Conservation work in progress at the old Dongartal Fort in Ramtek tehsil.
By Shirish Borkar:
Archaeologists begin conservation work
WITH an increasing number of visitors to Dongartal Fort, about 67 km from Nagpur city and about 15 km from Mansar on the Nagpur-Jabalpur highway, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has undertaken its conservation work. . The fort is a centrally protected monument. After some plastering, stone flooring and de-siltation of the lake part, it would be added to the Ramtek, Khindsi, Nagardhan, Mansar and Pench Interstate National Park tourist circuit. Surrounded by hills and a lake, it is one of the rare examples of Mughal-Maratha brick architecture. It is a two-story fort with stone stairs leading to a well. Some historians say the fort had a secret tunnel, which led to another nearby fort, but which has now disappeared due to the Pench Dam.
The old fort of Dongartal with stairs leading to a well.
Some historians believe that the fort was built by a King Gond. Others are of the opinion that the greatest ruler of the Rajgond Bakht Buland Shah dynasty, the founder of Nagpur, was a great warrior and had conquered territories of the neighboring kingdoms of Chanda and Mandla, Pauni, Dongartal, Sivni and Katangi, parts of Nagpur, Balaghat, Seoni and Bhandara. He had also annexed the neighboring Rajput kingdom of Kherla. The present-day districts of Chhindwara and Betul also came under his control. A veteran archaeologist told ‘The Hitavada’ that he carried a two-line late pilgrimage recording on the rock. The fort dates back to the end of the medieval period and architecturally represents the Mughal-Maratha style. Each corner of the fort is provided with a minaret, while the walls are provided with merions adding strength and beauty. A square bell exists in front of the fort.
These types of forts were used for territorial expansion, transportation, trade, etc. In ancient and medieval times, these forts provided security for traders and common people who passed by the overland route. This place also attracts tourists of all faiths to a well maintained Durga temple and the tomb of Baba Alla Hazrat Ali Baux Lal Diwan Shah. Fortifications are military constructions and buildings designed for defense in war and military bases. From antiquity to medieval times, the construction of forts in urban and remote areas was an important means of territorial expansion. This fort belongs to the category ‘Vandurga’ (Forest Fort) and is located far from human habitation in a dense and inaccessible teak forest. It is one of the smaller forts in Nagpur district.