Lonely Planet Magazine India
From Varanasi Chunar Fort Image Credit: Lonely Planet Magazine India
From Varanasi Chunar Fort Image Credit: Lonely Planet Magazine India

From Varanasi Chunar Fort

AT an easy 40km from Varanasi, Chunar Fort is set 280 feet high on a hillock overlooking the Ganga.

Primrose Monteiro D’souza

The river comes from Allahabad, changing course from East to North as it flows towards Varanasi, due to the lay of the land, and thus earning the name Uttar Vahini Ganga. From its high perch, the fort offers great views of the river and the banks opposite. It is said to have been constructed by King Vikramaditya of Ujjain circa 56 BC to provide a safe haven for his brother Bhartrihari who was seeking to seclude himself on a spiritual quest. Since that time, the fort has been conquered many times, which, luckily for visitors, yields a number of interesting structures within. No actual documentation is available about the site, but the stories told by the guides make for great listening.

DURBAR HALL OR WARREN HASTINGS’ BUNGALOW

What is today the PWD bungalow in the fort was once purported to be the darbar hall of Sher Shah Suri in 1530. He received audiences at this Diwaan e Khas; opposite it is a jharokha – in the Hindu style of architecture but with Mughal inscriptions – in which his queen Rani Fatema Begum supposedly used to sit behind a purdah to listen to matters of the court. In time, the structure fell into Mughal hands, from Humayun down to Akbar, and they added the distinctive arches of their dynasty. It came to the British in 1


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