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Gujarat
Land & Sea Forts Expedition 1

Region : South Gujarat
Expedition Date : 18th & 19th Dec'04


Continuing with our tradition of doing research and exploratory work on new forts, we did our first ever expedition to South Gujarat covering the lesser known and some virtually unknown forts of Parnera, Killa Pardi, Bagwada-Arjungad, Indragad, Dindu, & the seaforts of Moti Daman and Nani Daman.

Most of the these forts are at a mere 50-150-500-ft above MSL, and for a normal trekker there isn't much fun ascending them and visiting them would sound not worthwhile. But, for R&D Treks, these forts form a part of their exploratory exodus to cover most of the unknown forts of India and bring them into limelight.

We left for our quest on Saturday, 18 th Dec'04 by the last suburban local to Virar from where we took the Bombay-Surat Passenger Shuttle Train departing Virar at 4:15am and reached Atul Stn at 7:15am.


1). Parnera Fort : Atul / Parnera

2). Killa Pardi : Pardi

3). Arjungad : Bagwada


4). Indragad : Pali Karambeli


5). Dindu Fort : Phanse

6). Moti Daman : Daman


7). Nani Daman : Daman

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Parnera Fort - Atul / Parnera
Parnera fort is clearly visible from Atul Station as this is built on a lone hill. Situated at a height of mere 500ft, this fort can be reached after a walk of 2.5km from Atul stn. From Atul Stn (eastern side) we got on to the main road and headed towards the east. After passing thru the village, some housing colonies and Atul town, we finally reached a junction from where we took a left. Within 5 minutes, we reached a small gate from where steps lead up to the fort. The fort is rectangular in shape with a small hillock which runs North to south.

The fort houses two huge temples – ‘ Mahakali Temple ' in the south and the ‘ Chandika-Ambika-Manavdurga Temple ' in the north is well frequented by people from all over the Atul, Parnera and other neighbouring towns. It took us merely 20mins to reach the main entrance of the fort. There are two entrances to the fort and both are adjacent to each other. The actual entrance is on the left side and is barricaded by iron railings and leads to the eastern periphery of the fort. A slight deviation here also takes us to the ‘ Mahakali Temple '. The second entrance (painted white) leads us to the temple. We move ahead of the temple, where one can find water tanks – 2 huge ones, 1 huge tank accomadating 3 small tanks and a rectangular stepped tank. None of the tanks hold potable water. We walk on the fort walls on the left crossing 2 bastions and some sentry posts and reach the northern end of the fort. Steps descending done the North end of the fort lead to Sri Mahadev Temple and furtheron to Parnera Village . The north portion of the fort houses ‘ Chandika-Ambika-Manavdurga Temple ' & ‘ Hanuman Temple ', and the ‘Chand Pir Baba's Dargah' is situated on the North east part of the fort. Steps descend down to join the steps coming down from north side going all the way done to Parnera village. 2 cannons can also be found here. There are many cannons on the fort, however most of them have now been buried in the ground. After visiting the temples and the Dargah we take a U-Turn and climb the small hillock which runs North-South. Here we find few ruins and the ballekilla. The view from here is beautiful. One can see, Valsad City to the North, to the west Atul Rly Stn, Atul Town to the south and a faint view Pardi to the East. The fort walls are still well kept and are still formidable. Vast tracts of forest are visible on the eastern and western sides of the fort.

