The Royal Prisoner
Razia Sultan, the first and only lady ruler of the Delhi Sultanates, was kept imprisoned in this fort after she was defeated and dethroned.
They say she was allowed out to pray only on Fridays, that too in a Palanquin by the Governor of Bhatinda-Altunia.
During the Razia’s reign, Malik lkhtiyaruddin Altunia the governor of Bathinda, rebelled against her authority. She marched on him to quell the rebellion, but her Turkish nobles mutinied against her and killed her so called paramour? Yaqut the Abyssinian. (It is being debated upon whether he was her paramour).
She was consigned to Altunia as a prisoner and was kept in the fort of Bathinda.
According to a local source Razia committed suicide by jumping from the wall of the fort. But some historical records of the period tell that after her marriage with Altunia, they were assassinated by a gang of plundering Jats, near Kaithal.
Altunia the Governor of Bathinda rebelled against Razia Sultan – the first woman to sit on the throne of Delhi. Later she was arrested and kept in this fort.
According to a legend a dejected Razia jumped from the parapets.
Of all these strongholds, the only one at Bathinda could endure the ravages of time. Set 300 kilometers northwest of Delhi, this fort has a long and important history unfolded.
Nasiruddin Qabbacha, the ruler of Sind is known to have captured the fort in 1210, after the death of Qutbuddin Aibak, the first Slave Sultan of India.
ln 1253, the fort was occupied by Razia’s brother, Sultan Nasiruddin Mahmud. Malik Sher Khan was appointed the commander of the fort who also renovated and repaired its structure at various places and points.
About the fort
Bathinda was situated along the ancient route which connected Delhi with Multan-the gateway of Hindustan from the northwest. To check the foreign invasions, a line of strongholds to the north of the Ghaggar River was erected during the early centuries of the Christian era.
The fort is situated in Bhatinda city.It is is a monument of great historical importance. The presence of the fort can be traced back to the 90-110 AD.
The bricks of the fort dates back to Kushana period when emperor Kanishka ruled over India. The fort was captured by Maharaj Ala Singh of Patiala in 1754. The fort houses a Gurdwara, built in memory of Guru Gobind Singh. Bathinda Fort which had withstood the period of Raja Deb (3rd century), one of the ancestors of Vinaipal,
Bathinda was known as Tabarhindh (Labb-ut-Twarikh). The earliest mention of Tabarhindh occurs in the Jami-Ul-Hakayatwritten about 607 Hijri or 1211 AD. The fort, also known as Vikram Garh and Qila I Mubaraq. In 1754, the fort was rechristened Govindgarh.
Later Bhatinda was changed to Bathinda to conform to the phonetical expression as locally pronounced according to Henry George Raverty,
In 1004, Mahmud of Ghazni besieged the local fort, which was located on the route from the northwest into the rich Ganges valley. Mahmud of Ghazni also visited it and a mention of it is there in Al Biruni’s Kital-ul- Hind.
At the time of Mahummad Ghori’s invasion, it was held by Mangal Rao, a descendent of Rao Hem Hel Bhatti. Mangal Rao, leaving the fort in the command of his son Anand Rao, led a large force to Jaisalmer against Muhammad Ghori.
The father was slain in the battle and the son died during the siege of the fort. Muhammad Ghori left Malik Ziyauddin Taluki as commander of the fort. But soon after his return, Rai Pithaura, popularly known as Prithvi Raj Chauhan, laid a siege to the fort, which continued for more than one year. Ultimately Malik was left with no option but to concede.
In 1189, Muhammad Ghori attacked and occupied the fort of Bathinda. Prithvi Raj Chauhan, the ruler of this region, managed to recover possession of the fort thirteen months later in 1191 after the first battle of Tarain.
In circa 1754, the town was conquered by Maharaja Ala Singh, the Maharaja of Patiala and since then it followed the history of erstwhile princely state of Patiala. With the dawn of independence and merger of Patiala and East Punjab States into a division called PEPSU, Bathinda become a full-fledged district with headquarters at Bathinda city.
The local legend credits the erection of this fort, to one Raja Dab, an ancestor of Raja Venpal. According to Ain-i Brar Bans (A History of the Faridkot State) the fort, also known as Vikram Garh was built by Bhatti Rao, son of Bala Nand, who became the ruler of Punjab in 279 A.D,
As is well-known, Akbar’s regent Bairam Khan when dismissed from wazarat in 1558, took recourse to rebellion against the Mughal Empire. lt was in the Bathinda fort that he lodged his family before marching towards Jalandhar. However, he was defeated by the royal army at Gunachaur, near Rahon.
From the eleventh to the fourteenth century, this fort occasionally attracted the attention of medieval historians who referred to it as Tabar-e-Hind, the strength and glory of India. But the story that emerges out of numerous scraps of information lacks continuity. Only certain episodes are known.
But the fort eventually shot into prominence for the first time when it was captured by Mahmud Ghazni in 1045. Bidjay Roy, the Raja of Bathinda, unable to resist the besiegers fled from the fort and committed suicide.
At the time of Mahummad Ghori’s invasion, it was held by Mangal Rao, a descendent of Rao Hem Hel Bhatti. Mangal Rao, leaving the fort in the command of his son Anand Rao, led a large force to Jaisalmer against Muhammad Ghori. The father was slain in the battle and the son died during ‘ the siege of the fort. Muhammad Ghori left Malik Ziyauddin Taluki as commander of the fort. But soon after his return, Rai Pithaura, popularly known as Prithvi Raj Chauhan, laid a siege to the fort, which continued for more than one year. Ultimately Malik was left with no option but to concede.
After the middle of the fourteenth century, the fort gradually fades into oblivion. The reason being that the encroaching Thar Desert began to render the route to Multan on which Bathinda was situated, difficult to traverse. Timur completed the process of decline of this route by destroying the cities along this highway during his invasion. The future line to the northwest was to be via Sirhind and Lahore. Hereafter, only a few references to the fort are known.
Hereafter, once again the fort fades out from the gaze of history until it is known to have been conquered by’ Ala Singh, the Patiala chieftain, in 1754. The fort was rechristened Govindgarh. And most of the structure of the fort as it survives now, date back from its occupation by the Patiala rulers. They held it till the merger of their territory with the Indian Union in 1956.
Thus, this ancient fort which is now among the great archeological attractions of Punjab would be protected and preserved for us and for the posterity to look and to admire at and to have glimpses of the great values of safety and security it stood for.
The Fort is now in a dilapidated state.