The Fort of Munger:Pride of the town

The fort of Munger is the most significant and enticing monument in the town. Back in the centuries, the fort of  Munger was one of the most functional and remarkable sites of Munger province. The turning in the history of Munger was when Mir Qasim shifted his capital from Murshidabad to Munger in 1762. The fort got special attention during the rule of Mir Qasim. The fort is an exemplary historical place of our town and is always being loved by visitors from outside.

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©Copyright image →A usual day inside the fort area

Situated in the heart of town toward the west and partly run toward the north and cover a total of 222 acres of land. This vast land was used to be a dominion for the number of rulers who ruled in the town during past.It is built on a rocky eminence which projects some distance into the Ganges. Towards the west, and partly towards the north, the river comes to the walls, while on the landside the fortifications are defended by a deep moat about 175 feet wide.

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©Copyright image →Huge arch of the front gate of the  fort

An important hilltop inside the fort famous for the name  Karan Chaura or Karan Ghabutra (the slab of Raja Karan) – now the site of Ganga-Darshan. Karan was a contemporary of Vikrama, the supreme king of India at that time, and an ardent worshipper of goddess Chandi Devi, whose asthan (place of worship) is located about a mile to the east of the fort. When the British occupied Munger, they erected a saluting battery on Karan Chaura (platform). It was the capture of this hill by Capt. Smith that played an important part in quelling the ‘White Mutiny’ against the British by certain rebellious European officers in 1766.  In 1978 the area was acquired by the Bihar School of Yoga and renamed ‘Ganga Darshan’ by Swami Satyananda Saraswati. It is now being developed solely as a world centre for the modern yogic/tantric renaissance.

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©Copyright image  →An evening in the fort area

The fort comprises of a number of historical and remarkable sites. Gun factory of Munger, Cave of Mir Kasim inside Sri Krishna Vatika is believed to be running till the site of Pir Pahar, Kashtaharni Ghat, Tomb of Pir Shah Nufa, Palace of Shah Suja ( now as Munger Jail )  are some of the historical sites inside the fort area.

Inside view of Munger Jail used to be palace of Shah Shuja
©Copyright image by Perm →Inside view of Munger Jail used to be the palace of Shah Shuja

Fort was renovated, the fortification was extended and rampart was added to keep the more military of Mir Qasim. He had constructed a traditional arsenal inside the Fort now known for the Gun Factory of Munger. All effort was made by Mir Kasim to strengthen his province, Munger during his rule. The fort became a place of considerable importance during the time of Mir Qasim and hence the fort is also famous with the name of Fort of Mir Qasim.

The old Shuja palace buildings within the Munger Fort
©Copyright image → The old Shuja palace buildings within the Munger Fort

Unlocking the History of Munger Fort

The historical account of the fort dates back to 1330 AD during the rule of Muhammad bin Tughlaq of Delhi. Some experts trace its origin to a Hindu king. A stone inscription of Chandragupta Maurya mentions the presence of the fort. Some historians believe it to have been constructed by Pala kings in the 9th century AD. The Fort had a succession of Muslim rulers (Khaljis, Tughlaqs, Lodis, Nawabs of Bengal, followed by Mughal rulers, till it was finally acceded to the British by Mir Qasim (1760–72).It is believed that during the British Rule the fort also persisted with the White Mutiny which was brought down by Lord Clive in 1766. The mutiny collapsed due to the reduction of the additional payment which was also called as Bhatta to soldiers. After the collapse of the Mutiny, the barracks was installed at the fort. The fort was under the control of the officer of the East India Company.

The Architecture of the Fort

The Architecture of fort that you look today is the renovation of modern times. The inside walls are originally constructed of stone and later it has been repaired a number of times to make it more attractive.

Painting of the Panoramic view of the fort kept in UK online art library
©Copyright image →Painting of the Panoramic view of the fort kept in UK online art library

The older fort looks like an antiquated stone structure.A Painting kept in UK online art library depicts the actual picture of the fort of ancient time. View of the fort looks magnificent in that painting. Though it is very difficult to believe that the fort would have such magnificent architecture in past.The most recent view of the fort shows some area of the front having rampant having thickness of 30 feet. The fortification goes up to a very small distance as you can see these days. The ruined fort still looks amazing in current days also.

