Sabalgarh Fort, Madhya Pradesh, India – A Hidden Treasure

Sabalgarh Fort has great historical significance, with personalities like Maharaja Gopal Singh (28th ruler of Karauli, Rajasthan) and Naval Singh Khande Rao (the Governor of Sabalgarh appointed by Scindia rulers) using the fort.

The complex is a fine example of eighteenth century fort planning. It was surrounded by an outer fortification wall on the north and the west side. A continuous fortification wall of 1,800 meters in length can be seen on the north side along the state highway, while some small sections of fortifications are seen along the east side. The east and west sides have the dense forest as a natural defence. There are also remains of a moat along the southern side. The Chambal River on the north and the nalla at the foothills on the west made the location of the fort more favorable.

The inner fortification wall is strengthened with 12 bastions and has five gateways. The gateway on the north seems to be the main entrance into the fort, and serves as a connection between the outer and the inner settlement.

The inner fort had palaces, residences for the generals and elite (Nawal Singh Haveli), and other ancillary buildings like stables, kacheri (court), and temples, while the rest of the settlement was between the two fortification walls. The settlement had several wells for water and were located both in the inner and outer fortification.

Today the fort is in serious distress with many parts of the inner and outer fortifications and bastions showing structural cracks. The areas inside and around the inner fortification in particular face major threat due to ad-hoc growth and the precarious condition of the historic structures on the southwest side of the complex.

The Sabalgarh Fort has immense historical, cultural, and architectural significance which is gradually fading away due to the lack of information and ownership of the complex. The conservation of the fort complex cannot be undertaken in isolation. Various management and socio-economic issues should also be considered to ensure the holistic development of the complex.

WMF has partnered with the government of Madhya Pradesh’s Department of Culture to develop a sustainable management program for continued conservation and maintenance of the state’s heritage sites.