Ever since world came into being, many empires have ruled in different parts of the world and history bears witness to the rise and fall of these empires. But each empire/ dynasty has left some traces behind that bridge the past and the present.
The empires made history through their administrative setups, art and architecture etc. In present age these aspects of heritage have become tourists destinations for people all over the world and the intellect also gets amazed to observe that even after many centuries, these remains still exist in their original form. In India, many dynasties have ruled here, the Raja's and Maharaja's of these dynasties built some magnificent and incredible buildings during their reigns.
These edifices are our heritage and it’s our duty to preserve them. India has a rich heritage, some of the great heritage sites are Taj Mahal, Ajanta Caves, Agra Fort, Sun Temple, Sanchi Stupa, Buland Darwaza, Qutub Minar and many more. Here (India) almost every state and region has its great and famous heritage sites.
The Chenab region especially our district Doda has also heritage sites, the names and symbols of which are not known today. There were some forts but those forts were either abondoned or demolished. One of the forts was Doda fort, this fort was demolished in 1952.
The buildings of Government HSS Boys Doda exist on its place today. The Doda fort was built from the fear of possible attacks by the Rajas of Bhaderwah. Since the Doda town was the part of the Kishtwar state serving its winter capital. In view of the defence, this fort was built on the left bank of the river Chenab. It was built of unbaked bricks of 3 × 2 size. The walls were about 4 feet wide and 40 to 50 feet of height. The dome like towers was built on the right corners of the fort in order to observe the movement of the enemy. In addition, there were windows at appropriate places in the walls.
There was a pit in the courtyard of the fort called "Chah Bacha". It is said that professional criminals were put into this pit during winter season. The forts in Doda have perished but still their traces can be found in places like Marmat, Bagwah etc. All these forts speak about rich history of Doda.
The Bhaderwah Fort is one of the most significant cultural landmarks of the Bhaderwah, located on top of small hillock, the fort commands panaromic view of the town. Out of the forts of Doda only Bhaderwah Fort exists to this day. Construction of this fort was started by Raja Maidini Pal in 1733 and was completed by his son Raja Sampat Pal and he named it as Maidinipur after the name of his father. Afterwards, Wazir Ratno rebuilt the fort and changed its name to Rattan Garh. The fort is approximately 300 feet high from the town. It is larger scale building with bastions of each corner chiefly built of slate stones and red clay. The stones are available in and around the fort.
The walls were loop holed for musketry and fort is said to mount 4 guns and to have a garrison of 50 men. The position is commanded by superior heights with easy range from south and west. The top of each bastion are conical in shape. In around 1821 the fort was captured by Chamba army with the help of Sikhs. In 1844 it was annexed by the Raja Gulab Singh to his territory with the help of General Shagtu Kotwal of Bhaderwah. The fort along with the Jagir of Bhaderwah was given by Maharaja Ranbir Singh to his younger son Prince Amar Singh and hence was passed onto the last ruler of Jammu and Kashmir Maharaja Hari Singh.
The Fort was converted into jail in 1919 and famous personalities like Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah were kept here. In about 2007 the Jammu and Kashmir government decided to restore this (Fort). In 2019 the Department of History from our college (GDC Doda) organized a tour to this fort and it gave us a golden chance to visit this site. This tour was quite a new experience for us as students of history. Before, we used to study about sites only in books but now we had a site before our eyes and it was quite amazing and interesting.
We became familiarized with the history of the fort as well as that of Bhaderwah. This embarked a taste for local history and its importance among us. But one thing astonished us that the fort is in bad condition. Its area has shrunk down, its walls are in dilapidated condition and its surrounding is full of garbage heaps. The government should take some steps for its protection and it is also a duty of the people to realise that this is our heritage and we have to preserve it. So, both the government and the people should cooperate for its restoration and preservation. If renovated, it would serve as a great tourist destination and would also become a source of employment for locals.
Note: The Article has been written by Mubasher Ahmed, Student of BA 3rd Semester in Doda College, ‘The Northern Herald’ don’t take responsibility of content.