After the deadly earthquake of 1934 in Bihar, the fort citadel gets collapsed so the citadel you see today is reconstructed using modern bricks and coloured. The citadel is famous with the name of clock tower having a giant watch keeping the town awake with its hourly ringing bell alarm. I was always surprised to see how this giant always keeps telling us the time throughout the year.It was interesting to know that the giant watch works using some mechanical setup instead of battery operated. Though recently when I visited the town my friend told it has stopped working for a year.

 

Renovation work

Inscriptions reveal that the repair and renovations were carried out many times during the annexation of different rulers in the town. Inscriptions from the latest renovation in the fort during 2015 by building division of Munger reveals that repairs were carried out during the reign of the prince Danyal of Bengal ( Son of Bahlol Lodi ) who held the post of governor of Bihar in 1497. He also constructed the shrine of Sufi saint Nafah within the south gate of the Fort in 1497.

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©Copyright image →Newly constructed left side wall being part of a modern revamping of the fort

Renovation work was reported in 2015 to preserve the integrity of the archaeological heritage of Munger. The building division of Munger has spent about Rs 55 lakh on the construction of the new walls – 140 metres in length – of the Munger, The other work, including repair and painting of all three main gates of the fort – eastern gate, western gate and the northern gate was also done at that time. Even the fort clock, which had remained non-functional for years was set to tick again after this renovation. Though it is not functioning this day.

Tourist Truth 

Dutch physician Nicholas Graft, who was brought to Munger as a prisoner in the early 17th century, also left an account of the fort. Graft wrote that the massive walls and bastions of the Munger fort impressed him much. The arrangements for fortification were quite adequate for those times. The fort, though not as well maintained, had its attraction to all visitors and continued to hold a strategic role.

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©Copyright image →Inside fort

 

What Graft observed in the 17th century still holds true even today. At least 300 tourists from the US, England, France, Australia, Germany and other countries visit Munger by the river Ganga and see the fort every year. They are usually part of a cruise launched often to tour  Bengal to Bihar across the Ganga. It has been reported that ”Tourists are very much impressed with the architecture of the fort and its location on the Ganga ”Guide Sumit Bhattacharya from one such cruise, accompanying the tourists, revealed some year back”.

The beauty of the Fort

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©Copyright image →Fort of Munger

Being magnificent in size and stood in heart of the town, the fort looks astounding. The architecture looks amazing from the front. The citadel called clock tower of the fort can be seen from the different corner of the market. The greenly around the fort is always pleasing and you would love to walk on the street during morning time. In evening the place is chaotic and full of local vendors selling on the roadside inside the fort.

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An evening near the street of the Munger fort

 

Inside Fort Area, Munger 

Let me tell you about the places inside the fort area. These days the whole fort premises is famous with the name of Munger fort area occupying almost all the official and administrative building of the District. The buildings include court, welfare office, post office, revenue office, Magistrate office, Planning office, SP office and consumer court of the district. Some of the offices are occupying the heritage building of the past and they look magnificent.

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Check out the list separately.The list can also help local people in finding some of the important official and administrative places which they still do not know.

District official Building 

  • District court
  • District  Consumer court
  • District Magistrate office
  • RTO office
  • Revenue office
  • Planning office
  • SP office
  • Welfare office
  • Post office
  • Aadhar centre

Tourist Attraction 

  • Kashtaharni Ghat
  • Shir Krishna Vatika ( Cave of Mir Kasim )
  • Bihar School of Yoga
  • Munger Museum
  • Way to Munger Ganga Bridge 
  • Way to Goenka Shivaya ( Machili Talab) 

Children Park /Garden

  • Jai Prakash Udyan ( Company Garden)
  • Polo Ground 

Others

  • Munger Jail
  • Munger Gun factory
  • Munger Boxing club
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