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PALAMU FORT

From the Alamgirnama we learn that the Northern frontier of Palamau was only 50 miles from Patana the seat of the Chero Raja was something of a city. It was fairly well populated with many bazaars and protected by two strong Forts, one on the summit of neighbouring hill, the other on the plain. There are two extensive forts of bricks and stone which are worth a visit. The walls, which are in fair preservation, are about 5 feet in thickness, and that the old fort bears marks of canon balls and bullets in many places . The gate leading to the old fort, the court room, and temple and Zanana quarters of the Raja as also the two deep but silted up wells in the old fort are very interesting.

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Most interesting of all is the massive and beautifully carved stone gate ‘The Nagpuri gate’in the new fort and a round room, in which a well had been sunk to provide a supply of drinking water incase of a siege.The Auranga river flows close by. There are high hills and dense jungles all around. On the frontier, there were three great Forts, viz, Kothi,Kunda and Devagan , and it was against these that Daud khan proceeded to march.

He left Patana with a strong force on April 3, 1660. He reached Kothi, 6 miles south of Imamganj in the south of Gaya district on May 5, only to find that enemy had abandoned it. He than moved on to Kunda, a strong hill fort, 14 miles south-south east, but this short distance took his army just a month to traverse. This shows how the area was covered with dense forests and wild animals. But Doud khan determined to advance methodically and to secure a safe line of communication. He set his army to clear the jungle and make a road. On June 3, he reached Kunda and found that this fort also had been in evacuated. He razed the fort to the ground and than he camped his army, as further advanced was prevented by the approach of to rains. he fortified the encampments being built at short distances between Kothi and Kunda in each of which he placed a garrison.

On October 25, at the end of the rains, the army 6,400 strong, resumed its march,but the progress was very slow owing to the very cautious tactics of Daud khan. A large body of pioneers was sent ahead to clear the forest and to make a road. Out posts were established along the line of March. Every evening entrenchment were thrown up round the camp to prevent surprise attacks at night. In nine day the army had only advanced twenty mile, reaching Lohersi near Amanat river on November 3. Here some time was spent in fruitless negotiations but by December 9, Daud khan had penetrated within two miles of Palamu. The cheros, advancing from the forts , threw up entrenchments and prepared to make a final stand.

Daud khan then offered the Chero Raja the final terms of the Emperor, viz. that he should submit, embrace Islam and hold his state as a tributary chief. Before a reply was received one of Daud khan’s captains unable suppress the eagerness of his soldiers attacked the enemy’s outworks on December 17.Daud Khan, hearing of the engagement, pushed forward with the rest of his force, threw up entrenchments within the enemys fire, and commenced a bombard ment, which lasted till sunset and put an end to the fighting. During the night, the cheros brought two large canons from the fort, and mounting them on their bastions completely dominated Daud Khans trenches which were on a lower level. The Muslims were equal to the emergency. They spotted a hill overlooking enemys position and dragged their guns up the hill opened fire and quickly silenced the enemr.

The fighting had now lasted three days and the Cheros unable to hold their position, retreated to the banks of the river and proceeded to erect breastworks along the line of hills running parallel to them and to barricade the passes. Daud Khan following the same plan of clearing the country as he advanced, spent two or three days in felling the forest which intervened between him and the enemy, and then ordered a general advance. After a stubborn fight of Six hours duration the Cheros fled into the fort.

It had been Daud’s original plan to occupy the trenches dug by the enemy, and commence a siege. But the Muslim soldiers could not check their fury, and rushing to the river they crossed it and attacked the fortifications which surrounded the town at foot of the fort. The Cheros withdrew to the higher fort, where the Raja, who had sent his whole family and valuables away to the jungles, continued the defence. The imperialists, in the meantime, had taken the lower fortifications and stood before the gate of the upper fort, where the fight raged, till the first watch of the evening. Half a watch later, the Raja fled to the jungle, whole fort was occupied by Daud’s army .The town was cleared of the Hindus, their temples were destroyed and the prayer for Allah’s glory filled the place.

The capture of the forts of Palamau in practically ended the struggle. The Cheros succeed in maintaining the fort of Devgan for some time longer. But they were quickly expelled by a force sent by Daud khan. The Muslim conquest was complete. Daud khan remained for some time fortifying several strong holds and arranging for the administration of the country and then returned to Patna, leaving Palamu in charge of Mankali khan a muslim Fauzdar. The letter was removed in 1666. Palamau was then placed under the direct control of the Viceroy of Bihar, Lasker khan, the new Bihar Governor. Thus since 1666 came under the direct control of the Viceroy of the Emperor in Bihar. Muslim historians have made an error in supposing that these invasions were in the time of Pratap Ray Instead of Anant Ray. Bradley –Birt also followed the foot steps of the Muslim historians, as he had also mentioned Pratap Ray and not Anant Ray. The error was due to the fact that Pratap Ray took the leading part in opposing the imperial forces and in offering the Peshkash (tribute). During the Muslim rule was there was practically no interference. There were only some occasional risings.

Bhupal Ray came to the throne in 1661 only for four months. Many historians have missed him. Nothing untoward appears to have occurred during his short reign.

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