|Owner||Government of India|
|Built by||Ahirs, Malik Raja Faruqi|
|Materials||Stone, lime and lead|
|Events||Battle of Thalner (1818)|
|Occupants||Ahirs, Faruqis, Holkars, British|
Thalner (Marathi: थाळनेर), the first capital of the Faruqi kings, stands on the Tapi river, in Shirpur tehsil about 46.67 km. (28 miles) north-east of Dhule in the Maharashtra state of India. It was fortified by a strong fort which played a very significant role in the history of Khandesh. Situated on the banks of the Tapi and the foot of the fort is an old stone built temple dedicated to Thaleshwar. The name Thalner probably derived from this old temple of Thaleshwar. 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 just a small village which lost its glory to history.
The fort had one side rising out of the Tapi and the three other sides were surrounded by a hollow way, varying in width from 91.44 to 137.16 metres (100 to 150 yards). The walls rose 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, 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, ascended through the gate into 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 a small portion of the walls that were 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 in 1876, and a tunnel opened in which a small, well executed idol of Vishnu was found.
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.
According to a local grant, in 1128, while the country for 32.18 km (20 miles) around 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 the people of Khandesh, and finding Thalner flourishing established Javaji's family as headmen of the town.
In 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 1371, defeated by the Gujarat king, Malik was forced to take refuge in Thalner fort. On his death in 1399 Malik left Thalner to his second son Iftikar Khan. But in 1417 with the aid of the Sultan of Malwa, Nasir Khan, the elder son, wrested it from his brother. In 1498 Thalner was invaded by Mahmud Begada, king of Gujarat, whose army laid waste the district and would not retire till arrears of tribute were paid. 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 was restored to Khandesh. In 1566 it was the scene of the defeat of the Khandesh king Miran Muhammad Shah II by Changiz Khan of Gujarat. In 1600, when it passed to Emperor Akbar, Thalner was noticed as being of great strength though in a plain. In 1660 Tavernier mentioned it as one of the places of trade on the Surat and Burhanpur line.
In 1750 it was a strong fort, the centre of thirty-two little governments. Shortly after this, it passed to the Peshwa, and was by him made over to Holkar, who, around 1800, pledged it to the Nimbalkars. It was recovered the following year and kept by the Holkar family until in 1818, under the terms of the Mandesar treaty, it was handed over to the British.
Battle of Thalner (1818)
Sindva was a place with a much greater name for strength in the Khandesh region, but it surrendered to the British at once, hence no resistance was expected at Thalner. However, its capture proved one of the bloodiest incidents in the conquest of Khandesh. Blacker gave the following detailed account of the conquest.
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 darkness 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 Conway and Murray, with several others, had entered with the storming party, and it was still doubtful whether resistance would ultimately be 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 their 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 themselves 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 officer's 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. 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)
The fort of Thalner is in a dilapidated condition. 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. 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 buried in Thalner. 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.
In Thalner there are two temples, one is Lord Mahadeva's and the other is Lord Khandoba's Temple. Lord Mahadeva's temple is located at Tapi riverside, and Khandoba temple is located near the Thalner bus stand.
Khandoba, (Marathi: खंडोबा,Khaṇḍobā) also known as Khanderao, Khanderaya, Malhari Martand and Mallu Khan, is a regional Hindu deity, worshipped as Mārtanda Bhairava, a form of Shiva, mainly in the Deccan plateau of India. He is the most popular family deity in Maharashtra. He is also the patron deity of warriors, farming, herding, some Brahmin (priest) castes, and the hunters and gatherers of the hills and forests. The cult of Khandoba has linkages with Vaishnava and Jain traditions, and also assimilates all communities irrespective of caste, including Muslims. Khandoba is sometimes identified with Mallanna of Andhra Pradesh and Mailara of Karnataka. The worship of Khandoba developed during the 9th and 10th centuries from a folk deity into a composite god possessing the attributes of Shiva, Bhairava, Surya and Karttikeya (Skanda). He is depicted either in the form of a lingam, or as an image riding on a bull or a horse. The foremost centre of Khandoba worship is Jejuri in Maharashtra. The legends of Khandoba, found in the text Malhari Mahatmya and also narrated in folk songs, revolve around his victory over demons Mani-malla and his marriages.
There is one festival in Hinduism called Champa Shashti which comes exactly one month after the Diwali festival. Deshasth Brahmans and Marathas observe the Champasashthi festival every year in honour of Khandoba. The festival begins on the bright half of the Hindu month of Margshirsha. The images of Khandoba and Malla are cleaned and worshipped. For six days a fast is observed. On the seventh day the worshippers break their fast with a feast known as the Champasashtliiche parne. An invitation to this feast is regarded as an invitation from the god Khandoba himself and is hard to refuse.
An important part of the Khandoba-cult is navas, a vow to perform service to the god in return for a boon such as a good harvest, male children, or financial success. On fulfilment of the navas, Khandoba was offered children or some devotees would afflict pain by hook-swinging or fire-walking. This type of worship using navas is called Sakama Bhakti - worship done with an expectation of return and is considered "to be of a lower esteem". But the most faithful bhaktas (devotees) are considered to be greedy only for the company of their Lord. Khandoba is also called bhukela - hungry for such true bhaktas in Martanda Vijaya.
Boys called Vāghyā (or Waghya, literally "tigers") and girls called Muraḹi were formerly dedicated to Khandoba, but now the practice of marrying girls to Khandoba is illegal. The Vaghyas act as the bards of Khandoba and identify themselves with the dogs of Khandoba, while Muralis act as his courtesans (devanganas - nymphs or devadasis). The Vaghyas and their female counterparts Muralis sing and dance in honour of Khandoba and narrate his stories on jagarans - all night song-festivals, which are sometimes held after navas fulfilment. Another custom was ritual suicide by Viras (heroes) in the cult. According to legend, an "untouchable" Mang (Matanga) sacrificed himself for the foundation of the temple at Jejuri to persuade Khandoba to stay at Jejuri forever. Other practices in the cult include the belief that Khandoba possesses the body of a Vaghya or devrsi (shaman). Another ritual in the cult is an act of chain-breaking in fulfilment of a vow or an annual family rite; the chain is identified with the snake around Shiva's neck, which was cut by the demons in the fight.
Another rite associated with the family duties to please Khandoba is the tali bharne, which is to be performed every full moon day. A tali (dish) is filled with coconuts, fruits, betel nuts, saffron, turmeric (bhandar) and bel leaves. A coconut is placed on a pot filled with water and the pot is worshipped as an embodiment of Khandoba. Five persons lift the tali and place it repeatedly on the pot thrice, saying "Elkot" or "Khande rayacha Elkot". Then the coconut in the tali is broken and mixed with sugar or jaggery and given to friends and relatives. A gondhal is performed along with the tali bharne.
A gondhal is a ritualistic folk art in which the performer Gondhalis invoke the deities.
Lata Mangeshkar's mother, affectionately called 'Mai', was from Thalner. She was the daughter of Seth Haridas Ramdas Lad, a prosperous businessman of the town.
- Maharashtra (India) (1954). Maharashtra State Gazetteers. Directorate of Government Print., Stationery and Publications, Maharashtra State. p. 829.
In the heyday of the Gavali or Ahir kings- Thalner was at the height of its prosperity and was an important commercial ... twenty-seven of its forts were deserted, Thalner prospered underJavaji and Govaji of the Tale sub-divisiqn of Gavalis or Ahirs
- "Dhulia". The Gazetteers Department of Maharashtra.