Munger Fort, Munger (Monghyr Fort, Monghyr)

Munger Fort, Munger (Monghyr Fort, Monghyr)

The most important of the monuments at Munger is the fort, built on a rocky eminence projecting to the river Ganges which protects it from west and partly from the north, the other sides being defended by a deep moat 175' wide. The fort encloses an area of about 222 acres and has a circuit of 2½ miles. The rampart is 30' thick, consisting of 4' inner wall, 12' of outer wall, the intervening thickness of 14' being a filling of earth. The rampart was provided with four gateways, one on each side, and with circular or octagonal bastions, at regular intervals, carrying the usual battlements. Of the gates only the northern gate, called Lal Darwaza, is some what preserved, with some carved stones build into it, which originally belonged to some Hindu or Buddhist structure.

The history of the fort and its original foundation still remains to be thoroughly investigated. Some scholars have suggested that it was built during the time of the early Muhammedan Kings of India. It should be noted that inside the fort are two hillocks as follows.

A natural rocky eminence called as Karnachaura or Karanchaura associated with the Raja Karna. Buchanan mentioned that this king built a house on this hill. The ruins of which were occupied under the British by a saluting battery; but later General Goddard built the present bungalow on the site as the residence of the Commanding Officer, since it commands a fine view of the surrounding country. An old platform in front of the Bungalow near the hill are also locally considered to be the work of the king Karna and his wife.

The other hillock, on the other side of the tanks, is an artificial rectangular mound which once probably formed the citadel of the fort. There is no ancient local name given to this hill, but it is stated that there once stood here a building known as Damdama Kothi which was demolished by the British, to make room for the Collector's Bangalow. This Kothi was built of very strong masonary, for it had to be blown-up by gun powder, bit by bit, since the ordinary methods of demolition could make no impression on it. While removing the debries from its site numerous holes were discovered showing the former existence of underground rooms. Inside a well in the compound, just above the water level, two arched passages were found, one leading towards the house and the other, in the opposite direction; towards the ground now occupied by the Jail. The Kothi would appear to be the work of the Muhammedan rulers, raised perhaps on still earlier Hindu ruins, as would be evident from the traditional association of the nearby tanks and the Karan-Chaura Hill with the earlier rulers of Hindu tradition. It may be pointed out that Buchanan noticed on the inside of the rampant of the fort, at points where the plaster had fallen number of stone carving and sculptures, built into the masonry.

Munger does not figure prominently in the first Muslim conquests of Bihar under Ikhtiyar Khan Khilji; though it appears that in 1330 A.D. it was part of the kingdom of Muhammad Tuglaq of Delhi. After this it was variously under the king of Jaunpur and the Bangal Sultans; until Babar invaded Bihar in about 1530. By this time Munger and become the headquarters of the Bihar army under the Bengal Kings. In about 1533-34 Sher Shah conquered Munger which seems to have continued to remain under the Afghan Rule till Bihar became part of the Mughal empire under Akbar in about 1563. Todarmal, the famous statesman and general under Akbar, had camped at Munger for quite a long time to quell the Afghan rebellion improved the fortification. Hundred year later Munger had against his father, Shah Jahan, and later against his brother, Aurangzeb, who had subsequently usurped the throne. In the next century Mir Qasim, the Nawab of Bengal, made when the Nawab was finally defeated by the British. Some years later, when the fort was occupied by the East India Company's troops, it was a scene of an outbreak of European officers, known as the "White Mutiny", which was quelled by Lord Clive, After this, though the fort was garrisoned by a small force, the fortifications were not maintained and were allowed to fall into disrepair, the building inside being gradually converted to civilian use.

Within the fort, there are a few eminent structures.

  • Tomb of Pir Shah Nufa

The real home of this saint or Pir is not known. It is said he originally came from Persia and had gone to Munger at the instance of the famous Muslim divine Khwaja Muinddin Chishti of Ajmer. He died here, it is believed, in A.H. 596 (A.D. 1177) and was buried in a place near the rampart.

The building is raised inside the southern gate of the fort on the top of a small mound, about 25' high, which, according to Bloch, represent the ruins of some Buddhist structure. The platform is surrounded by retaining walls, covering an area about 100' square. The building of the tomb consist of a domed tomb chamber, 16' sq. inside, with a prayer room or mosque and a rest room attached to it. At the corners of the dome are circular turrets. All around the tomb are the graves belonging to the family of the Mujawirs. A few carved stones, apparently representing ruins of some Hindu shrine, are to be seen embedded in the low platform to the south of the tomb.

  • Palace of Shah Suja

This building occupies as one of the finest sites inside the fort and has now been converted into a Jail. Though locally known as the palace of the Mughal Prince Suja, Kuraishi would consider it to be the work of Nawab Mir Qasim Ali, when he had his capital at Munger. The building is enclosed by a high wall on three sides and by the river on the fourth or west side. It consists mainly of a Khas Mahal or Zanana Palace (now used as "the under trial ward"), the Diwane-I-Am or Public Audience Hall (now used as a school for prisoners), and the Top-Khana or Armoury with 10' – 15' thick walls (now used as the dormitory). Attached to the palace, to the west, was once a small mosque, now a flat roof building used as a ration godowns. "On the floor of the mosque" writes Colonel Crow-ford in 1908, "Underneath the centre dome, is a dry well or pit, some ten or twelve feet deep. From this well four sub-terranean passages lead off in different directions".

  • Tomb of Mulla Muhammed Said

Tomb of Mulla Mohammed Said is situated on the bastion at the south-west of the fort. The Mulla was a Persian poet and had come to India from Mazandran near the Caspian Sea, during the reign of the emperor Aurangzeb. The King employed him as a tutor to his daughter Zibunnisa Begum. Later Azim Shah, grandson of Aurangzeb, employed him when he was the viceroy of Bihar. The Mullah died in 1704 A.D. and his tomb existed, till the early years of the 20th Century, when it was demolished and the grave removed. This information is based on the District Gazetteer. But it is seen that Buchanan, who visited Munger hardly hundred year after the Mulla's death, says nothing of him, nor does Hunter mention him in his Statistical Account of the district.


  • The Kashtaharini Ghat on the Ganges

The river takes a bend here towards north, i.e., it becomes Uttara-Vahini, a fact which had made the spot specially sacred to the Hindus. The sanctity of the place may be of considerable antiquity, as is perhaps indicated by the inscription of the Gahadwala King Govind Chandra of Kanauj, which records a grant made by the king after bathing in the Ganges at Mudgagiri on the occasion of Akhshaya Tritiya festival. On the wall of the gateway near the ghat is an inscription of about the 10th century A.D. which mentions the king Bhagiratha and the construction of a Siva temple. Numerous carvings and sculpture have been discovered from this area by Bloch in 1903. An inscribed image of Dhyani Buddha bearing the usual Buddhist Creed is now in the Indian – Museum, Kolkatta.

  • Chandisthana
This spot, with the shrine thereon, is mentioned by Buchanan as Vikrama Chandra which is but "a hole in a rock sacred to Chandi, the Gramadevata of the place. The tradition associates this place with Karna Vikrama. It was held quite sacred during the time of Buchanan. It is not unlikely that an ancient temple may have existed here, but this can be more certainly stated after a careful exploration of the area.