RAMNAGAR FORT

Dear Soul Mates,

On my 5 days of Kashi Yatra one day I went to South Varanasi with my family and visited all the temples. Apart from temples there is a city on the south eastern side of Varanasi on the opposite bank of Ganges called Ramnagar. ramnagar is 14 kms from Varanasi and 2 kms from BHU.  And in Ramnagar there is a great fort called Ramnagar fort with Vyasa Temple and  Museum inside it. One has to cross the temporary bridge made of wood and drums to visit the fort and the city. There is also a concrete bridge little more on the southern side which takes longer and circular path to reach the fort.

Ramnagar Fort

Architecture of the Ramnagar Fort

This Great Structure was built by Kashi Naresh ( king of Varanasi ) Raja balwant Singh in 1650. He used yellowish cream coloured chunnar sandstone. The Fort is made in Mughal style of  architecture with decorative and carved balconies, huge open courtyards and pavilions. The fort has museum which stores the articles used in history of kingdom of Benaras. It has been home to Kashi Naresh since 18th Century . The present resident of this fort is Anant Narayan Singh. He is also Maharaja of Varanasi.So only a part of the fortress is open for public viewing as the rest of it is the residence of Kashi Naresh and his family. The flag on the fort is raised when the Kashi Naresh is in residence in his palace fort.  Within the fortress, the palace has two white towers, which are accessed by a flight of steps. At the end of the flight of steps, there is an archway and many courtyards that lead to the white tower. The private residence of the Maharaja is on one side of thetower while the Durbar Hall and reception rooms are on the other side. An inscription on the fort wall attests “Fortified House of the Rajah of Benares ”  with his state Boat.

This buildings inside the fort are specially made high above the ground  level so that in the case of flood they are safe.

Map : Ramnagar fort from Varanasi

Present opposite Tulsi ghat the fort offers mesmerizing views with its shadow reflecting on slow flowing Ganga river. The pontoon bridge which provides access to the fort has rickety planks. During the monsoon season, the fort is accessible across the river by ferry service only . Crossing the wooden bridge (pontoon) made up of floating drums on vehicle is no more than an adventure as if you travelling on the crooked pebbled roads of villages on a bullock carts. After crossing the river,climbing  up a  little bit and move towards left will bring one toward the gate of Ramnagar Fort. Many local  handicraft shops are present where stunning artworks are sold for nominal price.

Approaching Ramnagar Fort on a temporay wooden bridge . concrete bridge seen on the southern side

Here we reach the main gate of Ramnagar fort.

Ramnagar Fort : Main Gate

It has two great canons guarding the fort in ancient times I suppose. We posed there for sometime clicking our pictures . This was my daughter Aarya’s first visit to a fort.

Ramnagar Fort : Entrance Canon

Then we started roaming inside the fort in the huge courtyards.Although the fort and paint looks in dilapidated situation the courtyards inside are well maintained and clean .

Ramnagar Fort : Campus

There are many gates in inside the fort for different halls, palaces museums and temples. Each gate is followed by huge open space.

Ramnagar Fort : Entrance for Palace and Museum

As seen there is huge compound and neatly maintained . When we were present not many of them were there visiting the place.

Saraswati Bhawan or Darbar Hall Museum ( Photography not allowed inside)

After entering the second gate , We headed towards Ramnagar Forts huge attraction called Saraswati Bhawan. The museum is in what used to be the Darbar Hall or the Public Hall of the fort.It is well known for its unusual and rare collections of American vintage cars, bejeweled sedan chairs and sofas, ivory delicate and articulate work, medieval costumes of kings queens and soldiers, gold and silver brocaded royal Palakis (Palanquins) in lotus shape. It has elephant saddles etched out of silver, jewellery, costumes made of kimkhwa silk the finest product of the weavers of Varanasi, an impressive armory hall with swords,shileds, old guns, small canons from Africa, Burma and Japan. The old armored matchlocks, ornate hookahs, daggers, knives,portraits of Maharajas, black musical instruments which have turned white due to neglect of maintenance and there is a rare vintage astronomical clock. This vintage clock shows not only the time but also the year, month, week and day, and the astronomical details of the Sun, Moon and other planets(Navgrahas). This clock was made in 1852 by the Astronomer at the Court of the Royal Palace of Kashi Naresh. In addition, manuscripts, especially religious writings are also housed in the museum. Thsi museum also includes a precious handwritten manuscript by Goswami Tulsidas. This museum is in very bad shape and requires lot of maintenance.

 Timings : 10 AM to 5 PM

Ramnagar Fort : Compound

In some parts of the fort we can climb on the floors also to have a look at many halls, rooms and interiors of the fort .

Ramnagar Fort : First Floor inside the palace

There is a well laid out garden within the fort which forms the approach to the palace

Ramnagar Fort : A view of a courtyard inside . People going towards Vyasa temple from the gate in the corner

Ramnagar Fort : Maharaja’s Palace  ( entry restricted there )

Here in the picture below , my family is standing near the gate of the palace where Kashi Naresh or Maharaja ( king) of Varanasi lives. entry is restricted in that palace.

Ramnagar Fort : Palace Entrance

Near the gate on the left hand side there is a gate from where one can go towards the western side of the fort to see Ganga river. The views here are breathtaking. One can also go down and visit the ghats of Ganga river on the fort. The whole Palace from outside can be viewed by standing in thislocation. One can also see the Panoramic view of whole Kashi city in the northern direction of the fort which is really a wonderful treat to eyes.

