The ruins that once held India’s destiny

On one of my visits to Varanasi long back, I went to the nearby Chunar Fort by sheer luck. It was my birthday and all I wanted from my parents was to go stare at a Fort’s ruins. Well, they smiled and agreed. They are awesome that way!

On the way, my head was filled with all sorts of fancies thinking of the history of this Fort. Reaching there was an emotional setback. There was absolutely no one around and the Fort was all in ruins. The Fort where once Munshi Premchand taught classes was in ruins. The Fort which still offers the chilling glimpse of its execution room was in ruins. The Fort that has constantly played crucial role in Indian history from centuries was in ruins.

When I shared my Chunar Fort’s pictures with a close friend, he pointed out how the earliest recorded history of the Fort is from 56 B.C. :

A history tablet of Chunar Fort

It was once said that he who controlled the Chunar Fort controlled the destiny of India. This is because it stands on a rock which is a detached part of the Vindhya Range, at an elevation of 85 metres above sea level. Thus, it is the only place in the plains where a hill commands such a view over the river (which in this case is Ganges). Its rocky face is considered invincible due to its steep slope and even in that case, several crude cylinders were kept to be rolled down in case of an unwarranted attack.

On a hunting trip to the area in 1575, Akbar captured the fort realising its strategic worth to guard both the Ganges as well as major land routes to eastern India. Two centuries later, East India Company attacked and won it in a treaty, for similar strategic reasons. Further down the line, in India’s first Freedom Struggle, The Sepoy Mutiny of 1857, this Fort served as the safe ground for artillery and infantry of the British. So much for historic relevance.

This Fort also holds an auspicious place in the religious history of Hinduism owing to it being the place where God appeared in front of a Raja Bali and begged for three feet of land to which the King agreed. As per the legends, the first foot God kept was on the Chunar Fort’s hill.

At the risk of repeating myself, I want to say this. The Fort that has seen the mightiest of rulers fight over it is now in tatters. At this point, even blame games won’t take us anywhere. We travel to other countries and click pictures of quaint monuments with a myriad of hashtags, oblivious to the hidden gems back home. Here is a beautiful quote about Chunar Fort, courtesy of my friend, from the book ‘Land of the Seven Rivers’ by Sanjeev Sanyal:

“A walk through the fort is a walk through Indian history”

Next time you are in or around Chunar, treat yourself to one such walk through the past. It is worth every second of it.

67 thoughts on “The ruins that once held India’s destiny

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  1. And you are back with another valuable information! Indeed we tend to neglect all that we have in our country and wait for destruction to triumph over it.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. What a shame it is not well-cared for. I see there is a National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) but I suppose the amount of heritage work to be done is enormous, and, perhaps, doesn’t get priority funding. I remember visiting the Hauz Khaz complex in New Delhi in the 1980s. It was undergoing restoration and renovation then. From Google I can see that efforts are on-going, and there is now a lake. But the work is still not finished!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes. Most monuments in Delhi are actually in much better condition as compared to the ones far away and in remote areas. The Law is definitely on the side of restoration but there is a huge gap between planning and implementation. I just thought that spreading a word might take more people there and maybe, just maybe, I can contribute to this cause somehow 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Pleasure always nd thank you again for sharing such amazing posts💖
        Nd I wanna say that I want ur feedback for my latest post …Coz I think ur comment will be imp for me as always…😉

        Liked by 1 person

        1. My pleasure, Sushma! I have been travelling during the past week ,so I am running late on following the posts of all my friends here, including you. Let me get back to your blog today and I will let you know for sure 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

  3. Absolutely correct about, Playing blame game won’t lead us anywhere.
    Great blog👍✔

    A realisation of what we are forgetting. Sometimes we don’t realize the importance, beauty & lessons of our history, and so it becomes the reason of keep repeating the mistakes.

    Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think it’s a Govt. property now. It is currently used for some training facility or so for some Govt. initiative, last I remember. Chunar isn’t much of a touristy place, so I think they don’t see the incentive in turning it into an attraction for now. That’s just my guess though. I would love to be proven wrong some day 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. You know, I visited four castles in UK last week and I was going through the same emotions. We have so much of history back in India and I do hope we manage it well for future generations to see our richness. A brilliant post and I learned so much. You should send this to the UP government, hopefully someone will make sense out of it

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thanks for bringing the attention to the Fort Neha. It is always comforting to know about hidden jewels back home. There is so much to explore and absorb in this great land of ours. Loved the way you pieced together the bits.

    Liked by 1 person

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