Administrative Setup of Kalanjara Fort

Administrative Set-Up of Kalanjara* Fort

B.N. Roy
Retired Head, Department of History
Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru College,
Banda (U.P.) India.

The celebrated hill for of Kalanjara is situated in Naraini tahsil of Banda district of Uttar Pradesh at a distance of 56 Km. From Banda. It has a long antiquity and from the very ancient times the hill had been a favourite resort of Saivaascetics. Kalanjara was included in the list holy places of north India given in the Mahabharata and Puranas . It was the Chandellas who endowed it with a high political status and gave a distinctive position to the ancient fort. The Chandellas came to occupy it under Yasovarman ( Circa 930-950 A.D.) early in the tenth century. The occupation of Kalanjara hill (Kalanjaradri) was a significant achievement of Yasovarman which enhanced the prestige of the family and the Chandellas came to recognized as a political power. The Chandella rulers from the time of Yasovarman until the time of Hammiravarman (1289/90-1308 A.D.), the last known ruler of the dynasty came to be styled as Kalanjaradhipati.

The administrative efficiency of the Chandellas must have been very high to be still regarded as a model of good government in Bundelkhand. The fort of Kalanjara was administered by a group of officials under the over all supervision of the king. Most of the officials were usually well trained in the sciences of polity and warfare. There is evidence of strong civil and military administration.

The machinery of administration in accordance with the theory of ancient Indian polity consisted of :

  1. The King (swami)

  2. The minister (amatya)

  3. The territory (rashtra)

  4. Fort (durga)

  5. Treasury (kosa)

  6. Army (bala)

  7. Alliances (mitrani)

The importance of fortresses was recognized by the Chandellas. A large number of forts were build by rulers in different parts of their kingdom, many of which have survived in parts of Bundelkhand, inspite of natural and man made calamities. R.S. Sharma has presented a rough survey of fortified sites in Chadella dominion. Eight forts inBundelkhand are ascribed to the Chandellas by the tradition. As many as twenty-one victory camps or royal encampments (Skandhavas) of which many may have been fortresses, at least this is clear in case of seven camps:Khajuravataka, Varidurga, Jayapura or Nandipura (Ajaygarh), Kirttigiridurga (Deogarh), Gopagiri( Gwalior), Kalanjara and Sondhi ( Seondha fort, now Seondha near Girwan in Naraini tahsil of Banda District). In all about two dozen fortresses were built by Chandellas. It would appear that the age of the Chandellas was an age of fortresses. The Chandella Kingdom was hardly larger than a modern Division, its name being Jejakabhukti ( A bhukti being equal to a modern Division) and it did not contain more than sixteen Vishyas or Districts. The number of fortresses would appear to be considerable .The large number of fortresses in the Chandella dominion has been taken by some scholars as an unmistakable evidence of feudal organization.

Kalanjara was not only the most important fort under Chandellas but believed to have been military center of the kingdom also, where garrison of soldiers could be maintained. It served several other purposes. It was a place where taxes collected in kind could be stored. In the time of war neighboring people could seek shelter.

It was, above all, the final instrument through which the Chandella king from the time of Yasovarman perpetuated their power over their subjects.

According to the Arthsashtra of Kautilya, the general administration of fortified town or city was carried by Sthanikas and Gopas with their own staff of officials under the general supervision of Nagarika. We have no contemporary account or epigraphic record about the administrative set-up of Kalanjara fort during the reign of earlyChandella rulers especially under Yasovarman and Dhanga .However, one Ajaygarh Rock Inscription of the time ofKirttivarman ( 1060-1100 A.D.) and another Ajaygarh Rock Inscription of the time of Bhojavarman ( 1286-1289 A.D.) issued by Kayastha ministers mention in conventional phrases members of a family of Vastavya Kayasthas who held high and responsible offices under successive Chandellas kings from Ganda ( 1002-1018 A.D.) to Bhojavarman(1286-1289 A.D.) for a period of more than 250 years.

