By : Prashant Nikale
In 1740 the Sardar of Peshwas Naroshankar built a Bhuikot Killa (fort that is built on flat land and not on any mountain), Bhui means Land in Marathi. The fort is now known as Malegaon Fort. There is no name anywhere or any evidence that can prove that this fort was built by Naroshankar, says reports of archaeology.
The fort is close to the city and as Malegaon is connected by the Mumbai-Agra highway, it is very easy to access the fort. The fort is very close to Mausam river. The fort is in square shape in 100.33 square metre area. There are two security walls built around the fort with burnt bricks. The walls are 20 m in height and 3.35 m width.
The river Mausam acts as a natural protection to the fort. There are also trenches built for security with 25 feet depth and 16 feet width. The trenches were used to get filled with the river water, as per the archaeological report. There is only one way to enter the fort, after crossing the trench there are two doors from where one can enter into the fort. There is a place between the fort wall and the door to attack, which is a common in every fort structure.
There is only one structure remaining in fort which is called as ‘Rangmahal’. The stables, rooms for soldiers and steps to go up on the security wall are build by using the width of the security wall. The fort has wells built on west and south- west side. Bastions are built on all sides of fort with place for cannons. Though the fort was build by Naroshankar as per traditional saying, the fort was in the control of Peshwas as he was their cavalier.
After the defeat of Peshwas in 1818 by the British, all the forts in Maharashtra were captured by them and this fort was no exception. The story of capturing this fort is documented by British. In the book ‘Marathyanchya Ladhaicha Itihas’ by Paranjape, the reference of this document is given. Accordingly, On May 16, 1818, Lieutenant Colonel Macdowell surrounded the fort with his soldiers.
The British were unaware about the strength of the fort and they took it lightly as the fort was small. After trying to break into the fort, they succeeded in breaking a part of a wall, but when they did, there was another wall waiting for them. By seeing this Lt Natis, a british engineer, tried to climb the other wall by using ladder but the ladders collapsed and Natis got killed.
The camp of Macdowell was in south and after that it was moved to right side of the Mausam river. As it was a starting of the rainy season the camp faced threat of flood in river, so they moved the camp to town side. By taking shelter on south of the river under trees, the soldiers started cannon attack on fort. A trench parallel to river was dug by the British. The army of Britishers was increasing every day but the Arabs in the fort got locked in the fort. From May 16 to 29 British forces tried to conquer the fort but failed.
On June 1 the camp was moved again and on June 5, attack was made with a howitzer cannon but it was of no use. Then more cannon forces were called from Ahmednagar. On the morning of June 11, two gun powder store rooms of the fort came under fire and because of its blast, the walls of the fort collapsed and finally on June 13 , the fort was captured by the British.