During a recent official tour to Jhansi I had opportunity to visit the renowned Jhansi fort. The fort is still standing tall at the centre of the Jhansi city, an embodiment of its glorious past. Only, two kilometre from Jhansi railway station, the fort is situated on a hillock now easily accessible through motorable road leading to the fort gate.
It was a cloudy day in November and weather was fantastic though a sunny day would have helped me with my photography. I was accompanied by my friend and colleague JRB. being Sunday it seemed there were a lot of visitors when we entered the fort at around 2:30. A forge weld canon is at display inside the fort gate used for entry of visitors. The canon known as Kadak Bijli Top (meaning canon in Hindi) is now in dismantled condition and only the barrel is seen.
We went up taking left and reached inside the walls. While entering the fort the stories of Jhansi ki Rani, I read in my childhood and her valour came to my mind. I have earlier visited a few forts in Rajasthan like Nahargarh, Amer and Jaigarh but this one had something in it that mesmerised me. I was spellbound by its majestic presence bearing the memory of valour of a queen and love of a mother who defended the fort and her subjects without kneeling before British oppressors.
The fort is huge and have altogether 22 bastions with high fortification walls of considerable width and sprawling across 15 acres. The inside of the fort has multiple levels and makes one wonder the tremendous engineering and efforts put into by then Maharajas for being battle ready. The place in the west end of fort with a square bastion is the place from where Laxmibai, the queen of Jhansi, jumped with her adopted son, on Horseback. The horses name was Badal and the son Damodar Rao (born Anand Rao) as per an information board made available by Government. The southern bastion from the place host a tricolour of India.
It seemed that the bastion where an Indian flag is hoisted is the topmost part of the fort. All the floors of the Panchmahal can be seen from the ramparts on the southern side of the fort. Lush green gardens below the walls inside the fort is beautifully maintained by the Government and surely helps attracting more tourists to the fort.
There are several bastions on the eastern side of the fort and the view of the city from these bastions like those on the western wall are so enjoyable. The parapet walls, merlons, crenels and viewing windows on the eastern and south-eastern side show the damages inflicted by British attack and remain as a silent souvenir of Indian defence to Colonial oppression.
On the northern-western side, situated is the shiva temple. The temple though not huge is befitting the fort and architecture of the temple is also very beautiful. The Aamod uddan(pleasure garden) is also situated in the north-western side.
There is another temple on eastern side for lord Ganesha and another cannon called Bhabani Shankar near the temple which we missed because of crunch of time. However every minute of time spent in the fort reminded me of the glorious past of India and the heroics of Rani Laksmibai (born Manikarnika) during the Sepoy Mutiny.