Ramnagar Fort: A Must-Visit Gem of Varanasi’s Heritage

History of Ramnagar Fort:

Ramnagar Fort, also known as Ramnagar Palace, is an ancient fortification situated on the eastern bank of the River Ganges in Varanasi. It was constructed in the 18th century during the reign of Maharaja Balwant Singh, the former ruler of the princely state of Banaras (Varanasi). The fort has served as the residence of the Banarasi Maharajas for generations and continues to be the present residence of the royal family.

The construction of the fort began in 1750 under the leadership of Maharaja Balwant Singh, who desired to build a magnificent palace befitting his royal status. The construction process was a laborious task, and it took several years to complete the fort’s grand structure. The fort’s architecture reflects a blend of Mughal and Indian styles, showcasing the cultural and artistic influences prevalent during that era.

Over the centuries, the fort has witnessed various historical events and cultural activities, making it an important part of Varanasi’s heritage. It stands as a testimony to the rich history and royal legacy of the Banaras region.

The architecture of Ramnagar Fort:

Ramnagar Fort exemplifies the architectural brilliance of the bygone era. Spread across a vast area of approximately 60,000 square feet, the fort features a unique mixture of architectural styles, primarily influenced by Mughal and Indian designs.

  1. Main Gate and Entrance: 

The fort’s main gate, known as the “Lahori Gate,” is an imposing structure made of solid iron. It is named after Lahore, the former capital of the Mughal Empire, and is adorned with intricate designs and motifs. The gate opens into a grand courtyard leading to the fort’s inner chambers and palaces.

  1. Courtyard and Palaces: 

The fort’s courtyard is an expansive space surrounded by several palaces, each designed with elegance and precision. The prominent structures within the fort include the “Darbar Hall” or Audience Hall, where the Maharaja used to hold court proceedings and meet with his subjects. The hall features exquisite marble work, ornate chandeliers, and paintings, creating a regal ambiance.

  1. Durbar Hall: 

Another significant section of the fort is the “Durbar Hall,” a splendid hall adorned with lavish décor and intricate carvings. It served as the ceremonial hall for various royal functions and celebrations.

  1. Rang Mahal:

 The “Rang Mahal” or “Palace of Colors” is a part of the fort known for its vibrant and richly painted walls. This palace once housed the royal women, and its interiors are beautifully decorated with frescoes and intricate artwork.

  1. Sarai: 

Adjacent to the main fort, there is a sarai or resting place, which provided accommodation for travelers and merchants visiting Varanasi. This sarai served as an essential resting spot for pilgrims and traders traveling along the Ganges.

  1. Clock Tower:

One of the notable features of Ramnagar Fort is its clock tower, which houses an astronomical clock. This clock is a unique timekeeping mechanism, crafted with precision to display various astronomical data such as lunar cycles, sunrise, sunset, and zodiac signs.

  1. Vintage Car Collection:

The fort also houses an impressive collection of vintage cars and carriages, which were once used by the royal family during ceremonial processions and events. This collection is a fascinating glimpse into the luxurious lifestyle of the erstwhile Banarasi Maharajas.

How to reach Ramnagar Fort

Reaching Ramnagar Fort in Varanasi is relatively straightforward, as it is well-connected to the city and other parts of India. Here are the various modes of transportation to reach Ramnagar Fort:

Ramnagar Fort is located on the eastern bank of the River Ganges, just a short distance from the main city of Varanasi. You can reach the fort by hiring a taxi, auto-rickshaw, or cycle-rickshaw from any part of Varanasi. The journey typically takes around 30 to 45 minutes, depending on traffic and your starting point in the city.

If you wish to experience a more scenic and traditional approach, you can take a boat ride across the River Ganges from the ghats in Varanasi to the opposite bank where Ramnagar Fort is situated. The boat ride allows you to soak in the mesmerizing views of the ghats and the city’s riverside ambiance. Once you reach the other side, you can either walk or take a rickshaw to the fort.

The timing for visiting Ramnagar Fort in Varanasi is as follows:

Opening Hours:-
The fort is open to visitors from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM.
Days:-

Ramnagar Fort is open for visitors every day of the week, including weekends and public holidays.

It is essential to note that the timings mentioned above are subject to change, and it is advisable to confirm the current visiting hours before planning your visit. Additionally, visiting the fort during daylight hours allows you to explore the historical site and its surroundings comfortably and fully appreciate its architectural beauty and cultural significance.

Entry Fee

There is no entry fee for visiting the outer fort of Ramnagar Fort. However, there is an entry fee for visiting its museum. For adults, the entry fee is Rs. 80 for Indian citizens and Rs. 200 for foreign nationals. For children between the ages of 5 and 12 years, the entry fee is Rs. 20 for Indian citizens and Rs. 100 for foreign children.

Events at Ramnagar Fort

Ramnagar Fort holds significant cultural and traditional importance during two major festivals – Holi and Dussehra.

Holi Celebration at Ramnagar Fort:

Holi, also known as the “Festival of Colors,” is celebrated with great enthusiasm and joy in Varanasi. Ramnagar Fort plays a special role in the Holi festivities. On the day of Holi, the royal family of Varanasi organizes a grand procession known as “Holika Dahan” within the fort’s premises. During this ritual, a bonfire is lit to symbolize the triumph of good over evil, commemorating the legend of Prahlada and Holika. The Maharaja and other members of the royal family participate in the event, and it attracts a large number of spectators and devotees from all over the city.

Dussehra Celebration at Ramnagar Fort:

Dussehra, also known as Vijayadashami, is another major festival celebrated with grandeur at Ramnagar Fort. The festivities at the fort begin on the day of Navratri and culminate on the day of Dussehra. The highlight of the celebrations is the “Ramlila” performance, a theatrical depiction of the life and legends of Lord Rama. The Ramlila is staged on different days during Navratri, leading up to the final day of Dussehra when the climax of the Ramayana is enacted, depicting the victory of Lord Rama over the demon king Ravana. The performance takes place within the fort’s premises and attracts a large audience from Varanasi and nearby areas.

On Dussehra, a grand procession is held, known as the “Ravan Dahan,” where effigies of Ravana, his brother Kumbhakarna, and son Meghnad are set ablaze, symbolizing the victory of good over evil. The procession starts from Ramnagar Fort and proceeds through various parts of the city, with thousands of people participating in the event.

Both Holi and Dussehra celebrations at Ramnagar Fort hold immense cultural and historical significance, drawing locals and tourists alike to experience the traditional festivities and witness the age-old customs and rituals associated with these vibrant festivals.

Check our detailed travel guide on North Sikkim here. 

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