Renovated Bhadra Fort : Ahmedabad

During our market visit days in mid 1990’s this area was in total state of disrepair and the only attraction for me was to visit the reputed Paragon hotel which served nice tomato soup and tandoori chicken. It was a pleasant surprise to see Teen Darwaza area transformed with renovation of the Bhadra Fort to it original status.
The fortress is managed by ASI after renovation and unfortunately it is closed on Sundays, we probably chose the wrong day to visit. But as they fortune favours the brave we requested the incharge and he was happy to let us inside but we were allowed only on the ground floor since upstairs was blocked because of holiday. We gladly entered the fortress and clicked some pictures of the clock tower and the boundary wall.

Historical background :
Bhadra fort was built by Ahmed Shah I in 1411. Just outside the gate of the fortress there is a temple of Bhadra Kali, a form of goddess Laxmi, seems to have been adopted as name for the fortress. The massive enterance gate served as a security point for the palace built by Ahmed Shah. The palace was named Bhadra Palace.
The Bhadra fort is situated on the eastern banks of river Sabarmati. Ahmed Shah captured the Karnavati region and renamed it as Ahmedabad and laid the foundation for the city in 1411. There were totally 8 gates built in various directions of the city. 3 gates were right in the midst which now known as Teen Darwaza. The fortress became a urban centre with dwellings. Muhammed Begada expanded the fortress with 12 gates and fortified with boundary walls to protect the city against invasion.
Historical evidence point to the fact that Moghuls captured the fort with a plaque mentioning Jehangir ( 1605-1627 ) and Aurangazeb visiting this fort and spending a few days. Most of the rulers seem to have accepted Moghul suzerenity. In 1779 the British pounced on this fortress and defeated the Marathas ruling at that time. The fort was handed over to Marathas under a treaty. Once again in 1817 British took charge of Ahmedabad and used the fort complex as jail.

Bhadra Clock Tower :
The mechanical clock tower was imported from London in 1849 and installed by the British East India company. During night times it was illuminated with Kerosene lamp being burnt in the background. In 1915 the lamp was replaced by electric bulb. The lamp ceased to operate in 1964. The AMC plans to repair the clock and ensure its working.
Azam Khan Sarai :
In 1637 a huge octagonal palace was built for the royal residents. It had a huge hall and a number of rooms housing the royal family. There were two floors and a balcony consisting of corridor leading to it. It was subsequently used by Moghuls as rest houses & hospital. The British used to house the prisoners.
Currently this building houses the civil court, post office and govt. office. During the republic and Independence day flag hoisting takes place.

Bhadra Kali Temple :
One of the rooms in Azam Khan Sarai was converted into a temple. It houses Bhadra Kali or another form of angry goddess Durga with four hands and beheaded demon in one hand with blood droppings.
There is a legend in circulation that goddess Laxmi wanted to leave the city, who was identified by the watchmen Siddique. He requested the goddess not to leave until he obtains the permission of the King. Inorder to retain prosperity to the city the watchmen beheaded himself. Thus prosperity never left the city of Ahmedabad.
A tomb was built in dedication of Siddique and Bhadrakali temple was established in the premise of the fort. A lamp is constantly burning with aid of a muslim family ever since.

Teen Darwaza :
Three massive enterance gate is located leading to Manek Chowk or Bazaar. In between one comes across the Jamia Masjid. Currently it is a huge whole sale market of Gujerat where in traders and buyers flock from all over the country. This road ultimately leads to the railway station.

Whatever said and done there has been a blood soaked historical transformation of Ahmedabad city. I would dare mention that the old heritage of Jain and Hindus have been completely decimated and its debris have used in the construction of some of the monuments. Though a demographic transformation has taken place along with geographical transformation the signs of hatred is missing. I hope there are no more frictions between the two major communities and signs of peace prevail and goddess Bhadrakali remains in the city.

Ack Photo : Gupta and Wiki   Charles


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