“Architecture is all around us and what is all around us must affect us. Architecture provides us continuity with the past and connects us.”

Maharashtra is adorned with several historical monuments which reflect its tradition and culture. Due to its unique geography, Maharashtra has always marvelled at a variety of styles of fort construction. Its buildings and architectural designs have differentiated based on their geography and location, such as the plains, coastal locations, hilly terrain, or dense forests. Architecture functions as a symbolic representation of the ideals that govern the entity that it represents. Designers infused elegance into the construction while reflecting the political philosophy. Governance of Architecture displayed the ruling authority’s understanding and opinions and was leveraged to influence their perspective on the public, playing a stealthy chance to preserve control. Forts, called ‘Killa’ in Maharashtra, have been the primary defence mechanism against enemy attacks from ancient times. Numerous forts and monuments have survived the tumult of cities and towns. They were both naturally and artificially fortified human settlements, guarded by natural and man-made elements such as hills, woods, deserts, and seas, as well as man-made stone constructions that formed protective armour around them.

Bhudargad Fort, Bidri, Maharashtra - Sheet1
Bhudargad fort interior walls and walkways_©http://trekshitiz.com/

Architecture is not simply categorized as representing an architect’s exquisite and formal inclinations, but it can also reveal a society’s hopes, power struggles, and elements of culture. First, buildings orient, and in some cases, force, human behaviour monumental architecture from history gave the features and charm of its structure while also establishing a relationship with the political framework. Identifying, narrating, and measuring quality is a complex and challenging topic in the heritage sector. Various factors help us to comprehend reality and enable cultures in creating a system that explains their cultural and social activities. These monuments are significant for preserving Maharashtra’s heritage and will aid in the growth and marketing of tourism. Forts are such architectural entities that offer us a glimpse of the past. As the winds of transformation sweep through, the significance of these forts varies. 

Bhudargad Fort is situated near Paal village in Maharashtra’s Kolhapur District. It is sitting atop a massive vertical rock. King Bhoj of the Shilahara dynasty built the fort in the 12th Century. It is located approximately 63km south of Kolhapur and is easily accessible by roadways. The ruins are still undamaged. This fort at Gargoti in Bhudargad taluka is 800 meters long and 700 meters wide and is known for its Jagurt shrine of Bhairavnath. It scales up to a height of 3198 feet. The fort has two entrances. However, the coast had disintegrated in several spots.

Furthermore, the structure’s walls are constructed with stone, laterite rocks, lime, and wrought stone. Many of the exterior walls have been rebuilt in purple stone. Some remains of the fortification, the Dudhsagar Lake, Kedarling temple, Bahiroba temple, and Jakhubai temple are nearby attractions. Bhudargarh was renovated and reinforced by Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj to make it a strong military station. The Mughal Empire Mughals could capture this thane in a short amount of time. Five years later, the Marathas launched a surprise attack on Bhudargad, capturing it as well as killing the Mughal chieftain.

Bhudargad Fort, Bidri, Maharashtra - Sheet2
Dudhsagar lake inside the fort premises_©https://www.kolhapurtourism.org/our-destination/patgaon-dam-bhudargad/

In the second half of the 18th Century, Parashurambhau Patwardhan seized and took possession of the fort’s Shibandi. For ten years, he was under their influence. In 1844 AD, some Kolhapur residents revolted and took control of several forts. Samangad and Bhudargad stood out among them. To beat them, General DeLaMotti marched his force. British forces took complete possession of Bhudargarh on October 13, 1844. To avoid such insurrection attempts in the future, the British dismantled several of the fortifications.

The temple is the first thing you notice as you approach the Bhudargad fort. While the temple has existed since the time of the Hemadpanti dynasty, there have been recent changes. One may observe the remains of several old structures, such as the courtroom where legal processes took place. The distinctive semi-circular defence structure with two bastions, one above the other, makes the fort popular among architecture Enthusiasts. The bastions are equipped with a gun barrage. This well-connected structure might have been handy for keeping an eye on the entire 180 degrees of the surroundings. 

Bhudargad Fort, Bidri, Maharashtra - Sheet3
Cannon placed near bastions for safeguarding the fort_ ©https://mapio.net/pic/p-38147274/
Bhudargad Fort, Bidri, Maharashtra - Sheet4
Shivling Temple inside temple premises_©https://in.pinterest.com/pin/gadshilp-bhudargad–575897871099109665/

While strolling through the paths of the fort, one can stop along the way to see the Shiva Temple. Outside the temple, you see a Nandi idol. The shrine has a magnificent statue of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj in the interiors. Behind the temple is a palace that is constructed out of locally available laterite rocks. This space was supposed to be the central court. After crossing this, one shall come to Bhudargad’s most prominent attraction- The Dudhsagar lake. It is what the locals name it, and it translates to “sea of milk” because the water appears white. The local soil causes whiteness. This lake has a lot of remnants of old-style houses and settlements.

Even though there is minimal climbing, exploring the entire fort requires at least a 4-kilometre walk. One will be able to experience the serenity of nature, the relaxing pleasure of being lakeside, and the surreal experience of learning about our forefathers’ lives and times. The monsoon season is ideal for exploring this fort. There is no forest to traverse, no cliff to scale, and no difficult walking to be done. Bhudargad is one of the most beautiful spots in the country. The fort stands on a plateau and overlooks a lake on one side and beautiful flora on the other, making it easy for anyone to spend time at the fort.


Online Sources: 

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  8. RTF | Rethinking the Future. (2021). Architecture as a Political Instrument. [online] Available at: https://www.re-thinkingthefuture.com/designing-for-typologies/a3327architecture-as-a-political-instrument/ [Accessed 12 Nov. 2022].
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An explorer at heart, Kasturi Kunte is on a journey to discover the diverse world of art, architecture, and technology. She is a young architect who believes architecture is about binding humans, nature, art and built spaces together. She is currently exploring the field of writing and researching Architecture.

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