Ratanpur Fort – Bilaspur – Chhattisgarh


Ratanpur Fort – Bilaspur – Chhattisgarh

Lesser-known forts, ruined temples, unknown structures seem to always follow me wherever I go. It becomes a challenge to write about these since there are very few verified references and I always avoid writing from hearsay. It actually becomes like an addiction as I have sleepless night trying to piece together a puzzle from various sources. There have been incidents where my blog post was almost on the verge of completion when I realized a critical mistake and had to rewrite the entire post. I wanted to avoid this for this blog thus had to go over and over on various pieces of information before writing this blog.

A weekend trip to Bilaspur in Chhattisgarh would be the last thing that anyone would ever think especially when you want to escape the weekday grind and this is exactly what I felt. Being very near to Raipur you can always take a short one and a half hour flight or can just take an evening train and reach Bilaspur early next morning.  Being centrally located this city is easily accessible from the rest of India.

Having reached Bilaspur I was very much apprehensive as to what I could explore in this town. Bilaspur is basically railways as it’s the headquarters of South East Central Railway and almost all have some connection with the railways. India being a country of diversity can never disappoint as I found what I was looking for just 25 kilometers away from Bilaspur in a small town called Ratanpur.

Mahabharata and Ratanpur

Lord Krishna along with Arjun had visited Ratanpur during the reign of Mayurdhwaj who was the king of Ratanpur. Raja Mayurdhwaj had sent his son Prince Tamradhwaj to expand the boundaries of his kingdom. During one such expedition, Tamradhwaj had once seized a horse and that horse originally belonged to Arjun, which was unknown to Tamradhwaj. Arjun wanted to claim his horse back thus marched towards the camp of Tamradhwaj and soon a battle followed.

Tamradhwaj even though had a mighty army was staring at a defeat, he was alerted by a senior priest that Krishna himself was beside Arjun thus defeating him would be impossible. Knowing this Tamradhwaj fled at night along with the horse to Ratanpur. Arjun desperately wanted his horse back and wanted to march towards Ratanpur with his army but Krishna stopped him as he knew that Mayurdhwaj was a noble king who always honored Brahmins thus he himself wanted to go and find out.

Krishna went to the court of Mayurdhwaj who was known to attend every Brahmin and as per the regular norm, the king Mayurdhwaj asked what he wanted.

Krishna told the king a story that while coming to his kingdom on the way a tiger had caught hold of his son and wanted to eat him. He had requested the tiger to spare the life of his only son and take his instead but the tiger refused. Instead, the tiger offered a condition which if fulfilled would release his son.

Krishna told that the tiger would only release his son if he managed to bring half the body of Mayurdhwaj in exchange. Mayurdhwaj as promised agreed to sacrifice himself, he was stopped by his wife and son but he did not listen and was ready for the sacrifice.

While the king was being sawed down in half from his head to, toe one side of the head had tears in his eyes. Krishna told the queen that the tears mean that the sacrifice is not from the heart of the king but the queen instead told Krishna that he should see the other half of the body, which had no sign of sadness and was perfect for the sacrifice.

On seeing, this Krishna revealed himself and the sacrifice was stopped. The king then gave back Arjun his horse and visited Hastinapur as a guest of honor.

History of Ratanpur

Chhattisgarh though is a very new state in India had an existence much before the modern history of India and this very Ratanpur was once the capital city of Chhattisgarh. According to local legends, Ratanpur was also known as Manipur then Manikpur and Hirapur all corresponding to wealth and jewel.

I have tried to list down the history of rulers and dynasties that once ruled over this region.

Kosala
Sirpur Dynasty – 7 AD
Tivardeva
Mahashiva Gupta (Balarjuna)
Mahasudeva
Mahajayaraja (circa 8-9 AD)

Kalachuris of Ratnapura

Kalinga Raja  -1000 AD
Kamal Raja – 1020 AD
Ratnadeva I – 1050 AD (fonder of Ratanpur)
Prithvideva I – 1065 AD
Jajalladeva I – 1090 AD
Ratnadeva II – 1120 AD
Pritvideva II – 1135 AD
Jajalladeva II – 1165 AD
Ratnadeva III – 1181 AD
Prithvideva III – 1190 AD

Haihaya Kings

Bhanusingh – 1200 AD
Narsinghdeva – 1221 AD
Bhusinghdeva – 2151 AD
Pratapsingndeva – 1276 AD
Jayasinghdeva – 1319 AD
Dharmsinghdeva – 1347 AD
Jagannathsingh – 1396 AD
Virasinghdeva – 1407 AD
Kalmaldeva – 1426 AD
Sankar Sahai – 1436 AD
Mohan Sahai – 1454 AD
Dadu Sahai – 1472 AD
Purushottam Sahai – 1497 AD
Bahar Sahai – 1519 AD
Kalyan Sahai – 1546 AD
Lakshman Sahai – 1583 AD
Sankar Sahai – 1591 AD
Mukund Sahai – 1606 AD
Tribhuvan Sahai – 1617 AD
Jagamohan Sahai – 1632 AD
Adati Sahai – 1645 AD
Ranjit Sahai – 1659 AD
Takht Singh – 1685 AD
Raisinghdeva – 1699 AD
Sardarsingh – 1720 AD
Raghubathsingh – 1732 AD

Maratha Conquest (1758 – 1818)

Bhaskar Panth – Circa 1740 AD
Mohan Singh
Bimbaji Bhonsle – 1758 AD
Vyankoji – 1788 AD

Post the Maratha conquest the spread of rule by the British under East India Company slowly engulfed this region and was divided amongst various smaller rulers directly under the control of the company.

I have tried my best to build the most accurate timeline; there can be, however, slight changes which I will keep updating as and when I get additional verified details.

