Rajpipla, with its hills and rivers, forests and streams, waterfalls and meadows, is often said to be seven steps from heaven. For its enchanting landscape the region is at times described as ‘mini Kashmir’ and ‘Switzerland of the East’. The old capital atop Devchhatra (Devastra) Hill in the Western Satpuras was where the ancient Gohil Rajput dynasty began its 600-year sway over the 4,000 square kilometres principality of Rajpipla around the year 1340. The fort there, located 2,000 feet high, was almost inaccessible. It could be approached by narrow footpaths, which with a little effort could be made impossible to traverse even for infantry. The iconic Lal Darwaza or Red Gate by the River Karjan as one began climbing the Satpuras, was virtually impregnable.
And so the Gohil rulers could defend their positions with the help of the native Bhil tribesmen. It was a kingdom that lay largely between the rivers Narmada and, for some distance, Tapti. Appropriately, the crest or coat of arms of Rajpipla State depicts two Bhils with their bows and arrows, and below are inscribed the words ‘Revaji ne kaanthe’ or ‘On the banks of the holy Narmada’.
The area of the hills comprise the Dediapara and Sagbara Talukas. The old fort on Devchhatra (Abode of the Gods) hill provided panoramic views of the beautiful valleys below, the Narmada on one side, and the Rivers Karjan and Terav on the other. In the fifteenth century the capital of Rajpipla State was shifted lower to Junaraj on the banks of the Karjan. As just an arch remains at Devchhatra, it would seem that stones from the fort there were brought down to build the newer fort at Junaraj.
Later, when the threat from the Mughals receded, and territories in the plains falling in Nandod Taluka south of the Narmada were recaptured by the Gohils, the capital was finally moved down to Nandod (modern town of Rajpipla) around 1730, further downstream on the banks of the Karjan.
The breathtaking scenery of the Rajpipla region, the rich history and the magnificent heritage make it a destination with a great future. The remnants of the old fort on Devchhatra Hill beckon, and promise the experience of a lifetime.