BENGALURU: This seemingly nondescript fort located on the eastern banks of Ganges in Varanasi offers many surprises. Tucked away in Ramnagar, this 250-year-old fort or palace has been home to Maharajas of Benaras since the 18th century. Set amid the busy Ramnagar bazaar and vegetable market with a crumbling façade, this fort was painted and restored in such a way that it still looks like a fort and not a heritage hotel. A picturesque location on the river banks, an amusing museum consisting of vintage cars, weaponry, costumes, jewellery and very few tourists make it one little secretive spot in Varanasi. It can be visited by boat or via Pontoon bridge (non-functional during monsoons). With several balconies, courtyards and pavillions, it offers great spots to spend time in..just reading or simply sitting and looking at the river. Sunsets can be really beautiful from here. A part of the fort is still home to the current Maharaja and his family.
Incidentally it is Ramnagar where India's longest and biggest Ram Lila is performed every year for 31 days, culminating in Dussehra. That is when the palace is lit beautifully and the king, following his family tradition, still is part of the festival processions by inaugurating it and supporting it year after year.
Here are some pictures from my last visit to the palace. Don't miss the Shivprasad Lassi Bhandar on the busy street outside.
Richa Gupta blogs at http://www.travelsandstories.com