A FIELD STUDY OF CHISAPANI GADHI (BIG AND SMALL) OF MAKAWANPUR DISTRICT

Dr. Prem Singh Basnyat

Topography

Chisapani Gadhi (fort) is an important place from the historical, military, economic and political points of view. The hill itself is strategically important place. Its height is 1700 meters above the sea level. It is a major bottleneck and the shortest route and lifeline of the Nepalese economy. It is the gateway of Kathmandu-Chandragiri-Kulekhani-Bhimpehdi-Hetauda, Birgunj and Raxual travel route. Now it is situated at Chisapani Village Development Committee, Makawanpur.

It is a hill on the southern slope of the Mahabharat range. The pass (Bhanjyang) lies about one kilometer north of the forts. It was an urban area where Badahakim (chief officer) used to stay there. There is a small plateau with gentle slope in the fort area. Now Bhimphedi-Kulekhani highway runs along its northern boundary. The surface is made of very strong rocks and loose soil. No landslide is possible unless and until men destroy its natural shape. The area is covered with vertical cliffs, vertical slope, and rivulets.

There are some waterfalls with small sources of water during winter rainy season. These waterfalls are vertical and very dangerous. One big and steep hill is situated just to the western side of the fort and it is ten meters distant of the ditch obstacle of the forts. Likewise, a similar type of cliff also in existence is in the eastern part of the forts. A dry riverbed is at Bhimphedi, which is an obstacle in the rainy season. Beside the road, a track that is old and important (Bhimphedi-Kulekhani track) runs from the very near eastern part of the fort. A few other cowboy tracks run around the area, which are not easy for movement.

There are few houses on the way to Chisapani pass (Bhanjyang). Bhimphedi is a town and well built up area and there is an army barrack there. Kulekhani Hydroelectric Project main building is situated nearby Bhimphedi. It was the district headquarters of Makawanpur, which was later shifted to Hetauda. No cultivation is possible at the Gadhi itself. Suping, Bhimphedi, Hetauda, Kulekhani and Chanwan are fertile agricultural areas. Food items are available for purchase in the area and piped drinking water is facilitated to the forts. A large water source is in just 75-metres distant to its west.

The climate is fine. Pure and cold drinking water and the whole year pleasantly cool weather are the specialties of the area. The Chisapani and nearby areas are covered with forest but the fort area itself is devoid of vegetation. Very limited axis is expected due to its natural formulation. The following are considered as possible avenues of approach:



  1. Northern access: Kathmandu-Thankot-Chandragiri-Kulekhani Hydro electric Dam-Chisapani Bhanjyang and Gadhi.

  2. Northwestern access: Thankot - Nagdhunga -Naubise- Tistung- Kulekhani Dam - Chisapani Bhanjyang and Gadhi.

  3. Southern access: Hetauda - Samari - Suparitar - Bhainse - Power house- Bhimphedi-Motorable road, small Gadhi and big Gadhi (A straight and uphill track goes to Gadhi and it is two hours walking distance in Field Service Marching Order for armed forces) dam- Chisapani Bhanjyang - Big Gadhi and small Gadhi.


The Chisapani Gadhi covers a very large area. It is about 800 metres east to west and 700 metres north to south. The wall type of fort is ruined but the base of the fort-wall is still in existence. The large and the small forts can be seen separately. There is a well situated between the large and the small fort for reservation of drinking water during war time. No one has mentioned about the small fort or large one as a whole. The small fort is situated to the southern slope (about 600 meters down) on top of very dangerous cliff to its all directions except eastern side. It is mountainous and undulating area and some parts of the ground are in gentle slope. The nearby Mahabharat range is covered with old trees and it is stronger than the large one due to the natural obstacles.

Some Noteworthy Remnants in and Around the Fort

No petrography was found in and around area. The following are the some of the noteworthy remnants found there.

  1. Batuk Bhairab Temple: This is an old temple. The Batukdal Gulma (Company) of the Royal Nepalese Army was established in the name of this temple. The temple is 11.50 X 5.70 metre. Sacrifices of goat, fowl and other animals are made only on Tuesday but normal daily worship continues. Women are strictly forbidden to enter the temple and only Magar cast can be the priest (Pujari) of the temple. The ex-Pujari Ambar Bahadur Pulami Magar died on 20th Vaisak 2056 BS. (3rd May 1999 AD). After his death, VDC and the District Development Committee appointed no Pujari. A Magar soldier is doing that job without Panchavali which means sacrifice of five animals and birds like buffalo, goat, sheep, duck and cock. The god cannot be taken out from the temple and Bhairav yatra ceremony is performed every 12 years. The temple and forts are under the authority of Bhimphedi Village Development Office. The following are inscribed in the bells (Ghanta). The left bell is inscribed as "In the year 1949 Chaitra Sudi 8th Saturday, in revered memory of Lord Bhairav; Lieutenant Chandra Bir Khadka Chhetri of Chisapani Gadhi an inhabitant of Dhapakhel, Nepal had consecrated with devotion the said bell.

    Likewise the right bell bears the inscription "Obeisance to Lord Batuk Bhairab Nath. The bell weighing 8.91 Dharnis, consecrated to Lord Bhairab Nath on the year 1985, month of Magh, Saturday 24th, having been broken with the passage of time, the replaced bell, weighing 11 Dharnis, was consecrated in sublimation to Lord Batuk Bhairab Nath at the shrine of Lord Bhairab Nath by Bhaju Ram and his entire family including sons Bhaju Krishna and Hari Krishna, residents of Lubhu, now in Chisapani, on the year 1996, month of Jestha, Saturday 24th "Mangal Chauthi". When the Batukdal Company was moved to another place, then Nepal Police post was set-up for the security of the forts. After that period, many valuable and historical items were lost due to negligence of the authorities concerned. Thus, again the security duty was restored to Nepalese Army since 21st Bhadra, 2034 BS (1977 AD). Unfortunately, the fort is without of security bodies, again.



