Anjaneri

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Anjaneri, [Mr. J. A. Baines, C.S. The hill is said to have been named from Anjana, the mother of Hanuman the celebrated monkey-god who helped Ram in his expedition against Ceylon.] a flat-topped mass of hill (1295) in the Nasik sub-division, is almost detached from its western neighbour Trimbak by the chief pass leadiug into west Igatpnri,and falls eastward into the plain in a short and low chain of bare hills. The general direction of the hill is north and south, though there are spurs of considerable elevation on the other sides. The area covered by the main body of the hill is about three square miles, or a little more. It is four miles from Trimbak town and about fourteen from Nasik. The highroad between these two places passes a short distance to the north of the hill. At the foot of Anjaneri, on the north-east, is a village which bears the same name. The hill itself, or the fort as it is called in the neighbourhood, is surrounded by a precipitous scarp on three sides, but on the southern face there is a considerable slope by which cattle and even ponies can ascend to all but the highest parts. There are two main plateaus. One, the top of the fort, which is bare of trees and covered only with coarse grass and the roots and flowers of the wild arrowroot Curcuma caulina plant; the other, from which the chief spurs jut out, varies in breadth, and is covered on the north, east, and west with vegetation. On the spurs there-are few trees and’ even close to the scarp between the two plateaus the thick brushwood is of small growth and little value as timber. On the west there is a fair growth of bamboo, and on all the upper slopes the karvi or Strobilanthus grahamianus, which is a bush of great use over all the hilly west for thatching and wattle, grows plentifully. Throughout the woods there is a carious absence of birds, though of late years efforts have been made by residents to introduce some of the more common species of partridge and spur-fowl. A panther is usually reported in the villages near the eastern side of the hill, and one or two have been shot there within the last ten years, but there is not enough cover or other attraction on the fort itself to ensure the presence of large game. The top of the fort, where there is a small temple or shrine in honour of the presiding goddess, is reached by a path on the north-east and another on the south-east. The lower plateau is bounded by a steep scarp which, is traversed by two main pathways one on the north and one on the west. Other tracks lead to this part of the hill, but they are seldom used. Along the base of the upper scarp, through the jambhul wood, a path leads completely round the hill, and for about a third of the way is under thick shade. This path is cleared every year and a few other tracks are made passable by a small subscription collected from the residents. The general way of getting up to the first plateau is from the village of Anjaneri. The path winds through the village, up a steep and bare slope for about half a mile, to a small ledge covered with mango and other trees. Above this ledge comes a second bare and grassy slope, surmounted by the lower scarp, a black wall of considerable height. This scarp is climbed through one of the larger clefts in the basalt invisible from below. This cleft is very narrow and almost perpondicular in parts. The sides are smooth, and the path, in its present condition, is an accumulation of loose stones, large and small. Up this the Mhars of Anjaneri carry people with perfect safety in a light litter or swung chair. Remains near the top of the crevice show that when the fort was in its prime the whole of the darvaza or gate, as the cleft is called, was paved in broad steps with stone cut out of the adjacent basalt, but the constant passage of cattle, when the grazing was let out by the year, has left but a few of these steps untouched, and it is their remains that strew the pathway which now winds zigzagging from side to side of the cleft [About half way up the darvaza on the left side is a small cave temple with a well in it. Locally it is called the Monkey’s Cave and it is reached by scrambling up the bare wall of the scarp for about six feet. Mr. H. F. Silcock, C, S.]

The main attraction of the north-eastern side of the first plateau where the three bungalows of the European residents are situated, is a charming little pond, surrounded With jambhul trees on three sides and affording, owing to the lowness of its bank on the fourth, a grand view over the district spread out like a map below. From the south side the upper wall, which is here less precipitous than to the west, rises almost from the water, and the houses and pitching places studded with tents and reed huts seem to be dropped wherever there is a narrow ledge to be found. The water of the pond has a reputation for unwholesomeness, so a good well has been sank near the houses. There are, in addition to this pond, two others on this plateau, besides a few springs. In one of the ponds there is now little water after the end of the year, but in the other there is enough for the few cattle that are still allowed to graze above the darvaza.

The elevation above the sea is about 4300 feet on the upper scarp plateau, and about 3700 feet at the pond where the bungalows are. This height, the splendid views, the comparatively shaded walks, and the accessibility from Nasik, render the hill a resort of residents of the district during the months of April and May. The mists, from the collection on the hill of vapour-laden clouds that precede the monsoon, generally warn the sojourners to take flight by the end of the latter month. The conveyance of baggage up and down the hill forms a favourite source of livelihood to the Mhars of the village, who also reap the usual. perquisites that accompany the camps of temporary residents at places of this sort.

Though called a fort, the hill does not like Trimbak bear signs of having been adapted by artificial means for defence. What is known of its history seems to indicate that from the first time it was visited for purposes of state, it was intended only as a health resort. Raghunathrao, otherwise Baghoba Dada, the father of the last Peshwa, was exiled to Anandvali, a small village on the Godavari, to the west of Nasik. From thence he visited Anjaneri in the hot season, and built a sort of summer palace there. The remains of some out-buildings below the pond, as well as the names of the two minor ponds, show that his court accompanied him to his retreat with their retinue and the state elephants. One ruin is the Failkhana or Jail and to the west of the hill is the Hattitalao or Elephants’ Pond, while to the east is the Brahman Pond. The remains of the palace have been incorporated in part into the steps of the approach and partly into the walls of one of the bungalows. Just before reaching the embankment of the chief pond, on the north, there is on the right of the path a small square temple, so called, of Dhyan, which is really merely the retreat in which Baghunathrao used to meditate as the term shows. From a window in the west wall of this building a curious artificial breach in the scarp of the Trimbak Fort is visible. This is said by some of the neighbours to have been cut by order of Baghoba, who thus saw through the cleft the setting of the sun on a day supposed to be propitious for such an observation. To the back of the largest bungalow, in the scarp, is a small cave temple, without any indication of its object or dedication. Just below it, on a more gentle slope, an amphitheatre has been scooped in steps in the side of the hill with a stump of a jambhul in the centre overshadowed by living trees of the same sort, and here the missionaries’ of Sharanpur and Malegaon, who are regular visitors during the summer, hold the service of the Church of England. The same missionary, who tried to re-stock the wood with birds, made an attempt to introduce fish into the pond, but though the morel he put in as small fry have now (1880) grown to a very large size, they h
ave shown no signs of multiplying, and the same number, six, is seen basking on the surface, year after year. The experiment with the feathered tribe has been more successful, and the melancholy monotone of the koel is no longer the only sound that breaks the silence of the wood.

Below Anjaneri are the remains of large and highly finished temples, which seem to have been in their present ruined state for several hundred years. They are said to date from the time of the Gauli or Shepherd kings, that is, the Devgiri Yadavs (A.D. 1150-1308). In the centre piece of the door of all of them is a figure of a Jain Tirthankar in either a sitting or a standing posture, canopied by a hooded snake, and surrounded by rich foliage and highly finished cornices. One only has a large cross-legged image of a Tirthankar. Many other images have been thrown down and broken. Among other ruins there are figures of Ganesh. and the ling as worshipped at the present day. One of the temples with Jain figures has a Sanskrit inscription, dated 1140 (Shak 1063), recording the grant of the income of some shops to the Jain temple by a Vani minister of the Yadav ruler Seundev III. (?) [Dr. J, Wilson (1850) Jour. B. B. R. A. Soc. III.; Pandit Bhagvanlal Indraji.]

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