Mangla Devi Fort

29 Dec 2015 23:59:32

K.D Maini

Mangla Devi Fort

 Mangla Devi Fort is one of the and oldest forts of Rajouri district constructed during Dogra rule and remained the centre of power for about 100 years. This fort is about 30 kilometer in the south of Sunderbani and 17 kilometers in the north of Nowshera town. This old monument is connected with a 7 kilometers approach road which leads from Seri township towards Mangla Devi Fort. The village where the Fort is located is also known as Mangla Devi village. The Fort is spreaded over 60 an elevated mound from where the whole valley of Nowshera and Sunderbani is exposed upto to Beja Bai, Gagiote, Lamberi, Kalal range, Beri Pattan, Thanda Pani, Ding Mangiot etc. The buildings within the fort walls have been damaged completely while the surrounding walls are intact. The length of these walls varies from 30 feet to 85 feet. The chiselled stone and lime have been used in the construction of the fort. The inner portion of the fort is divided into two parts. Presently the lower part is occupied by Doordarshan where a TV tower has been installed. The upper portion comprises of two temples out of which one temple older than the fort which is situated on the extreme elevated site. Apart from temples there is wide open space spread over about 20 kanal area. The ruins of old buildings and rooms within the fort in the upper portion indicates that this portion was used for residential as well as administrative purposes. There were two ponds within the fort where the rain fed water was conserved and used for drinking purpose in the past. Another temple has recently been constructed near the main gate of the fort. Presently a rest house is available at site for tourists. However, there is a need of more guest houses near the fort so that this ancient monument could be converted into the destination of religious and heritage tourism.

Presently there are three temples in Mangla Devi Fort. The first one is the ancient temple constructed during 1827-1846 AD while the second temple has recently been constructed within the fort building. Another temple has been constructed near the main gate of the fort. During Navratra days a big Mela is organized in the ancient temple in Mangla Devi Fort in which more than fifty thousand pilgrims from Lamberi, Kalakote, Siot, Sunderbani, Beja Bai and Nowshera area participate and celebrate the occasion with religious ceremonies.

In 1827 AD Maharaja Ranjeet Singh of Punjab bestowed Chabal Jagir (Nowshera-Bhimber) to his Prime Minister Raja Dayan Singh, the brother of Raja Gulab Singh of Jammu. Raja Dayan Singh never came to this area but he appointed his Governors to rule the principality. This principality along with Poonch Jagir remained under the possession of Raja Dayan Singh and his sons Raja Moti Singh and Raja Jawahar Singh upto 1846 AD. During this period five forts were constructed in this track including Mangla Devi Fort where these forts were used by the forces of Raja Dayan Singh for storing of grains collected from the farmers in the shape of revenue. The prisoners and the rebels were also kept in these Forts. Later on when Jammu and Kashmir state was established after the Amritsar Pact of 15 March 1846 AD the Chabal principality including Mangla Devi Fort came under the possession of Maharaja Gulab Singh.

It is said that before the construction of Mangla Devi Fort there was the shrine of of Mangla Devi at this place. The masons deployed for the construction of the fort by Raja Dayan Singh had broken the stone idol of Mangla Devi into three pieces without knowing that this was the idol of Mangla deity. Therefore the walls which were constructed by the masons broken again and again. In the meantime, Raja Dayan Singh had a dream in which deity Mangla Mata told him that unless her temple is constructed on the top of the mound and her idol is established in the temple the fort will not sustain. Raja Dayan Singh immediately passed orders for the construction of the Temple Mangla Mata at the elevated place within the fort. Therefore the construction of Fort was taken up only after the construction of the Temple of Mangla deity within the premises of the Fort. Raja Dayan Singh also named the Fort as Mangla Devi Fort. The village around the mound where Fort is constructed was also renamed as Mangla Devi village. It is interesting to note that during 18th and 19th centuries the natives of Mirpur, Bhimber and Nowshera area were the devotees of Mangla Mata or Mangla Mai. There was a big Mangla Devi Temple at Mirpur (now in POK) before independence. Presently a dam has been constructed by Pakistan at the site of Mangla Mata Temple and surrounding areas which is still known as Mangla Dam after the name of Mangla Mai.

From 1846-1931 AD Mangla Devi Fort was considered the strong hold of Dogra forces. It was also used as office complex for the officials of state government who were governing the area from this very fort. At the time of the disturbance of 1931 AD in Nowshera-Chabal area there were about 450 Dogra jawans stationed in the Fort. But due to administrative problems the fort was vacated by the Dogra forces and the rooms within the Fort were dismantled, the timber used in the rooms and the construction of the Fort along with the old rifles and guns were auctioned and the Fort was disbanded for army personnel. In 1947 when disturbance started in the south of Pir Panchal region and Mirpur and Rajouri area was vacated by the state forces the natives of the village Mangla Devi, Seri, Khari, Gunni, Dhabbar, Ding Mangiote, Gagiote, Beri Pattan, Damari and Talla about 8000 in number assembled in Mangla Devi Fort to protect themselves from the Pakistani sponsored forces. These people remained hostage for about one month in the fort during October and November 1947. In the meantime, on 13th November 1947 Indian forces started operation from Jammu towards Kotli under the command of Brigadier Pran Jappi to liberate the area from rebels and raiders. On 15th November the forces reached Beri Pattan and on 26th November these forces entered Kotli town and captured it. However due to defensive strategy Indian forces retreated to Jhangar along with the refugees of Kotli town. A contingent of Indian force also reached Mangla Devi fort and the hostage people were asked to vacate the fort due to security reasons. In these circumstances the fort was occupied by the forces for the defence of the area and the people who had taken shelter in the Fort again shifted to their native villages or Jammu. Later on the forces also vacated the Fort.

Source: Dailyexcelsior

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