Ankai Fort – अंकाई किल्ला

Ankai Fort अंकाई / अणकाई is found in the Satmala Range hills, alongside a large Maratha hill fort on the peak. It is located in Yeola Taluka of Nashik district in Maharashtra, India. It lies close to the Manmad. The Ankai fort and Tankai fort are two forts on adjacent hills. The common fortification is constructed to secure both. The Ankai fort is located on a hill with perpendicular scarp on all the sides, except for a narrow nose on the eastern side.

The Brahmani (Hindu) caves on the fort and the Jain caves at the base of the fort depict that Ankai was constructed roughly 1000 years ago. The fort was built by Yadava of Devgiri. Mughals led by Shah Jahan’s General Khan Khanan captured this fort in 1635 by bribing the fort commander. In 1665, Thevenot mentions these forts as a stage between Surat and Aurangabad.[3] Ankai was ultimately captured by Nizam from Mughuls. In 1752, the fort came under the control of Maratha empire after the treaty of Bhalki. Finally, it was captured by the British in 1818.

How to reach
The nearest town is Manmad which is 97 km from Nashik. The base village of the fort is Ankai which is 10 km from Manmad. There are three routes to reach Ankai from Nashik. The shortest and safest is via Manmad, the other two are via Vinchur-Lasalgaon-Patoda (85 km) and via Yeola (108 km). There are good hotels at Manmad, tea and snacks are now also available in small hotels on the highway. The Ankai railway station is very close to the village. All the passenger trains passing on the Manmad-Nizamabad route stop on the railway station. The trekking path starts from the hillock north of the Ankai village. The route is very safe and wide. There are regular steps to the fort. There are no trees on the trekking route and on the forts. It takes about half an hour to reach the entrance gate of the fort. An overnight stay at Ankai can be made in the temple. The villagers from the town offer supplies for the trip. It takes about 3 hours to see both the forts. It is advisable to first visit the Ankai fort in the early hours of the day and complete the Tankai fort before noon.

Places to see
Jain caves located in the foot hills of the fort, spanning two stories. On the lower story there are two caves, neither of which have idols. On the upper story, there are five caves which feature Mahavir idols in good condition. They are secured by lock and key during night time to avoid vandalism. There is rock cut potable water cisterns at the entrance of the caves. There are carvings of Yaksha, Indrani, lotus and Lord Mahavir in the main cave. In the third cave, there are idols of Kichaka and Ambika. · Main Gate The main gate is located on the South of the hill, featuring well preserved wooden woodwork. · Manmad Gate This gate is on the Northern side of the col facing Manmad city. · Brahmani (Hindu) Caves These caves are near the entrance gate to the upper plateau of Anakai fort. They are in ruins, but the idols of Jai and Vijay carved out of rock and the Shivinga can still be seen. · The rock cut steps Rock cut steps and four gates which must be passed through to reach the top most plateau of the fort. · The Palace and Kashi pond On the western edge of the plateau is a large palace in a dilapidated condition. Only the walls of the palace remain. There is a single Darga room in the palace. Among the rock cut cisterns on the way to the palace is the Kashi pond, with a holy Tulsi pot engraved in rock placed in the center of the pond. There is a series of rock-cut water cisterns on the southern side of the fort. It takes about two hours to visit all places on the fort.