Ratanpur Fort

Entrance to Ratanpur Fort near Bilaspur
Entrance to Ratanpur Fort near Bilaspur
Map of Ratanpur Fort and Its Surrounding Areas
Map of Ratanpur Fort and Its Surrounding Areas

If you are expecting a massive fort with lots of building and sections, you will surely be disappointed since very less visually appealing structures are present. Very less information is available about the history of the fort and it is believed that it was originally built by Ratnadeva I but looking at the existing ruins it can be safely said that the fort and its internal structures like the palace, temples, etc. have been built over the centuries and most probably one on top of the other.

After entering the site from the main gate which is an old stone structure and on the back of this gate you get to see a head and feet of a stone statue with the body missing. By looking at this gate, it is very clear that this has been restored and some sections of the original ornate intricate stone carvings are still visible. This gate is known as the Singh Dwar (Lion Gate).

Front View of Singh Dwar (Lion Gate) – Ratanpur Fort
Front View of Singh Dwar (Lion Gate) – Ratanpur Fort
Back View of Singh Dwar (Lion Gate) – Ratanpur Fort
Back View of Singh Dwar (Lion Gate) – Ratanpur Fort
Right Wall View of Singh Dwar (Lion Gate) – Ratanpur Fort
Right Wall View of Singh Dwar (Lion Gate) – Ratanpur Fort
Close Up View of the Right Wall of Singh Dwar (Lion Gate) – Ratanpur Fort
Close Up View of the Right Wall of Singh Dwar (Lion Gate) – Ratanpur Fort
Close Up View of the Right Wall of Singh Dwar (Lion Gate) – Ratanpur Fort
Close Up View of the Right Wall of Singh Dwar (Lion Gate) – Ratanpur Fort
Head and Feet - Left Wall of Singh Dwar (Lion Gate) – Ratanpur Fort
Head and Feet – Left Wall of Singh Dwar (Lion Gate) – Ratanpur Fort

Moving ahead to the left you will find a massive gate with is known as the Ganesh Dwar. This gate is one of the best-restored sections of the fort and the reason why it is called Ganesh Dwar is very evident with the idol of Ganesha on top and another stone Ganesha inside the gate passage.

Front View of Ganesh Dwar – Ratanpur Fort
Front View of Ganesh Dwar – Ratanpur Fort
Close Up View of Stone Statues on Ganesh Dwar – Ratanpur Fort
Close Up View of Stone Statues on Ganesh Dwar – Ratanpur Fort
Statue of Ganesha under the Passage on Ganesh Dwar – Ratanpur Fort
Statue of Ganesha under the Passage on Ganesh Dwar – Ratanpur Fort
Back View of Ganesh Dwar – Ratanpur Fort
Back View of Ganesh Dwar – Ratanpur Fort

Passing through the Ganesh Dwar you will reach the main fort complex, which consists of Jagganath Temple, Lakshminarayan Temple, Hamam, Shiva Temple, Hanuman Temple, Palace Complex etc. Apart from these structures, you will find several stone and masonry blocks lying all around the fort area.

Lakshminarayan Temple - Ratanpur Fort
Lakshminarayan Temple – Ratanpur Fort
Jagannath Temple - Ratanpur Fort
Jagannath Temple – Ratanpur Fort
Hammam - Ratanpur Fort
Hammam – Ratanpur Fort
Hammam - Ratanpur Fort
Hammam – Ratanpur Fort
Unmarked Structures - Ratanpur Fort
Unmarked Structures – Ratanpur Fort
Garden Area - Ratanpur Fort
Garden Area – Ratanpur Fort
Water Well & Tank - Ratanpur Fort
Water Well & Tank – Ratanpur Fort
Unmarked Structures - Ratanpur Fort
Unmarked Structures – Ratanpur Fort
Unmarked Structures - Ratanpur Fort
Unmarked Structures – Ratanpur Fort
Unmarked Structures - Ratanpur Fort
Unmarked Structures – Ratanpur Fort
Large Water Reservoirs - Ratanpur Fort
Large Water Reservoirs – Ratanpur Fort
Hanuman Temple - Ratanpur Fort
Hanuman Temple – Ratanpur Fort
Shiva Temple - Ratanpur Fort
Shiva Temple – Ratanpur Fort
Main Palace Complex - Ratanpur Fort
Main Palace Complex – Ratanpur Fort
Main Palace Complex - Ratanpur Fort
Main Palace Complex – Ratanpur Fort
Main Palace Complex - Ratanpur Fort
Main Palace Complex – Ratanpur Fort
Main Palace Complex - Ratanpur Fort
Main Palace Complex – Ratanpur Fort
Main Palace Complex - Ratanpur Fort
Main Palace Complex – Ratanpur Fort
Gate - Ratanpur Fort
Gate – Ratanpur Fort
Gate - Ratanpur Fort
Gate – Ratanpur Fort

Another interesting thing that you get to notice is the several water bodies inside as well as outside the fort complex, the one outside the fort doubled up as a moat.

Location of Ratanpur Fort

I would like to thank The Aananda Imperial for inviting me along with other bloggers and vloggers to experience their hospitality and to explore in and around Bilaspur. Other team members included Anusreea Paul Mukherjee & Swarnava Mukherjee, Luna Chatterjee, Amrita Sen, Prithwiraj Ghosh, and Raj Dey.

The Team at Ratanpur Fort – Photo Courtesy Swarnava Mukherjee
The Team at Ratanpur Fort – Photo Courtesy Swarnava Mukherjee

References

Report of a Tour in Bundelkhand and Malwa, 1871-72 and In the Central Provinces, 1873-74, Vol.7 by J. D. Beglar
Central Provinces district gazetteers (1906)
Archaeological Survey of India

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