Ramnagar fort is home of the Kashi Naresh, a royal family from the Bhumihar Brahmin community that ruled the state of Benares. The dynasty claims descent from lord Shiva and revered immensely even today. The fort lies on the eastern bank of the river Ganga and houses a museum. It is a majestic example of fusion of Hindu-Mughal architecture carved in sandstone. The fort is built on a high ground fairly secure from flood levels. Ramnagar today is a neighbourhood of Varanasi and also houses the paternal home to one of India’s most loved Prime Ministers Lal Bahadur Shastri.
Ramnagar is famous for its Ramlila organized under the aegis of Kashi Naresh and recently it has been a location for films like Chokher Bali, Banaras and it was one of the pitstops for the Amazing Race 18 series on high definition TV.
In what used to be the Darbar hall, there is a museum worth checking out clothes, weapons and cutlery from the royal past. There are intricate carvings on gates and arches with some lotus inspired motifs and the Benares state emblem of fish pair and sun.
Photography is not allowed inside the museum! I never understand why!!! Also the exhibition design is very user unfriendly and artefacts look unkempt in poorly lit cabinets.There is a Vyasa temple on the ghat and the river looks beautiful!
The fort has its own ghat that takes you to the river. Unlike busy ghats in Varanasi, Ganga looks serene here. Fort ramparts facing the river have some magnificent architectural forms. There are towers, arches, ornate carvings and geometry of steps integrated into the structure. One needs to take a small boat into the calm waters to see the sandstone structure in its wide view.
Some more images and stories from Ramnagar …. in the next blog post!