Kamru Fort is an ancient wooden fort believed to have been built 1000 years ago on a hill a few kilometres from Sangla town in the Kinnaur district of Himachal Pradesh. Set at an altitude of 2600 metres above sea level, the fort offers stunning views of the Sangla valley, Baspa river, snow-capped mountains, lush green fields and apple orchards.
The fort is believed to house 33 crore gods and goddesses that guard the entire valley against natural calamities and evil spirits.
Kamru was the ancient capital of the Bushahr (also Bashahr) dynasty that ruled the Kinnaur and Shimla regions for a long time. The dynasty traces its roots to Pradyumna, the son of Lord Krishna.
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Temple complex in the Kamru Fort. Pic: Flickr
They ruled from Kamru for several centuries before shifting the capital to Sarahan in the 19th century and finally to Rampur in the early 20th century. However, even today, every new titular king of the Bushahr dynasty who ascends the throne has to visit the fort for coronation (raj tilak).
The head priest of Kamru village performs the King’s coronation in the Kamru Fort.
The Fort is located on a hill and can be reached through several gateways. An arch at the base of the hill marks the beginning of the Kamru Fort area. People live along the steep road leading to the fort.
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Halfway to the fort is a 15th-century Badrinath temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu. The temple is made of wood and has beautiful carvings. A fair dedicated to the deity is held once in three years at the temple. During this fair, the idol is taken to Gangotri, the origin of the river Ganga.
Coronation of the titular king of the Bushahr dynasty is performed in the Kamru Fort even today. Pic: Flickr
A flight of stairs from the temple complex leads to the main gate of the Kamru Fort, which also houses an impressive statue of Lord Buddha.
Visitors are required to wear the traditional Kinnauri cap and the Gachhi or belt around the waist to enter the fort as a mark of respect to the deities.
The fort is a tower-like structure, five stories high. It rests on a 55 square feet stone platform and is a popular tourist destination.
Wooden carving of Lord Vishnu and Goddess Lakshmi at the kamru Fort. Pic: Flickr
However, visitors cannot go inside the main building as it is in a dilapidated state. Only the priest who looks after the temple is allowed there.
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The structure is made in the traditional Kath Kuni architecture of Himachal with stones bound at small intervals with wooden rafters. The top floor has two beautifully carved wooden verandahs. There is also a beautifully carved miniature wooden temple.
On the second floor of the fort is an idol of Kamakhya Devi which, as per local legend, was brought here from Guwahati, Assam, many centuries back.
The fort has a large collection of artefacts, stone sculptures, weapons and ammunitions and antiquities that belong to the erstwhile royal family. These artefacts will be displayed in the museum being built on the fort premises.
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