A fort in Haryana’s Nuh with Baloch, Jat connections
A small detour from the busy Rewari-Sohna Road via scores of tiny shops leads to the very congested Ward Number 6 in Tauru, Nuh. Located at a distance of 39 kilometres from the heart of Gurugram, Tauru is peppered with several heritage structures that date back to a period marked by the presence of Baloch chieftains and, later, the Jat kings of Bharatpur. One such remnant of history, a 16th-century fort, is tucked away in a corner of the Ward 6 locality.
Locally known as ‘Raja ka mahal’ or ‘Qila (fort)’, it stands amid multi-storeyed buildings that have sprung up all around it. It is located near what is locally known as the ‘thaane wali gali’— a street that owes its name to the city police station located in the vicinity. The only way of reaching the fort is through the police station located in one corner of a huge compound. The compound, as it appears today, is part of the area where the Tauru fort once stood. A bustling two-storey police station, an abandoned colonial-era police station, and a government school exist in this compound. A combination of private and impounded vehicles scattered across the compound mask the entrance to the only remaining portion of the fort.
Banani Bhattacharyya, deputy director of the department of archaeology & museums, government of Haryana, says that the mosque was possibly built in the 16th or 17th century. “The use of Lakhori bricks in the fort is an indicator of the introduction of Mughal architecture. We can say that the fort complex was built 16th century onwards since the area shows a continuity of architecture over time leading up to the late-Mughal period in the 17th-18th century,” Bhattacharyya says.
The fort also finds mention in the Gurgaon District Gazetteer, 1983, as the seat of Asadullah Khan Baloch. According to the Gazette, a Meo named Sanulba, known for looting caravans in the area near Hodal, had fixed his residence at the Tauru fort. “He fixed his residence in the fort of Taoru in Nuh, the seat of Asadullah Khan Baluch, with whom he used to share his booty, (as the price of his protection)”. The Gazette also outlines that Jawahar Singh, son of Bharatpur’s king Surajmal, was engaged in conquering the Mewat region and found an adversary in Sanulba. Seeking to expel Sanulba from the fort, Singh called upon the Baloch chief to drive him out, but his request was rejected, following which he launched an unsuccessful expedition against the Baloch. A second, stronger expedition was organised and the fort was taken over on December 12, 1763.
Siddique Ahmed Meo, community historian and author of books on Mewat’s history, shares a similar account of the fort’s history. “Many years ago, one Sanaullah used to reside in the fort. He had the patronage of Farrukhnagar’s nawab. Later, he was attacked and King Surajmal of Bharatpur annexed the place,” Meo says.
The fort that withstood many a storm is now a pale shadow of its once glorious past. Derelict and dilapidated, it is fast running to ruin. Broken enclosures, wall with deep cracks running through them, and fallen ceilings bear testimony to years of neglect and human interference. While many carvings on the inner façade of the fort have faded, hints of red can be found on the outer façade. The fort consists of multiple alcoves and cusped arches that have developed cracks over the years but continue to exude an aura of the past. Only a portion of the original structure remains now since much has been taken over by locals over the years. The locality seems to have grown around the fort. Scattered remains of the fort’s boundary wall across the colony provide hints to its all-encompassing presence. The segment of the fort that remains is covered with thick vegetation, while mounds of trash are stacked in a corner. The inside enclosures are a haven for a colony of bats and the fort can only be accessed by an opening in its broken wall.
The fort has lost its sheen over the years but some locals remember stories of its past. Ashok Kumar, 43, recalls that children of the neighbourhood used to play inside the fort at one point. “We used to climb on top of the fort and play. There were around 20-25 rooms, a tunnel, and a big wooden gate. The gate broke down around 20 years ago,” Kumar says.
Another resident, Dharampal Sharma, 65, recalls that the fort was spread over a bigger area and portions of it had been destroyed. “The fort was spread over a bigger area. One portion was destroyed for making the police station and later a school. I studied at the school and there was a huge gate at the entrance of the fort, which was also removed to make a road,” Sharma says. He adds that the old police station on the compound used to be a fort and was turned into a prison during the British rule. “Earlier, it used to be a fort, and during British rule, it was turned into a police station. The building was abandoned and another police station was made.” He also confirmed the presence of a tunnel inside the fort premises. “There is a deep tunnel inside the fort. We have seen it but never gone inside,” he says.
THE POLICE STATION
The old Tauru police station is located diagonally opposite the fort. Despite being prominently located at the entrance of the compound, it hardly gets any attention from passersby and has an air of ordinariness. The gate of the station remains locked on most days. As one enters its premises through a small iron gate, one’s eyes are drawn to the array of objects strewn on the floor. Multiple steel trunks confiscated in dowry cases are haphazardly placed while bundles of wire lie entangled across the corridors. Case property like food, oil, and other confiscated material rot in dusty rooms. In a corner to the left of the entrance is a blackboard that displays a record of the various types of cases registered in a week. A locker carved into the ground, once used for hiding money, is choked due to rust.
Subhash Chander, assistant sub-inspector at the Tauru police station, says that the police station has existed since British rule. He adds that an inscription mentioning the year the police station was set up perished some years ago, but remembers it mentioned a year in the 1800s. “The station was part of the fort and had been turned into a police station during British rule,” Chander, who has been posted at the police station since 2009, says. He says the staff moved into a new building in 2015. “As the force multiplied, a need for having a bigger space was felt. The terrace had also fallen into disrepair and would cave in during monsoons,” he says. Chander adds that old FIRs written in the Nastaliq script from that time could be found in the station even today.
Banani Bhattacharyya says that the station shows a confluence of architecture. “The station was a part of the fort and demonstrates the use of Lakhori bricks. Later on, it was possibly used a police station in the colonial period,” Bhattacharyya says.
A head constable at the police station says that plans of demolishing the police station had been shelved after the archaeology department intervened. “The department had intervened and said that the station was a heritage structure. The building is still very strong and can be given a fresh lease of life if the department takes care of it,” the constable says.
THE WAY FORWARD
Most locals in the area say that they are in favour of conservation of the fort since preservation would bring tourist footfall to the region. Dharampal Sharma rues that the structure is perishing by the day, but the government has not done anything to control the damage. “There is no caretaker. All the property behind the fort has been encroached upon. We want it to be taken care of and converted into a park or a tourist place. People from outside can also come and visit the fort,” he says.
Officials from the state Department of Archaeology and Museums, however, said that there were no immediate plans to provide the monument state protection. “Our objective is to take all heritage buildings under our protection. However, the department has a lot on its plate. We have formed a technical committee that will first undertake the conservation of monuments already under state protection and take other monuments under protection after that,” Bhattacharyya says.
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