The Palamu Kila are two ruined forts located around 20km south east of the city of Daltonganj in the Indian state of Jharkhand. The old fort in the plains, which existed even before the Chero dynasty, was built by the King of Raksel Rajput Dynasty. However, it was during the reign of King Medini Ray or Medini Rai who ruled for thirteen years from 1658 to 1674 in Palamu that the old fort was rebuilt into a defensive structure.
Palamu was known to the Mughals as ‘Palaun’ or ‘Palaon’. The history of Palamu is more authentic from the Mughal period. Till the year 1589A.D. Man Singh assumed the charge of Governorship of the province of Bihar in the same year. Man Singh marched against Cheros. The Cheros made an abortive attempt to block the passage but Man Singh forced his way and killed many and took many Cheros fighters as prisoners.
The Cheros of Palamu took advantage of the confusion created by the death of Akbar. They reasserted their independence and drove out the Mughal army from Palamu. Meanwhile, Anant Rai had succeeded Bhagwat Rai. Sahbal Rai succeeded him as the Chero ruler. Sahbal Rai proved to be a very powerful rule of Palamu. His rule extended up to Chauparan. He also started creating problems with the Mughals. This forced Jehangir to order Mughal campaign against Shabal Rai who was defeated and was captured.
After the death of Shabal Rai, Pratap Rai became the Chero ruler of Palamu. Pratap Rai was contemporary of Shahjahan. He was powerful chief but the middle of the reign was plagued by large-scale Mughal invasions. As a result, the relations between the Mughal and Chero of Palamu continued to be hostile even during the early years of Pratap Rai’s reign. Palamu was given out as a Jagir to the Governor of Patna in 1632 A.D. in return for annual payment of one lakh thirty-six thousand.
Pratap Rai’s successor was Bhupal Rai who ruled only for few months. Later Medini Rai became the ruler and continued for a longer period. He took full advantage of the confusion in the Mughal fort towards the end of Shahjahan’s reign. Medini Rai paid attention to the welfare of Palamu.
Today, Palamu is known for two things. One is its famous tiger reserve and the other is that the twin forts are 500 years old. Out of the two forts, the older one is situated in plains while the newer one is situated on a hill stop.
The old fort was built over an area of three square kilometres. It has three gates, each of them seven feet in width. The fort has been constructed with lime and surkhi mortar. The external boundary walls of the fort have been built with flat and long bricks. The central gate is the largest of three gates and is known as Singh Dwar.
On the south-western part of the fort, which is surrounded by hills on three sides, there is a small stream called the Kamadah Jheel which was used by the women of the royal family for their daily ablutions. Between this stream and the fort there are two watch towers located on the hill top which were used to track any enemy intrusions. Of these two towers, one tower houses a small temple of a goddess called Devi Mandir.