The Himalayan state of Himachal Pradesh is dotted with forts from bygone eras. While some continue to flourish in their new avatars as boutique hotels and venues for cultural events and religious gatherings, others, like the Nurpur fort, are on the edge of falling into obscurity. Located in the city of Nurpur, in the North-West of Kangra, the fort and hence the town are named after queen consort Nurjahan, the beloved of Mughal emperor Jahangir.
Formerly known as Dhameri, and founded in the 11th century by king Jhet Pal who was related to the king of Delhi at the time. Dhameri was a seat of power in the region and peaked during the reign of Raja Basu. He ruled from 1580 to 1613 and built the fort formerly known as the Dhameri fort.
It is reported that during her stay at the Dhameri fort, Nurjahan was so entranced by its location and the natural beauty that she decided to stay on forever. However, after Jahangir paid a visit to Dhameri, after conquering the Kangra fort, the local authorities, to avoid the yolk of Mughal dominion, and yet not incur its wrath, decided to rename the fort in Nurjahan’s honour. The queen consort, meanwhile, had already been made to flee the fort by the locals, who had spread a rumour about an infectious, complexion-spoiling disease spreading in the town.
The Nurpur fort is spread across a plateau, its western edge overlooks a ridge, and below lies the Jhabbar Khud, a tributary of the Chakki rivulet, which flows on into the River Ravi. The fort's architecture is similar to the other forts of the area, and while it is in a dismal state right now, you can still see its opulent past in the finely carved bas relief and the faded miniature paintings on its walls. Until pre-independence, Nurpur fort was under the Pathania clan of Rajputs, who were also related to the Tomar dynasty of Delhi. They ruled over Nurpur and surrounding regions for more than eight centuries.
Of the many legends that are wrapped around Nurpur fort, the one that takes up the most ground is that of the soul-deep devotion of a Rajasthan Rajput princess Meera, towards the blue-skinned god, Krishna. Now known as the Bhakti-era saint Meera Bai, she is supposed to have carried the idol of Krishna from her palatial home to the kingdom of Nurpur when she married one its princes. Her devoutness to Krishna was given form in the 16th century Brij Raj Swami temple. This is the only place where Meera Bai and Krishna are worshipped together till today.
Where: Nurpur, Kangra district, Himachal Pradesh
Distances: Nurpur is approximately 559 km from New Delhi, 253 km from Chandigarh, 265 km from Shimla, and 60 km from Kangra city.
How to get there: There are flights to Shimla, Chandigarh, and New Delhi from across the country.