Galna Fort



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 Wuji and Malik Ashraf, the governors of Daulatabad, took it and held it for some time. They brought the country into excellent order. In their contest with Malik Ahmad Nizam Shah of Ahmadnagar, and the disturbances that followed the murder of Malik Wuji, 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 Malik Ahmad Nizam Shah in 1506. On the death of Malik Ahmad Nizam Shah in 1510 the Galna chief once more threw off his allegiance and could not be made a tributary till 1530, when, with other Maratha chiefs, he was defeated and forced to pay tribute. Again he became indepen­dent, and in 1560 had once more to be brought under subjection. In 1634 Muhammad Khan, the Musalman commandant of Galna, intended to deliver the fort to Shahaji, 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. In the wars between the Marathas and Moghals at the close of the eighteenth century the fort changed hands more than once. It was attacked by Aurangzeb in 1704 and taken after a long siege in 1705. In 1750, under the name Kelna, Galna is mentioned as a Khandesh fort bounding Khandesh on the south. According to a statement prepared from Maratha records about 1800, Galna in the Khandesh-Burhanpur subha gave its name to a sircar of seven parganas and yielded a yearly revenue of about Rs. 2,10,000. In December 1804, after a slight resistance, Galna was taken from Holkar by Colonel Wallace. In March 1818 it was evacuated by the commandant and garrison and occupied by a company of Native Infantry. In 1862 it was found to be ruinous. Galna fort seems at one time to have been used as a sanatorium 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. 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, traces of which remain. For a few years after 1818 a Mamlatdar held his office in Galna village.

Places of Interest 
The upper walls have bastions, which are semi-circles 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 (304.80 metres) 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 are still seen on the round bastions at every eighty or hundred yards (73.15 to 91.44 metres) 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 east, 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. 1569 (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. This slab contained, a Devnagari inscription dated A. D. 1580 (Saka 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 as 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 flights 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. 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 (27.43 metres) of the wall, and between this tower and the mosque there are the idol of Galneshvara Mahadeva, five cisterns and a series of rock-cut caves. 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 feet broad (14.63 X 7.62 metres), and has a handsomely-carved stone window opening on a balcony surmounted by an elegant cupola which unfolds a fine 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 (24 to 28.97 km.) 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 Tapi. To the east, the wide valley of the Tapi, 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 Tapi to the peaks of the Sahyadri range round Saptashring and Dhodap, from which the chain 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.

How to Reach
Galna Fort lies about fourteen miles (22.53 km.) north of Malegaon. It consists of a circular detached hill with a fairly flat top affording an area of twenty or thirty acres (8 to 12.14 hectares). The top is 2,316 feet (706 metres) above mean sea-level or about 800 feet (243.84 metres) above the plain. It is accessible only by a broad flight of steps, now in a ruined condition, 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 (6 metres) 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.

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