The castles that were suggestive of Gurkha rule back in the times have become historical heritage of Himachal Pradesh now. Though most of them stand in ruins, it is their historical value that is keeping them alive!
Gurkhas were one of the bravest rulers in the history of the British-ruled Himachal. Many of them had control over some major states in Himachal until 1815 and forts built by them explain it all.
Here are some Gurkha monuments in different districts of Himachal Pradesh, some standing strong still and the rest in ruins:
The Subathu Gurkha Fort
At a distance of 70 km from Malaon, the Subathu Gurkha Fort is now under the Indian Army’s 14 Gurkha training centre. The fort still houses some cannons that are believed to be 181 years old. These cannons because of their historic value are the center of attraction for everybody who visits the fort.
Dhar Mountain Fort
The fort is located off the Kalka-Shimla national highway, near Dr. Y.S. Parmar Horticulture and Forestry University on the Solan-Rajgarh road. It is perched on top of the Dhar Mountain that is around 1,999 ft high and gives an excellent view from Nauni, a near-by locality.
But now, the Dhar mountain fort stands in ruins and the footway that leads to it is rough and rocky. The fort is historic for it was built around 200 years back when the Gurkhas won the princely state of Baghat. The central entrance to the fort is a galleried hall that is facing the east and there’s a big water tank kept in the center. The ceiling of the upper storey is quite low. It is said that these stories were kept low-heighted intentionally so that the soldiers could fight the invaders (the British Army) in a crawling pose and ensure safety of the same time.
The third hall at the fort is a place where visitors can witness amazing engineering skills of the Gurkhas. There’s an oval-shaped room facing the east and this is the reason the roof at this part of the fort has not collapsed even after so long!
Situated near Nalagarh of Solan District, the Malaon Castle was built by Amar Singh Thapa, one of the greatest Gurkha leaders ever in History. The fort stands as a symbol of one of Amar Singh Thapa’s steps to conquer the hill states in the west to expand his territory and increase his strength.
It was in the year 1915 that Bhakti Singh Thapa was defeated and killed by Major General David Ochterlony who led the British army. Right after his victory on Bhakti Singh Thapa, Major Ochterlony compelled Amar Singh Thapa to leave the Ramgarh Fort. Later, he built the Malaon Castle as a refuge.
Banasar Gurkha Fort
Another Gurkha fort in Banasar – this one is situated off the Kalka-Shimla NH on Kumarhatti-Nahan road at a distance of about 22 km. Over 150 years old, the fort is just one kilometer before Banasar village. You can go on foot and walk a 10-minute climb to reach the historical fort.