The Fort of Jalore

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The town of Jalore is  situated about 80 miles south of Jodhpur. It lies between Latitude  250, 21’ and Longitude 720, 35’. It is  situated towards the south-west of the Jalore city. It is about 800  yards long and 400 yards wide. It crowns on mountain ranges of the  Aravali hills and stand at an altitude of 1200 feet above the  surrounding plains. The steep hill on the top of which the castle is  situated has an ascent of about three miles (Antiquarians Remains in  Marwar, p8). The circumference of the fort roughly covers an area of  four and a half miles. There are twenty one “burzes” or notches.  The eastern wall stands at height of 300 meters from the ground while  the western wall is a little higher and measures 380 meters. The  highest peak of the fort is in the south west measuring 438 meter  while the lowest part in the north east with a height of only 280  meters.

The history of the fort  has not been told in true perspective by historians. In the absence  of any authentic work, it is almost difficult if to prepare a  well-connected history. Yet from scanty and stray facts available, we  have pieced them together fort history in a narrative form.

The most authentic sense  about the history of the fort is the Sunda inscriptions which clearly  state that Samarsinha, son of Kirtipal, founder of Sonigra dynasty at  Jalore, built extensive ramparts and fortificahars on Suvarnagirl  (Kanakachala) equipping them with machines of many kind (Sunda  inscription, EI, IX, Vers. 48.38).

The inscription is of  cardinal value as it names ‘Samarsinha’, the second ruler of the  Sonigara dynasty as the builder, if not the founder of the fort. One  thing is certain that the fort of Jalore was in existence in the year  1182 or 1239 A.D. Now two possibilities are clear. One, the fort was  built by Songra Chouhan either Kirtipal or Samarsinha. Two, it was a  Parmara preserve built by Vakpatiraja of the Jalore inscription  (Visala Darmara’s inscription).

The Chronology of Jalore

Prior to the 12th  century the history of Jalore is scattered and lies hidden in  legends, folk tales, stray anecdotes, an ambiguous inscription and  indirect allusions in books of Jaina Dharma. The historians task  becomes all the move difficult as he has to weigh the truth of  legendary facts, put them in prefer chronological sequence, connect  the historical facts with subsequent ones – all stripped off their  legendary and literary coverings.

The first authentic date  for the history of Jalore is v. 1174 found in an inscription in the  topkhana at Jalore (Early Chouhan Dynastries, D. Sharma pg. 145). It  is clear from the inscription that the Parmars held sway over Jalore  at the beginning of 12th century (The Six rules were  Vakpatiraja, Chandana, Devraja, Vijjala, Dharavarsa and Visala). Six  kings of the Parmara dynasty dominated the political scene at Jalore  during the greater part of the eleventh century.

The next authentic date  is v. 1238 when Kirtipal or ‘Kitu’ as Nainsi terms him wrested  Jalore from the Parmaras (Khayat K, pg. 152). This Kirtipal, who is  known as the founder of the Jalore line of Chauhans, was the son of  Nadol ruler Achana, though the heir apparent of Nadol was Kelhano,  the elder brother of Kirti Pal yet, Kirtipal had a substantial hand  in the administration of the Nadol. The Sunda inscription testified  the fact of Kirtipal having shouldered responsibility. The burden of  administration took place somewhere in v. 1220 (Epigraphic Indica IX,  pg. 77).

The period between v.  1220 and v. 1238, is again a dark period and Kirtipal during this  period must have been consolidating his power and position in his own  jagirs and twelve villages. Dr. Dashrath Sharma observes that  Kirtipal helped the Chaulukya ruler in routing the forces of Muhammad  Gori in the stiffly fought battle of Kashrada v. 1235 (Early Chouhan  Dynasty, pg. 144).

Jalore and Siwana were  ruled by the Parmara, Kuntapala and Viranarayan respectively. When  Kirtipal wrested Jalore with the help of the Dahiyas (Mutha Nensi  Khayat, I pg. 152).

It is said that Dahiyas  were the first rulers of Jalore who chose this site and built a fort  – the Dahiya’s Fort whose debris are still lying scattered around  the present fort.

