Nurpur Fort: Ensuring the Preservation of Centuries-Old Heritage

The Nurpur Fort is a magnificent structure that stands tall as a testament to the rich cultural heritage and architectural grandeur of the region. It has a formidable history of over 1,000 years, having witnessed the rise and fall of dynasties and withstood sieges and conquests. The fort stands tall as a symbol of resilience and might through the ages.

Establishment of the Nurpur Kingdom

The Nurpur kingdom was established in 1064 A.D in the foothills of the Himalayas in India, located in the north-eastern Bari Doab region between the Ravi and Beas rivers. It included the Kangra, Duggar, Majha, Dharab, and Chamba regions, and lasted until 1815. The Nurpur kingdom was initially known as Dhameri (धमेरी), and was founded in the mid-11th century by Tomaras of Delhi. It was ruled by the Pathania dynasty, who claimed to be a branch of the Tomars of Delhi and ruled from their capital at Lalkot, which is now known as Mehrauli.

The "Golden Era" of Nurpur Kingdom

The Nurpur kingdom reached its peak during the reign of Raja Basu Dev between 1580 and 1613. The golden era of the kingdom was during the rule of Dev's son, Raja Jagat Singh Pathania (1618-1646), who is still remembered today. Ballads were sung in his honor, with lyrics that translate to "As great as Raja Jagat Singh, no one in the four directions ever suffered from hunger."

The Renaming of Dhameri to Nurpur

In 1620, Raja Jagat Singh changed the name of the kingdom from Dhameri to Nurpur to honor the Mughal emperor and empress. 'Nur' was a common prefix to their names Nur-ud-din Muhammad Jahangir and Nur Jahan. The Mughal king was on a conquest spree of Kangra, and the empress accompanied him until Nurpur. It is said that Nur Jahan was so fascinated by Nurpur's surroundings that she desired to settle down permanently there. According to legend, the king gathered a large number of people suffering from goitre around the empress to make her change her mind. 

The Inspiring Tale of Wazir Ram Singh and the Ancient Nurpur Fort

The fort has a formidable history, having witnessed the rise and fall of dynasties, sieges, and conquests. However, the story of the Nurpur Fort is incomplete without the mention of the heroic deeds and sacrifices of Wazir Ram Singh.

Wazir Ram Singh Pathania of the erstwhile Nurpur state was just 16 years old when he dared to challenge the mighty British. He was arrested through a conspiracy when he was worshipping and later sentenced to life imprisonment at Kalapani by the British. After his arrest, the British shifted him to Rangoon, where he was badly tortured. Ram Singh sacrificed his life for the honor and dignity of his motherland on November 11, 1849, at the age of 24.

The Nurpur Fort - A Symbol of Resilience

The Nurpur Fort has a strategic location, overlooking the town of Nurpur and the surrounding areas. It is the most prominent structure of the Nurpur kingdom and boasts an impressive facade. It is a mix of Hindu and Mughal styles, with stone carvings and intricate work on the walls. 

The fort has a commanding view of the region, and there were huge water bodies inside to quench the thirst in case of sieges that could last for months.

Sri Brijraj Swami Temple - A Unique Religious Site

The complex of ancient Nurpur Fort houses Sri Brijraj Swami temple, which is believed to be the only temple in North India where Lord Krishna's idol is placed alongside Meerabai and not Radha. The temple walls have magnificent frescos that have faded over time. Legend says that the idol of Krishna in black marble is the original one revered by Meera and it had come here as a gift from the Royalty of Chittor.

The Current State of the Nurpur Fort

The Nurpur Fort is in ruins, except for the facade of the splendid entry gates. Over the years, the Nurpur Fort has been through a lot. It has witnessed battles and sieges, and has survived earthquakes and floods. However, the neglect and lack of maintenance have taken a toll on the fort's structure. The fading frescos and crumbling walls are a reminder of the urgent need for restoration.

Though under the management of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), not much has been done for its upkeep. Durgeshwar Singh Pathania, the present head of the Nurpur royal family, is looking after his ancestral land. The palatial heritage house where the family lives is at Khushi Nagar, popularly known as 'Raja Ka Dera'. It became the family's new abode after a fierce battle with the British.

The Need for Restoration and Preservation

Not satisfied with the restoration and upkeep of the fort premises, Pathania feels that the ASI and the state Tourism Department should develop it from the tourism point of view as it has an unparalleled history of valor and bravery. The fort needs improvements to turn it into a preferred tourist destination. A light-and-sound event every evening showcasing the valor of our ancestors who challenged the British can be of interest to one and all. The ballads of Wazir Ram Singh Pathania, which were so famous and popular in the region, should also be revived.

The Nurpur Fort is not just a historic monument, but also a cultural and architectural treasure. It is a symbol of the region's rich heritage and must be preserved for future generations. The restoration of the fort will not only revive its glory but also boost tourism in the area.

In conclusion, the Nurpur Fort is a testimony of resilience and might. It has stood the test of time and witnessed the region's history unfold. However, its deteriorating state is a cause for concern. The preservation and restoration of the fort are necessary to ensure that it continues to remain a symbol of the region's rich cultural heritage and architectural grandeur.

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