Some of the oldest civilizations in history lie in India. This country holds several archaeological sites which could leave you enthralled. One of this is Asurgarh, Fort Orissa which is situated in the Kalahandi district of Odisha. The state of Odisha has its name changed only fairly recently in 2011 and was previously known as Orissa.
Asurgarh Fort Orissa
Kalahandi means the ‘pot of arts’ or a pot full of art and culture (where ‘Kala’ literally means art and ‘Handi’ means pot). It is rich in terms of arts and crafts that have to do with jewellery, the handloom saree and woodcraft. The district of Kalahandi also used to be a great civilization and one of the oldest metropolis at the time. Evidence of human settlements dates back to the Iron and Stone Ages. Furthermore, it is believed that the cultivation of paddy started here.
Within the Kalahandi district lies an old fort in Asurgarh known as Fort Orissa. The fort lies 20km from Bhawanipatna, the headquarters of Kalahandi. To get here, you can travel from Narla which is 5km away or from the nearest railway station, Rupra, only 3km away.
The story of Fort Orissa dates back to the time when a demon king called Gosinha Daitya lived in the fort and legend has it that he sealed the fort. It could be no coincidence that the very meaning of Asurgarh is the “fort of demons”. In fact, different parts of Western Orissa contain forts that bear the name Asurgarh.
Forts are generally constructed as a defence mechanism to protect territories and the people living in them and Fort Orissa was probably no different in this respect. Some of the walls of this fort stretch up to 50 metres in height. The fort itself is rectangular and designed according to an ancient Indian geometric formula. It contains four gates. Each of its four entrances holds shrines to the east, west, north and south regions that carry the deities of Goddess Ganga, Kalapahad, Budharaja and Vaishnavi respectively. The shrine of Goddess Dokhari, which literally means “Old Lady” lies inside the fort itself. In addition to these shrines, the elevated central part of the fort carries the ruins of a palace. South of the fort is an old village that also takes on the name, Asurgarh.
There have been many archaeological discoveries in Asurgarh. These ranged from punch-marked coins to beads and gemstones. These discoveries point to the existence of an ancient civilization of a high standard. If you choose to pay a visit to this fort, indulge in exploring its surroundings too. Nearby places to visit include the Ampani Hills where you can trek and spot rare flora and fauna. If you are a history buff and love exploring archaeological ruins, Amathaguda, situated on the other side of the river Tel, is another fort to add to your itinerary.