The Lohagarh fort of Bharatpur is that 18th century architectural masterpiece which has deflected full-force British attack for four incredible times. The fort was constructed by the then Jat ruler of Bharatpur Maharaja Suraj Mal, who is also the founder of the state. The king was known for his prudence, and the live testament of the same is this unconquered fort.
In contrast with the name, the structure has not used even an ounce of iron; rather it was built by using mere large blocks of stone and tons of mud. The name simply signifies the strength of the building, which, as the events of the history has proved, is unparalleled.
According to the historians, when Maharaja Suraj Mal decided to establish his capital in the region, he wanted to build strongest of a fort with the least of the expenses. As difficult as the task sounds, Maharaja was fortunate enough to find the description of ancient ‘Mud fort’ of India.
Inspired by the description of the mud fort or 'Mahi durg', he first had a strong double wall of the fort built using the huge rocks. Afterwards he had those walls covered with loads of mud that made the fort cannon-proof. This strategy proved to be the most significant part of the fort’s history, as was perhaps forecasted by the Maharaja, since the most formidable weapon at the time was cannonballs.
As the fate would have it, the time indeed came in future when despite all the sagacity, a trait that fortunately all the successors of Maharaja had, of the erstwhile ruler, the fort came under the adversary circle of the British and had to face consecutive attacks from them.
The incident had happened during the reign of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, the fourth-in-line successor. Alike his predecessors, the king maintained healthy relations with the British sovereign for the sake of peace and safety of his subjects. However, the events took a turn when a war broke out amid the Company’s government and Yashwant Rao Holkar, and Maharaja Ranjit Singh decided to provide a safe refuge/shelter to the Holkar troops.
The action, as apparent, was taken as an act of defiance, and british army, led by General Lake attacked the fort. Surrounded by a great moat, it was clear that the fort would not be easily surmountable. This knowledge made General Lake to send a messenger to the fort asking the Maharaja to expose the troops and continue the peace treaty previously made between the two ruling parties.
The proposal was immediately declined on the count that it was against the principles of Kshatriyas to leave a sheltered unprotected. Infuriated with this response, General led his first attack on 7th January 1805. He tried to clear the moat, attacked the fort with archery and used all the methods he could to win the fort to no avail. Finally, he resorted to the most formidable weapon of the time, and fired cannon balls directly on the walls of the fortress.
The mud of the fort provided the perfect resistance and all the cannon balls simply delved in it. General made repeated attacks and led a 6-weeks siege in vain.
Finally, after losing over 3000 men, he decided to turn his back on the fort, shining in its undefeated glory. Later the circumstances became normal between all the parties, and the alliance was reinstated, but the incidence had proved the might of the fort which is now rightfully called the Iron fort of Rajasthan.