Probably the Dahiyas were  supplanted by the Parmers and having lost their Kingdom the Dahiyas  accepted the feudal the status of the courtiers and Darbaris and were  involved in conspiracies to pull down the reigning ruler. Being the  former rulers and local chieftains they knew all the ins and outs of  the fort.

The details of Kirtipal’s  reign are unfortunately not available to us and therefore we cannot  recall his achievements with precision. Kirtipal was succeeded by his  son Samara Sinha as it evident from the two Jalore inscriptions dated  Vikrama era 1239 and 1256. These two inscriptions too do not shed any  light on the history of the period. In the Sunda inscriptions Samara  Sinha is credited with the building of ramparts on the Suwarnagiri at  Jalore and of mounting of guns and of constructing store houses and  battlements of vidhyadhari type (Khayat, I pg. 152). It was during  the reign that Jalore came in possession of that exceedingly strong  fortress (Eliott & Dorison, pg. 238). We do not know how long the  reign of Samara Sinha lasted, but have an inscription  dated v. 1262 of his son and successor Udaya Sinha (Bombay  Gazetter, I, PLI, pg. 474-76) that is proof of changeover.

So taking the v. 1962 as  the date of coming to power of Udai Sinha at Jalore, Dr. Dashrath  Sharma has allotted him a period of 52 years for his reign (Early  Chouhan Dynasties, pg. 148). The Sunda inscriptions throw light upon  the extent of his reign. He is described as lord of the districts of  Nadols, Jabalipura, Surachanda, Kehda, Ramasainya, Srimata and  Satyapura (E, I IX pg. 73 Jalore was still called Jabalipura).

Manadayapura or Mandor  was reconquered by Iltutmish in 1226 A.D., it was in Chouhan  possession about 1242 AD and was conquered against by Jalaluddin  Khalifi is 1294 AD. Vagabhatameru or Bhadmer was accruing to Naun,  once the seat of Parmara Principality.

He is said to have scored  a victory in a decisive battle with Lavanaprasada, the minister of  Gujarat in v. 1278. A treaty was concluded and Udaisinha and  avanprasada and later his son Vivadhavala faithfully honored the term  of the treaty. Udaisinha even gave his daughter in marriage to  Vivadhavala’s eldest son Vivam who in turn is killed by Udaisinha’s  son Chachugdeva who according to Sunda inscription gets the credit of  killing “Gunjara Lord Virama”.

The aggressions and  annexations done by Udaisinha were the  cost of the imperial territory.

The Muslim ruler at Delhi  must have planned an expedition against the aggrandizement of  Chauhans of Jalore. This was however, thwarted and the Delhi army had  to suffer serious discomfiture at the hands of Chauhans (Puratana  Prabhandhasangrah, pg. 50, Nainsi’s Khayat 1 pg. 153).

Iltutmish, the slave  ruler of Delhi, at last led an army against the Jalore making  allowance for all the hardships on the way and hazards on the battle  field (Taju-I-Ma-asis writes about Jalore, “One might have thought  that nothing that but the faces of demons and sprits could be seen  and the means of escape were not on the tablet of even providential  design. Udaisinha having calculated the dim chances of victory in  advance sued for peace and peace was purchased with the tribute of  consisting of houses, camels and cash. Udaisinha was left with his  principality.

Udayasinha was succeeded  by his son Chachigadeva as is evidenced by Sunda inscriptions of v.  1319. He seems to have preserved the patrimony and made some  annexations to it. “He used the title of Maharajadhiraja as per  Bhinmal inscription v. 1334. He was contemporary of Balban and  Nasiruddin Muhammad (Early Chouhan Dynasty pg. 157).

