Chanderi is a town in Madhya Pradesh that is synonymous with its gorgeous sarees. Everyone loves a good Chanderi silk saree. However, this is not the only feature that the historic town of Chanderi is famous for.
Chanderi Fort is a glorious piece of architecture that is situated in Ashok Nagar district of Madhya Pradesh. It is a colossal Mughal fort that looks down on the old town of Chanderi.
Chanderi gained importance in the 11th century owing to its proximity to the ancient ports of Gujarat. Surrounded by picturesque hills, lakes and forests, Chanderi became a prominent military outpost during this time.
Chanderi Fort is situated at a height of 71 metres, above the town on a hill called Chandragiri. The fort is 5 km long and 1 km broad. The inscriptions that are excavated from the fort, which are in Gwalior Museum at present, say that this fort was built by Kirti Pal, a Pratihara king in the 11th century.
The original fort had very little to spare. The fort was later rebuilt by Mughals and Bundelas to suit their architectural style and taste. The mahals inside the fort were constructed by the rulers of the Bundela kingdom. The rulers from the Mughal era, like Allauddin Khilji and Babur, put in a lot of effort to fortify the area.
Chanderi Fort has three entrances/gates. One of the popularly known gates is Khooni Darwaza. The prisoners are believed to have been thrown from the fortification above Khooni Darwaza and their bodies shattered to pieces below. Hence, the name Khooni Darwaza which translates to 'gate soaked in blood'. There's another gate on the south-west of the fort, known as Kati Ghati. It is 59 metres in length, 12 metres in breadth and 24.6 metres in height.
Johar Smarak is an area that is located right outside the fort complex. It is here that women from the Rajput kingdom are believed to have self-immolated in fire (johar) by throwing themselves into Johal Tal after Medini Rai left to fight the battle with the Mughals. There is a stone plaque that depicts this situation inside a canopy towering over Johar Tal.
There is a Samadhi near the Johar Smarak. This belongs to Baiju Bawra, a renowned and celebrated musician. Born in Chanderi, he was a student of Swami Haridas of Vrindavan. He was very much attracted to the beauty of Chanderi and composed many a song in its honour. Attested to the court of Raja Man Singh of Gwalior, Baiju Bawara is reputed for defeating Tansen, who was the court poet of Akbar.
Inside the fort is a three-storied palace with a fountain and a tank in its courtyard and bastions and watchtowers in the corners. There is a masjid situated at the entrance of the fort. This masjid is believed to be from the 14th century. The masjid exhibits splendid architecture with intricately carved mihrabs and verses from the Quran.
Hawa Paur is a balcony from which we are blessed with a beautiful view of Chanderi town.
Chanderi Fort is an utterly gorgeous piece of architecture that will enthuse the muse in you. The view of Chanderi town from the fort is simply mind-blowing. Therefore, a trip to the fort is highly recommended when you are in Chanderi.