It seems from the above mentioned records that important forts such as Kalanjara and Ajaygarh (Jayadurga) were placed under the charge of durgadhipas or Qiledars and offices held by commanders of these forts were known as durgadhikaras. The Ajaygarh Rock Inscription of the time of Kirttivarman mentions Jajuka of Vastavya Kayasthasfamily who crossed the ocean of traditional learning (vidya) comprising of Kala, Purana, Agama, Dharmasastra andSahitya and who was the very limit of truth (satya) and justice (sama) .This Jajuka bestowed undisputed sovereignty and installed king Ganda on the throne of Dugauda. The Ajaygarh Rock Inscription of the time of Bhojavarman while referring to this grant adds that Jajuka who had the title of Thakkura was appointed by king Ganda to superintend all the affair of Kalanjara fort. It was the office of commander of Kalanjara fort held bu Jajuka. The grant of the village of Dugauda to Jajuka, according to the epigraph, was recorded on a copper plate which has not yet been discovered. This village named Durgawan situated at a distance of about 15 Km. South-east of Kalanjara in Naraini tahsil of Banda District (U.P.).

The Chandellas created a new grade of fort officials called Visisha. The Ajaygarh Rock Inscription of the time of Kirttivarman (1060-1100 A.D.) records the appointment of Maheshvara as commander of Kalanjara for the conferment of the authority over the gates of Kalanjara fort ( Kalanjara dvaravaradhikaram) upon him by kingKirttivaram in recognition of, and as a reward for, the services that the former rendered to the latter while the king was in distress at Pitadri. The Ajaygarh Rock Inscription of the time of Bhojavaram also contains a reference to this fact and states that later on Maheshvara was made the Visisha of Kalanjara fort by king Kirttivarman along with the grant of a village named Pipalahika for rendering services to Kirttivarman in the Pita Saila Vishya. It is a new designation not met with any other record but in all probability it refers to an administrative post associated with forts of Kalanjara and Ajaygarh. Visisha was apparently the designation of an officer who had authority over the gated of a fort and may be considered to be the commander of the fort. It is not unlikely that the Chandella kings under the stress of new situation and problem of frequent internal conflicts and foreign invasions by the Muslims made some changes in the administrative set-up of their forts. The term Visisha may indicate the introduction of a system of awarding honors and titles to army officials in recognition of their meritorious services. It may be mentioned that another official of Ajaygarh fort was decorated with unique title of Visisha. For singular services rendered by Vase or Veseka, he was appointed the Visisha of Ajaygarh fort of Jajuka along with grant of a village named Varabhavari by king Trilokyavarman (1203-1241 A.D.).

There were other fort-officials who controlled general administrations and supervised the activities of their subordinates. Mau Stone inscriptions of the time of Madanvarman (1129-1163 A.D.) refers to Gandhara who was appointed a Pratihara by king Jayavarman (1115-1120 A.D.) because he had already efficiently managed the departments of Finance (Kosa) and Law and Order (Danda). Later on for this knowledge and practical experienceGandhara was made the Mantrimukhya by king Prithvivarman (1120-1129 A.D.) in which capacity he continued during the reign of king Madanavarman (1129-1163 A.D.). An inscription on a pillar in the mandapa of NilkanthaTemple at Kalanjara dated Samvat 1186 (1129-30 A.D.) in the reign of Maharaja Sri Madanavermadeva refers to theMahapratihara Sangramasimha as the official of Kalanjara Fort. The exact scope of the function of Pratihara andMahapratihara cannot be made out but it may be said that Pratihara was not a mere door-keeper to usher in those who came to meet the king. The Mahapratiharas with Pratiharas below them were important officials .They were usually well trained in the ancient sciences of polity and warfare. Official duties required then to keep close to the king’s person. They were most probably the chief of the royal body guards and master ceremonies. As the king’s security was much dependent on their services, king were very careful about choice of their Pratiharas.

The posts of the Durgadhipa, Vasisha and Pratihara under the Chandellas ware hereditary. The growing hereditary character of the fort officials undermined central authority and tended to feudalize the administration. From the study of administrative set-up at Kalanjara fort it appears that villages were granted to certain categories of officers for their singular services. As a result of land-grants to officials, forces of decentralization emerged. All this gave rise to some typical features of feudal land system in Bundelkhand under the Chandellas.

Notes a nd References:

  1. Drake-Brockman, D.L. Banda: A Gazetteer, Allahabad, 1929, p.239.

  2. Mahabharata, III. 85, 56-57.

  3. Matsya Purana, 23.109; Padma Purana, 39.54, 132.63 and Bhagwata Purana, V 8.30.

From book : KALANJARA, A Historical and Cultural Profile

* Here Writer refers Kalinjar as Kalanjara