Gavilgad Fort History

Some three kilometres south of Chikhaldara plateau lies the Gawilgad fort on another plateau covering an extent of about one km2. now in ruins. The inside of the fort area has a plenty of grass growth which is cut by the Gawali folk of the adjoining villages for hay. The fort area is surrounded on all the sides except the north by precipitous slopes. On the north it is connected by a narrow ridge like feature with the Chikhaldara plateau. Besides Vairat and Chikhaldara, on the plateau of the Gawilgad ridge are some smaller villages such as Pastala and Nanagiri. A very remarkable feature of this ridge is that the descent from the relatively flat summit plateau is by a series of precipitous slopes one below the other separated by narrow steps of lesser gradients, most conspicuous on the slopes of the plateau of Vairat, Chikhaldara and Gawilgad fort area. From this main ridge the land slopes very steeply but irregularly through several minor ridges to the Amravati plains which begins at an altitude of 450 metres. These steep slopes are covered with tropical deciduous forests which have a drier appearance in summer than those on the north. North of the main ridge there is a succession of hills and valleys in a contused pattern clothed more luxuriantly than the southern part. Here the same deciduous species present a greener appearance even in summer, being the result of lesser gradients and probably also of the lesser degree of exposure to the sun from the south during a greater part of the year reducing the amount of loss of soil moisture by evaporation and of the greater amount of rainfall. For, the average annual rainfall is usually highest on the main ridge of the Gawilgad which amounts to 140 cm. The rainfall gradually decreases towards the north and west, the average annual rainfall at Dharni being 99.44 cm. It abruptly decreases towards the south of the main ridge. A majority of the rivers drain northwards and north-westwards towards the Tapi. The villages are located near these rivers and their tributaries but often at some distance from them on elevated ground on flat-topped areas. Apart from avoiding floods and slopes covered with thin soils, such a position affords freedom from frosts and heavy dews which damage the crops in lower areas. Agricultural areas are found in flat strips of land bordering the rivers especially the Garga and the Sipna in their lower courses, the Dharni plain connecting the two being the most extensive of this type. A smaller agricultural area is found adjoining the Tapi further north. The permanent water table in these two areas is approximately 30 feet below the surface. Therefore there are numerous wells supporting a somewhat dense population. The Katkumbh plateau is another agricultural area situated to the east of the northern forest tract at a height of 820 metres, which is close to the continuing part of the Gawilgad ridge in Betul district. The plateau has moderate undulations with abundant gently sloping land and hence it supports a relatively dense population.

GAVILGAD

Gavilgad: the fort of Gavilgad took its name from the pastoral Gavlis centuries ago. They have deserted the fort. now. There are no inhabitants save the occasional visits of a panther or two and the herds of cattle who come to drink water from the tanks which once supplied water to a stately court and a strong garrison. Even to-day two tanks are in good condition but they are heavily silted and there is an abundance of shrub growth inside them which has rendered the waters putrid and useless for drinking. The tanks are known as Devatalav and Khantalav. In the monsoon the water overflows in a torrent down the precipitous hill side. The durbar steps on which princes had held audience are a favourite resort for picnic from Cikhaldara in the hot weather, the great banyan tree which has spread its boughs across them affording a delightful shade; while another class of sightseers has scribbled its names on the walls of the lesser mosque. The Archaeological department has concluded that it is impossible to do anything to restore the ruins; and though money is spent from time to time in removing rank vegetation from the walls, they are bound, as years pass by, to lapse into greater decay.

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