Ajaigarh Town

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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.

Ajaigarh Town

Chief town of the State of the same name in Central India, situated in 24 degree 54' N. and 8o° 18 E., at the foot of the old fort. Population (1901), 4,216. The modern capital is known as the Naushahr or ' new city,' and lies at the north end of the rock on which the fort stands. It is in no way remarkable, but has been much improved by the present chief. High above the town towers the great fort, one of those strongholds known traditionally as the Ath Kot, or ' eight forts,' of Bundelkhand, which, with the natural ruggedness of the country, long enabled the Bundelas to maintain their independence against the armies of the Mughals and Marathas. It was ultimately taken by Ali Bahadur of Banda in 1800 after a siege of ten months. In 1803 Colonel Meiselbeck was sent to take possession, in accordance with the terms of a treaty with Ali Bahadur ; but the Muhammadan governor was induced by one Lachhman Daowa, who had formerly been the governor under Bakht Singh, to make over the fort to him in return for a bribe of Rs. 18,000.

On February 13, 1809, it was taken by Colonel Marthedell after a desperate assault, Lachhman Daowa withdrawing.

The hill on which the fort stands, called the Kedar Parbat, is an outlier of Kaimur sandstone resting on gneiss, and rising 860 feet above the plain below, the fort being 1,744 feet above sea-level. The slope is gradual up to about 50 feet from the summit, where it suddenly becomes a perpendicular scarp, adding greatly to the defensive strength of the position.

The name by which the fort is now known is comparatively speaking modern, and is not used in the numerous inscriptions found upon it, in which it is always called Jaya pura durga Although it was undoubtedly built about the ninth century, and was always a place of importance, it is Never mentioned by any Muhamadan his- torian except Abul Fazal, who merely records that it was the head quaters of a mahal in the Kalinjar sarkar, and notes that it had a stone fort on a hill.

Its present name is a corruption of Jaya-durga, through its synonym Jaya-garh, the legend ordinarily given, which accounts for its foundation by one Ajaipal of the Chauhan house of Ajmir, being a modern invention.

The battlements of the fort follow the top contour oc the hill, and have the form of a rough triangle 3 miles in circuit. It was formerly entered by five gates, but three are now blocked up. rampart, which Never has the same dimension in height, breadth, or depth for three yards running, is composed of immense blocks of stone without cement of any kind, the parapet upon it being divided into merlons resembling mitres. Muhammadan handiwork is apparent in the numerous delicately carved stones from Jain temples which have been inserted into the walls.

Many tanks exist on the summit and sides of the hill, several giving a good supply of pure water. The ruins of three Jain temples are still standing. They are built in twelfth-century style. very similar to those at Khajraho. The stones are richly carved with fine designs, and the temples must once have been magnificent specimens of their class. Countless broken remains of idols, pillars, cornices, and pedestals lie strewn around, while several inscriptions of the later Chandel period, dating from 1141 to 1315, have been dis- covered in the buildings.

The sides of the hill and all the surrounding country are covered with a thick forest ol teak and tendu (Diospyros tomenfosa), which adds to the wild picturesqueness of the scene. The town contains a primary school, a British post office, and a dispensary.

[A. Cunningham, Archaeological Survey Reports, vol. vii. p. 46 ; vol. xxi, p. 46.]

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