  2. Kalitop (Cannon): It is a very huge cannon. which was kept here for defence against the British during the Nepal- Company 1814-16 A.D. war. It was fired only once and many pregnant women and animals suffered from miscarriage due to its sound. It is worshipped daily by the army and taking photographs of the cannon is prohibited for normal use.

  3. Other broken buildings: Chisapani Gadhi was the district head quarter to control a large area and Badahakim was the chief officer. His residence, office, barracks line, jails, customs office and check posts were there. Now all the houses are in a dilapidated condition. Now a single barrack line exists inside the forts and it is for the security guards. Their kitchen and Kalitop are all there but these are not the original building.

  4. Cannons: There are many cannon Kilitop (biggest) 1, medium size-one 5, small-one 2, medium Aakase -one 2 and Majheula small-one 1 (total 10) are in this forts. Some of them bear their manufacturing date and detail of the ruler at that time. Likewise, they are inscribed "By august Command of His Highness Maharaj Jung Bahadur Rana and executed by the Commander-in-Chief Rana Udip Singh Kunwar Rana…. No.6 manufactured in the year …." . The next one bearing inscription 16 pounder No. 140 Dharni 298. "!^ kfp)*/ n+j/ 140 wfgL{ 298Æ

  5. Tundikhel (Parade ground): A small parade ground of Nepalese Army is on top of the plateau and volleyball can be played there.

  6. Well: One well is reserved for the drinking water and it is in between the Chisapani Gadhi large and small fort. It is round in shape and is located at the southern slope of the big fort. The local people and even the security personnel said that the well was made for the punishment of the culprits. Even Nepal Television especially broadcast the same views. This is incorrect as the well was made to preserve the drinking water during war time and emergencies.


Historical and Military Value

The place Chisapani was the bottleneck on a hilltop from its northern and southern belts. The fort Chisapani was very important from the military and administrative points of view. No records are available about its initial establishment but we can believe that it must be manned or physically occupied by the security personnel of Makawanpur principality. The existing fort was made after the unification of Nepal. The architectural design is quite different from those of Makawanpur, Hariharpur and Upardang Gadhi. It is similar to Duguna Gadhi and Rasuwa Gadhi. An official document written in the name of AMALI DWARE of Dolakha in 1864 B.S. (1807 A.D.) shows clearly and mentions that the Amali Dware or Amalidar (local officer) was ordered to construct but not to repair the forts. This means that there was no fort in the Chisapani Gadhi before 1807 A.D.

Colonel Ranabir Singh Thapa was the Sector Commander of Hariharpur Gadhi, Dhunge Gadhi, Makawanpur Gadhi, Chisapani Gadhi, Kandrang Gadhi, Upardang Gadhi and Sinchyang Gadhi areas during the first defensive campaign against the British troops during the Nepal-Company war. History shows that Kaji Chamu Bhandari was the Commander of Chisapani fort. It was during the second campaign because he was appointed as the sector commander to the western front during first campaign against British. It was the second major important fort to control the access of enemy up to the Nepal-Company War. Makawanpur and Harharpur Gadhi were the important bottlenecks. No enemy contact was made during first defensive campaign because the British could not move forward from the Indo-Nepalese border.

Colonel Bakhtabarsingh Thapa was the Sector Commander during the second defensive campaign. His area of responsibility was from Hariharpur Gadhi to Sinchyang Gadhi. As per the offensive plan of Major General David Ochterlony, Major Lumely was given two infantry battalions and Lieutenant Hewitt's artillery support to eliminate the Nepalese defensive positions of Sinchyang Gadhi, Upardang Gadhi and Kandrang Gadhi. Likewise, Colonel Nicol was given 3 infantry battalions with artillery support to eliminate the Nepalese defensive positions of Simbhanjyang area and Chisapani Gadhi. Colonel Nicol's troops were able to eliminate the defensive positions of Simbhanjyang area and now it is in Makawanpur distirct.

The enemy's main battle was fought in the area of Makawanpur and Hariharpur fronts. Accordingly, Major Lumle and Colonel Nicol were forward push to achieve their goal. Historical events show that no battle was fought in the Chisapani Gadhi itself, as the treaty was signed between the Nepal and the East India Company. The main thing was that this fort was in a good defensive position with natural obstacles. It has very difficult uphill going from Bhimphedi and it was the shortest route to reach Kathmandu though the British changed their plan of attack and turned into the Makawanpur axis for a more easy passage to Kathmandu. Its tactical significance was very high.

Conclusion and Recommendation

To conclude, the forts are the national military heritage. They are of historical value of the nation. They should be preserved and well maintained as a national property. Particularly, the above mentioned fort is very strong and made of stones and mortar, which is situated in a very good position. It is under the control of local VDC. But it has been partially damaged and no effort is made for its conservation. The army is doing minor maintenance work. Finally, the Bhimphedi - Kulekhani motor road is already made. So it can be a good tourist promotion point too, if HMG tourism department takes an interest about the fort. Moreover, it is the religious important spot of Batuk Bhairab temple. Historical and military values are other aspects of its importance.