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Studies on fortification in India

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Jean Deloche

General conclusion

Texte intégral

  • 1 Students in military architecture should be aware of the difficulties of conducting field work. In (...)

1This volume, devoted to a narrative of the rise and development of fortification in South India, to the leading features of defence construction and to the vital organs of strongholds, lays stress upon the necessity of serious fieldwork,1 because the observation of the architectural vestiges is decisive despite its imperfections and lacunae.

2It has been shown here that it is possible to identify the defence systems in this part of the subcontinent, considering the masonries, the way the materials are laid, fit into each other (with or without lime mortar), with the additions, the modifications in the stoneworks, the layout of the walls (with rectilinear segments or recesses, with or without batter), the form of the flanks (rectangular, square or circular in plan), the structure of the gateways (with inner open courtyards or with outerworks), the nature of the parapets (varied types of crenellation or plain parapets) and thus to establish the relative chronology of the fortifications or the absolute chronology for the architectural elements which are dated or have known characteristics, and thus permits to show the different phases of construction of the strongholds in South India.

  • 2 More monographs on significant strongholds are needed to enrich our typology on fortification, com (...)

3This analysis, with draws attention to the considerable skills and ingenuities of Indian fort builders, has something to engage the interest of all those concerned with India military monuments, be they engineers, archaeologists or historians.2

Notes

1 Students in military architecture should be aware of the difficulties of conducting field work. In most of the fortified sites, it is imperative to walk kilometres along the enclosures, outside and inside, across huge steep-sided boulders, in places overrun with thick thorny bushes, particularly on the top of the walls and in the ditches which are also used systematically as public latrines by local people; moreover, because of heavy traffic, it is hard even to stand in the cleared large gates open to the public, and, in addition to that, because of fast urban development, many enclosures are difficult to approach since houses have been built on the edge of ditches or near the walls, too close to make a photograph (many pictures published by archaeologists before the second world war cannot be taken today). For all these reasons, documenting these structures (observation, measurements, etc.) poses problem and anyway requires physical strength and fortitude!

2 More monographs on significant strongholds are needed to enrich our typology on fortification, compare and identify structures of the same type found in various places. For example, our identification of the Bijapuri works in Senji fort (Tamilnadu) has been confirmed by the observation of similar constructions seen at Naldurga (Maharashtra). Recently also, while visiting the fort of Gutti (Andhra Pradesh), obviously renovated in the 18th century, we found one square tower with box machicolations similar in every respect to the towers of the enclosure of Gandikota built by Mir Jumlah in the middle of the 17th century; now, in the literary sources it is mentioned that this general stayed there just before taking Gandikota; therefore there is no doubt that this tower was built by Mir Jumlah.

© Institut Français de Pondichéry, 2007

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