Galna Fort History

Galna [From a paper by Mr. A. Richardson, C.S., in the Journal of the Bombay Branch Royal Asiatic Society, VI. 143-145.] Fort lies about fourteen miles north of Malegaon. It consists of a circular detached hill with fairly flat top affording an area of twenty or thirty acres. The top is 2316 feet above mean sea, level or about 800 feet above the plain. It is accessible only by a broad flight of steps cut into the northern face. These steps cross the hill from east to west, and then reversing the line climb again to the eastward, and pass under four gateways, Parkot, Lokhandi, Kotval Pir, and Lakha. Of these the Lokhandi gate is remarkably handsome and is lined with iron plates from which it takes its name. There is a small opening in one fold of this gate to admit a single man. The third and fourth gateways, at about two-thirds of the ascent from the town/ are approached by covered ways and are furnished with strong iron-cased doors and surmounted by walls nearly twenty feet thick, where the gateways are situated. These walls are continued westward and eastward along the face of the hill till they unite in the highest battlements on the west and on the east ends of the hill, while a single wall encircles the plateau on the east, south, and west sides.

The upper walls are perfect and contain magazines of various sizes in each of the bastions, which are semicircles and must have commanded the approach in every direction on the south and west, while the face of the hill, being almost perpendicular for nearly one thousand feet below the wall, the lines are as straight as the outlines of the rock allow, and have been defended by large wall pieces, which were moved on iron pivots many of which ore still soon on the round bast ions at every eighty or hundred yards on the west and north faces. The south side of the hill is a bare scarp for many feet from the wall, and, at about two-thirds of the length from the cast, there is a bastion in which are arches of Saracenic form between the central two of which was a slab containing a Persian inscription dated A.D. 1509 (H. 977). There was a second slab in a niche between the battlements, fronting the north and surmounting a row of cellars furnished with moderate sized windows, and probably intended for residences. [In 1856, in cells which had no windows, there were heaps of small stones, cannon balls of various sizes, and a large quantity of damaged gunpowder.] This slab contened a Devnagari inscription dated A.D. 1580 (Shak 1502). Below the date were four lines in Persian to the effect that this bastion was built by one Muhammad Ali Khan and completed on the first of Rabi-ul-Akhir Hijri, or from the employment of the Arabic numerals it may be Sursan, 985, which will make the date fourteen years later or 1583.

This tower and bastion is close to the north-west corner of the fort, a part where the whole of the wall shows marks of repairs, which must have been recent compared with the ruins of the original structure in the valley below. From this tower a narrow stone pavement, which connects the whole circle of the battlements by flight? of steps, leads east towards the entrance gateways, to a second tower built so as to command the entire ascent, and immediately facing the third and fourth gateways at different elevations. From this second tower the side of the hill, whose slope makes the plateau on the top more conical towards the east than towards the west, admitted of two walls with batteries for swivel guns and pierced with loopholes at every elevation. At the second tower there was a third tablet dated A.D. 1587 (H. 993), which ascribed its foundation to Muhammad Ali. [This with the two tablets mentioned above are in the museum of the Bombay Branch Royal Asiatic Society. There is still a Persian inscription in place which may be translated: ‘God be honoured. A minaret was erected on the fort of Kaland (Galna) during the time of the venerable Paslad Khan. Written by the hand of Syed Ismail biu Syed Munna Husain, a servant….of the Prophet of God.’ Mr, H. E. Winter, C.S.] Underneath the tower were many cells filled with bad powder and small balls of limestone or trap. The hill above this spot approaches within thirty yards of the wall, and between this tower and the mosque there are the idol of Galneshvar Mahadev, five cisterns, and a series of rock-cut caves. [The remains of walls seem to show that some of the caves were used for stores or for prisoners.] Beyond the caves is a handsome mosque, open, to the east, upon a stone terrace, from which a few steps lead down to a square masonry cistern, beyond which again begins the descent to the plain. The mosque consists of one room about forty-eight feet long by twenty-five broad, and has a handsomely carved stone window opening on a balcony surmounted by an elegant cupola from which there is a very good view. A stone staircase leads to the roof of the mosque which is surmounted by six small domes; close by are the ruins of a palace called the Pleasure Palace or Rang Mahal.


