Kurumbera Fort

Firstly, I must begin with this disclaimer that no, I did not visit Midnapore in the month of August (or as a matter of fact, ever in my life) in order to explore local history. I was sent there on office field trip. Did I not mention in my earlier post that I wanted my boss to die a horrible, violent death? However, every cloud has a silver lining and my silver lining came in the form of a fifteenth century fort amidst the cloud of getting stuck in thorn bushes while trying to cross a muddy stretch of road in a remote village.

A large part of Midnapore was still flooded so most of the places were inaccessible to us. It was by sheer coincidence we visited this part of the district where the fort was situated. The name of the place had first popped up during my desperate google search for places to see in this godforsaken land. After six hours’ journey and back to a remote village, a mild ankle sprain and near dehydration in maddening heat the half an hour spent at this obscure piece of ancient history I felt perhaps it was worth the ordeal.

Kurumbera Fort is situated in a village named Gaganeshwar that is about 32 kilometres from Kharagpur. From the main village junction we had to proceed for about 5 kilometres further via a long, jagged stretch of road. Somehow my internet connection was still working and google navigation was at my rescue. The site was tucked away in the middle of the village behind a field and a huge banyan tree. Curiosity was evident on the faces of the villagers when three dishevelled and exhausted women got off the dusty ambassador under the scorching sun. Our fort was, needless to say, devoid of any visitor except us.

Kurumbera Fort is protected and maintained by Archaeological Survey of India. It was built in around A.D. 1438-1469 by Kapilendra Deva, the first ruler of the Gajapati dynasty of Odisha. Gajapati kings still play a pivotal role during Rath Yatra in Puri. During the rule of the Gajapati dynasty Midnapore was part of Kalinga kingdom. Later when Aurangzeb attacked Bengal and Odisha he ordered many Hindu temples and forts to be converted into mosques. Our Kurumbera fort was one of his victims. The signs of his sin can still be seen in the form of a three-domed structure on the fort courtyard. I suddenly felt a surge of nausea in my stomach. For how long we would keep the sins hidden behind the mask of misguided secularism? India is an unfortunate nation under the epidemic of selective amnesia.