Bandhavgarh Fort Umaria

Bandhavgarh Fort Umaria: History

It is Situated on Bandhavgarh hills in Bandhavgarh forest of Umaria district in Madhya Pradesh, rising 811 meters above sea level at the centre of the Bandhavgarh National Park. On the hilltop, atop a plateau of 4sq km, that fort is built. This Monument fort has a rich history. No records are available to show when Bandhavgarh fort was constructed. It is thought, however, to be some 2000 years old, and there are references to it in the ancient books, the "Narad-Panch Ratra" and the "Shiva Purana".

Around the forts, there are caves dug in sandstone which are 2000 years old with Brahmi scripture on the walls. These caves are said to be the meditating place of a lot of sages, until the 12th century when Baghels laid a claim on it. The Fort was also ruled by the Royal family of Reva who still owns the fort. We could see the traces those royal families left behind when they vacated the fort. We saw the treasury, the horse stable, and the temple.

We entered the fort through the main gate called Karn Pole and came across Lord Vishnu’s Dashavatar statues and the lakes inside the fort. The Vishnu statues are not alone and are accompanied by Shivlingas as well. The fort is also home to many of the endangered species of Vulture in India. Regional folklore suggests that Bandhavgarh Fort was constructed by rulers of the Gond Empire. Gond kings of the Pandro caste are the original builders of this fort, and descendants of Gond kings still live near the fort. Gond kings constructed 12 talab ponds, of which only few remain. This fort's construction and architecture are similar to other forts built by Gond Kings. There are a few statues depicting the reincarnations of Vishnu (avatar) - like one of the Fish and another of the Turtle. There are some remaining ponds on the hill e.g. Rani Talab(Queen's Pond). There is a viewpoint on the hill called Suicide point, from which if one is lucky one can see the vultures in flight.

We were told that the renowned mystic poet and saint also stayed and preached here. There’s a Kabir hermitage inside the fort and our guide showed us the escape place that Kabir used to move out from the Fort, to Kashi, where apparently he met with his Guru. Till date, there is a two-day festival for Kabir Panthis when they accumulate inside the fort. It happens in the month of December and there’s a huge gathering of Kabir followers worldwide who come barefoot.

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