The frontier erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir is dotted with massive forts constructed by the Dogra rulers to protect their land from foreign invaders. Needless to say, the forts of Jammu and Kashmir are of immense importance even in modern times to understand the history of Jammu & Kashmir. One such fort is the majestic Bhimgarh Fort which is located in the Raesi district. It is often referred to as the Raesi Fort as well.
10 unknown facts about Bhimgarh Fort:
- Bhimgarh Fort, generally known as the Reasi Fort, the fort is on a hillock approximately 150 metres high. Initially, it was constructed of clay by Rajput king Bhimdev Rasyal Of Reasi initially, it was constructed of clay.
- One of the heirs of Maharaj Rishipal Rana, the founder of Reasi, reconstructed it using stone. It was used by the royal family members for shelter during emergencies.
- The Bhimgarh Fort stands over the waters of the Anji River. The location of this fort made it one of the emergency forts used by the Dogra rulers. The commanding view that the fort offered of the surrounding areas was ideal to perceive and ward off an attack.
- The renovation of the fort was started by Gulab Singh of Jammu and Kashmir in 1817 and continued till 1841. A new entry gate and a stone wall one m wide and 50 m long was built all around, thereby making it less vulnerable to attacks.
- The repair work was completed in 1841. Most of the construction work took place under the supervision of General Zorawar Singh who was the care taker of this area on behalf of Raja Gulab Singh of Jammu. It is one of the strongest forts constructed in Jammu area.
- The Fort was the centre of the Bhimgarh state. This state was established as early as the 8th century by Raja Bhim Dev.
- The fort evidently had the influence of various states in the country. For instance, elaborate Rajasthani carving can be seen on the main entry gate. The gate is made entirely from Baluka stones to hold off attacks, even with weapons. The entrance also had two idols of Lord Hanuman and Goddess Mahakali.
- Bhimgar Fort was handed over to the Jammu and Kashmir State Archaeology Department in 1989 on the orders of the state government. In 1990, the fort was renovated by the Vaishno Devi Sthapna Board. The surrounding areas were given a facelift with the construction of gardens and pathways. The fort was then opened to the public. Though, the fort is devastated by the earthquakes and lack of maintenance, it stands out as an important landmark in the town.
- The fort was used as the royal armory after the death of Maharaja Gulab Singh. It was only during the reign of Maharaja Hari Singh that the British destroyed the armory. Thereafter, the treasury was also shifted to Jammu, leaving behind a fort that once was the seat of the state’s conquests.
- During Maharaja Hari Singh’s rule an English minister ordered that the armoury be destroyed and shifted the treasury to Jammu.
The Bhimgarh Fort is one of the best-managed monuments in the country, although nestled on a hilltop, away from the tourists. However those who have visited the monument remain mesmerized by the power that this structure exudes.