PLACES

THALNER

Thalner. [Thalner is perhaps Ptolemy's Tiatura: Elliot's History, I, 356.] the first capital of the Faruqi kings, with in 1961, 6,587 inhabitants, stands on the Tapi, in Shirpur taluka about 46.67 km. (28 miles) north-east of Dhulia, the district headquarters. In the heyday of the Gavali or Ahir kings- Thalner was at the height of its prosperity and was an important commercial centre on the Surat-Burhanpur road. Today it is no more than an insignificant village.

History.

According to a local grant, in the beginning of the twelfth century (1128) (1,050 Shaka), while the country for 32.18 km. (20 miles) round was ' without a light', and twenty-seven of its forts were deserted, Thalner prospered under Javaji and Govaji of the Tale sub-division of Gavalis or Ahirs. At that time, Daulatrao, son of Bajirao of Daulatabad came to people Khandesh, and finding Thalner flourishing established Javaji's family as headmen of the town. [Mr. J. Pollen. C. S. The present deed is a modern copy of the original grant.] Late in the fourteenth century (1370) when Firozshah Tughluq (1351-1388) granted Malik Raja Faruqi an estate on the south border of Gujarat, Malik chose Thalner as his headquarters. In the following year (1371), defeated by the Gujarat king, Malik was forced to take refuge in Thalner fort [Briggs' Ferishta. IV..] On his death in 1399 Malik left Thalner to his second son. But in 1417 with the aid of the Sultan of Malva, Nair Khan, the elder son, wrested it from his brother. In 1498 Thalner was invested by Mahmud Begada [Briggs' Ferishta, IV, 292.], king of Gujarat, whose army laid waste the district and would not retire till arrears of tribute were paid.-[Briggs' Ferishta, IV, 299, Bird (Mirat-i-Ahtmadi, 214) says " Mahmud only went to see the fort".] In 1511 Mahmud Begada granted Thalner with about one-half of Khandesh to Malik Hissamuddin a noble of his court. But in the next year, Hissamuddin was murdered and Thalner restored to Khandesh.' [Briggs' Ferishta, IV, 306.] In 1566 it was the scene of the- defeat of the Khandesh king Miran Muhammad Khan by Changiz Khan of Gujarat. [Briggs' Ferishta, IV, 317-18.] In 1600, when it passed to the Emperor Akbar, Thalner is noticed as being of great strength though in a plain. [Gladwin's Ain-i-Akbari, II 54.] In 1660 Tavernier mentions it as one of the places of trade on the Surat and Burhanpur line. [Harris' Voyages, II 352.]  In 1750 it was a strong fort, the centre of thirty-two little governments. [Tieffenthaler, Res. His. et. Geog. Sur. I ' Inde, I, 368.] Shortly after it passed to the Peshva, and was by him made over to Holkar, who about 1800, pledged it to the Nimbalkars. It was recovered in the following year and kept by the Holkar family till in 1818 under the terms of the Mandesar treaty, it was made over to the British.

