For around 1500 years, Naggar served as the capital of Kullu kings. It was during the mid-1800s when the capital status was transferred to Kullu. I even read at LiveHistoryIndia that Raja Sidh Singh and his successors ruled from this castle till 1660 and then the capital was moved to Sultanpur. When I searched Naggar Castle on Google, its Wikipedia page didn’t have much to say about it. Located atop cliff, the castle can be seen from nearby locations. Built in 1460, the castle has magnificent architecture that combines Himalayan architecture (indigenous Kath-Khuni architecture) as well the European which gives it a striking look. Raja Sidh Singh of Kullu used to reside in this fort, under whose reign this castle was built. It’s elegantly built and attracts tourists who visit Naggar on weekends or any other day of the week.
The huge door through which you will walk in is made up of a single piece of Deodar wood. The castle’s interiors are adorned with fitting staircases that take you to the first floor, fireplaces in every room. Wooden carvings and decorations add more to the beauty of this fort. The castle also has temples within its premises. The walls of the castle are decorated with several indigenous art pieces which look wonderful. You will also see paintings on the walls (such as Nicholas Roerich’s paintings, the famous Russian painter who lived in Naggar). There is a central courtyard overlooked by arched balconies which project breathtaking views of the Beas Valley. The construction of the castle withstood the 1905 earthquake when almost all the area nearby came trembling down while it kept standing with glory.
It is said that the whole building has been fixed without the use of any metal nail including the walls, the doors, and the windows. The walls have an alternate layer of wooden beams followed by proportionate stone. The use of no metal (such as iron) in the construction is a surprising thing to know about this fort. It is said that the stones used in this castle were taken from the abandoned palace of Rana Bhonsal. Following the orders of Raja Sidh Singh, the laborers formed a human chain across the Beas River. This way, they connected the banks from this end to the other and manually carried the stones.
Naggar Castle was exchanged for a rifle
Shocking! Isn’t it? As per some facts, Major Hay was appointed as the new Assistant Commissioner of Kullu when the Anglo-Sikh Wars came to an end in the mid of the 19th century. The then Raja of Kullu, Gyan Singh was given back his kingdom. The Raja then exchanged the castle for a rifle. The rifle belonged to the Major. The major got several renovations done and added more to the fort such as chimneys, staircases, fireplaces, etc. giving it a European-countryside look. The Major then sold this castle to the Punjab Government and used the building as a rest house and court. The court was removed from the fort in the 1920s. It is yet unknown if these incidents stand true or not.
Museum and Restaurant at Naggar Castle
There is a small museum constructed underground of the fort. This small museum has some artifacts which reflect the local lifestyle. The ticket to the museum is included in the castle’s ticket only. The castle also has a restaurant which caters to the visitors as well the guests who live in the Castle Hotel since the castle is now a hotel. The restaurant specializes in all forms of major cuisines. However, it’s evident that when you are here, you should try the local pahadi cuisine. There is a souvenir shop as well from where you can buy local items.
Naggar Castle is now a Heritage Hotel
Himachal Pradesh Tourism District Corporation took over Naggar Castle in 1978. If sources are to be believed, the last Raja of the castle ran into a financial crisis due to which he had to hand it over to the state. Now, the castle is run as a heritage hotel. Thus, you can book a room for yourself and spend some time in this royal property. When you visit the castle as a guest, you don’t have to buy an entry ticket. Every room comes with a telephone, TV with satellite connection, in-house laundry & dry cleaning facility, etc. Ensure to check the hotel website for more.
The entry ticket costs 30 Rupees per person. The visiting hours are from 9 AM to 6 PM. It shouldn’t take more than two hours to explore this castle. The castle does have the old world, wooden charm however since it’s a heritage hotel, you may not find it as opulent as other forts you have visited which are either forts or fort cum heritage hotels.