December, 2021October 8, 2022
The Naggar Castle – A Medieval Castle with Impressive Architecture
After spending almost a week in Shangarh, I had decided to return to Delhi. When I reached Aut and waited for the bus to Delhi or Mandi at least, I asked a tea stall owner for the bus to Delhi and he told me that it would take anything around one to one and a half hours for the next bus to Delhi. This was quite a long wait. The road on the other side led to Manali and honestly, Manali wasn’t my kind of place, just like Shimla wasn’t on my list. The tea stall owner also told me that there was a bus to Manali every twenty minutes. Waiting for the bus to Delhi for so long didn’t appeal to me and there was a bus to Manali right in front of my eyes. I boarded it to go Naggar. I only knew about the Naggar Castle of this small town and had no idea about other to do things in Naggar. Rest I had to go there and explore.
I love visiting forts, castles, and other monuments which have architectural and historical significance. That’s why I keep roaming in Delhi since it has ancient monuments everywhere. Anyways, so the Naggar Castle is a famous attraction of Naggar and has been portrayed in the song ‘Ye Ishq Haaye’ from the movie Jab We Met which is one of my favorite movies. I spent around four days in Naggar and that’s when I visited this castle. During my stay, I explored a few other places to visit in Naggar (which are covered in my other blogs). I was expecting Naggar Castle to be a massive, opulent building however, it wasn’t that. It’s a small palace that is now converted into a heritage hotel run by the state government.
I have been to forts of Jaipur (Nahargarh, Jaigarh, and Amer), I have been to the fort of Jodhpur (Mehrangarh), I have been to the fort of Jaiselmer as well several other forts (Kalinjar Fort, Agra Fort, Taragarh Bundi, forts in Delhi). There’s even a fort in my hometown after which the city was named. However, this was the first time I was visiting a fort in Himachal Pradesh. When I visited McLeod Ganj in Sept 2019, I had missed the chance to visit Kangra Fort due to time constraints. Since I have visited so many forts already, my expectations were different from Naggar Castle.
History and Architecture of Naggar Castle
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.
779 total views, 3 views today
I am a food & travel enthusiast, a music aficionado, poet, artist, and someone who loves to explore unexplored/off-beat places. I started this blog to share my food and travel journey.