CHANDAN AND VANDAN FORT History

Candan and Vandan (Satara T; 17° 50′ N, 74° 00′ E; RS Rahimatpur 6 m. S; p. 1,379) forts are situated some ten miles north-east of Satara and stand out prominently from the range of hills running nearly south from Harali, the massive hill immediately east of the Khambataki pass and terminating with Jaranda nearly due east of Satara. Vandan the higher, larger, and more prominent of the two, 3,851 feet above sea level, lies in Malganv village of Satara taluka, and is approached most easily from Jaranda, a hamlet of Kikli. An approach to both the forts can be made from Ibrahimpur which is three miles from Ambevadi. The ascent is very steep. On the half-way to the fort is the Mari-aai temple. Further up, the ascent is steep and it becomes steeper as we go further up. On the fort the water is available but not potable. The path, which bears evidence of having been at one time a broad roughly-paved causeway with here and there some rude steps, ascends steeply the northern slope of the fort until it reaches the saddle between Vandan and Candan, then it doubles back along the eastern slope immediately under the lower of the two scarps for some distance almost level. About midway along the eastern side of the hill it again doubles back and the ascent is by a steep flight of rough steps to the first gate which looks nearly due south. The gateway is in order but the curtain behind it has fallen down and is completely ruinous. A sharp zigzag leads to the second gate which looks more ancient than the first gate and is nearly blocked up with stones. There is an inscription in Persian characters over the gateway. A covered way leads on from the gate to a point whence a very steep winding flight of stones leads direct to the top of the scarp or a more gradual gradient gives access to the top by walking round to the northern side. The lower scarp is a very perfect one and the only possible approach to the top is by the gateway first mentioned. Once within this gateway, now that the curtain has fallen down, the top can be reached by either route.

The area on the top is considerable and bears the appearance of having held a large garrison. The ruins and foundations of houses are very numerous up and in the south-east corner where there is a regular street. This quarter is pointed out as the Brahman ali. Immediately above it, approached by a broad flight of steps, are the ruins of the sarkarvada. Close by is a second large banyan and above a large shivri tree. These trees form conspicuous objects on the hill top from considerable distances around. Near the vada is a large room divided into three compartments and still completely roofed. More to the west is a mosque still in fair preservation, and at the extreme west corner is a considerable musalman bathing place with two roofed and walled tombs. A ministrant with a small patch of inam land still attends to them and the tombs themselves are covered with clothes. There are several large water reservoirs on the hill top, noticeably one close below the remains of sarkarvada, and another, near the Musalman burying place, which is still confined by masonry in fairly good order. Near the south-west corner there evidently was a large tank formed by excavation, the earth being thrown up near the edge of the precipice so as to form a dam. But the dam has been pierced evidently on purpose and the tank can hold no water now. The whole of the hill top is not level. An eminence rises with steep slopes on its southern half to a height of some 100 feet above the level of the sarkarvada. This eminence is surmounted with the ruins of a considerable building, the object of which unless it were a pleasure-house, is not evident.

The whole of the hill top is not walled. There are masonry walls at all the weak points and bastions at the angles. Captain Rose visited the fort in 1857 to burst the cannon none of which now remain. He probably also destroyed the dam. There used to be a subhedar on the hill. Some 200 gadkaris were attached to the fort and lived in the various hamlets around, chiefly to the north.

Candan, situated in Banavadi village of Koreganv taluka and separated from Vandan only by the saddleback scarcely half a mile across, is a slightly lower hill and wants the eminence on the top of Vandan. We come across one mosque on half way to the fort which is in dilapidated condition. The gate is at the south-east corner and the easiest ascent is from the north, crossing the north-cast slope of the hill. If visited from Vandan, difficult footpaths lead from the saddle either along the north-west or north slopes or along the south slope to’ the south-east angle where they join the regular approach near the gateway. The gateway is in no way remarkable, and once within, there is no further difficulty beyond a steep ascent to gain the level top. On the side of Vandan there is one mosque which is in dilapidated condition. There is no second gate, but, after passing an old temple of Mahadev and a fine banyan tree, a flight of fairly broad steps leads to the top of the hill between two curiously built pillars. They consist each of four huge unhewn stones piled one on another. It is said they were placed there when the fort was built about 1,600 A.D. by Ibrahim Adilshah II (1580-1626), the sixth Bijapur king [According to Grant Duff Chandan and Vandan were among the fifteen forts built by one of the Panhala kings about 1190. Marathas, Vol. I page 26 Note V.]. A local legend explains how the stones were erected. A huge stone was first made firm, then it was surrounded by earth, and up the back thus formed a second huge stone was rolled and pushed and fastened on the former. This operation was repeated again and again and finally the earth cleared away leaving the present pillars of huge stone rising to a height of some fifteen to twenty feet. The pillars are damaged through the passing of time. There is not much else of interest in the fort. There are evidences of the existence at one time of a very considerable population and traces remain of a fine sarkarvada and a room. The tank holds some water but does not afford enough supply when the visitors come, the dam having been evidently purposely damaged to prevent water being retained. A Subhedar formerly resided on the fort with villages from the Koreganv sub-division in his charge. As in the case of Vandan only the broken points were defended by masonry walls and angles by bastions. In 1673, Candan Vandan were among the forts which fell into Shivaji’s hand [Grant Duff’s Marathas, Vol. I, page 202.]. They were taken by Aurangzeb’s Officers in 1701[Grant Duff’s Marathas, Vol. I, page 303.] but were recaptured by Shahu after his release in 1707[Sardesai’s New History of the Marathas, Vol, II, page 9.]. During the civil war between Tarabai and Shahu, Shahu’s army was encamped at Candan Vandan in the rains of 1707[Grant Duff’s Marathas, Vol. I, page 318.]. Later in 1752, Peshva Balaji Bajirav kept a small force under Dadopant Vagh to keep a watch on Tarabai and to prevent her from making any mischief. In 1756 Tulaji Angre was kept as a prisoner by the Peshva in the same place for some time after the fall of Vijayadurg. In a revenue statement of about 1790 ‘ Candan-Vandan’ are mentioned as the headquarters of paragana in the Bijapur Subha with a revenue of Rs. 21,644[Waring’s Marathas, 244. The statement also- mentions ‘ Chenden ‘ separately with an income of Rs. 20,786. Ditto.]. They fell in 1818 to the British.

The forts are deserted and visitors, mostly Muslims, visit these forts at the time of urus.

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