The Varanasi Heritage Dossier/Ramanagar Fort
Co-ordinates, central point: 25º 16.139’ North and 83º 01.446’ East (Fort).
Exact location on a map
On the eastern side of river Ganga, a township that is part of Varanasi City.
The township of Ramanagar is known for the Gate of the Fort, Royal Museum and the Ramalila. The Fort was built in 1752. The Royal Museum occupies several rooms and halls of the fort. After a short walk in the fort compound, passing through a tunnel lane one reaches the right bank of the river Ganga. Climbing a stair passage at right at the edge one can see the temple of Vyasheshvara, a Shiva linga installed by sage Vyasa, the compiler of the Vedas. There is another temple nearby it and worth seeing; from the pavilion the scenery of the Ganga course is splendidly visible. During the month of Magha (January-February) on every Monday a fair is held inside the fort and at the tank of Ramanagar in honour of Vyasa.
At the first sight one enters into the monumental gateway to the Fort-Palace, Lal Darwaza, which also includes the guards’ quarters, the armoury and store rooms for the musicians’ instruments. While passing through the 4th section of the Royal Museum, in the southern portion of the palace, there exists a Clock that was made in 1872 by a horologer of the Banaras State. It gives a variety of horologic and astronomical information to determine which ordinarily a number of scientific instruments would be necessary. It shows the exact time of day, the position of the sun and the phases of the moon as well as the signs of the zodiacs, the week and the date. In the northern portion of fort compound close to the Ramayana section of museum, is the Purana Institute, the only institute of its kind in the country dealing with critical editions and interpretations of the Puranas (books of mythologies, 5th-15th centuries). Since 1959 the institute has been published a biannual as well as sponsoring ongoing projects to prepare critical editions of the Puranas.
In the southern corner, outside the Queen’s palace there is an image of Hanuman, the Monkey Servant of Lord Rama, sitting in a yoga pose facing the south. The face of this image is black, and the body brown. Hanuman protects the fort from the curse of the god of death, Yama, who controls the direction of south.
=== Description ===: On the other side of the Ganga river, a suburb of Varanasi City is known for its fort and museum. The Royal Museum is divided into 5 sections. The 1st section displays different kinds of vehicles, carriers, brocade palanquins and howdahs (saddles) made of silver to be carried on the shoulders of men or on the back of elephants, used during the solemn processions or on other special occasions like weddings, festivals, hunting, etca The 2nd section preserves a large number of dresses or other private instruments like pipes, musical instruments, carpets, beds, and chairs that were used to decorate the daily life of the Maharaja and his family. The 3rd section consists of an armoury where the visitor can see the evolution of arms, swords and guns used in Ramanagar and elsewhere from the bow to the modern rifles. This section also contains some wonderful pieces of ivory sculpture and some hunting trophies of the Maharaja.
The 4th section of the Museum displays the royal bed, furniture, costumes and other royal trappings, and some of items the Maharaja received as presents from foreign dignitaries or important persons who had visited to the fort. The 5th section finally gives a glimpse of Ramalila (the theatrical form of the Lord Rama story) at Ramanagar --- the pictures, masks and related items used and also copies or some of the old manuscripts of the Ramacharitamanasa of Tulasi (a 16th century saint poet).
Every Monday in Magha (January-February) in Ramanagar a fair is held in honour of the Vedavyasa, called “Vedavyasa Mela”, the legendary compiler of the Vedas and writer of the Mahabharata, a 10th century BCE epic. The temple of Vedavyasa in the Ramanagar Fort, along the bank of Ganga, is the centre of these activities.
History and development
Balwant Singh, son of Mansa Ram, took a certificate of kingship of Banaras (Kashi) from Muhammad Shah, the king at Delhi in 1738, and in 1750-52 made a fort at Ramanagar reusing bricks and remains of his small fort at Jarasandha Ghat, presently called Mir Ghat. The headquarters of the dynasty was shifted here from Gangapur during this period. The fort is now the residential palace of the former Maharaja of Kashi/Banaras. This dynasty belongs to a Bhumihar Brahmin caste.
Present state of conservation
The royal family takes care of their properties according to their own perspectives; however, there are no specific action plans, programmes and strategies for conservation and preservation of the ghats. The All India Kashiraj Trust looks after various social, cultural and academic activities and programmes. The Vidya Mandir Trust associated to the royal family takes care of the Museum; while Centre of Purana Studies is administered by the All India Kashiraj Trust.
Specific measures being taken for conserving the specific property
No specific measures are taken to conserve and preserve the Fort, except at the level of their own the royal family is taking care of.
The Fort belongs to the royal family that is responsible for the management and maintenance.