Kurumbera Fort…A forgotten place near Kharagpur

Abhishek

Kurumbera fort is a small fort in a small village called Gaganeshwar, about 5 km from Keshiary in Kharagpur. Though, it is called a fort, however, it does not look like a fort , rather a temple, which later seems to be converted into a mosque. It is because, there are no defensive structures inside. Inside the not so high walls of just 10 feet, is just a large courtyard with pillared corridors.

Kurumbera Fort
Kurumbhera Fort

While staying at IIT Kharagpur, I had visited many places all around it.However, even after planning many times, I had always missed the Kurumbera Fort.So, After a few years, While I was in Kolkata and had a chance to visit IIT Kharagpur, I along with one of my friend visited this place.

Entrance to Kurumbera Fort
Kurumbhera Fort

How to reach…

This fort is about 30 km from IIT khragpur towards the keshiary village and can be accessed easily through prembazaar gate.There are buses available to Keshiary but this village is about 5 km further in Gaganeshwar village where no other public transportation is available.So, you have to go by your own or any reserved vehicle.On reaching Keshiary,you have to turn towards Belda (left hand side) and move 2 km to reach Kukai.Turn right and move further 2 km to reach Gaganeshwar.

Both me and my friend started on a motorbike through the prem bazar gate of our college on a pleasant evening.During my college days,I had always enjoyed cycling on this road.Traffic is always very low in this well maintained road and the trees on both sides of road make the journey very pleasing.Just a few speedbreakers near the villages will sometimes annoy you a bit.You can get a glimpse of the village life of Bengal and also enjoy some tasty Bengali snacks from the small shops along the road.We also stopped to enjoy tea and snacks from one of the shops and then moved ahead to reach Kurumbera fort.

History…

In local language ‘kurum’ means stone and ‘bera’ means fence. So, ‘Kurumbera’ means ‘an area fenced by stone’.This fort which is in ruins, is now a protected monument under Archaeological Survey of India.Still,Very little of history of this fort is known. It is believed that this fort was once a temple which was later converted into a mosque during the rule of Aurangzeb.One of the Odia inscriptions inside the fort tells us that it was a shiva temple built in during 1438-1469 during the rule of Surya Vamsi king of Odisha Gajapati Kapilendra Dev.A stone inscription also depicts that Mohammad Tahir also built some structures during Aurangzeb rule.

Architecture…

The Midnapore region in which the fort belongs to was once a part of Odisha before merging with Bengal in 1752.So, the architecture is similar to the medieval Odiya architecture.The Mughal rulers also added some parts of Mughal architecture to it. here.The fort is located near to a pond called Yogeshwar Kunda. It has a single point sikhara-style entrance with a wooden door opening towards the north.Inside the fort, there is a huge courtyard surrounded by 8-feet wide arched corridor with 69 pillars out of which 62 still exists.In the middle there is a three spherical domed structure over a platform of 3 feet height with 3 steps, along with a sacrificial altar.

The external pillars, built at an equal distance of 6 feet 9 inches, support a roof built with interlocking stones, shaped as a flower. There are circular pillars to the rear of the left-dome. The structure is made of red laterite blocks and the enclosure is 172 feet long and 253 feet wide. Some people believe that the altar was the foundation of the Shiva temple while other believe that the domed structure was actually the temple which was demolished to give way to mosque.

Some new friends…

We entered from the northern single entrance and moved around the enclosure enjoying the beauty of the pillars.This place is regular hanging out place for the locals.We also met a couple of kids who were very excited to get photographed.We left after about an hour.

Kurumbhera Fort
Kurumbhera Fort

A Surprise…

After coming out of the fort and moving towards IIT kharagpur,just near the eastern walls in an open field we saw a crowd.We came to know that it was due to a local betting game called chicken fight which is common in most villages of Bengal.In fact, I had also located a similar spot adjacent to road near Salua,about 3 km from the IIT Prem Bazar gate.It is basically a bloody dual fight between the chickens on which betting is done.A small knife is attached to the feet of both the chickens and they are left to fight until one of them is badly injured and tries to run away or dies.

Chicken Fight
Chicken Fight

With lots of memories we finally came back to IIT to relish over some Bengali sweets at the Technology market.

Way to Kurumbera Fort from IIT Kharagpur

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