Chachigdeva was succeeded  by his son Samantasinha about v. 1339. In about v. 1353 Samantasinha  allowed his son to carryout the duties of the administration of  Jalore. Allauddin Khilji was on the throne of Delhi. He had decided  to conquer Gujarat and destroy the temple of Somanath, in 1298. AD.  He wanted permission of Chauhan ruler to allow his army to pass  through Jalore territory. Kanahadder, therefore gave a definite “no”  to Allauddin’s messengers (Kanhadadaprabandha, I V.V. 32-33). The  army commanded by Ulgh Khan and Nasurat Khan marched through Mewar.  Having sacked Somnath and imbued with a sense of pride the victorious  generals marched through the Jalore Territory. Ulgh Khan (Atu Khan)  stationed at Sankarno a village, 6 miles and not 18 miles at Dr.  Dashrath Sharma has taken it.

Meanwhile the  disaffection and discontent which had been gathering momentum among  the rank and file of the army reached a climax and it took the life  of Nushrat Khan’s brother and a nephew of Allahauddin. In the Melee  and confusion that followed, the Hindu captives of Gujarat were  liberated and the idols of Somnath fell into the hands of Kanhaddeva  (Early Chouhan Dynasty, pg. 162).

Deeply mortified by being  deprived of the fruits and glory of Gujarat war, Allauddin did not  take up the Chastisement of Kanhadadev before 1305 AD. When Khalji  army under Ala-ul-Mulk Multani stormed the fort of Jalore. At the  initiation of Multani having realized the fertility of waging an  unsuccessful war against the Muslim hoards, Kanhadadeva is said to  have acknowledge the suzerainty of the Sultan and went to Delhi as a  feudatory but the haughty attitude of Alluaddin wounded the sense of  pride of the Rajput prince, he let drop a challenge of war and left  the cant in an angry mood (Tarikh-I-Ferishta, Eng. Translation by  Prof. m. Hahih pg. 378).

Soon after this incident,  Allauddin sent an army under commanders Nahar Malik and Khandadhara  Bhoja (Khanhadade Prabandha, 11, 49-57). The army attacked the fort  of Siwana, Siwans was looked after by Sataladeva a nephew of  Khanhadadeva. The Siwana army was reinforced by the Jalore army and  the Khalysis not only lost the war but their commanders. Allauddin,  having realized the strength of his powerful adversary, himself  marched in June 1310 AD to repair his bruised reputation.

Where strength failed  stratagem succeeded. Allauddin won over to his side one Bhayata, and  through him got the water of the fort tank defiled by the cow’s  blood. Having been deprived of water, the Rajputs opened the gates to  measure swords with the advancing Muslim army while the ladies  performed Johar (Ibid…II 148-167).

The fate of Siwana was  sealed. Sataldeva was killed (Khazainul Futuh, 1929, pg. 375 &  377). Siwana was renamed as Khairabad (Kanhadade Prabandha,  III pg. 105). Having effected the subjugation of Siwana, Allauddin  hastened back to Delhi leaving instructions for his army to devastate  Marwar. The army with reckless fury laid waste Barmer and destroyed a  temple at Satyapura or Sanchore, he even burnt Bhinmal and carried  away many Hindus as captives.

Kanhadadeva could not  afford to be a passive spectator of all this drama of loot and arson.  He collected a force and sent it under the command of two Devada  chiefs. Jaita and Mahipa. Overjoyed at the initial success the chief  came back to Jalore leaving the army. The enemy took advantage and  killed all the Rajput army (Kanhadade Prabandha, III pg. 105).  Emboldened by this success, the Khilaji army laid seize to the fort  of Jalore for seven nights Viramdeva and Maladeva ‘led night  sorties’ filling in the ditches and destroying stockades  surrounding the Muslim camp (Early Chouhan Dynasties, pg. 166). On  the eight, the Khilaji army was put to fight. The storm that had been  brewing round Jalore for some time was thus averted.

Stung by this ignominious  retreat, Allauddin collected an army larger than the last one and  sent it under Kamaluddin laid the seize of the Jalore for and  scrupulously cut off all sources of supply and reinforcement but  Rajputs shut up in the fort could bear with an exemplary patience the  hardships of the seize but fate conspired against them. One Bhika  Dahiya disclosed the way through which the Khilaji army marched into  the fort. A fiery battle ensued. The queens of Kanhadadeva had  already performed Johar Kanhadadeve fell fighting and with his fall  in v. 1371, the Sonigara dynasty disappeared.