The view from Galna is magnificent. On the south, ranges of low hills, a most difficult country, fall behind each other to the bank of the Panjhra, fifteen to eighteen miles distant, and the green masses of trees, the white houses, and the long walls of the jail at Dhulia ‘are distinctly visible in the declining sun. The distant northern horizon is bordered by the dim but picturesque outlines of the Satpuda hills beyond the Tapti. To the east, the wide valley of the Tapti, crossed by the rapid but scanty streams which water Khandesh, forms a plain, which, but for the abrupt peak of Laling fort and the rough forms of the hills near it, continues unbroken, till it vanishes in the mists which hang over the cotton fields of Berar. On the west, an impenetrable mass of mountains of every variety of shape and hue, stretches from the Tapti to the peaks of the Sahyadri range round Saptashring and Dhodap, from which the chniu is continued in bleak outline of cone and tableland, until far in the south-east the dim figures of the Chandor range sink into the plains beyond Ajanta.


Galna was an important place at the end of the fifteenth century It had for some time been held by a plundering Maratha chief when, about 1487, two brothers Malik Wagi and Malik Ashraf, the governers of Daulatabad, took it and held it for some time. In their contests with Ahmad Nizam Shah of Ahmadnagar, and the disturbances that followed the murder of Malik Wagi, the Musalmans seem to have been forced to give up Galna, and it again passed to a Maratha chief who was reduced to order and made to pay tribute by Nizam Shah in 1506. [Briggs’ Ferishta, III. 200-204; Scott’s Deccan, I. 352-355.] On the death of Nizam Shah in 1508 the Galna chief once more threw off his allegiance and was not made tributary till 1500, when, with other Maratha chiefs, he was defeated and forced to pay tribute. He again became independent, and in 1500 had once more to be brought to order. [Briggs’ Ferishta, III. 239.] In 1634 Muhammad Khan, the Musalman commandant of Galna, intended to deliver the fort to Shahu, who had possessed himself of Nasik, Trimbak, Sangamner, and Junnar, as far as the country of the Konkan. But, after promises of imperial favour and of a great reward, Muhammad Khan delivered the fort to the representatives of the emperor. [Elliot and Dowson, VII. 35.] In 1079, Shivaji plundered Galna, and, in the wars between the Marathas and Moghals at the close of the eighteenth century the fort more than once changed hands. It was attacked by Aurangzeb in 1704 and taken after a long siege in 1705. [Scott’s Deccan, II. 109. During this siege the Marathas stopped all supplies to the imperial camp, and numbers died of famine. Such was their insolence that once a week, they offered prayers for the long life of Aurangzeb, because his mode of making war was so favourable to their success.] In 1750, under the name Kelna, Galna is mentioned as a Khandesh fort bounding Khandesh on the south. According to a statement prepared from Marat

ha records about 1800, Galna in the Khandesh-Burhanpur subha gave its name to a sircar of seven paryanas and yielded a yearly revenue of about £21,000 (Rs. 2,10,000) [Waring’s Marathas, 258. ] In December 1804, after a slight resistance, Galna was taken by Colonel Wallace. [Grant Duff’s Marathas, 595.] In March 1818 it was evacuated by the commandant and garrison and occupied by a company of Native Infantry. [Asiatic Journal, VI. 411.] In 1862 it was found to be ruinous. Galna fort seems at one time to have been used as a sanitarium for Dhulia. There are the ruins of one or two houses on the top, and the tomb of a young European officer, who is said to have committed suicide from grief at having killed an old woman while he was shooting bears. [The inscription on the tomb is: ‘ Sacred to the memory of Lt. I. Allsop, XIth RT.M. N I., OBT NovR 7th, A.D, 1805. AET 16.’ Mr. H.E. Winter, C.S.] There are also seven Musalman tombs on the hill top. Immediately below and to the north-east of the fort lies the village of; Galna. It appears to have been of great size and importance and was protected by a double line of defences, traced of which remain. The present population of the Tillage is about 500, including some well-to-do moneylenders. For a few years after 1818 a mamlatdar held his office in Galna village.

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