Tuesday, 5 February 2013

A witness of Valor: Sangramdurga, Chakan - February 5, 2013

Till last Diwali (2012), I was not knowing there is a fort just 30 kms from my house which was witness to the immense bravery and valor. It was one of those battles where the losers are honored still today.

The place is Chakan (चाकण) on Pune-Nashik Highway (NH-50) and the fort is Sangram-durga, a Bhui-kot or Sthala-durga (भुइकोट or स्थल-दुर्ग), the fort built on a flat land.

Last Diwali, I saw a miniature model of this fort created by one organisation. They explained the detail history of this fort using sound-&-light technique. Impressed by this piece if history, still unknown to me, I decided to visit this place.

I started off from my office at Pimpri at 5 pm with another colleague. We took the Pune-Nashik Highway (NH-50). Chakan is on the highway about 10 kms after the Toll. You need to shelve off Rs. 38 for a return toll (Rs. 25 for one way). At Chakan, there is a main cross-road - Left goes to Talegaon (Pune-Mumbai Road), Right goes to Shikrapur (Pune-Nagar Road). Take Right towards Shikrapur. Immediately take 1st Left. At about 200 mtrs, you can see an arch on the Right mentioning Chakreshwar Mahadeo Temple (चक्रेश्‍वर महादेव मंदिर). This road goes right inside Sangram-durga.
Remains of Fort walls & Bastions
Shivaji Maharaj (शिवाजी महाराज) was trapped on Panhalgad (पन्हाळगड) under the seige from Siddis (सिद्दी). During the same time Aurangzeb (औरंगझेब) decided to attack Maratha Empire and sent Shahistekhan (Shastakhan) for the job. Shastakhan (शास्ताखान) reached Pune with his army of over 1.25 Lakh (77,000 Cavalry & 30,000 Infantry along with Elephants & Canons). He was to get supplies (food & ammunition) from other Mughal areas of Nashik (Gulshanabad) & Aurangabad. However, one base in between Pune & these cities was still under Maratha control, Chakan. If Marathas attacked these supplies, the 1 Lakh Army would die without food & ammunition.

Shastakhan therefore decided to attack & take Chakan under Mughal control. Mughal Army of 20,000 along with Shastakhan himself marched towards Chakan to conquer it.

Chakan fort, named Chakrapuri during that time, was a small ground fort about 3-4 acres in area, made of earthen construction. It had walls about 40 feet high with 9 bastions surrounded from all sides by a Moat filled with water. It had two Main Gates which can be identified even today.

When Mughals reached the fort, it had about 400 Marathas only and their brave Garrison Commander Firangoji Narsala (किल्लेदार फिरंगोजी नरसाळा). The date was June 21, 1607.

Looking at the small fort, Shastakhan had thought that he would capture in no time. So he ordered a quick attack. However, the fort was ready. Marathas showered them with ammunition in their canons & guns and made severe casualties for Mughals. Marathas were difficult to spot as they were secured behind the walls & bastions.

Shastakhan then decided to siege the fort. He planted his troops all around the fort at a safe distance from the range of Maratha Canons.

The siege continued for more than a month. There was no signs of withdrawal from Marathas. In fact, Marathas were using Guerilla Tactics against Mughals. They used to remain silent during the day; and during night, a group of 20-25 Marathas used to get out in the dark, and they used to launch a surprise attack on any one Mughal Group, do the damage intended and get back inside the fort walls.

Shastakhan started getting desperate. He was not able to conquer a small fort held by handful of Marathas for a month now. He made a plan. Mughals constructed an underground tunnel till the foundation of the wall. They dumped ammunition there and made a blast. That part of fortification collapsed and Mughals entered inside.

Marathas fought valiantly. But they were only 400, Mughals were 20,000. Tired Mughal soldiers were getting replaced by new one's. Same luxury was not there for Marathas. Firangoji Narasala was also fighting his heart out to save the fort.

Finally Firangoji was captured alive and Marathas lost the battle. The date was August 16, 1607.

400 Marathas held the fort against 20,000 Mughals for 56 days.

Firangoji was brought in front of Shastakhan. Shastakhan was extremely impressed by the bravery of Marathas. He offered Firangoji to join Mughals and promised to give him riches against that. Firangoji promptly refused to make this compromise & was willing to die instead of becoming a traitor. Shastakhan was impressed again by this. He set Firangoji free.

Firangoji went back to Shivaji, depressed. He was extremely dejected and felt sorry for the defeat. He couldn't face Shivaji and stood before him, head down. Shivaji instead, was extremely impressed and happy. He said if Shastakhan took 60 days to capture a small earthen ground fort, imagine how long will Mughals take to capture entire Swarajya with its more than 250 forts, some embracing the clouds. He rewarded Firangoji by giving him Commandership of Bhupalgad (भुपाळगड).

At present the fort lies in an extremely sorry state. The wall fortification has collapsed and damaged at many places. The Main Gates are in ruins. Many residential buildings have come-up around the fort. A tar road runs through the fort. Children were playing cricket on the plain ground.

Fort ruins:
Damaged Gate

Collapsed Fortifications
Moat is seen at some places

One of the 9 Bastions remained so far to tell the tale
There is a temple of Lord Vishnu (Damodar Avatar), as told by one of the locals there. Some group of people consider it to be Lord Munjaba (Shiva Avatar).

Some renovations are going on. He told us that there used to be a very small temple which was reconstructed into a larger one. The old idol (which might be of Munjaba or Vishnu) is replaced with a new one of Lord Vishnu in a Damodar Avatar. The locals are in with talks with some builder to reconstruct the wall fortification. Hope that Sangram-durga returns back to its old glory that it deserves.
Lord Munjaba / Vishnu Temple
Place where old temple existed
Just next to the temple is Mosque which is said to be there from the Shivaji era.

Temple & Mosque side-by-side
The road that goes through the fort reaches to the Chakreshwar Mahadeo Temple (Lord Shiva Temple). It is a peaceful site, a temple by the side of a constructed water pond. There is a rare sculpture of Lord Vishnu in a Varah (Pig) Avatar [however, I read about it after our trip; hence we didn't see this]. There is a Samadhi of Shandilya Rishi.

By 6.30 pm we returned back watching the Sun set behind the fort.


Coordinates:   18° 45' 25.152" N   73° 51' 48.348" E

1 comment:

  1. नमस्कार.
    (मला असलेली या ठिकाणाबद्दलची अल्प माहिती)
    रामायणातील कथेनुसार, एकदा दशरथाची राणी कैकयी हिने राजा दशरथाला एका युद्धांत मदत केली होती. राजा दशरथाच्या रथाचे चाक जमिनीत रुतले होते ते काढायला कैकयीने मदत केली. म्हणून राजाने तीला दोन वर द्यायचे कबूल केले होते. वेळ येताच ते आपण मागून घेईन असे तीने दशरथाला सांगितले होते. त्यातील एका वरानुसार भरताला राज्याभिषेक व दुसर्या वरानुसार रामाला वनवास मागितला होता..... आणि मग पुढचे रामायण घडले होते. कैकयीने राजाला मदत केलेेले युद्ध ज्या ठिकाणी झाले होते ते ठिकाण म्हणजेच चाकण. हे 'चाकण' नाव व या ठिकाणी असलेले 'चक्रेश्वर मंदिर' हे नाव (त्याच रथाच्या चाकाच्या अनुषंगाने आहे) थोडक्यात हे एक पुरातन गाव आहे.
    - विवेक वाटवे