AVCHITGAD fort history

Avcitgad [Contributed by Mr. E. H. Moscardi, C. S. and Mr. T. S. Hamilton, C. S. for the 1st edition.] (Roha taluka) a fortified hill in Roha, 977 feet high, lies about three miles from Roha on the north side of the Kundalika river. It is built on a spur jutting out from the hill range which divides the Roha from the Alibag and Pen talukas. The fortified portion of this spur consists of a narrow flat-topped ridge, some 600 yards long and 800 to 1,000 feet high, with precipitous sides, separated from the rest of the spur by two ravines, the northern most of which extends about half way to the plain. The fort is approached by rough paths up watercourses, either from the southern or Roha side or from the village of Medha on the northern side. These two paths meet on a narrow neck of the spur and the further ascent is on the east side of the fort, passing the ruined plinth of what is said to have been a watch-tower up to the main gate, which is concealed in a recess between two bastions one of which is in ruins.

The walls of the fort are of rough workmanship, consisting of unhewn stones, whose interstices are filled with mortar and, smaller stones. The circular towers at each end of the fort are of carefully dressed and well fitted stones and are apparently of later date. In the wall of the southern tower is a slab hearing an inscription which gives a date corresponding with A. D. 1796 [The Marathi runs ‘Shri Ganeshayanamah and Shri Jaydev Shake 1718 Nal Nam Samvatsare Chaitra Shuddh Pratipada.]. From either tower the view is pleasing and extensive, embracing the Pen hills with Miryadohgar and Ratangad on the north, the long broken line of the Sahyadris with Khandala and the Duke’s Nose on the east, and the fertile valley of the Kundalika with the Roha and Janjira hills on the south and west. The arch of the main gate and all other remaining arches are of the plain cusped or ogee type. Some fifty yards from the northern tower lies a cast-iron gun about six feet long. A little further south is another, smaller, but of better finish and marked at the breech with the figures and letters 486 T. W., either of English make or a close copy. Still further down is another gun similar to, though rather longer than the first.

The south end of the fort, being wider than the north where it narrows to a point, is defended by a wall extending completely across the ridge. In the centre and at the highest point of the wall, is one of the large circular towers already mentioned, and at the west end of the wall is another small tower of rough workman-ship containing a small gun. Another gun from which, according to tradition, criminals used to be blown, lies at the north-west angle of the citadel, and in a rocky platform, just in front of it, round holes are pointed out as the sockets for the posts to which the victims were tied before execution. The view from the summit of the fort is very extensive. It embraces the Pen hills with Miryadohgar on the north, the line of the Sahyadris with Khandala and the Duke’s Nose on the east, and the valley of the Kundalika with the Roha and Janjira hills in south and west.

The buildings of interest within the fort are, next to the northern tower, the ruins of the sadar or Governor’s residence, which seems to have been a spacious and handsome building. At its north-east corner is a massive round tower, and in the south wall is a handsome door or window in the form of a pointed arch. Nearly opposite the gateway in the eastern wall are the remains of the sadar kaceri or commandant’s office, a building about sixty feet long by forty feet broad. No trace of this building remains but the plinth. Not far from it on the south side is the citadel. It is a rectangle of about 200 yards from north to south, and rather more than 100 yards, from east to west, taking up nearly the whole breadth of the fort at this point, which is about midway between its northern and southern ends. The defences of the citadel consist of a thick battlemented wall flanked at the corners by polygonal towers, There is also an octagonal tower in the middle of the northern wall, and several smaller round towers or buttresses in the eastern and western side walls. In the north wall are two gates one at each end; there is also a gate in the south wall near the western end. These gates are similar in shape and construction to the gate of the fort. The citadel has a large cistern about 100 feet across with twelve nearly equal sides. The sides are of hewn stone and very carefully built, nearly perpendicular, with a narrow flight of stone steps in one of the sides leading to the water. Near this, on the west side of the citadel, are seven rock-hewn cisterns, one of which extends partly under the western wall. In the midst of this group of cisterns is an unimpressive shrine in honour of a havaldar named Baji Pasalkar. In front of the shrine is a very elegant lamp-pillar or dipmal with a figure of Baji Pasalkar carved at base. Among the cisterns is also little shrine with an effigy of this same Baji Pasalkar. It is smeared with red lead, and offerings are made to it. Near the south-east corner of the citadel is a temple of Mahadev, with neatly cut images of Ganapati, Parvati and Visnu. Near here the powder magazine is said to have stood, but no trace of it remains. The fort area has no habitation at present. Four cisterns out of the eight mentioned above hold water, the others are filled with rubbish.

Avcitgad was taken, with Surgad, Pali and Bhorap by Colonel Prother’s force in February 1818. Tradition ascribes the building of the fort to Sivaji. The architect is said to have been a Musalman named Shaikh Muhammad, to whom also is ascribed the temple at Pingalsal at the foot of the hill [Bombay Courier, 21st February 1818.]. The name Avcitgad, apparently from the Sanskrt avcitta or haste, accords well with its rough style of building. The fort was the headquarters of a Subha in the Nizamshahi dynasty of Ahmadnagar.

The fort was probably built by the Silahara Kings.