Once a friend of Irish origin, Tom Baker, from England, happened to visit Bhopal. It was immediately after winter. Days were becoming warmer but evenings were pleasant. Friends here, proposed to take him for sightseeing to Sanchi, one of the World Heritage sites closer to Bhopal. After breakfast, we four of us, embarked upon our journey by a car driven by me. In those days the journey to Sanchi used to be horrible because of bad roads. On reaching Sanchi we took our foreign friend around the Buddhist monuments and in the process we ourselves acted as his guide. In between we also had our lunch at a restaurant preceded by chilled beer. Incidentally our friend was a teetotaler, an exception in his family.
|The steps leading up the hill|
|Mr. Devdas rested after crossing this door|
|A canopy at the entrance|
|The large Courtyard|
|The town beneath the fort|
|A building with a dome in ruins|
|Age old Cannons|
|Inscription found on a wall of the Fort|
Raisen town was established by Rai Singh, a Hindu ruler in 1143 AD followed by the construction of a fort on the hill top during that period. However, remnants of an earlier fortification datable to the 6th century AD have also been encountered. In 1485 during the rule of Gayasuddin Ghouri, mosques, madrasas and several buildings were got constructed at Raisen. Another name which deserves mention is that of one Silhadi (Shiladitya) who had sway in the northern part of Malwa. He was a Tomar Rajput Chieftain. He along with the army of Rana Sanga of Mewar helped Bahadur Shah, the Sultan of Gujrat to annexe Malwa Sultanate in 1531 AD. As promised by Bahadur Shah,Ujjain and Sarangpur were to go to Silhadi. realizing that it would make Silhadi too powerful to control, Bahadur Shah instead ordered Silhadi to handover Raisen fort and all his territory in Malwa and relocate to the town of Baroda. Bahadur Shah seemed to have learned his lessons from the fate of Silhadi’s previous allies. When Silhadi refused to agree to these terms, Sultan Bahadur Shah promptly took him in captivity and along with him proceeded to Raisen fort, which was being held by Silhadi’s brother Lakshman Rai. Ostensible cause of this expedition was given as to free some Muslim women in the household of Silhadi.
Sultan’s army could not make any headway against the Raisen fort even after many months of sieze. Silhadi, however, persuaded Bahadur Shah to send him inside the fort so that he could convince his brother to vacate it. This was agreed to and Silhadi went inside. In an emotional family meeting, the two brothers weighed their options. Situation in the fort was hopeless because of dwindling food supplies. Durgavati, Silhadi’s wife who was also besieged in the fort, forcefully pleaded for Jauhar and Saka, a traditional Rajput victory-or-death stand. Martyrdom was decided upon. It can also be said that they had no other real choice. Nobody could realistically believe that Bahadur Shah really wanted to rehabilitate them in Baroda. In all probability he planned to put all of them to sword as soon as they came out of the fort.
Rani Durgavati (not to be misconstrued as the Gond Rani), taking her daughter-in-law (daughter of Rana Sanga) and her two children by the hand jumped into the Chita, a fire-pit dug for the purpose. Seven hundred other women followed her in the Chita. Silhadi and Lakshman then armed themselves and died as consecrated warriors in a fight with sultan’s army at the foot of the fort. This happened in 1532 AD. During 1543 Sher Shah Suri attacked the fort and captured it from one Puranmal in whose custody it was. From 1760 onwards the fort remained with the Nawabs of Bhopal.
|See through a broken dome|
|The Shiva Temple|
|The grill gate of the temple|
We learn that the palaces in the fort are named as Badal Mahal, Rohini Mahal, Itradaan Mahal and Hawa Mahal but at the time of our visit there was no way to identify them. There is temple dedicated to Lord Shiva, of the 12th century, which opens its doors once a year i.e.on Shivratri day. Devotees coming on other days usually tie a piece of cloth on the grill gate for fulfillment of their wishes. The hill also abound in rock shelters with paintings done by the cave dwellers. Although the fort is presently under the ASI, not much has been done for restoration of the palaces. Some domes have collapsed and one can see the blue sky as could be seen from the photograph here. We learn that an approach road has either been constructed or is under construction. If the reports emanating from the Ministry of Culture are to be believed, the State Government has decided to develop the fort as a tourist attraction. The MP Tourism Development Corporation is collaborating in this initiative.