When it comes to monuments in Ahmedabad, Bhadra Fort is one name that indeed deserves a special mention. Bhadra Fort is situated in the walled city area of Ahmedabad, India. It was built by Ahmad Shah I in 1411. With its well carved royal palaces, mosques, gates and open spaces, it was renovated in 2014 by Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) and Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) as a cultural centre for the city. Consisting of splendid palace and beautiful lush green garden, the charm of Bhadra fort is unbeatable. The fort is well known for the Bhadrakali Temple that was built in the dedication of Hindu Goddess Bhadra, a different form of Goddess Kali. In the present times, the fort more often serves as the venue for conducting flag hoisting ceremony during the occasion of Independence Day & Republic day.
It is believed the fort adopted the name Bhadra after a temple of Bhadra Kali, a form of Laxmi which was established during Maratha rule. The palace called the Bhadra after the ancient Rajput citadel of that name at Anhilwada-Patan, which the first three kings of the dynasty of Gujarat Sultans had held before Ahmedabad became the capital. Three inscribed slabs on the walls connecting this gateway with two ancillary gates behind are now almost completely defaced. One of these appears to show a date of the time of Jahangir. People are of the belief that, Goddess Lakshmi had once visited the Bhadra fort and blessed the Sultan that, his city would always remain prosperous. Since times immemorial, people of Ahmedabad have been wealthy and infact, Ahmedabad has throughout been the hub of trade and commerce in the state of Gujarat.
Ahmedabad was named after Ahmad Shah I of the Muzaffarid dynasty who captured Karnavati in 1411. He established Ahmedabad as the new capital of Gujarat Sultanate and built Bhadra Fort on the east bank of the Sabarmati River. It wasalso known as Arak Fort as described in Mirat-i-Ahmadi. The foundation stone of fort was laid down at ManekBurj in 1411. Square in form, enclosing an area of about forty-three acres, and containing 162 houses, the Bhadrafort had eight gates, three large (two in the east and one in the south-west corner), three middle-sized (two in the north and one in the south), and two are small gates (in the waste). The area within the fort had become occupied by urban developments by 1525. So a second fortification was built later by Mahmud Begada, the grandson of Ahmed Shah, with an outer wall 10 km in circumference and consisting of 12 gates, 189 bastions and over 6000 battlements as described in Mirat-i-Ahmadi. Almost 60 governors ruled Gujarat during the Mughal period including the future Mughal emperors Jahangir, Shah Jahan and Aurangzeb.
Places to watch in the Bhadra Fort
- Azam Khan Sarai: Azam Khan, also known as Mir Muhammad Baquir was a Mughal governor. He built a palace known as Azam Khan Sarai in 1637. Its entrance 5.49 meters high, opens onto an octagonal hall which had a low balcony made up of stone in the upper floor. It was used as a resting place for travellers in the Mughal era and as a hospital and a jail during British Rule. There was a gibbet on the roof of Azam Khan Sarai used for hanging during the Gujarat Sultanate and the British era.
- Bhadra Kali Fort: A room in north wing of Azam Khan Sarai was turned into the temple of Bhadra Kali during Maratha rule. It has a black statue of Goddess Bhadra Kali with four hands. According to a legend, years ago, Laxmi, the Goddess of Wealth, came to the gate of Bhadra Fort to leave the city in the night. Watchman Siddique Kotwal stopped her and identified her. He asked her not to leave fort until the obtained permission from the king. He beheaded himself in order to keep Laxmi in the city. It resulted in the prosperity of the city. There is a tomb near Bhadra Gate dedicated to Siddique Kotwal and a temple to Bhadra Kali, representing Laxmi. A lamp in one of the hole in Teen Darwaza is lit continuously for more than six hundred years by a Muslim family is dedicated to Laxmi.
- Clock Tower: The Bhadra Fort tower clock was brought from London in 1849 at cost of Rs. 8000 and installed here at the cost of Rs. 2430 in 1878 by the British East India Company. At night, it was replaced by an electric light in 1915. Ahmedabad’s first electrical connection, it ceased to operate in the 1960s but the AMC and the ASI now plan to repair it.