All these thoughts came to my mind as I stood outside the Daulatabad Fort, waiting for orders to march in. I waited years for this moment, and our army well prepared. In the midst of all, is my friend Tukaram. I asked him “Brother You must be mad.. You know that you are blind”. He simply answered “Anything for my motherland”. This shut me immediately. I took his left hand and said “Ok.. I am with you.. I heard a lot about the dangers inside.. Don’t leave me.. I will shout ‘kill’ and you can slash your sword.. We will win”..
I must say that the kings have chosen a nice place for this fort. Hills on three sides and a river on the fourth. Tukaram asked “œHari, I heard Rashtrakutas are Jains. How come they are interested in war and killing?”. “I donno. We need to find out.” said I.
This call shook me and Tukaram.. “C’mon brother, it’s do or die now”. We started running towards the narrow passage to the main entrance. “We have an obstruction brother, the enemy has placed two wooden planks at the narrow passage which hit our front runners. Fortunately, our elephants managed to break but it took their energy”
“Where is the entrance? I see only the fort wall”. What a clever construction!.. The entrance is to the left invisible from the outside.. This is a deliberate attempt to confuse us.
“Our army is making a clever move to place camels in front of elephants to push and break open the door. Iron Spikes are placed to hurt the elephants” I said. “There is artillery placed in the holes above the door.. We need to save ourselves”. Also, there is a bastion inside the second wall from which arrows are shot. We are losing our people”. And we marched through the Amberkot, the outer wall of the fort.
“It is not over.. There are wooden planks immediately after entering the door. There are square holes cut in the walls from which the planks are pushed. The first hit our elephants..And the second hit our horses.. “Brothers, put yourself”, I thought. But where is the chance? There is a bastion right in front from which a volley of arrows have come and killed half of the soldiers passing.. “Why are our people screaming?” asked Tukaram in a trembling voice. “Another clever act. There is a square ventilator in the dome from which the enemies are pouring boiling oil” said I.
“Brother! I am scared”. This expression cleared my doubt..This fort was constructed in such a way that the attacker gets psychologically weakened even before the actual battle starts. We then entered the Mahakot, the second line of defense. “Tukaram! This fort is simply un penetrable. There are four lines of enclosure walls with small and big bastions. Enemies are on all of them and throwing spears and arrows towards us. We need to move fast”. Saying this, I took his hand and started running. Out of nowhere, from the enclosures in the sides, came soldiers and behind them cannons blasted boom..boom.. We narrowly escaped and ran forward.
“Looks like there is a side door.. Let’s go from there”, said I and started running behind others who opened the wooden door. “Tukaram! So many tricks. This side door opens into a deep wet moat.. Some of our people already fell into it and are perished. Poor folks.. eaten by alligators and crocodiles hungry and waiting. Our general says that he has information of 52 fake gates like this inside the fort, and 33 of them between the second and third gates. We need to be careful” I understood that why so many of us have been called for this war. This fort need numbers to conquer. It is not easy.
The space after the second door is empty. Have the protectors withdrawn? My doubts vanished when I saw a guard peeping through a small hole in the wall in front. “There are good sculptures of Mahishasura Mardhini and Parvathi on the pillars of a pavilion at this small arch. Looks likes these are remains of a Shiva Temple”, I explained. We had to walk slowly pushing each other as the way to the next arch is a bottleneck. “This is again a clever tactic to keep a control on the our pace”, I thought and have to admit that am amazed. There are other tricks as well. Usually, elephants are depicted to show way. Here elephants are carved in such a way to confuse an outsider so as to reach the wet moat, however, an insider can easily understand the way. This is again to psychologically bring down the morale.
From this arch, the third and the fourth gates are visible. “Brother, this is going to be a long walk for us. Be prepared” said I. The distance from the second to the third seemed to be almost a mile. “There should have been a Shiva Temple here once upon a time and I heard its name is Deepmalika. The floor started getting uneven for us to walk briskly. “Tukaram! I see the farthest point of the fort from here. They can keep an eye on everything from there”, I said and moved forward. The Nandi Mantapa has been reconstructed as a mausoleum now. There are some stable type constructions. As expected, there were soldiers inside and we brutally killed them. Me and Tukaram slashed a couple. “I can see a minaret from here. Seems it is the Chand Minar, the second highest in India after the Qutub Minar in Delhi”, I described to Tukaram. We passed beside the Chand Minar towards the next gate. I noticed one thing. Along with psychologically getting weakened, with this long stretch we are also physically getting exhausted. This, I believe is an important factor that was taken into consideration while building the fort. An interesting feature of the fort is that the walls are different in height alternatively. This is again to confuse the enemies about what is the route inside. Also, stone boulders are rolled from ahead somewhere. Our people have to skip those which will again disintegrate them a little hurting them physically and the confusion creates psychological impact.
We finally see the third gate from the Minar and our army is already frustrated with the tedious stretch. Even Tukaram was panting. Somehow, we reached the Kalkot. There are two gates now, to the left and right. “Tukaram! Our people started breaking the larger gate, which I am assuming leads further as the palace is also in the same direction. The right is a smaller one and could be a fake”. We bought down the huge gate. And what do we see? There is a wall behind. This is the fake gate. I see that the enemy has been successful to some extent taking the breath away from our folks. From this on, it was climbing stairs all along. Again there were enclosures from which soldiers were coming out in huge numbers. We passed the Chini Mahal where rulers like Shambhaji and Abu Hassan Tanashah were imprisoned.
“Brother! With the effort that we are putting in, we must win!” said Tukaram. I looked at him and smiled at his stubborn expression. We had to put all our strength to run to the place where is a bridge. We stopped. I saw enemies on the other side. Our people started walking and suddenly screaming and dropped dead on the bridge. I realized that the bridge was made of iron and heated to extreme temperature such that no man can survive. We finally had to sadly step on dead bodies and reach the other side. We bought snakes with us which we put on the walls. I saw that the walls are so smooth that snakes cannot crawl.
“Tukaram! I am going to be blind as you now”. I said these words when I saw that a dark passage is the only way to the citadel. We took torches and moved inside. Our poor soldiers, if seen light went towards it and fell hundreds of feet in the moat. Also the passage has been constructed in such a way that I could not assume the way. Walls hit me to the left and right. Tukaram was trembling.
Finally, we were left with the treacherous climb to the citadel. Hundreds of people from both sides perished. The King was almost defeated and waiting for a final fight. On the way, there is a Ganesha Temple which was constructed during the rule of Shivaji. I prayed for Tukaram and his determination. Finally, we reached the citadel and the King surrendered.
With the happiness of victory, we hugged and cried.