We spend about 2 hrs on the fort and decide to move on to Bagwada-Arjungad. However, to our sheer luck, we meet some locals from Parnera who inform us of another fortification that still exists in Pardi. Our joy knew no bounds cause there is no mention of this fortification in any of the books that we were relying on for our research. So we descend from the northside into Parnera village and take a rickshaw to Pardi.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Killa Pardi - Pardi
Killa Pardi as it has been called for several 100 years lies in the ancient quarter of Pardi Town . We reach Pardi Junction (on the Surat – Mumbai Highway ) from where we take a left turn into the town. Next, we take a right turn and pass thru a small bylane housing some very old buildings including a Parsi Fire Temple & the Pardi Town Library and finally reach the old Pardi police stn. Upon enquiry we are informed that Killa Pardi is a small subjail housing 70 prisoners. Outside is a small outpost which use to serve as a police stn during the Bristish era. One can find a sign at the fort entrance with the year 1745 inscribed probably denoting the construction or renovation of the fort premises. We keep our fingers crossed as most of these kind of converted prisons do not allow visitors. However, Killa Pardi was unique. We walked right into the Prison without any permission and got a chance to visit and take photos of all the ruins.

At the entrance on the left is a bastion kind structure which used to house the Treasury dept during Shivaji's days. Just after entering one has to climb few steps that leads to the treasury. This place is huge and circular in shape and is supported by a huge circular stone pillar in the centre of the atrium. The ceiling is made of wood and most of this is damaged and broken.

Next to the treasury is an entrance which leads to the outer periphery on the eastern side of the fort. One can view the fort walls here. We return to the treasury and move furtheron into the main area which houses the Chand Pir Baba's Dargah, the erstwhile Mamletdar's office, now completely in ruins and the small jail with about 70 prisoners. Steps lead up to the ruins of the Mamletdar's office. Here too, 1745 is inscribed. of the This place is quite huge and one can imagine how busy this place used to be in the olden days. Just next to the office are two recently constructed water municipal water tanks that supply water to the entire Pardi Town . The water is drawn from an ancient well which the rulers had dug up during the old days. The water in the well does not dry up hence it's a boon to Pardi Town . The well is quite secluded and inaccessible and is hidden behind dense vegetation. We move furtheron to the south where we find a row of smll houses (chawl type) also called the Police lines, were soldiers use to stay. The South Gate of the fort lies beyond the police lines. As one exists the south gate we can see the south bastion on the right. We return back to the main north entrance for more fact findings. The local policemen are very helpful and are least bothered on what we were doing. We meet up with the caretaker of Chand Pir baba's Dargah who inform us of a hidden tunnel (now completely covered) which used to be in use during Shivaji's days. He takes to the back of Mamletdar's office and after crossing dense thorny thicket we reach near a portion of the wall from where a small tunnel leads to Parnera Fort. (a distance of about 7-8kms?). Amazing. Isn't it! The tunnel is now inaccessible and covered with thick foliage. The caretaker complains that the Govt. is doing nothing to preserve such historic monuments and also informs that very soon this entire fort will be razed and a new modern prison will be built. Quite Saddening! We return back to the Dargah where we pay obeisance to Chand Pir Baba.

Chand Pir Baba, a saint, is said to live an immortal life. Its almost 750years since his demise, his miracles still take place and people from far and near visit the dargah.

The caretaker informs us of a local legend that states Chand Pir Baba as a great warrior with diving powers who died fighting near Parnera. In the battle that followed, his head was severed from his body and he rode headless on his horse and reached Killa Pardi. His head lies in the dargah atop Parnera Fort and the rest of the body lies in the Dargah at Killa Pardi. It is also said that after his death, he himself built the tiled grave [green colour tiles with fruit ornamentations (grapes etc)] at both the dargahs. These tiles are unique and cannot be found elsewhere.

After visiting this unique fort, we head towards Arjungad in Bagwada.


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Bagwada – Arjungad fort
From Killa Pardi, we walk back to Pardi Junction on the highway and take a rickshaw to bagwada rly stn. We get down just after the Bagwada toll junction , cross the highway and also the rly crossing and head westwards towards a lone hill, which is semi-forested.

The Bagwada village is situated at the base of this hill. We pass thru the village and then a huge Sag (Boabab) tree.