As Sindva, a place with a much greater name for strength, had at one surrendered, no resistance was expected at Thalner. But its capture proved one of the bloodiest incidents in the conquest of Khandesh. Blacker gives the following detailed account. [ Maratha War, 228.] When in 1818 Sir Thomas Hislop, the British general, came to take possession, the garrison began hostilities by firing matchlocks at the palanquin of a sick officer, and at the same time opened fire with a gun on the head of the baggage, then entering the plain. A summons was sent to the commandant, and a close reconnaissance of the place was made. The party descended into the ravines surrounding the fort, and from there ascended into the town driving out a small party of the enemy. As it was ascertained that the -enemy had no guns on the western face, where there was water and comparatively clear ground on the river bank, General Hislop resolved to encamp there, and attack the place from the north-east angle. With this object two five and a half inch howitzers with ten six-pounders, the only guns in the camp, were moved down the beds of the ravines. They were then carried to positions in the town, where the houses gave tolerable cover to batteries which opened within 273.403 and 328.083 metres (250 and 300 yards) of the north-east angle of the fort. In a few hours, during which, by the well aimed fire of matchlocks from the walls, several casualties had occurred, the enemy guns were nearly silenced, but no progress had been made in reducing the garrison, who it was thought, would surrender as soon as any serious demonstration was made against them. Further examination showed that the outer gate was in a ruinous state, and promised cover in traverses, while a commanding position immediately opposite to it overlooked the nearest defences. For these reasons it was determined to attack the gates. Two guns were opened on the traverses, with considerable effect, while two others were, by a detour, brought to a position whence, with the view of blowing it open, they might easily be run up to the gate. At the same time a storming party, was brought down to the same place. Indifferent as the enemy had hitherto been, the preparations against the gate did not fail to alarm them and they sent out to demand terms of capitulation. In reply they were told that unconditional surrender would alone be accepted; and they were invited to avail themselves of this offer before the assault on the gates should begin. The evening was now advanced and the enemy probably trusted to the approaching dark ness for an opportunity of abandoning the place. To prevent this the guns and storming party were ordered to advance to the gate. This was done without loss. It was found that in consequence of its ruinous state there was a passage for single files between the wall and the gate frame; and no opposition being offered from within, the storming party, followed by the pioneers, entered, though tediously, without difficulty. After the passage of the storming party endeavours were used to blow open the outer gate that the guns might be advanced to the remainder. But before that was effected the storming party had passed through the second gate without opposition. At the third it was met by the commandant, with a number of artificers whom he had on the previous evening forced in. Lieut. Colonels Con-way and Murray, with several others, had entered with the storming party, and it was still doubtful whether resistance would ultimately he made, for at this time there was none. They accordingly passed through the fourth gate, which, as well as the second, appeared so much out of repair as to be incapable of being shut; but at the fifth or last gate they were stopped though the wicket was opened. A hurried conversation about the terms of surrender now took place. It was probably little intelligible under the circumstances of noise and apprehension which attended it. Colonel Murray, in this state of uncertainty, concluding that there was an urgent necessity for establishing a footing such as would secure eventual success of the attack, should the enemy hold out, entered by the wicket with Major Gordon and there grenadiers; but refrained from drawing his sword, to show that he had no intention of breaking the parley. He expected to be followed by as many men as should be able to maintain them selves in a confined situation; but four or five persons only had got in, when the enemy, apprehending the consequences, attacked most furiously, and in a moment laid them all dead, except Colonel Murrav, who, covered with wounds, fell towards the wicket. They then attempted to close the wicket, but their efforts were rendered ineffectual by a grenadier who thrust his musket into the aperture, While Lieut. Colonel Mackintosh and Captain Mac Craith forced it open. In this state it was held while, the Captain with one hand was dragging Colonel Murray through it, and warding off blows with his sword in the other. A fire was now poured in through the wicket, which cleared the gateway sufficiently for the head of the storming party, under Major MacGregor of the Royals, to enter; and the place was carried without further difficulty, but at the expense of that officers' life.[ Two tombs, erected to the memory of the officers killed, bear the following inscriptions; No. I " Here lie entombed the remains of Major R. Mac Gregor. of H. M's Royal Scots, who fell in the assault and storming of this fort on the 27th Feby. 1818." No. II "Here lie entombed the remains of Major.1. Gordon, of H.M.'s Royal Scots, who fell in the assault and storming of this fort on the 27th February 1818"..] As soon as the supporting detachment could open the gate, many troops poured in, the garrison was shortly put to the sword, and the commandant was hanged on the same evening to a tree on the flagstaff tower. [The enemy lost about 250 men killed, the British loss was twenty-five. Blacker. 228. 232. According to a local story some of the garrison escaped by leaping into the river from the battlements, with bundles of ivari stalks in their arms. A somewhat different account, severely blaming Sir T. Hislop for hanging the commandant, is given in the summary of The Maratha and Pendhari Campaign (1820). 143.154]

The fort is described as with one side rising out of the Tapi and the three other sides surrounded by a hollow way, varying in width from 91.44 to 137.16 metres (100 to 150 yards). The walls rise to the height of about 18.28 metres (60 ft.) above this hollow and the interior had the same elevation. The only entrance was on the eastern side and secured by five successive gates communicating by intricate traverses, whose enclosure gradually rose to the height of the main wall. A winding ramp interspersed in some places with steps, ascending through the gate in to the terreplein of the rampart. Great ingenuity had been exercised to make this part as strong as possible apparently under the idea that the profile of the rest rendered it secure, notwithstanding the absence of a ditch.

Today only one of the walls that on the river side is standing, the others having collapsed for the most part. Even of this wall one of the bastions was ruined by the great floods of the Tapi which took place some five years ago, and a tunnel opened in which a small, well executed idol of Vishnu was found.

On the British occupation the country for 48.28 km. (thirty miles) around was a desert. Since then, though the neighbourhood has much improved, Thalner has remained an insignificant place with ruined walls and fort [Government List of Civil Forts, 1862.] and almost no trade. Besides the tombs of Major MacGregor and Captain Gordon, the chief objects of interest are ten Muhammedan domed tombs of common country black stone and two of burnt brick. Of the whole number, one is eight cornered and the rest are square. [The measurements are 1, 10' x 10'; 2, 11' x 11'; 3, 11' x 11'; 4, 8' X 8'; 5, 8' x 8'; 6, 3' x 3'; 7, 6' x 6'; 8, 11' x 11'; 9, 4' X 4'; 10, 4' X 4'.] They vary in size from eleven feet by eleven to three and a half feet square. Though more or less damaged outwardly and with the inside part of their domes partly destroyed, they are in good order. The eight-cornered tomb has some Arabic writing, but so worn as to be unreadable. According to the local story they were built by a saint. But there seems little reason to doubt that they are the tombs of the Faruqi kings, of whom four. Malik Raja (1396). Malik Nasir (1437), Miran Adil Khan (1441). and Miran Mubarak Khan (1457), were hurried in Thalner. [Persian Ferishta, II, 143, and Briggs' Ferishta IV, 283.] Inside there are also a few wells which once supplied water to the garrison, but now they are dry. Much of the earth from inside the fort has been utilised by the villagers in building houses.

Situated on the banks of the Tapi and the foot of the fort is an old stone built temple dedicated to Thaleshwar. Its 1.828 X 1.828 metre vestibule contains a small ling symbol. It is crowned by a 7.62 metre (25 ft.) high shikhar.

 

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