The lush and spacious Ramnagar fort is a classic example of a Mughal-styled fort. Its carved balconies, large courtyards and beautifully sculpted pavilions are trademark of any Mughal fortress. To fort is cleverly built on high grounds, to prevent flood during monsoons. Today, Ramnagar fort stands as an exclusive storehouse garnering the history of Benaras kings.
Ramnagar Fort is located a little away, about 14 kms, from the main Varanasi city. It is just about a couple of kilometres far from Benaras Hindu University by a pontoon. From Dashashwamedha Ghat, the fort is almost an hour long boat ride. However, during the monsoons, the fort can be visited only through ferry service.
The majestic fort has a striking entrance. One has to cross through well-designed garden to reach the fort that again is welcomed by twin horse emblems anchored on the landing stage. The inscriptions that adorn the outer barricade also date back to 18th century.
Things to See at Ramnagar fort
Descendants of Raja Kashi Naresh continue to live in the fort and therefore, only a part of the fort is open to the public. There are two white towers within the fort that is accessible by a flight of stairways. At the end of the stairways there is an archway that leads to many courtyards towards the towers. The residence of Maharaja is on one side of the tower while the other side has reception rooms and durbar hall.
There are two temples in the fort. One is Dakshin Mukhi temple of Hanuman, that faces the south and the other is Veda Vyasa temple.
The fort also houses a museum open for all tourists. The Public Audience Hall or the Durbar Hall of the fort has been transformed to a museum that is popularly known as Saraswati Bhawan. The museum attracts a number of tourists every year for its exclusive collection of America vintage cars, medieval costumes, ivory works, lotus flower-shaped palanquins that is adorned with gold and silver designs, bejewelled sedan chairs, elephant saddle made of gold and silver, apparels made of kimkhwa silk, an impressive collection of old guns and sword collected from Japan, Mayanmar and Africa, rare astronomical clock that not just shows time but day, week, month ,year and the astronomical position of sun, moon and other planets. Apart from these, there are a number of manuscripts, mostly religious. A manuscript written by saint and poet Tulsidas can also be seen in the museum. About 535 ancient Mughal books that have beautifully designed covers of cartouches or floral patterns, expressing Islamic ideology are also stored in the museum.
During festival season, the fort is beautifully decked up with bright lights, especially during the month long festival of Ramleela. Under the patronage of the king, a colourful procession is organized on the eve of Dushhera. People wear costumes inspired by the epic Ramayana and walk down the road. Other festivals celebrated in the fort are during the months of January – February in Ved Vyasa temple and in months of March a festival called Raj Mangal is organized where boats full of merry making people start their journey from Assi ghat and travel to the river bank near the fort.
The crumbling yet picturesque location of the fort has attracted a number of film makers to shoot a film on the spot. Films like Benaras and The Amazing Race 18 have been shot at Ramnagar Fort.