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Notes on the Geography of Peninsular India: Deogiri Fort: Photo 21

world pictures Peninsular India: Deogiri Fort

The Padshahnama explains: "Through the center of the hill a dark spiral passage like the ascent of a minar, which is impossible to traverse, even in day light, without a lamp, has been cut, and the steps in this passage are cut out of the rock."

The staircase was modified in 1952 so only part of it is now internal. Still, that part is plenty dark. Ibn Battuta writes of dungeons in the cliff: "There is a prison there, in whose dungeons are imprisoned those convicted of serious crime, and in these dungeons there are huge rats, bigger than cats--in fact, cats run away from them and cannot defend themselves, for these rats are too strong for them, so they can be captured only by means of ingenious devices which are employed to deal with them. I saw them there and marvelled at them. The malik Khattab al-Afghani told me that he had once been imprisoned in a dungeon in this fortress, which went by the name of 'the pit of the rats.' He said, 'They used to collect together by night to devour me and I fought against them, which I could only with great difficulty. I then saw in a dream a man who said to me: "Recite the sura of al-Ikhlas, a hundred thousand times and God will deliver you." So I recited it and when I had completed this number I was released. The reason for my release was that the malik Mall was imprisoned in a dungeon adjacent to mine; he fell sick and the rats ate his fingers and his eyes and he died. When this was reported to the Sultan he said 'Fetch our Khattab in case the same thing happens to him.'"

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