VISAPUR

Rising from the same plateau as Lohogad, about half a mile to the north, the rocky scarp of VISAPUR is crowned by a smooth bare hill-top, considerably larger than Lohogad, and, at its highest point, 3550 feet above the sea. Near the middle of its length two ravines, one running down the north, the other down the south face, narrowing its centre, hollow the hill into an hour-glass. Each half of the hill rises into a gently rounded knoll which, though showing no trace of fortifications, is dignified with the name of Bala Killa or upper fort Round the edge of the hill-top runs a wall, high and strengthened by towers along the west face. In other parts, except where the rock is not sheer and the crest has been scarped by a masonary lining or pavement, it is little more than a stone and mud breast-work. In other parts, according to the lie of the ground, the defences vary from strong walls backed by masonry platforms where the slope was naturally easy, to a mere parapet of dry stone where the plateau ends in a precipice.

From Lohvadi, at the foot of Lohogad fort, the Visapur path passes north winding among plinths of cut-stone, which attest the importance of the old peta or cantonment attached to Lohogad fort, past where Shaikh Umar dismounted, a spot marked by an earthen platform and a row of small votive clay horses, and past a hole in the east point of Lohogad cliff, made by the saint when he hurled his spear against the rock in defiance of the Hindu ascetic whom he was about to oust from the plateau. The Visapur path leads over a bare rocky partly tilled plateau across the crest of the ridge which connects Lohogad and Visapur. Beyond the shoulder, the path, for about a mile and a half, runs under the sheer scarp of Visapur fort. It then turns to the left up a deep gorge, the sides crested by massive masonry bastions, along a steep rough track strewn with large boulders and broken masonry, the ruins of the Deccan gateway, destroyed when the English dismantled the fort. At the head of the gorge, hewn in the rock, is a large reservoir said to be the work of the Pandavs, built in with modern stone-work and the interior plain. The hill-top, with its two conical knolls about two hundred feet high, [By aneroid the height of the Deccan gate is 3350, of the eastern bastion 3430, and of the central height 3550 feet above the sea.] is smooth and thickly covered with grass, but, except a few old Ficus glomerata or umbar trees in a hollow near the centre of the north face, it is bare of trees.

Besides the wall round the hill-top there are three chief works, massive masonry bastions that in both ravines [The Patan gorge was not so strongly fortified as the other gorge. There were some fortifications but all were blown down and the ascent from Patan is for a considerable distance over debris.] flank the ruined central gateway, a strong masonry tower at the north-east corner, and a great outstanding masonry-lined crag that guards the hill to the northwest. The remains on the hill are, in the western half, two roofless buildings surrounded by outer or veranda walls said to have once been Government offices, and in the east half, near the southern edge of the hill, a large three-cornered stone-built pond, and close to it a rock-cut cistern. Near the north wall is an iron gun ten feet long and of four-inch bore, marked in relief with the Tudor Rose and Crown flanked by the letters E. R. This is probably a gun of Queen Elizabeth’s reign robbed from an English ship and presented to the Peshwa by Angria or some other Maratha pirate. [Government Lists of Civil Forts, 1862, state that most of the guns had the letters E and R carved on their trunnions. These letters have been noticed on this one gun only. Mr. J. McL. Campbell, C, S.] Like several other guns on the fort it has been disabled by breaking off its trunnions. Near the middle of the hill-top, between the two gorges, in a small grove of old umbar Ficus glomerata trees, are the ruins of a large stone-built house known as the Peshwa’s palace. Close to it are the remains of an old Mahadev shrine.

The descent, through the north or Patan gate, is for two or three hundred yards somewhat steep and rugged with fragments of the ruined gateway. Lower down, the path passes under the north-west cliff, and, beyond the cliff, stretches for about a mile across a bare open plateau. Looking back from this plateau, the vast natural defences of the two hills stretch in a long waving line. Beginning with a bold bluff near the north-east corner of the hill the line recedes to form the northern or Patan gorge, then sweeps forward to the massive outstanding north-west crag, and again slightly receding stretches along the strongly fortified western face. Further west, with only a very short break, another line of fortifications crowns the north face of Lohogad, and, with a slight drop, stretches westward along the flat crest of the Scorpion’s Sting. From the western brow of the plateau, which commands this view, down the Bhaja hill-side a smooth steep path winds quickly to the plain.

History.

Visapur fort is said to have been built by the first Peshwa Balaji Vishvanath (1714-1720). In 1818, when reducing the Peshwa’s forts, the fame of Lohogad as a place of strength caused the English to make special preparations for its attack. A detachment of 380 Europeans and 800 Natives, with a battering train, summoned from the Konkan, were joined by artillery from Chakan, and the second battalion Sixth Native Infantry and a detail of the second battalion of the First. The whole force was placed under the command of Colonel prother. [The Hon. M. Elphinstone to Gov. Gen. 7th March 1818. According to Blacker (Maratha War, 247) Col. Prother’s force consisted of seven mortars and four heavy guns, 370 men of H. M.’s 89th Foot; the first battalion of the Fifth and first Battalion of the Ninth Regiments of Native Infantry; detachments of the second battalions of the Sixth and First Regiments of Native Infantry; and two companies of the Auxiliary Brigade.] On the 4th of March Visapur was attacked, and on the same day was occupied without resistance. [Blacker’s Maratha War, 247.] Both the north or Konkan and the south or Deccan gateways were blown up, and except a few Dhangars’ huts the hill has since been deserted. [Lists of Civil Forts, 1862.]

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