Recently I saw a post from Balwant Jain ji with the backdrop of a fort and out of curiosity, checked which place it was? To my great surprise, I found that our तन, मन, धन से घुमक्कड़ Balwant ji had reached Jhansi and the photographs were from Jhansi fort – Manikarnika Tambe aka Rani Laxmi Bai’s post-marital abode. Forts always fascinate me! More on that some other time…
…Many memories rolled down my eyes when I had visited the Jhansi Fort as a little school girl owing to my father’s brief posting in Jhansi and we studied in KV Jhansi. My father’s office organised a trip for families to Jhansi Fort then and for the first time I saw this fort. Till then I had only seen Gwalior Fort as my grand father’s house was in Gwalior Fort’s arena. Gwalior Fort is very magnificent and richer in every aspect. In comparison to that Jhansi fort was quite small and raw, when I mentioned this to my mother, she replied: Yeh freedom fighter ka fort hai, woh rajwadon ka fort hai!
Every corner of the fort tells the story of the freedom struggle and how many wars were fought under its aegis. Stories of love, compassion, hatred, betrayal, blood, gore, chivalry are written on its walls. Worth mentioning is the spot from where Rani Laxmi jumped from the horse with her 4-month-old son tied on her back. Balwantji was kind enough to share that picture with me.
The post enlivened the memories of our brief and memorable stay in Jhansi which was a bed of very different culture from Bhopal from where we had shifted. The language is sweet, the people are humble and food is amazing! Unfortunately, I never revisited Jhansi after leaving from there but down memory lane, it was great living there!
Jhansi Fort or Jhansi ka Kila is a fortress situated on a large hilltop called Bangira, in Uttar Pradesh, Northern India. It served as a stronghold of the Chandela Kings in Balwant Nagar from the 11th through the 17th century.
The Jhansi fort is located in the middle of the Jhansi city. It is 3 km from the Jhansi Railway station. The nearest airport is Gwalior, which is 103 km from Jhansi. You can also reach the fort by getting down at the Jhansi Museum Bus Stop.
The fort standing in the hilly area shows how the North Indian style of fort construction. The granite walls of the fort are between 16 and 20 feet thick and on the south side meet the city walls. The south face of the fort is almost perpendicular.
There are 10 gates giving access to the fort. Some of these are Khanderao Gate, Datia Darwaza, Unnao Gate, badaGao gate, Laxmi Gate, Sagar Gate, Orchha Gate, Sainyar Gate and Chand Gate. Notable sights in the fort are the Shiva temple, Ganesh temple at the entrance, and the Kadak Bijli cannon used in the uprising of 1857. The memorial board reminds one of the hair-raising feats of the Rani Lakshmibai in jumping on horseback from the fort. Nearby is the Rani Mahal, built in the latter half of the 19th century where there is now an archaeological museum.
The fort extends to a sprawling 15 acres (61,000 m2) and this colossal structure measures about 312m in length and 225m in width. On the whole, there are twenty-two supports with a mammoth strengthening wall surrounded by a moat on both sides. The shattered upholder on the eastern side was rebuilt by the British, who also added a floor to Panch Mahal.
In 1842 Raja Gangadhar Rao married Manikarnika Tambe who was the given the new name of Lakshmi Bai, She gave birth to a boy, later named Damodar Rao, in 1851, who died after four months. The Maharaja adopted a child called Anand Rao, the son of Gangadhar Rao’s cousin, who was renamed Damodar Rao, on the day before the Maharaja died.
In March 1854, Lakshmibai was given an annual pension of Rs. 60,000 and ordered to leave the palace and the fort. In 1857 the revolt broke out and she took the control of the fort and led Jhansi forces against those of the British East India Company.
Jhansi was besieged by the company forces of General Hugh Rose in March and April 1858 and was captured on 4 April 1858. Rani Lakshmi Bai was able to make a daring escape on horseback from the fort and the city before the city was pillaged by Rose’s troops.
In 1861 the British Government gave the Jhansi fort and Jhansi city to Jiyaji Rao Scindia, the Maharaja of [Gwalior], but the British took back Jhansi from Gwalior state in 1868.
Every year in the month of January–February a grand occasion is held known as Jhansi Mahotsav when many eminent personalities and artists perform their play.
Information courtesy: Wikipedia