Saturday, July 20, 2024

Tourism      Hill Stations      Himachal Pradesh     Solan    


Place : Solan District, Himachal Pradesh
Significance : Famous for its Arki Fort
Altitude : 4,100 feet above sea level
Temperature : Summer- Max.32°C , Min.26°C ; Winter- Max.8°C , Min.4°C
Best Time to Visit : September to mid-December
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Arki is a small hill town in Solan district in the state of Himachal Pradesh. Situated in the Shivalik hills (foothills of the Himalayan range) at 4100ft above sea level, Arki, meaning Ďsunny placeí, was founded in 1643 by Rana Ajai Dev (a Panwar Rajput). Later it was declared as the capital of the former princely state of Baghal, the land of leopards (Bagh).

The hillstation also holds a strong historic significance. The ruler of Baghal, built a fort and a royal palace within the town. The original palace was built, at the foot of the fort, near the the old Laxminarayan Temple where toaday's Arkiís bazaar stands. In 1760, the palace started sinking due to erosion, the royal residence was moved to fort. Designed like a blend of Mughal and Rajput style of architecture that showcases the strong dominance of Rajasthan.

Stands at 4200 ft above sea level, the fort was built between 1695 and 1700 by Rana Prithvi Singh, a descendent of Sabha Chand. It was captured by the Gurkhas in 1806, forcing Rana Jagat Singh, the ruler of Baghal had to take refuge in Nalagarh. Arki fort was a stronghold of an invading force of Gurkhas from 1815 to 1816 in the Gurkha Wars. During the period from 1806 to 1815, the Gurkha General Amar Singh Thapa used Arki as his base to make further advances into Himachal Pradesh as far as Kangra. Now the fort is converted to a hotel and lovely to visit. The beleaguered garden and the Bougainvillea bushes adds more beauty to the fort.

The most important feature of this fort is its Diwan-I-Khas or the Hall of Private Audience. Built in 1830, by the ruler Rana Shiv Sharan Singh, this has made Akrri Fort more popular. It is situated on the upper floor of the 2-storey of the palace. The hall is crowned with arched windows, that open into the courtyard below and the valley beyond. It has stunningly colorful mural paintings and miniature painting that covered in its walls, ceilings, archways etc.

From here one can enjoy the magnificient views of snowy mountain ranges and bird's view of Himachal Pradesh's other beautiful hillstations such as Kasauli, Shimal and Subathu. One can see monkeys everywhere in the fort complex.

A small portion, in a separate wing of the complex is using descendants of the royal family. Apart from this fort and the palace, Arki has a couple of interesting temples and many pleasant walks to explore. Arki also offers jungle trails, bird watching, caves, treks and the sight and smell of chir pines and deodar trees.

The hillsides of Arki are dotted with tiny shrines, and cave temples some dating back centuries. Among the famous are Arkiís famed Lutru Mahadev and Mutru Mahadev. Located 4 km away from Arki, Luturu Mahadev temple is a much-revered shrine. It is a pink and white, 3-storied temple that doesnít look like a temple. It has a Shikhara rises atop it. One can find a Shivalinga here. Since it is situated high up on the mountain and the climb is steep, care is needed. Shivratri celebration is very popular at Lutru Mahadev Temple .

Muturu Mahadev temple is Luturu Mahadev templeís twin. Built at the base of Arkiís hills, it's façade is plain and not interesting. The Jakholi Mandir is known for its shikara-style architecture. Shakti Mahadev, Bhairon, Gangeshwar Mahadev temple which has a water spring and Durga temple on the Kunihar - Solan road, the ancient Bhadrakali Temple on the outskirts of Arki are the other famous temple in Arki.

The Sair Fair, a two day annual event held at Arki on July in honour of the god Banar Devata. The fair is famous for buffalo fights. Local people train their buffalos for the event. The fair is attended by thousands of people every year.