq and finally Gopalgad fell to the British.
Now Siddnaq returned to his village Anjanvel as a winner.The defeated Killedaar, other Maratha officers and the villagers were before him.Siddnaq went and spitted in the village well.He yelled at them , " You treated me as a untouchable , did'nt you ? Now drink water from this well ! Our *Chokhoba's ashes are still alive in Pandharpur.If anyone among you is wise enough , one day we will get justice !" The villagers were speechless.
Later Siddnaq lived in Anjanvel village till his old age and died in the same village.His grave stands at a place where the river Vashishti meets the sea below the fort.

An evening behind Gopalgad fort

Foot-note :
*Chokhoba : Chokhoba was a Mahar follower of the Pandharpur deity Shri.Vithaal.His worhip could withstand all odds done to him because of his lower caste.Finally the Pandharpur brahmins had to allow his ashes to be buried in the foot-steps of the Vithaal temple of Pandharpur.


Mumbai Hiker said...

Nice trip report! one of the few on this fort on the net!! Keep it up! researching the fort history

vagabond.. said...

quite a wholesome article mate!

hi also do visit the page Guhagar on puneritraveller

Sachin Patwardhan said...

Very detailed!!! Liked it.

Saurab said...

Excellent.. thanks. I shall surely visit this fort as my next planned solo trip.