The Ramnagar Fort is a fortification in Ramnagar, Varanasi, India. It is located near the Ganges River on its eastern bank, opposite to the Tulsi Ghat. The structure was built in 1750 by Kashi Naresh Raja Balwant Singh with cream coloured chunar sandstone. It is in typical Mughal style of architecture with carved balconies, open courtyards, and pavilions.
At present, the fort is not in a good shape. The fort and its museum are the repository of the history of the kings of Benares. It has been the home of Kashi Naresh since the eighteenth century. The current king and the resident of the fort is Anant Narayan Singh, who is also known as the Maharaja of Varanasi even though this royal title has been abolished since 1971.
The Ramnagar Fort was built by Kashi Naresh Raja Balwant Singh in 1750. Inscriptions on the outer ramparts of the fort date it to the seventeenth century.
The building was constructed with creamy-coloured chunar sandstone. It is built in typical Mughal style of architecture. The fort houses the Veda Vyasa Temple, a museum, and the king's residential complex. There is also a Dakshin Mukhi temple of Hanuman, which faces towards south. The fort has been built on high ground, which is above the flood level. The fort has many carved balconies, open courtyards and pavilions. Only a part of the structure is open for public viewing as the rest of it is the residence of Kashi Naresh and his family.
The flag on the fort is raised when the Maharaja is in residence in his palace fort. Within the fort, the palace has two white towers, which are accessed by a flight of steps. At the end of the flight of steps, there is an archway and many courtyards that lead to the white tower. The private residence of the Maharaja is on one side of the tower while the Durbar Hall and reception rooms are on the other side. An inscription on the fort wall attests "Fortified House of the Rajah of Benares, with his state Boat."
The museum is known as Saraswati Bhawan. The museum is in what used to be the Durbar Hall or the Public Audience Hall of the fort. It is well known for its unusual and rare collections of American vintage cars, bejeweled sedan chairs, ivory work, medieval costumes, gold and silver brocaded royal Palakis (Palanquins in the shape of a lotus flower). It has elephant saddles carved out of silver, jewellery, costumes made of kimkhwa silk (finest product of the weavers of Varanasi), an impressive armoury hall with swords, old guns from Africa, Burma and Japan. The old armoured matchlocks, ornate hookahs, daggers, portraits of Maharajas, black musical instruments which have turned white due to neglect of maintenance and there is a rare astronomical clock.
This clock shows not only the time but also the year, month, week and day, and the astronomical details of the Sun, Moon and other planets. This clock was made in 1852 by the Astronomer at the Court of the Royal Palace of Varanasi. In addition, manuscripts, especially religious writings, are housed in the museum. Also included is a precious handwritten manuscript by Goswami Tulsidas. Many books illustrated in the Mughal miniatures style, with beautifully designed covers are also part of the collections. There are five hundred and thirty-five illustrations expressing Islamic ethos, each having a decorative border with ornate floral designs or cartouches.