Antiquities kept in Aman Singh’s Palace, Kalinjar Fort, Banda India
Author: Shri Vijay Kumar
Chief Editor – Indian Journal of Archaeology (IJARCH)
Introduction: Aman Singh’s Palace is situated in Kalinjar fort, Kalinjar District Banda U.P. It lies in latitude 24059’47.48″ N and longitude 80029’5.04″ E. Captain W. R. Pogson visited this place in 1828 A.D. and wrote the book ‘A History of The Boondelas’. Maisey visited this place in 1848 A.D. and wrote an article titled Description of Antiquities of Kāliñjara in the Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal. After Maisey, Cunningham visited the fort and wrote about the antiquities of the fort. Vol. XXI.Archaeological Survey of India, 1885. pp. 32-41). Later, Fuhrer described the antiquities of this place. Krishna Dev also visited this place. Krishna Kumar documented all the antiquities of the fort in 1976. Sushil Kumar Sullere visited this place and described the antiquities in details in 19876. The proceedings of a seminar on Kalinjar was published in 19927. Rajendra Yadav wrote about the antiquities of the fort. Mr. S. A. N. Rezavi wrote about the fort in 2003. Author wrote about the antiquities and fort in 2015 in Indian Journal of Archaeology. Author wrote about the graffitis belonging to different periods and mostly located at the scarp of Kalinjar fort in the same journal.
History of Building Activities: Aman Singh Palace, at present houses the loose sculptures retrieved from different places of fort from time to time. The Nilkantha idol itself came into existence during 1st century A.D. The single Kushan inscription found from Siddhon ki Gupha proves that the caves in the scarp of the fort were favorite places of meditating ascetics. The lingas of Gupta Nilkantha were made from 4th century to 5th century A.D. One bears inscription dateable to 5th century A.D.. The major temple building activities in the fort started from 5th-6th century A.D. as attested by sculptures kept in the museum and the architectural/ sculptural fragments lying all-over the fort. The Nilkantha temple and Kot-Tirth were favorite spots for temple building during this phase. Mrigdhara spring was a sacred place during this period as attested by two inscription on the rock below the cell housing the spring. A large number of Shankha script graffiti’s painted in ochre and a few painted in white colors prove that during 4th-6th century A.D. shaiva religious activities were going on in this place. A few inscriptions belonging to this period have also been found south of Nilkantha in the scarp of the fort. The caves in the scarp of the Kalinjar hill were inhabited by ascetics. There is a short later Gupta inscription in Pandu Kund which reads the name of a person “Manoratha”. The Gajantaka Shiva & Parvati images of Meduki Bhairava belong to 5th-6th century A.D. While descending the staircase of Nilkantha temple, there is a rock-cut Valabhi style temple dateable to 5th-6th century. It exists on the left side of the staircase, before Katra gate. A large chandrashala housing the head of a deity fixed in the western end of southern wall of Kot-Tirth proves that a shrine was built into the wall of the tank in this place. The north-eastern wall of Kot-Tirth has a large Gupta panel flanking the stairs descending from Patthar Mahala Masjid. It appears that there was a 6th century temple at the place of Patthar Mahala Masjid. This conclusion is supported by the fact that there are many stones fixed in the same building which bear Shankha lipi inscriptions. Author found a Gupta inscription fixed in the gate of dilapidated Haveli located south of Jakhira Mahal. The 7th century A.D. inscription of Panduvanśī king Udayan presently fixed in 3rd gate popularly known as Chandi Darwaja declares that Bhadreshwara temple was built in the fort by the king.
The eastern end of the southern wall of Kot-Tirth tank bears panels of different deities belonging to 8th-9th century A.D. It appears that these panels adored the tank wall which acted as raised platform wall of Pratihar temple built in front of Raja Aman Singh’s palace. The remains of a temple complex of this period exist at Jauhara Tila to the north-west of Kot-Tirth near a pucca tank called Hauz Parmal. During this period only a huge temple was built near Sursari Ganga. Sarvana Baba temple which is situated to the north-west of Sursari Ganga in the plain below the fort was also built during 8th-9th century A.D. This temple has faded out. Only its pillars and inscribed image of a devotee named Vasanta carrying Kanwar stand at the site. The inscription bearing the name Vasanta are also found on a boulder near Balkhandeshwar and on rock overhanging Khabhaur Tal. Balkhandeshwar temple was built during 10th century A.D. The building activities in Nilkantha campus reached maxima in 10th century A.D. and the caves in the scarp of the fort also remained popular with Siddhas as places of penance & residence. One image of Guru Gorakhnatha dateable to 1415 A.D. is carved on the wall of the spiral staircase of Patal Ganga in the middle of the descent. Another image of roughly the same period exists on the rock above the entrance to Sita Kund. The inscription of Pratap Rudra Deva dated 1465 A.D., presently fixed in Patthar Mahala Masjid says that the king built/ renovated Lakshmi-Narayana temple situated near Kot-Tirth. There was a temple located near Bhandchachar as attested by large number of sculptural/architectural fragments presently kept in Aman Singh palace. It was built during 15th-16th century A.D.
