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Nalgarh Fort: History, Structure, Myth, Chilapata Forest

Nal Rajar Garh or Nalgarh or Mendabari Fort

Introduction

India is such a country that thrives with history, several opulent palaces, ancient forts, and royal structures welcome you at every nook and corner. They describe the tales of romance, bravery, strength, and battles. Like many places in India, North Bengal is also no exception. Dooars has a rich ancient history that has gone through the rise and fall of several dynasties and empires. This has resulted in the construction of historic edifices built by different rulers over varying periods. The legend of Nalgarh is one of them.

Nalgarh Fort

The History of Nalgarh

Nal Rajar Garh or Nalgarh
Nal Rajar Garh or Nalgarh
Also called Mendabari Fort
Also called Mendabari Fort

This structure of historical prominence is nothing but the famous Old Fort of Nal king, mostly known as ‘Nalgarh’. This famous ancient monument is located in the deeply forested area of Chilapata, which is renowned as an elephant corridor between the Buxa Tiger Reserve and Jaldapara.

The fort was established during the reign of the Gupta dynasty in the fifth century A.D. Situated just a few miles south of the Indo-Bhutan border, the ruins of the fort depict the heritage of the Golden age of India. It was made of bricks and situated at Mendabari near the village of Kalchini. The Nalgarh Fort was called by the British as “Mendabari Ruins’ ‘; which was later identified by the archaeological department as one of the frontier fortifications of this region, known as “Pundrabardhan Bhukti’ ‘. Apart from the brick walls, there are some stone temples and some specimens of Muslim architecture in the adjoining areas. Nalgarh within the Chilapata forest was the capital of the ancient kingdom of Kamatapur (650-1498 CE), located around the Brahmaputra Valley, which was later shifted to Maynaguri and still later to Prithu Rajar Garh.

More history and structure of Nalgarh

The ruins of the fort are the primary attraction for tourists. It has archaeological value as a thousand years old structures. Now the fort carries only its broken gate and wrecked wall, bathing staircases or ghats that have been traced in one portion. The whole complex is divided into two parts by a moat in its northern segment. This complex is famous as Nalgarh, which has circles in one canal in some places and other places by a double canal. The survival part of the whole complex is considerably smaller than what it was initially. It is believed that from here, the soldiers of Cochbehar used to protect the kingdom from the Bhutanese invasion.

The boundary ruins of the fort
The boundary ruins of the fort

Myth about Nalgarh

Ram Guna Trees

The forest near the fort has a unique kind of tree (Ramgua or Ram guna tree) which excretes a red coloured fluid like human blood when struck. The myth is that the loyal guards of Nalgarh transformed into the trees guarding the fort during its destruction. Tourists can have a fascinating experience while driving through the Chilapata forest. You may come across elephants and one-horned rhinos during the drive if you are lucky enough.

Where to stay and how to visit Nalgarh

There are plenty of homestays and resorts in Chilapata from where you can visit these places. Since it is under the reserve forest of Chilapata, one can not go there without permission and forest guard. Hence, one has to book a safari ride from Kodalbasti or Chakokheti to avail of this place.

How to reach

Nalgarh fort is situated on the Bania riverbank in the Chilapata forest. The forest is about 20 km from Alipurduar town, and the distance between this place and Jalpaiguri is nearly 95 km. This place is well connected also with Siliguri town. New Jalpaiguri is the nearest railway station, while Bagdogra is the closest airport located about 140 km from the sanctuary.

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