Asirgarh, Imperial Gazetteer of India (1908)

Source: The Imperial Gazetteer of India. Volume VI. Clarendon Press. Oxford. 1908.

Asīrgarh.—Hill fort in the Burhānpur tahsīl of Nimār District, Central Provinces, situated in 21° 28' N. and 76° 18' E., 29 miles from Khandwā, and 7 miles from Chāndni station on the Great Indian Peninsula Railway. The fort was held until recently by a small detachment of native infantry from Mhow, but this was removed in 1904. It is situated on an outlying spur of the Sātpurā range, 850 feet high from the base and 2,283 above sea-level, and formerly commanded the main road from Hindustān to the Deccan. The area of the fort crowning the hill is about 60 acres, and except in two places it is surrounded by a sheer scarp 80 to 120 feet in depth. The two points of access are defended by ramparts, through one of which a narrow ascent of stone steps passes through five gateways to the fort. An outer line of works, called the lower fort, embraces an inferior branch of the hill immediately above the village. A sally-port has been constructed through the underlying rock at the south-eastern corner. In the foundations of the fort are many vaulted chambers, probably old granaries. Firishta derived the name of Asīrgarh from Asā Ahīr, to whom he attributes the foundation of the fort; but this is probably incorrect, as the name Asīr is repeatedly mentioned by the Rājput poet Chānd. It may come from the Asi or Haihaya kings who ruled the Narbadā valley from Maheswāra. In 1295 Asīrgarh was a stronghold of the Chauhān Rājputs, and was stormed by Alā-ud-dīn Khiljī on his return from raiding the Deccan, the whole garrison being put to the sword except one boy. It was subsequently held by the last of the Fārūki kings of Khāndesh, and taken by Akbar after a long siege in 1600. An inscription cut in the rock records this event. The main gateway was built in the reign of Jahāngīr, and the mosque (subsequently used as a barrack) in the reign of Shāh Jahān. A great bronze gun which was cast at Burhānpur in 1665 formerly stood on the western bastion, but has recently been removed to Government House, Nāgpur. In 1803 Asīrgarh was held by the Marāthās, and was taken by a detachment of General Wellesley's army shortly after the battle of Assaye, but was restored o the conclusion of peace. It was again besieged by a British force in 1819, and taken after a siege of twenty days, during which there was a considerable amount of fighting, and the British lost a hundred native soldiers by an accidental explosion in a battery.

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