After a very short climb from the northside for about 10mins we reach the outer bastions of the fort. They are totally ruined. We climb upwards and reach the outer walls of the fort. We traverse the bastions and reach the entrance of the fort which is in the northeastern portion of the fort. The entrance has two small caves. It's a rectangular fort with six bastions (see map below). The fort complex houses a recently renovated Mahalakshmi Temple and a water tank with clean potable drinking water which is there all year round. The actual statue of the Mahalakshmi Temple is now housed in a new temple in the Village. The southern wall of the fort is completely broken. One can see and reach a small tank (or tunnel) like structure on the outer periphery of the southern wall. The Kolak river flows on the southside of the fort.After taking a few pictures and walking on the bastions we return back to the village. There are about 11 temples in Bagwada, prominent of them being the Jain Temple , Ganesh Mandir, Mahalakshmi Mandir & Vithal Mandir. The Vithal Mandir is situated in the compound of Mr.Indravadan Shukla (74years Old). His ancestors had bought the sand made statue of Vithal-Rukumai from Pandharpur and installed the same here. We visited the temple and also met Mr.. Shukla who gave us some precious information relating to Arjungad.

History
Also, called as Shri Kshetra Arjungad Bagwada, legend states that this was the place where Krishna kidnapped Rukmani and Arjun kidnapped Subadra. Hence the name ‘Arjungad' though it is popularly called Bagwada fort. Shivaji is said to have visited this fort on his way to Surat . At the insistence of Shivaji, the fort was developed by Bajirao Chimaji Appa who was then the Maratha Subedar of the surrounding regions. In the later years the fort fell into the hands of the Portuguese rulers who have mounted several accessions right upto Vasai from this fort. It is said that a tunnel existed here too and served secret passages to both the forts – Indragad at Pali Karambeli and Parnera Fort. The water tank atop the fort existed since time memorial and even during the acute water shortage faced by the Bagwada village, this tank was the only solace for people in the village.

Two cannons from the fort are now placed outside the Bagwada School.

Arjungad Fort - Map (Rough)


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Indragad - Pali Karambeli
By the time we left Bagwada it was 1pm . We quickly returned back to the highway toll naka and took a rickshaw to Vapi on our way to Indragad in Pali Karambeli . To our goodluck, the rickshaw driver offered to take us directly to Indragad for a partly sum of Rs.50/-. However, we got to know later that the driver did not know the way to Pali Karambeli and kept on asking passerbys for directions throughout. It took us about 1.5hrs to reach Indragad ie. by around 2:15pm . The driver was a good person and did not fuss about the distance and took an extra 30 bucks for the long long ride.

We got off in the village from where we could see Indragad fort perched on top of a small hill. The fortifications looked excellent from here though. We started climbing and in about 25min reached the northern side of the fort. We moved to the northeast part of the fort where there is a small temple. Just after the temple is a long passage kind of structure that leads to the main entrance. Here too, like Arjungad there are two caves on both sides of the entrance. We move inside and find lot of ruined fortifications and most of them are covered by thick undergrowth. This fort too has a south entrance. We explore the entrance area and the bastions. There are four bastions on this fort and this fort has a outer wall to protect it and runs parallel to the bastion walls. There are steps on the southside leading to the southwestern bastion from where we walk on the parapet of the fort, jump thru the entrance gap from the top and then head down thru a tunnel staircase situated on the eastern wall which takes us directly outside the fort. A nice private exit.

We then return back to the village and visit the ancient ‘Tadkeshwar Mandir' which has two Shivlings. There is also a ‘ laxminarayan Temple ' in the village. We hire a rickshaw and head towards our next unknown destination – Dindu Fort.


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Dindu Fort - Phanse
We travel a distance of about 7kms from Pali Karambeli to Phanse. Dindu Fort lies about 1km after Phanse village on the Phanse – Nagol road. There is not much mention of this fort in any books. The fort ruins lie on top of a short hump. We walk up to the hump and find a huge house like structure without any exterior walls. Just the interior walls are visible. A huge hole in the wall can be seen from both the sides of the fort. We go down the hill on the north side and find some broken walls of the fort. This denotes that the fort would have been much bigger than ever imagined but its difficult to determine its shape and size. No history is available on this fort as of now.

