[Malegaon Fort. Also seen in the picture is under construction school building. The white building opposite the fort is Malegaon Municipal Corporation headquarters. (ummid.com photo)]
Malegaon: Appalled by the way the Malegaon Fort is left on the mercy of wildly expanding school and encroachment, the Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) students who were in the city on Tuesday warned that the historic architectural marvel is on the verge of damage.
“School ne Malegaon Fort ki waat laga diya hai”, Krishna, a BFA student of Vasai Fine Arts College in Mumbai suburbs, said in typical Bambayya style.
“The reckless way the school has been allowed to expand itself inside the fort and the rampant encroachment surrounding its walls will, in all likelihood, prove catastrophic for the historic structure”, he added even as other students nodded in agreement.
The BFA students were in Malegaon to participate in the All Maharashtra Painting and Artwork Competition organized by MG Viday Mandir. The contest was part of various programs held to celebrate 33rd birthday of Advay Hiray – local BJP leader and son of former Maharashtra minister Prashant Hiray.
The students were told to identify locations and spots in the city to finalise their entry for the competition. While some of the contestants – a total of 131, chose other locations of the city, some decided to transfer on canvas the Malegaon Fort.
[The Malegaon Fort paintings were submitted by the BFA students as enrty for the All Maharashtra Advay Hiray Chitrakala Sparda held on December 19, 2017. (ummid.com photo)]
The Malegaon Fort, besides Ahmed Nagar Fort and the Red Fort in Delhi, is among very few forts in India standing on the ground. Otherwise, majority of forts in India are built on hilltops.
According to popular notions, Maratha Sradar Raja Naro Shankar had built the Malegaon Fort sometimes in 1750. It has always been remained as a tourist hunt and hailed as an architectural marvel. But, after India became independent, a local educational trust took into its possession part of the fort premises and built a school. Simultaneously, part of the fort’s surrounding was encroached over and its lawns were being used as playground.
Ironically, Malegaon Municipal Corporation (MMC) headquarters is located exactly opposite to the Malegaon Fort. Despite this, it turned a blind eye towards the damages being done to the historic structure.
Meanwhile, the Archeological Survey of India (ASI) never had time to visit and take care of this historic fort which, besides resembling in architecture Delhi’s Red Fort, is also witness to the fieriest battles against the British Imperial Forces – first in 1818 and then again in 1921.
“We fail to understand why the fort which has such a glorious history is left on the mercy of encroachers. The ASI should without further delay take steps to preserve whatever is remained of this 18th century fort”, the students said.
The fine arts students’ warning should work as an eye opener for the ASI and Malegaon civic body both. Are they listening?