Forts of Vindhyachal
Chunar fort is a legacy by King Vikramaditya of Ujjain.
Vindhyachal has well preserved caves from the neolithic age, as well as the Salkhan Fossil Park. But when forests gave way to kingdoms, Vindhyachal saw its spate of forts, which are inextricably attached to tales of Chandrakanta and the royals.
Chunar fort is 2 km from Chunar on the banks of river Ganga and Jirgo. It is not far from Varansi. Bhartihari, the writer of ancient instructive scriptures Niti shatak, Vairagya shatak and Shringar Shatak meditated at the site of the present fort. Chunar fort is a legacy by King Vikramaditya of Ujjain from 56 BC to commemorate the meditation place of his elder brother and predecessor of the throne, Bhartihari.
There is a pair of footprints here on solid rock, lending credence to the name mentioned in the Puranas - Charanadri. There are interesting tales behind this name. One is that when Lord Vishnu incarnated as an ascetic Vaman and measured the universe in three footsteps, he started from here. Therefore, the name Charanadri. The second story is reminiscent of a hermit who stood here in penance for many years.
Later on, King Sahadeo installed a rock statue here of Naina Yogini and named the city Nainagarh. This became the king’s capital. He built a 52 pillared umbrella in the fort precincts to commemorate his victory over 52 royals in 1029. His daughter’s nuptial ceremony was held in a specially built Sonwa mandap in the fort when she married king Alha of Mahoba. It echoes with tales of bravery of the warrior brothers Udal and Alha, which generated the Alha folk music.
Sonwa Mandap in Chunar fort
Babur in Vindhyachal
Babur’s visit to Chunar highlighted Vindhyachal area. He was followed by Sher Shah, Humayun, Akbar, Aurangzeb and finally the British. Chunar was captured by Akbar in 1574 and remained under Mughal rule till 1772. Aurangzeb’s governor Mirza Bairam built a mosque in 1663 near Bhairo Burj. In 1772, the Chunar fort was captured by East India Company who established in it a depot for artillery and ammunition. It was temporarily taken over by Chet Singh in 1781.
Warren Hastings' bungalow
Warren Hastings the first governor general of India under Imperial rule, loved the climate and environs of Chunar. He lived here in a bunglaw. This bunglaw is now being converted to a museum. A sundial built in the year 1784 near his house records Hastings’ love for Chunar.
Shakteshgarh and Vijaigarh forts
Shakteshgarh fort, 25 km from Chunar is an ancient ruin. Vijaygarh fort, 22 kms from Robertsganj, was built by Kol kings on Kiyala hill. Despite being on a hill, the water sources in the fort do not dry courtesy a network of channels harnessing fresh-water from river Ganga.
Aghori fort, 35 kms from Robertsganj was built by Kharwar and Chandel kings. This fort is near rivers Son and Bijul. A trek across river Son is an interesting way to get to the fort.
Varanasi-Chunar: 40 km
Chunar-Shakteshgarh fort: 25 km
Varanasi-Vijaigarh fort: 70 km
Robertsganj-Vijaigarh fort: 20 km
Robertsganj-Agori fort: 35 km
Varanasi-Vindhyachal: 80 km
Allahabad-Vindhyachal: 95 km