KENJALGAD Fort History OR GHERA KHELANJA

Kenjalgad or Ghera Khelanja Fort, (Wai T; 18° 10′ N, 73° 55′ E; RS Wathar 18 m. SE; p. 2,096) 4,269 feet above sea level, is situated on the Mandhardev spur of the Mahadev range eleven miles north-west of Wai. It is a flat-topped hill of an irregular oval shape, about 250 yards long and one hundred yards wide at the extremes, looking remarkably strong both from a far and near. But on ascending it is found to be commanded by the Yeruli Asre and Doicivadi plateaus about two miles to the east which are easily ascended from the Wai side, and the Jambli hills about a mile to the west. The fort forms a village in itself but has to be ascended from the villages of Asre or Khavli which lie at its foot on the Wai side. The ascent is by about two miles of a very steep climb or the Asre-Titeghar bridle path can be followed for two miles and then a tolerably easy path leads due west from the pass another mile on to the fort. The fort is a black scarp rising vertically from the main ridge which is hogbacked. The scarp is one of the highest in any of the Satara forts and reaches in places eighty to a hundred feet. The only entrance is on the north side up a set of a hundred steps running parallel to the line of the scarp till within four or seven feet of the top, when they turn at right angles to it and cut straight into a passage leading on to the top. The steps are peculiarly imposing and differ from any others in the district. Thus on entering, the scarp is on the left and there is nothing on the right till the passage is reached, and invaders ascending would be liable to be hurled back over the cliff. At the foot of the steps is a bastion which evidently flanked a gateway. There are remains of six large and three small buildings, all modern. The head-quarters or kacheri is only marked by a large fig tree. The only building thoroughly recognizable is the powder magazine on the west which is about thirty feet square with strong stone walls three feet thick and seven feet high and three feet of brick on the top. The walls of the fort were originally of large square cut blocks of unmortared stone, but were afterwards added to in many places. They are in most places fully four feet thick and including the rampart about eight feet thick. There was a parapet of lighter work mostly ruined. The fort has three large water tanks about forty feet square and six small ones for storage of water and grain. But there is no living spring inside the fort. The largest tank is in the southern face and is quite thirty feet deep. The tanks were emptied when the fort was dismantled by blowing up the outer sides which were formed by the ramparts and letting the water empty itself down the hill side. On the west is a sort of nose projecting beyond and a little lower than the main ridge of the fort, also strongly fortified. There is a narrow promenade on the ridge at the foot of the scarp and on the north side is a large cave with excellent water and partly used for storage purposes. The village lies about 300 feet below on a ledge of the northern hill slope. To its immediate west is a dense temple grove of jambhul and anjan. The village of Voholi, on the north side of this range, the inhabitants of which were part of the hereditary garrison, is in a hollow to the north-west. Khelanja fort is said to have been built by the Bhoj Rajas of Panhala who flourished in the twelfth century. Its remarkable strength was noticed by Mr. Elphinstone who says it could scarcely be taken if resolutely defended. The guns on the Kenjalgad fort opened fire before surrendering to the detachment sent by General Pritzler up the Wai valley about the 26th of March 1818.

Leave a Reply