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Kalinjar Fort, UP East

Kalinjar Fort Overview

Kalinjar in the Banda district of Uttar Pradesh has an ancient fort which rises above agricultural countryside. This mighty fort crowning a hill has been the scene of historic battles, for 'Lord of Kalinjar' was a coveted title. The origins of this stronghold are enmeshed in myths which link it to the legendary Kind Bharata, as well as Lord Shiva. Historically, the fort is associated with the Chandella rulers of Bundelkhand. A polished stone at the entrance of the Neelkanth Temple proclaims the Chandella lineage. Kalinjar was a Chandella stronghold from the 9th to the 15th Centuries, and strategically important till the time of the Mughals. During these centuries the fort was attacked by Mohammad Ghaznavi in 1019 and 1022 and by Qutb ud din Aibak who in 1203 defeated the last Chandela ruler Parmadideva. The Mughal emperor Humayun attacked the fort, but it was Akbar who finally conquered it in 1569. He gifted it to Birbal, one of the "nine jewels" of his court. From Birbal it passed into the hands of Chhatrasal, the legendary Bundela leader and thence to Hardev Shah of Panna before falling into British hands in 1812 The town of Kalinjar was also encircled by ramparts pierced by four gateways. Of these three remain - Kamta Dwar, Panna Dwar and Rewa Dwar. The entrance to the fort is at the foot of the hill. To the right of the path is the Rathore Mahal, built by Akbar in 1583. The steep and stony path to the fort is marked by seven gates - the Alamgir Darwaza, Ganesh Dwar, Chauburji Darwaza, Budha Bhadra Darwaza, Hanuman Dwar, Lal Darwaza and Bara Darwaza. Fine sculpted figures lend their names to these portals. Among places of interest within the fort are Sita Sej, a small cave with a stone bed and pillow once used by hermits; the Patal Ganga or underground Ganga which is a reservoir cut in the rock; the Pandu Kund, where water trickles from horizontal striations in the rocks; the Budha - Budhi taal, whose waters possess great healing powers believed to cure leprosy; the Gajantak Shiva image popularly known as Manduk Bhairon and Bhairvi carved on the rock face ; and the Koti Tirth a large water reservoir, are among important places of pilgrimage at Kalinjar. Kalinjar's holiest shrine is the Neelkanth's Temple built by Parmardideva. The way to the shrine is marked by weathered inscriptions and marvellous carved images of shiva, Kala Bhairon, Ganesha and Hanuman.

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