Saturday, 13 December 2014

Kamlah Fort of Mandi


The Temple of Baba Kamlahia inside the fort
In India, the historical and ancient fort of Kamlah in Sarkaghat tehsil of Mandi District in Himachal pradesh, is unique in the sense that it has never been conquered. It is about 30 Km from Sarkaghat and is at an altitude of 6000 feet above sea level. The journey to the fort begins from river bed of Chhuighat, a steep hike of 6 Km. Another route from Dharampur is motorable. The road via Kandapattan and Marhi is also motorable.
Large Flour Grinder in the Kamlah fort
The fort was built by Hari Sen, the king of erstwhile Mandi State in 1630 AD. It was later fortified by his descendent Suraj Sen. 
The historians are of the view that Kamlah fort is a coalescence of 6 fortresses with vertical cliffs on three sides. The six forts with which Kamlah comprised were, Kamlah, Chauki, Chabra, Padampur, Shamsherpur, and Narsingpur. These forts provided defence for each other. The only vulnerable side was east, with the fortress of Padampur occupying the strategic outermost position. There was a manned outpost which always kept constant vigil. The crumbling walls of the chamber still bear the testimony to the ancient and the glorious days of the kings and the battles fought. Two large millstones of a discarded flour mill are still lying in the fort complex.
Way to Kamlah Fort
Towards the right of the fort there is a dark cave which was used as a refuge for the Queen, in times of danger. The cave is supported be a huge pillar. During an emergency the entrance of the cave was used to be blocked by boulders. To the left of the fort were the water ponds, which are now choked with thick undergrowth and the debris.

At the top of the fort there used to be a big canon to fire shells at invaders. Today there are two derelict canons lying in the fort premises. Man Singh the ruler if the nearby state called Guler, attacked the fort twice and is said to have taken it. The troops of Maharaja Ranjit Singh also fought to capture it. Raja Sansar Chand of kangra too attacked the fort number of times, but failed again and again. Since the Kamlah fort was the treasury of erstwhile state of mandi, so even the British provided help to Ranjit Singh in his bid to annex the fort.

At present there is a small temple of Baba Kamalahia, at the top of the fort. Though the fort is a protected monument, registered with the Archaeological Survey of India, there seems to be little efforts to preserve its grandeur.

The place is serene and offers a panoramic view of the beautiful mountain ranges. From the top of the fort one can see upto miles around. The view of the snow- covered Dhauladhar ranges is breathtaking.

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