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Ramnagar Fort

Place : Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh
Best Season : October
Significance : The festival Dussehra is celebrated here.
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The Ramnagar Fort is a fortification in Ramnagar. It is an astronomical and astrological wonder which stands as a strength and steadiness to the city. Situated on the right bank of river Ganga at a distance of 14 km. from Varanasi, is the 17th century Ramnagar Fort, built by Maharaja Balwant Singh in 1750A.D as his residential palace. Located opposite to the Tulsi Ghat, this 17th-century fort is a beautiful place to watch the sun set over the river.

At present the fort is in ruined state. The fort and its museum are the repository of the history of the kings of Benares. Now, this is the residence of the Maharaja of Varanasi, popularly known as 'Kashi Naresh'. Anant Narayan Singh is the Maharaja of Varanasi even though this royal title has been abolished since 1971.

Ramnagar Fort houses a museum, residential complex of the king, Ved Vyas temple etc.

The residential complex is a fine blend of Indian and Islamic style of architecture constructed with cream coloured chunar sandstone. It's architectural features includes carved balconies, open courtyards and pavilions.

The major attraction of the fort is the hall of public audience, popularly known as 'Durbal Hall'.

The fort also houses an eccentric museum known as Maharaja Banaras Vidya Mandir Museum having a huge collection of brocade costumes; howdahs and palanquins made of silver and ivory; weapons; expensive coaches made of ivory; vintage American cars; . Inside the giant walls of the palace, there is a big clock (Dharam Ghari), made by the court astronomer of Banaras in 1852A.D. Besides showing the time, year, month, week and day, this wonder clock baffles the onlooker with astronomical facts about the sun, moon and constellation of stars.

Another attraction of the fort is its two white towers, which are accessed by a flight of steps. At the end of the flight of steps, there is an archway and many courtyards that lead to the white tower. The private apartments of the Maharaja is on one side of the tower and the Durbar Hall and reception rooms are on the other side. An inscription on the fort wall below : 'Fortified House of the Rajah of Benares' with his state Boat.

Within Ramnagar fort premises, there is a temple dedicated to Ved Vyas, the author of the great Indian epic Mahabharata believed to be stayed here for a short period. The temple consists of 3 lingams representing Kashi Vishwanath (Lord Shiva), Vyasa and his son, Suka.

The festival of Dussehra in October, celebrated here is an interesting spectacle. During the festive occasion of Dussehra, the fort and its surroundings are majestically decorated. Ramnagar is renowned for its Ram Lila and the city Ramnagar follows the Tulsidas Ramcharitramanas narrative. Across the courtyard, a section is devoted to the Ram Lila festivities held during Dussehra. On the Dussera day, the 'Ramlila' - an enactment of the life of Lord Rama is held during the nine days preceding Dussehra and the maharaja sponsors a month long elaborate celebrations. The colorful festival starts with the maharaja riding an elephant and the procession culminates with the inauguration of folk theater by him.

The fort remains opens from and to 4.30pm.