Forts of Kumoan
Destinations Covered : Malla Mahal, Rani Mahal, Banasur Fort, Rajbhunga Fort, Pithoragarh Fort, Didihaat, Askot
Kumaon was home to several forts built by dynasties like Chands and Katyuris. The Malla Mahal at Almora is one such fort offering a panoramic view of the Almora Bazar. The site of the 6th century Ram Shila temple which has exquisite sculptures, the fort was built by King Rudra Chand in the 16th century.
The stone fortress was subsequently the seat of power of the Gurkhas and the British who established their centre here under Commissioner G.W. Traill. It was from Malla Mahal that the administration of Almora was controlled.
Another seat of power was Chamapawat, home to the forts of Banasur and Raj Bunga. The Banasur fort is named after demon Banasur whose daughter, as per legends, fell in love with Lord Krishna’s grandson Anirudh. It was here that the lovers hid from Banasur but were ultimately caught. Lord Krishna came to his grandson’s rescue when the demon declared war on Anirudh.
The second fortress Raj Bunga was built by King Som Chand for whom the fort proved to be lucky, as predicted by a saint. He was advised to migrate northwards from Allahabad for success which he found at Champawat and built his fort here. Rudra Chand fulfilled his father’s dream of conquering the fortress at Sira, Didihat which was in the region called Askot, a corruption of Ashtakot or eight forts. The region could have had eight forts once upon a time.
Another fort under the local kingdoms but subsequently used by the Gurkhas and British for administration was the Pithoragarh fort. Made of stone, the fort also has a plaque which says that the town sent its men to the First World War in the colonial period.