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History rebuild, brick by brick - Rs 56-lakh restoration plan for crumbling Palamau Fort

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By HEMENDRA NARAYAN in Ranchi

  • Published 20.01.06

Ranchi, Jan. 20: The Palamau fort belonging to the Cheros dynasty is set for a facelift. This is the first such project being taken up in the state.

As many as 3.4 lakh lakhauri bricks will be needed for the project to repair the fort, a symbol of rule of the local Cheros dynasty during the Mughal period. In possession of the state government, the fort at Betla, 25 km from Daltonganj, is now crumbling.

The Rs 56-lakh restoration and conservation work of the fort will be done by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).

?Repair work will be done keeping in view the aesthetic importance of the original fort,? according to Onkar Nath Chauhan, superintendent archaeologist of ASI.

Apart from the special type of bricks, huge quantity of unslacked lime, brick ballast and course sand free from all impurities will be needed for the repairs, said Chauhan, adding that lakhauri bricks have been used in most Indian monuments built during the Mughal period. ASI has specified the size of the brick to be 23x20x5 cm.

Explaining the specifics of the bricks to be used, the ASI official said: ?It has to be made out of good earth, burnt thoroughly for deep cherry red or copper colour, and has to be regular in shape with sharp edges. It has to emit clear ringing tone. It should be free from cracks, lumps or any other flaws.?

The manufactures have to supply the materials at the fort area itself, he added. Nearly Rs 36 lakh will be used for purchase of materials. The old structure has been eaten away by the overgrowth of vegetation.

The present repair work would cover the most dilapidated part of the fort. Though in ruins, the fort is an interesting piece of architecture because of its fine outer fa?ade of close-grained stone, elaborately decorated with exquisite workmanship. According to historians it is typical of Jehangiri style of Mughal architecture.

History says the Cheros had firmly established themselves in Palamau under Bhagvat Rai, the first chief who conquered the territory in 1613. The third ruler, Medni Ray, was the greatest and the most powerful ruler of the dynasty. While the gate of fort is attributed to Ray, another account ascribes it to Pratap Rai, his successor and builder of the fort.

Chauhan admits the present sanctioned amount was meagre for the conservation of the entire fort. ?For that we need funds five times that of what we got at the moment. If the whole fort was to be restored, it would cost Rs 2 crore?, Chauhan said.

The ASI will provide the expertise for the six-month-long project, which will also generate employment for the local people.

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