View of Asirgarh (C.P.); an officer sketching in the foreground; a syce and horse standing by
Water-colour of Asirgarh Fort with an officer sketching in the foreground and a servant and horse standing by painted by an anonymous artist in 1818. Inscribed on the front in ink is: 'North & part of the East Face of Asseerghur. a. Second line. b. Lower Fort.'
The fort is located at the top of a very steep cliff on an isolated outcrop of the Satpura range in Madhya Pradesh. Regarded as one of the oldest forts in India, there is evidence of settlement here from 1600 BC. The historian Ferishta reckoned that the fort was built in 1370 by a herdsman, Asa Ahir whose ancestors had occupied the rock for over 700 years. The Mughal Emperor Akbar took the fort in 1600. Two centuries later it was taken by the British under Wellesley (1803) but subsequently restored to Scindia. Following a twenty day siege it was taken by General Malcolm in 1819. The fortress occupies a strategically important position commanding the only easily accessible route from northern India to the Deccan in the southwest. The northern entrance to the fort was protected by a deep ravine defended by an outer rampart whereas from the south, the fort was approached through five gateways protected by double lines of fortifications which could be blocked in an urgent situation.