Ramnagar Fort : View of Ganges Below

Ram Lila Festival  in Ramnagar Fort

During one month Ram Lila festival the whole fort is decorated with lights and is vibrant an beatified. In this festival a colorful pageant or procession of popular epic Ramayana is played as a part of Dusherra celebarations. These celebrations are concluded on the Dusherra day by burning the effigy of Ravana.The Maharaja of Varanasi continues his family tradition of attending the annual month-long Ram Lila drama festival held in the streets behind the fort by riding on a decorated elephant at the head of the procession.

In terms of stylistic presentation too, Ramnagar stands apart. Ram Lila is enacted on a single stage across India, but in Ramnagar the whole town is transformed into a vast Ram Lila ground. Permanent structures are built and spaces designated to represent the main locations of the story. Therefore you have Ashok Vatika and Lanka at different locations in the town. The audience moves along with the performers with every episode, to the next location. With the bare minimum use of lights, mikes and loudspeakers, the character of the event is dignified and restrained in feel, one that is in keeping with the temperament of the local populace. But despite the minimum use of electronics, the event draws viewers by the thousand.

Ramnagar Fort : Maharaja Palace behind

Ramnagar Fort : Palace from Ganga ghats below 

This is the most amazing place in Ramnagar Fort . Views are mezmerizing and attractive. Wind blows continously . The whole Panorama of Varanasi city above the Ganga river can be seen from here on the top of Ramnagar Fort.

Ramnagar Fort : Maharaja Palace in the Fort from the  banks of Ganga river

Vyasa Temple inside the fort

Finally after crossing this ghat we reach Vyasa temple inside the fort .

According to a very popular Puranic story, when Sage Vyasa failed to get alms in Varanasi he put a curse on the city. Soon after, at a house where Devi Parvati and Lord Shiva had taken avatar in human form as householders, Sage Vyasa was so pleased with the alms he received that he forgot his curse. However because of his bad temper Lord Shiva banished Sage Vyasa from Varanasi. Sage Vyasa being resolved to be near Kashi  took his residence on the other side of the Ganga  where his temple may still be seen at Ramnagar.

Ramnagar Fort : Vyasa Temple

There are three shivalingas here covered with copper to prevent corrosion. One of them belongs to Sage Vyaas.  Also there is legend why there are three shivalingas ? But at the moment i don’t rememeber it . If anyboby knows why there are three shivalingas here please share it. Thanks .

Ramnagar Fort : Shivalingas present in Vyasa Temple.

Finally as this fort offers stupendous views of great architecture and magnetizing scenes of Panaroma of Ganges and Kashi many films are shot here. 

Ramnagar fort

Location Located on the right bank of River Ganges, about 14 km from Varanasi railway station, 2 km from BHU via pantoon, Varanasi, U.P., India
Timings 10am-5pm, opens daily, closed on Holi (festival) day
Entry Fee Rs. 15/for Adult & Rs. 10/ for Child
Ideal time Throughout the year, in Oct. during annual Ramleela
Attraction Statues, Paraphernalia and Royal antiques
How to reach Can be accessed by pantoon bridge near BHU, Varanasi, or via Pandav & NH-2 by Auto/taxi from any part of the city. via boat or ferry from Assi Ghat 

Dear Soul Mates, 

Here I come to end of my post on Ramnagar Fort. I hope the views of the fort and information I provided are upto the mark . Coming soon with more of Kashi .Till then

Jai Bhole. 

 

  • D.L.Narayan

    Hi Vishal, thanks for taking us around the Ramnagar fort. As always, very meticulously described and the pictures add a lot of value to the post. Sad to learn that the fort and the museum, especially the original manuscript of the Tulasi Ramayana, are not being properly taken care of. Maybe the Government or the ASI should step in and take over the fort.

    I think that there is a minor mistake with the dates. You mentioned that the fort was built in 1650. At that time, Mughal power was at its peak and Kashi was under the control the Nawabs of Awadh. After the death of Aurangzeb in 1707, Mughal imperial power collapsed and the Marathas (Holkars) took control of Kashi. Hence, the Ramnagar fort was probably built somewhere in the middle of the 18th century and not earlier.

  • Surinder Sharma

    Ramnagar Fort looks good, Fotos are also excellent. In Vyas temple interesting to see Three Shivling togather. Thanks for share your journey.

  • Praveen Wadhwa

    Wow! I never heard about this majestic fort standing right by the river.
    Great Pictures and well written post.

  • Manoj S.

    ???? ?????? ????? ??.

  • You continue to amaze me Vishal, with your dedication and thoroughness. Bravo.

  • Nirdesh

    Hi Vishal,

    Great Find and Post!

    I did not know about this fort.

  • Kailash Mehta

    Hi Vishal

    Once again you provided good description along with beautiful pictures.

    Great Work…

  • injamaven

    thank you

  • Gita AM

    Beautiful pics of a beautiful fort. I imagined Varanasi to be all about ghats, never realised that this gem was there as well. If I ever go to Benares, I will be sure to visit the fort.

  • Your posts and photos never seizes to amaze me. I wonder how you manage to travel this much. I am obviously envied :-)

  • Ramlila is close and may be I was destined to read this. Lets see if I can make to to Varanasi during the Ramlila days.