Narnala is an ancient fortress in the hills in the north of Akot taluka at a point where a narrow tongue of Akola District runs a few miles in to the Melghat. The Narnala Sanctuary comprising of only 12.35 Sq. Km lies nestled in the Satpura Hill Ranges barely 60 Km away from Akola. Lying south of the Melghat Tiger Reserve, this Sanctuary is under the administrative control of the Deputy Conservator of Forests, Wildlife Division Akot working under the Conservator of Forests and Field Director, Melghat Tiger Reserve based at Amravati.
The hill fort of Narnala is the central attraction from which the name of the Sanctuary is derived.
It is a very old structure with some reports suggesting that the first fortifications were made by the descendents of Pandavas. The fort consists of 3 separate forts of Jaffarabad in the East, Narnala in the center and Telyagarh in the West. The fort is enclosed, except in those places where natural escarpment of rock renders artificial defense unnecessary, by crenellated stone walls. The fort covers 392 acres with a wall perimeter of 24 miles (36 km). It is said to have 22 gates and 360 Buruj towers or bastions.
Narnala fort is at distance of 20 Km from Akot and is part of Narnala wildlife sanctuary of Melghat Tiger Reserve (MTR). In fact, it acts as a gateway of Melghat on souther side. It is situated at about 1000 m. aboveMSL. Ahmed Shah constructed it back in 1426 A.D.
The Fort area has an excellent water management system. Rainwater harvesting and drainage system built on fort plateau is of worth admiration.
The system consists of 22 large tanks connected with smaller tanks in such a way that the over flow of water from tank situated at higher elevation goes to tanks at lower elevation ensures no drop of rain water is allowed to go waste. At present, 6 tanks retain considerable quantity of water through out the year. Famous “Dog temple” and Sakkar Talav are the place of faith for the people of all society
According to historical accounts, the fort is believed to have been constructed by the Gonds. When Ahmed Shah Bahamani (1425 CE) constructed Gawilgarh Fort
with a view to obstructing invaders from the north frontiers of his kingdom, he also repaired the fort at Narnala.
The fort has been under the rule of various dynasties, including Bahamani (1347-1527 CE), Nizamshahi (1490-1636 CE), Mughals (1526-1707 CE), Marathas (1674-1818 CE), and the Nizam of Hyderabad (1724).
Eventually it was taken over by the East India Company in 1818 CE.
The fort also played an important role during the upheaval of Pendharies in 1857 CE. Given this almost continuous change of ownership, every ruler of Narnala has left his impression on its architectural design,
evident from its classic Bahamani gateways, lofty Mughal arches, Maratha-style gardens and pleasure pavilions, etc. The water management system of the fort is notable in the form of
dams, reservoirs, and artificial lakes. Enclosed, except in those places where natural escarpment of rock renders artificial defense unnecessary,
it has crenellated stone walls with the fortification wall extending to a length of 38 kilometers.
The triple fortification walls encircling the habitation are widespread over an area of 392 acres and originally had 22 gates and 360 bastions.
Some of the gates like Shahanur (Wagh Darwaza), Mehandi, Mahakali (Nakshi Darwaza), Akot and Delhi represent Bahamani-style architecture.
On the upper portion of the Mahakali gateway (Nakshi Darwaza) are two large inscriptions belonging to the Bahamani period.
The upper one dates the construction of the gate in Hijra year 892 (1487 CE) while the lower blesses Gazi Sultan Shahab-ud-Dunya Wad-din Mahmud Shah.
The period between October and January is the best time to visit the Narnala Fort. This is the period of winters when the weather is delightful and truly enjoyable.
The temperature ranges between a low of 11 degrees Celsius and a high of 20 degrees Celsius, making it the perfect weather for outdoor picnics and outings.
Things to do
- Explore the Wildlife Visitors to the fort can sight a variety of wildlife in the form of animals
like sambar, sloth bear, barking deer, porcupine, civet cat and wild cat along with a few larger felines.
- Visit Gawilgad and Chikhaldara:
In the vicinity of the Melghat Tiger Reserve is Gawilgad, a well-fortified mountain stronghold of the Maratha Empire north of the Deccan Plateau. It was successfully assaulted by an Anglo-Indian force commanded by Arthur Wellesley on December 15, 1803 during the Second Anglo-Maratha War. The fort has several inscriptions in Persian recording the date of building of each of its seven gates. Within the fort are the ruins of a mosque which has been constructed in the Pathani style of architecture. The famous hill station of Vidarbha, Chikhaldara, is very close to Gawilgad and relieves one from the hectic lifestyle.
- Take blessing at Shegaon:
Shegaon is just around 81 kms from Narnala. This place is a very famous pilgrimage destination for the devotees of Sant Gajanana Maharaj. The Anand Sagar Lake and the surrounding region is a delight for the tourists.
How to travel
By Air:The nearest airport is at Nagpur.
By Rail:Nearest railhead is at Akola which is 45 kms away.
By Road:Akot and Akola are well connected with Nagpur and many other cities in Maharashtra.State transport buses ply regularly from Akola for Narnala
Hotel Accommodation Facilities Nearby & Hotel/ Hospital/Post Office/Police station
MTDC hotel details
Melghat Tiger Reserve MTDC Resort
Contact: 091123 23356
and some other private hotels, resorts.
Best Time to visit
The period between October and January is the best time to visit the Narnala Fort.
Local Language spoken in area