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In the Indian Architectural Science books, a king without a fort is compared to a snake without having poison and an elephant without having a trunk.

In the 1960s archaeologists dug up the ruins of a city on the banks of the dry bed of the river Saraswati in Rajasthan. They called the city Kallbanga after the black bangles (kali – black, Banga – bangles) found there. Kalinga was a fortified city that flourished between 2200 to 1700 BC. Kalinga belonged to the Indus Valley period. Forts of the same period have been excavated in Gujarat, Rajasthan, and Haryana. Apart from providing safety from invaders and enemy attacks the forts also provided shelter whenever the rivers which were otherwise the lifelines of these civilizations flooded the banks. For this reason, the main fort was always built on a higher level.


Forts are called Durg or Pura Indra has been called Purandara, a conqueror of forts. The technical aspects of building a fort have been extensively described in the Dhanurveda, associated with the Yajurveda.

The Dhanurveda lists six types of forts:

1. A hill fort (Giridurga)

2. A water-fort (Jala Durga)

3. A forest fort (Vana durga)

4. A ground fort (Mahi durga)

5. A desert fort (Dhanva durga)

6. A fort surrounded by trees for four yojana ~ 32km (Vaksha durga).

The hill fort is considered the best of the six.


Based on the nature of defense, the Ramayana speaks of four types of forts, i.e.

1. Nadeva fort, on the basis of its situation in the midst of sea.

2. Khanitra fort one having the natural protection

3. Amba fort defended by Sea water.

4. Giri fort also known as Parvata fort, as it stands on the mountain.

The Ramayana describes the fort at Ayodhya and Lanka in great detail. “The fort at Ayodhya was surrounded by a deep moat which was very difficult to cross. Its ramparts were high and fearsome”. The fort at Lanka was surrounded by gigantic walls, dense forests, and hills as well as rivers and a moat. It was considered invincible even by the Gods.


Mahabharata gives a detailed description of forts at Hastinapur, Indraprastha, Mathura, Rajagriha, Ahichchatra, and Dwaraka. Indraprastha had huge watch-towers called Gopura. Throughout the city, a strong network of various security devices was spread. Besides the main gate, secret gates called “Ganuda dwara” were also constructed.

Near Allahabad, archaeologists have dug up the remains of a fort Kaushambigarh, said to have been built by Nichakshu great-grandson of the Pandava king, Parikshit. Champa, Rajagriha, Saket and Varanasi were important fort-cities during the time of the Buddha.

Takshashila, Pushkalavati, and Gandhara were powerful kingdoms in the northwest. When Alexander the Great came to India, he found still resistance at some of these forts. It took him more than a month to conquer the fort at Pushkalavati ( present Pakistan)

The battle with Paurava (Porus), the sight of elephants on the battlefield, and grim encounters with smaller Indian tribes put fear in Alexander’s mighty army. Another blow to the morale of the Greek army was the description of the military strength of Magadha which was then ruled by Dhana Nanda.

Megasthenes the Greek traveler who later visited Magadha when Chandragupta Maurya ruled, has left a description of the magnificent fort at the capital city of Pataliputra.

The wall of the fort was more than 40 km long with a moat 3.5 m deep and 180 m wide running all along the wall of the fort. Crocodiles swam in the moat filled with water. The fort had 64 gates and 570 towers.

In our country the art of fort building had been perfected as early as 300 B.C.


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  1. Rkasha bhatt says:

    I appreciate the initiative to create awareness about Bharat and it’s rich culture when it haa been forgotten by many of us

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