Maharaja Narsingh Mahal and Ghudsal (Sheopur Fort), Sheopur, Madhya Pradesh, India
Located on the bank of River Seep, the fort at the Sheopur District of Madhya Pradesh embodies the changing architectural styles patronized by various rulers who reigned from the sixteenth to twentieth centuries.
While some references date the complex to eleventh century, others suggest its foundation in the sixteenth century by the Gaur Rajputs. The fort was an object of conquest for several rulers, such as the Rajput rulers Hamir Dev of Ranthambore and Rana Kumbha of Mewar, Allauddin Khilji and Sher Shah Suri; it also became a part of the Malwa Sultanate for a brief period. In 1567, the fort was surrendered to the Mughal Empire and in eighteenth century, at the height of Maratha power, it was in the hands of Gaur Rajputs from Bengal. Later, the Scindias occupied the fort until independence, when it was taken over by the State Archaeology, Madhya Pradesh.
The varied architectural styles demonstrate the different sensibilities and styles of various rulers. While the charbagh (Persian-style garden layout) opposite the Narsingh Mahal illustrates the regional adaptation of Mughal landscape, the jharokhas (overhanging enclosed balcony) and bangaldaar roofs (typical of Bengali houses) at Gujari Mahal reflect Rajput architecture. Diwan-e-Aam and Durbar Hall, through the intricate lattice work on the jharokhas, reveal the architectural flavor of the Scindias of Gwalior. Darbar Hall currently houses a museum showcasing the rich culture and lifestyle of the Sahariya community, a primitive tribe of the region.
The fort, located on a mound, faces a serious threat with many areas of the fortification showing structural cracks. Ad-hoc growth of settlements can be observed around the fortification. To protect the fort and its cultural significance from any further deterioration some conservation and management guidelines need to be devised in consultation with the community and the local authorities.