While in Phanse, the rickshaw driver offers to take us to ‘ Hanuman Temple ' which is about 2km from Phanse. This is an ancient temple. After a quick visit we now head to Moti Daman.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Moti Daman Fort - Daman
The Rickshaw takes us from to Phanse and then onto Baman Puja (12km), from where we take another rickshaw to Moti Daman (5.5kms).

We alight near the Municipal Council building and first visit the Bom Jesus Church and then Our Lady of Rosario Church.

History of Daman & Moti Daman Fort
Click Here to Read More.....

‘The Bom Jesus Church'
‘The Bom Jesus Church' dedicated to ‘Bom Jesus' was completed in its present form in the year 1603 AD. It served as the Parish Church of Daman during the early days of the Portuguese rule. The doorway with the elevated façade and richly decorated interior, lofty ceiling, carved and guilded altar emblished with statues of six saints attract attention.

‘The Chapel of Our Lady of Rosario '
‘The Chapel of Our Lady of Rosario' was built in 17 Century A.D. In contrast to the external simplicity, the interior is elaborate and magnificiently carved. Stories of Christian saints are depicted on the lateral walls of the Apse. The Ceiling is decorated with multi-coloured rose petals and Cherubic Golden Angels. The Altar of the Chapel is perhaps the most ornately carved and gilded example amongst all the Portuguese churches in India . Graves of several preists (during the Portuguese days) with inscriptions are present in midway path of the main church hall.

Both the above churches, alongwith Daman Sub-Jail and the Daman Municipal Bldg are present on the leftside of the road which connects the South-North gate.

We continue with our quest as we first climb onto the parapet of the South gate and traverse the entire wall from the southwest to Northwest where the rampart ends abruptly. We return back and head towards southeast where again the ramparts ends. We climb down the wall and pass thru a street and reach the one and only main road, take a right and head towards the north gate. we walk by we pass the Collectrate office, the Liberation Struggle Plaque, an old Cross, and several small streets lined up with quaint old houses and finally the reach northern gate with several inscriptions in Portuguese mentioned on the same. We come out of the fort and head towards the Jetty. The one and only bridge that connects Moti & Nani Daman is badly damaged during the 2004 monsoons and therefore one has to resort to travel across the river by a boat. Walking thru the path way running adjacent to the northern walls of the fort we reach the Jetty. The Lighthouse can be seen from here.

To know more about the varied history of Daman, Moti Daman Fort and it's old buildings and churches click here.

We continue with our quest as we first climb onto the parapet of the South gate and traverse the entire wall from the southwest to Northwest where the rampart ends abruptly. We return back and head towards southeast where again the ramparts ends. We climb down the wall and pass thru a street and reach the one and only main road, take a right and head towards the north gate. we walk by we pass the Collectrate office, the Liberation Struggle Plaque, an old Cross, and several small streets lined up with quaint old houses and finally the reach northern gate with several inscriptions in Portuguese mentioned on the same. We come out of the fort and head towards the Jetty. The one and only bridge that connects Moti & Nani Daman is badly damaged during the 2004 monsoons and therefore one has to resort to travel across the river by a boat. Walking thru the path way running adjacent to the northern walls of the fort we reach the Jetty. The Lighthouse can be seen from here.


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Nani Daman Fort - Daman
We cross the river by the ferry on paying a mere sum of Rs.2 per person. The ride lasts for about 5mins and we reach Nani Daman.

History of Nani Daman Fort
Click Here to Read More.....

The view of Moti Daman and the lighthouse is very beautiful. After sunset we headed back to Nani Daman town from where we hired a taxi to Vapi Stn. We took the 8pm MEMU to Virar and finally reached home by around 12:30am .

Thus we finally completed the first leg of our Gujarat expedition covering 7 forts with Killa Pardi as a bonus trek. Trek to a few more forts in the same region is in the offing.

Dinesh Nair……

 
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