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Chunar Fort

Location: Chunar Fort is situated on the Vindhya Range in Mirzapur district at a distance of around 40 kms from Varanasi and 35 kms east of Mirzapur.

Best Time to Visit: Anytime of the year but preferably in winters or from July to March.

Timings:    Entry - 10 am to 2 pm

                          Visiting hours - 10 am to 4 pm.

                          Opens on all days.

How to Reach: You can reach Chunar Fort by road as it is well connected from Varanasi, Mirzapur and Allahabad. There is no rail connectivity but Varanasi, Mirzapur and Allahabad are connected by rail. Nearest airport is at Babatpur Airport in Varanasi at a distance of about 60 kms.

Attractions: The major attraction for the tourists inside the Fort is the Sonwa Mandap, the Sun Dial and a massive well.

Handicrafts: Chunar Pottery especially Clay, Toys etc.

Accommodation: Tourist Bungalow, UPSTDC Chunar Inspection Bungalow U.P Cement Corporation, Chunar. Inspection House PWD, Chunar. A few lodges. Guest House, belonging to PWD can be booked by contacting the PWD Department of Mirzapur.

Highlights

Chunar fort is a very famous for its natural beauty, historical events, handicrafts, industrial setups and from the religious aspects as well. Chunar owes its importance from the time immemorial as tradition assigns a high antiquity to the fort of Chunar. The fort is a solid structure that stands on a rock, a detached part of the Vindhya Range was built on a commanding position. Due to the steep slope, the rocky fort is practically impregnable Many crude cylinders were stored in the fort area to roll them down over any army of enemy soldiers attacking the fort. This is probably why it survived attacks over the years. Most of the enclosed fort area consists of plains overgrown with grass and a few trees. The approach to Chunar hill is marked by a chain of low hills, running parallel to the river on its right bank, which is covered by plantations and bungalows. The fort has witnessed glorious historical past, it rises abruptly from the plain and encroaches into the river for some distance. The southeastern part of the fort is on the rocky bank by the Ganga River, which is navigable by small boats. In ancient literature this place was also known as Charanadri and Nainagarh. Chunar Fort is situated on the bank of River Ganga at a height of 80-175 feet from the ground level is spread over 34000 square feet, is the prime attraction of Chunar town. Chunar Fort, overlooking River Ganga, has had a succession of owners representing most of India's rulers over the last 500 years. Sher Shah took it from Humayun in 1540, Akbar recaptured it for the Mughals in 1575 and in the 18th century it passed to the nawabs of Avadh. They were shorty followed by the British, whose gravestones here make interesting reading. Chunar sandstone has been used for centuries, most famously in Ashokan pillars and is still quarried, leaving the surrounding hills looking ravaged in places.

Main Attractions in Chunar Fort

Bharthari Samadhi: Behind the fort there is Samadhi of Bharthari, the brother of King Vikramaditya having four gates presently used for various religious ceremonies. There is a tunnel in front of this building which leads down from the fort and was used by princess Sonwa to take bath in River Ganga.

Sonwa Mandap: This structure has 28 pillars reflecting purely the Hindu style of architecture. There is engraving on the mehrab (arch), which is said to have been filled with gold earlier. There is about 7 mts wide (diameter) and 200 mts. deep Bawali (water storage tank) in the fort which still has the water and is said to be connected with River Ganga which supplies water to it. Princess Sonwa used to bathe here.

Bawan Khambo Ki Chhatari (Open Pavilion of 52 pillars): The fort has this canopy resting on 52 pillars to commemorate his King’s victory on 52 rulers. Sonwa, daughter of King Mahadeo, the King of Kannauj was married to Alha, the brother of King of Mahoba.

Residence of Warren Hastings: It has been converted into a museum. It also has a Sun dial built in 1784 near the bungalow. To commemorate his victory over 52 rulers, King Sahadeo built a stone umbrella inside the fort.

History of Chunar Fort

This fort was built by King Vikramaditya for his brother Bharthari. During Muslim Period, it was regarded as the defence key, over the eastern part of Ganga Valley. From the tables of the fort it is found that most of the rulers of India visited this fort and left their vestige at this strategic point. It was garrisoned by Britishers until 1890, when the troops were finally withdrawn & the fort was handed over to civilian authorities. List of Kings and rulers associated with the history of Chunar Fort:

Vikramaditya of Ujjain:                         56 BCE

Prithviraj Chauhan:                                 CE 1141-1191

Muhammad Ghori:                                  1194

Svami Raja:                                                 1344

Mahamud Shah Sharqi of Jaunpur: 1445

Sikandar Lodi II:                                      1512

Babur:                                                           1529

Sher Shah Suri:                                         1530 & 1538

Humayun:                                                   1536

Islam Shah Suri:                                       1545-1552

Akbar:                                                           1575

Mirza Muqim:                                            1750

The British East India Company:     1750 & 1775

Suja-ud-Daulla:                                        1765

Warren Hastings:                                    1781

There are many legends linking the fort to divine aspects. As Per Puranas the oldest name of Chunar was Charanadri as Lord Vishnu had taken his first step in his Vaman in carnation in the dynasty of Great King Bali in the age of Satyug. It also told that a very powerful man had travelled from Himalaya to Kanya Kumari in the age of Dwapar and took rest here whose feet impressions made todays Chunar. The third one deals with Bhartihari, the ruler of Ujjain who came here for penance. A kingdom was later on built here. The fourth story sheds light on a rock statue built by Raja Sahadeo, who named the place as Nainagarh. However Chunar is highlighted after the visit of Babar followed by Shershah Suri, Humayun, Akbar, Aurangzeb and finally, the Britishers.