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Barabati Fort History

Cuttack was founded by King Nrupa Keshari in 989 AD. King Marakata Keshari built the stone revetment on the left bank of the Kathajodi in 1006 AD to protect the city from the ravages of floods. Due to its strategic location, King Anangabhima Dev III shifted his capital from 'Choudwar Kataka' to the present Cuttack, then known as 'Abhinaba Varanasi Kataka' and built the fort of Barabati in 1229 AD. Cuttack has witnessed the rule of several dynasties : the Kesharis, the Gangas, the Gajapatis and the Bhois. Traditional history attributes the founding of this city to Somavansi king Nrupakesari. The Madalapanji indicates that the fort was built in 989 AD. However many scholars like late Prof. P.Mukharjee believes that Ganga king Anangabhimadeva III founded the city of Cuttack who ruled from 1211 to 1238 AD.


The Chalukya King, Mukundadev Harichandan, built a nine-storey building in the precincts of Barabati Fort in 1560 AD. This last independent Hindu king of Orissa died fighting the Sultan of Bengal, Suleiman Karni in 1568 AD. In the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, Barabati Fort was defended by two rings of forts on either side of the Mahanadi and the Kathajodi. In 1568 AD, the city passed to the hands of Afghan rulers of Bengal, then to the Moghul Empire in 1592 and the Marathas in 1751. Cuttack, with the rest of Orissa, came under the British rule in 1803. The Bengal-Nagpur Railways connected Cuttack with Madras(Chennai) and Calcutta(Kolkata) in 1919. It became the capital of the newly formed state of Orissa in 1936 and continued to be so till 1948 when the capital was shifted to Bhubaneswar. The city completed one thousand years of its existence in 1989.

The ruins of the old Barabati Fort lie on the right bank of the Mahanadi, in the western part of the city. All that remains of the Fort is an arched gateway and the earthen mound of the nine-storeyed palace. Archaeological surveys reveal that the Fort was roughly rectangular in structure having an area of over 102 acres (0.41 km2), and it was surrounded on all sides by a wall of laterite and sandstones. To the west of the mound there is a tank. In the north-eastern corner of the mound are remains of what once was a temple. The temple was made of whitish sandstone over foundations of laterite blocks. About four hundred fragments of mouldings and some mutilated pieces of sculptures have been recovered so far. This temple of the Ganga period containing a stone idol of Lord Jagannath is in ruins. A mosque built by Nawab Murshid Quli Khan, governor of Emperor Aurangzeb in 1719 CE still exists.

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