We are so accustomed to see Varanasi as a religious place that we have hardly tried knowing about its architectural wonders! These structures belong to the era of the Kingdom of Kashi which ruled the princely state of Benaras. In this article, let us go around the two major forts in and around Varanasi which are the remnants of the royal past.
Bastions of Ramnagar Fort
Photo Courtesy: Adam Jones
A majestic Mughal style fortress can be seen in Ramnagar on the Eastern banks of Ganga river. This 18th century architecture still serves a residential palace of the descendent of Kashi royal family. One part of the palace is converted into a museum which is open for the public. The beautiful sandstone structure stands opposite to the Tulsi Ghat in the city of Ramnagar.
Ramnagar Fort Gate
Photo Courtesy: indrajitdas
Attractions in Ramnagar Fort
The Ramnagar Fort complex consists of a palace ( a part of it is used as a residence), museum (Durbar Hall), Veda Vyasa Temple and Dakshina Mukhi (Hanuman) Temple.
The Ramnagar Fort Musuem has a wide collection of artifacts belonging to the Maharajas of Benaras (Varanasi). Unusual relics like gold and silver embedded Palanquins, a rare astronomical clock, old guns brought from Africa, portraits of Kings, American vintage cars, royal costumes (Kimkwa Silk), swords, etc. are found here.
Photo Courtesy: Cpsinghvns
Earlier, the fort complex was used as a venue for the cultural events. Now the Ram-Leela which happens during Dasara is conducted near the fortress. Even to this day, Kashi Naresh (the present King of Varanasi) is a famous personality in the region. Though not many events take place in the fort complex, several devotees visit the Veda Vysa Temple during a festival in January or February month. Raj Mangal is yet another ancient festival (tradition) which is conducted in the fort complex.
In recent times, Ramnagar Fort has also become a favourite movie shooting location. Hence, it is one of the must-visit tourist places in Varanasi.
Photo Courtesy: Utkarshsingh.1992
Chunar Fort is an ancient forts tracing back to 56 AD. Several legends are related to Chunar Fort and the town of Chunar. It is said to be an impregnable fort for ages. Chunar Fort is located in the Mirazapur district in Uttar Pradesh.
Legend of Chunar
One of the major legends talks about King Bali and Bawan Bhagwan (same story of King Bali and Vamana in South India). Bawan Bhagawan comes in the form of a Brahman and asks King Bali to donate three feet of land. It is said that Bawan Bhagwan kept one of the steps in this region and was called as Charanadri.
Photo Courtesy: Aminesh.aryan
Attractions in Chunar Fort
Today, only some parts of Chunar Fort is remaining though it was flourished during the rule of Mughal dynasty. A citadel, houses (built during the British time), bawdi (well) is situated inside the fort complex. Large ramparts and gates of the fortress can be seen here.
Chunar Fort is built on a rocky patch on the banks of Ganga River. It served as a major strategic location during the historical times. Hence, Chunar Fort is one of the must-visit forts around Varanasi. Chunar Fort is around 44km from Varanasi.
Explore these offbeat yet beautiful destinations on your pilgrimage to Varanasi.
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