Asirgarh

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This article has been extracted from

THE IMPERIAL GAZETTEER OF INDIA , 1908.

OXFORD, AT THE CLARENDON PRESS.

Note: National, provincial and district boundaries have changed considerably since 1908. Typically, old states, ‘divisions’ and districts have been broken into smaller units, units, and many tahsils upgraded to districts.Many units have since been renamed. Therefore, this article is being posted mainly for its historical value.

Asirgarh

Hill fort in the Burhanpur tahsil of Nimar District, Central Provinces, situated in 21 28' N. and 76 18' E., 29 miles from Khandwa, and 7 miles from Chandni station on the Great Indian Peninsula Railway. The fort was held until recently by a small detach- ment of native infantry from Mhow, but this was removed in 1904. It is situated on an outlying spur of the Satpura range, 850 feet high from the base and 2,283 above sea-level, and formerly commanded the main road from Hindustan to the Deccan. The area of the fort crowning the hill is about 60 acres, and except in two places it is surrounded by a sheer scarp 80 to 120 feet in depth. The two points of access are defended by ramparts, through one of which a narrow ascent of stone steps passes through five gateways to the fort. An outer line of works, called the lower fort, embraces an inferior branch of the hill immediately above the village. A sally-port has been con- structed through the underlying rock at the south-eastern corner. In the foundations of the fort are many vaulted chambers, probably old granaries. Firishta derived the name of Asirgarh from Asa Ahir, to whom he attributes the foundation of the fort ; but this is probably incorrect, as the name Aslr is repeatedly mentioned by the Rajput poet Chand. It may come from the Asi or Haihaya kings who ruled the Narbada valley from Maheswara.

In 1295 Asirgarh was a stronghold of the Chauhan Rajputs, and was stormed by Ala-ud-din Khiljl on his return from raiding the Deccan, the whole garrison being put to the sword except one boy. It was subsequently held by the last of the Fartiki kings of Khandesh, and taken by Akbar after a long siege in 1600. An inscription cut in the rock records this event. The main gateway was built in the reign of Jahanglr, and the mosque (subsequently used as a barrack) in the reign of Shah Jahan. A great bronze gun which was cast at Burhanpur in 1665 formerly stood on the western bastion, but has recently been removed to Government House, Nagpur. In 1803 Asirgarh was held by the Marathas, and was taken by a detach- ment of General Wellesley's army shortly after the battle of Assaye, but was restored on the conclusion of peace. It was again besieged by a British force in 1819, and taken after a siege of twenty days, during which there was a considerable amount of fighting, and the British lost a hundred native soldiers by an accidental explosion in a battery.

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