Friday, February 09, 2007


Update: Due to time constraints, the story will be continued later this week. Till that time, please read my three-part series "Countdown to 14th Feb" on my other blog, which is my way of telling all that I am not waiting for The Day with bated breath (don't want to suffocate, do I)...

20th Feb.

The Sahyadri ranges in Maharashtra contain many interesting and unique forts. The mountainous region and forts characterize Maharashtra and its people, and have played a large part in its history. And one of the most interesting forts is named “Vairangad” (Fort Desolate).

The uniqueness is not only limited to its name. Even the location is different from the standards for the forts. The fort overlooks a region which does not contain any main roads or passes joining the ghat and konkan regions, the location is remote and contain very few important towns, even today. So it has always been a question why somebody raised a fort there.

The answer is also not forthcoming. The fort is clearly very old, maybe dating back to 16th century, but there are not mentions of the fort in any of the bakhars or any other historical accounts (which is not surprising due to its remote and isolated location), till late 19th century, when a British officer who was mapping that region mentions it in his report. Some people from a nearby village were forced to leave their ancestral village due to plague and move up the mountain, and one of them found a fort when he was out hunting up the mountain from the new village. Not surprisingly, the area had a reputation for being haunted for a long time before that.

But the most unique thing about this fort is its architecture. The fort is not located on a tableland or mountaintop as is common for all forts, but in a kind of valley (of course, located some 1000 metre above the surrounding area), surrounded on three sides by steep cliffs, and overlooking a flat land on the fourth side, which slopes down to the lowland. Of course, the cliffs and the flatland with nothing to hide behind make the fort almost impregnable. Kind of reminds me of Schloss Adler in “Where Eagles Dare”, of course, minus the jutting rocks, Nazis and the cable cars.

And so, when grandpa told me to get him info and photographs of this fort for his book, I had to jump at the chance. As much as I am waiting for his book to be published, I really like the chances of visiting various forts and interesting locations from our history he gives me for it.

First thing to do was of course to call The Manager. As usual, The Manager was ready with suggestions and plans for the trip. I left him to do his thing, which left me free to call the other members of our team. I don't know how he does it, but he called me back in about 2 hours with all the plans, bus routes, timings and everything for the trip.

So, to cut the long story short, our team of 2 amateur photographers, an amateur artist, me (the writer, of course), and not to mention The Manager (who also doubles as the cook) is going to visit Vairangad over this weekend.

Kille Vairangad, here we come!!!

This is the starting of my new story, called "Fort Desolate". I am going to write it as diary entries of the grandson of a history teacher, who with his friends is visiting different forts in Maharashtra for a book his grandfather is writing.

Please comment on how you feel the start is, and any suggestions/changes/improvements are always welcome. The full story will be up with my other stories as soon as I finish it.

The Great Eagle has spoken...

Quote of The Day:
An author is a fool who, not content with boring those he lives with, insists on boring future generations.
- Charles de Montesquieu (1689 - 1755)


SiD said...

something to add abt the forts.. the way you have described - fort built in a valley - this thing is common with many forts in rajasthan...
while visiting one(udaipur) I saw trees and plants on the second floor of the fort... when asked abt this.. the guide informed that the entrance of the fort was in the trough of that valley while the second floor was on the level of hill top - hence the trees and all... it was quite amusing
I don't know if this info can be helpful in ur story building process but just thot to share it.. hv seen quite a lot of forts of rajasthan..the architecture and designs may be diff from mhrshtra.. but i guess the purpose they serve was the same - high security combined with lavishness...
The idea of writing in a form of a diary entry is very innovative.. but it will have its share of difficulties... really looking forward how it shapes up..

Fleiger said...

@Sid: Yes, it is going to be challenge, mainly bacause now I realise that diary being personal cannot hold much background information. And I started this at the wrong time. Will have to continue after some time.
In Maharashtra, there are a lot of forts, because of mountainous regions. Most of the forts are built to be strongholds to control and defend major roads and passes between ghat area and konkan area, and towns. Except for a few forts built to be capitals (Rajgad and Raigad are two examples) almost all forts are mainly military buildings, with very few lavishness.
Oh, I could go on and on about this subject...