101. It is impossible to say when the Gawilgarh hill
was first fortified, but its name points
to the fact that it was at one time,
like Gaoligarh in Khandesh and Asirgarh (AsaAhirGarh) near Burhanpur, a stronghold of Ahir or Gaoli chieftains, and a legend exists to the effect that these chiefs had a mud fort on this hill. No part of the existing fort can be traced back to a
period anterior to 1425, when it is said, by Firishta, to have been built by Ahmad Shah Wali, the ninth king of the Bahmani dynasty. It was subsequently repaired and improved by Fateh-ullah Imad-ul-Mulk, the first independent king of Berar, in 1488, and by Bahram Khan, commandant of the fort under Saiyid Murtaza Sabeawari, in 1577. The most conspicuous of the remains upon the hill is the ruin of the great masjid which stands upon the highest point towards the south side of the plateau. The mosque, which is visible from the Berar valley for a great distance, has seven arches in its facade and was three bays deep from front to back. All along, above the arches, runs an over-hanging cornice of simple design, three-fourths of which have been destroyed. Each end of the facade is flanked by a projecting square pier; but these, instead of being surmounted by minars, as elsewhere, carry above the roof most elegant little square canopies or chhatris with deep cornices, rich brackets, and perforated jali or screen-work in each of their four sides. The chhatri
from the south pier is missing; that on the north remains, but is damaged. A
flight of steps descend from the mosque to the great square courtyard before it,
the pavement of which is now nearly all up. A high wall, with niches at intervals, encloses the courtyard, having a great gateway on the east and smaller entrances on the north and south. From the great eastern gateway a deep flight of
steps leads down to the ground without, but at some later period a tomb has been built before this, and with its flanking walls, encloses an area before the steps and prevents access to the entrance, save through the tomb. A small amount of blue tiling has been used on the face of the mosque. The mosque is unfortunately in a ruinous condition. The whole of the western wall, which contained the mihrabs and was supported by buttresses, has fallen away down the steep hillside and has carried with it portions of the north and south walls and one entire range of the domes, so that only fourteen domes now remain. A small and substantially built mosque stands on the edge of a large tank, a short distance to the north-east of the great mosque. There are a few old iron guns in the fort, two of which are of considerable size. The most, interesting monuments in Gawilgarh are two gateways, the Delhidarwaza between the inner and the jauter fort, and the PirPatha [So called locally. The word is Probably 'Fateh.] darwaza, the south-western gate of the fort. Above the latter are the remains of an inscription, much weatherbeaten, for it has borne the full force of the south-western monsoon for more than four centuries, which tells us that Ulugh Imad-ul-Mulk, that is to say Fateh-ullah Imad-ul-Mulk; rebuilt with the old stones in the year H. 893 (A. D. 1488) the iamimasjid above the tank, in the reign of
Mahmud Shah Bahmani. This inscription evidently refers to the repairing of the great mosque, the western wall of which had probably even then given away, owing to the steep-ness of the slope of the knoll on which it is built. The Delhi gate has a group of sculptured symbols on its face, above the archway. In the centre is a palmtree, and on either side of this and below it a lion passant, looking inward with a small elephant below each paw. Above the lion, on each side, is an eagle displayed, double-headed, holding in each of its beaks a small elephant, This bird is the fabulous gandabherunda, one of the
symbols of the Vijayanagar empire of Southern India. The
occurrence of this symbol enables us to determine the builder of the gate, for Fateh-ullah Imad-ul-Mulk was a Brahman of Vijayanagar who was captured in childhood by Ahmad Shah Wali and was brought up as a Musalman. His extensive repairs to the fort, were a preparation for his declaration of independence in 1490.
In the western face of the fort is a fine bastion with the following inscription:—
In Gawil Bahram built a bastion
' The like of which the eye of time hath not seen,
' He carried it to such a height
That the planet Saturn takes his ease in its shelter.
' When I pondered over the date of its construction (It was found in the words) " That bastion of Bahram is completed."'
The chronogram gives the date (A.D. 1577), wrongly given in the Berar Gazetteer' as A.H. 453 (A.D. 1061) at which period there were certainly no Musalmans in the Deccan. Bahram Khan was commandant of Gawilgarh under Saiyid Murtaza Sabzawari, Murtaza Nizam Shah's governor of Berar, and the fort was repaired in 1577 owing to the prevalence of a rumour that Akbar was then marching on Berar. What is known as the outer fort of
Gawilgarh, which lies between the Delhidarwaza and the deserted village of Labada, was probably built by the Bhonsla rajas of Nagpur, who held Gawil from the first quarter of the eighteenth century until 1822. On one of the battlements there is an inscription in Sanskrit or MaRathi, probably the latter. This has not yet been deciphered, but a careful study of the stone itself would probably lead to a successful decipherment, for the
Nagari or Balbodh letters are well and carefully formed, though they are so lightly incised in the ough granite that it would be a matter of great difficulty to obtain a satisfactory
102. The shrine at Ellichpur which bears the name of Abdur Rahman Shah the Ghazi, the
legendary history of whom has al-ready been discussed, has no architectural merit and cannot be assigned to any date earlier than A.D. 1400. It is probably the tomb of the officers of Firoz Shah Bahmani who were killed in an expedition against Kherla in that year. There are remains of other buildings at Ellichpur, but none is of archaeological interest.