A relic of the Ranjit Singh era

The only second such fort constructed by the only highly successful Sikh ruler, the fort beckons tourists not only from the state but also from all over the country and the world as well. An apt example of a military citadel, the credit of preserving the 200-year-old structure rightfully goes to the Punjab police as the Department of Conservation of the state and the state government had turned their backs to the conservation of the fort.

Inspite of such glorious past and present, the future of the fort may not be that bright, While the Punjab police deserves a pat on its back for protecting it from deterioration, they had but only concentrated on strengthening the outer structure from inside the fort is crumbling. Sources said due to lack of funds supplied by the state government, the PPA lacked resources for the repair work.

Nevertheless, it is a treat for those interested in old buildings, especially forts. The architecture is quite similar to one of the t impregnable citadel constructed by the Sikh in Bahudargarh Patiala. Though much smaller in size, the Phillaur fort has similar huge entrance gates and meandering paths leading to the inner residential palace. It also has moats or ditches surrounding the outer boundary.{pagebreak}

As suggested by the architecture, the fort was never designed as a residential palace. Situated on the banks of the Sutlej the fort was constructed at this strategic place by Maharaja Ranjit Singh as it faced the Lodhi Fort possessed by the British Forces. The fort also gave an advantageous position to the Sikh forces to tackle any forces coming from Delhi. Two gates one called the Lahori Gate and the other the Delhi Gate stand testimony to the strategic position.

The architecture was aimed to prevent the enemy from easy occupation of the place. While the moats full of water, and possibly crocodiles also, prevented the attackers from any adventurous plans to scale the walls, the strong gates also put up stiff challenge. If the enemy managed to break in from the gates, the meandering paths, considerably slowed down the storming in. Gunmen hiding in small spaces in the thick walls conveniently shot down the intruders. It required a massive army to win over the fort.

According to PPA sources they are doing their best to preserve the monument. A visit revealed that the place is as clean as it should have been. The walls have been nicely painted and even plastering of the cracks has been done. Special mention here should be made of a large statue of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, a dargah which is thronged by devotees every Thursday and of a museum of arms and ammunition that attract tourists.

The worrying factors of the fort are the weakening of its structure from within. Sources in the academy said the state government had been requested several times to supply of funds for the proper maintenance of the relic of Maharaja Ranjit Singh but positive response was still awaited.

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