The inscription of Islam Shah in Patthar Mahala Masjid proves that this structure was built when fort was taken after the siege and death of Shershah Suri. Rang Mahal and 7th gate were built during the reign of Akbar. Rani Mahal, Venkat Bihari temple & Jakhira Mahal were built during Bundela period. Aman Singh palace was built during mid-18th century. Ram-Sita temple was built during the same period near the south-west corner of Kot-Tirth tank. Chaube Mahal was constructed during late 18th century, probably just before the taking of Kalinjar by Britishers. Wauchope died in Kalinjar on 12th August, 1818 and his memorial was built south-west of Revenue Dak-Bunglow. The only surviving buildings built during British period are the Revenue Dak-Bunglow, three outposts built near Bhandchachar, Nilkantha & Panna gate and the dilapidated enclosure called Police Outpost located north of Dak-Bunglow.
Topography of Kalinjar: The antiquities kept in the museum have been retrieved from different spots in Kalinjar fort. The index maps showing these spots are being given below. Figure No. 1 is the revenue map dated 1877-88. The place names were written in Urdu. Their numbers and names have been rewritten in English. Figure No. 2 is the satellite map marked with the index maps of different portions of the fort (Fig. No. 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 & 8).
Fig. No. 1: Revenue Map of Kalinjar Fort
Fig. No. 2: Index map of Kalinjar Fort (Different maps are shown by alphabetical letters)
The latitude and longitude of the sites shown in these maps are as follows:
1. Aman Singh Mahal – 24059’48” N, , 80029’5″ E
2. Balkhandeshwar – 2500’18” N, , 80029’6″ E
3. Bhandchachar – 2500’3″ N, 80029’37” E
4. Bhatt ki Madhiya – 24059’51” N, 80029’11” E
5. Bijli Talaiya – 24059’51” N, 80029’11” E
6. Buddha Budhiya Taal – 24059’55” N, 80029’26” E
7. Devi ki Madhiya – 24059’59” N, 80029’10” E
8. Hauj Parmal – 25°0’7″N 80°28’59″E
9. Jauhar Wala Tila – 2500’6″ N, 80028’58” E
10. Kabur – 24059’43” N, 80028’46” E
11. Khambhaur – 2500’13” N, 80028’59” E
12. Kot Tirth – 24059’49” N, 80029’7″ E
13. Madar Taal – 2500’24 N 80028’52” E
14. Mandukya Bhairava – 24059’42” N, 80029’31” E
15. Mrigdhara – 24059’43” N, 80029’10” E
16. Nilkantha Temple – 2500’6″ N, 80028’43” E
17. Pandu Kund – 25°0’6″N 80°29’27″E
18. Panna Gate – 24059’36” N, 80029’27” E
19. Parmal Gate – 2500’7″ N, 80028’46” E
20. Patthar Mahala Masjid – 24059’50” N, 80029’8″ E
21. Ram Katora Taal – 24059’55” N, 80028’54” E
22. Rani Tunga – 24059’32” N, 80028’51” E
23. Siddha ki Gupha – 24059’53” N, 80029’33” E
24. Sitaram Temple – 24°59’49″N 80°29’4″E
25. Subedar Taal – 24059’44” N, 80028’59” E
26. Sursari Ganga – 2500’21” N, 80029’23” E
27. Venkat Bihari Temple – 2500’3″ N, 80029’7″ E
Period wise Antiquities: There are 1297 antiquities housed in Aman Singh’s palace at present. The number of antiquities belonging to different periods have been plotted in chart no. 1 (Table No. 1). It shows that building activities achieved one maxima in 9th century A.D. i.e. Pratihar period. The next maxima was achieved during 10th century A.D. i.e. early Chandel period. There was some temple building activity during 11th & 12th century A.D. After Islamic invasion all building activities disappeared completely. In 14th-15th century A.D., there was some revival. Bundela period didn’t witness major building activities. The building activities reflects the economic condition of the rulers professing one or the other sect of Hinduism.