If you like old forts and palaces, you will love Fort Gobindgarh in Amritsar, Punjab. This is a stunning fort located inside the city that was once the heart of the Sikh Empire that stretched from Punjab to Persia. It is also one of the biggest forts in India and is made with stunning architecture that uses the best of Indian traditional building styles and modern European designs. If you are visiting Amritsar, you should definitely visit Fort Gobindgarh and spend the day there.
How to visit
Getting to fort Gobindgarh is very easy. If you are visiting Amritsar and are new to the city, you will not have any problems in locating the monument. It is one of the best-known landmarks here along with the Golden Temple and the Jallianwala Bagh. It is located in downtown Amritsar near the famous Gobindgarh Mandi and is only a short drive from the Golden Temple. Anyone here will direct you to the fort and there are many forms of public transportation that will take you there.
The best way to enjoy the fort is to come here early in the morning and spend the whole day here. The fort has a perimeter that is over a 1000 meters long and has may spaces that parts that are worth exploring by foot. There were over 25 cannons installed here along with 3 bastions connected by a rampart. The main gate is also very impressive and is called the Nalwa Gate after Hari Singh Nalwa while the back entrance is called Kellar Gate.
About Fort Gobindgarh
Built in 1760 by a sect called the “Bhangi Misl” of Dhillon Jats, the fort was rebuilt extensively by Maharaja Ranjit Sigh and renamed “Fort Gobindgarh” after the 10th Sikh Guru, Guru Gobind Singh. It was originally designed to protect the holy city of Amritsar and the nearby Golden Temple from invaders but soon became integral to the Sikh Empire. Maharaja Ranjit Singh found the fort to be the perfect place to house the armory, treasury and central mint of the empire.
The Fort had several large and well-protected areas where all manner of weapons and war supplies were stored in case the fort came under siege. These supplies were also critical in the offensive campaigns and wars fought by the empire in places as faraway as Kashmir and Pakistan. Today, there is a Weapons Museum at the fort that tells us more about the weapons that gave the empire its many military victories.
Besides the Armory, the fort also housed the treasury of the empire. It was here that new coins were minted and stored. Many of these coins were engraved with brave Sikh war heroes and gurus and have now become treasured collector’s items. Besides currency, valuable jewels and treasures were also stored here, including the famous Kohinoor diamond. Some of these coins and valuable items can still be seen in the museums of the fort.
The fort also became famous because it housed the Zamzama Cannon, the biggest canon in the world at that time measuring 14 and a half feet. It was captured by Sikh Armies and bought here to protect the fort as it formed a formidable fixture that scared off invaders. Today, visitors can see a replica of this marvel of modern engineering and can take pictures with it and learn more about its history.
What to do at Fort Gobindgarh
Unfortunately, there are no accommodations for people to stay overnight at the fort but guests can spend the day here and explore this historic masterpiece by themselves. They can walk around its fabled alleys and courtyards and peruse the many museums here that store authentic historic artifacts and Sikh art. They are also many places where visitors can shop for traditional Indian products made from heritage processes developed over hundreds of years.
Guests can also check out the famous Zaika Lane inside the fort that has a plethora of street food stalls that are sampled from famous dishes and snacks from all over India. There is a festive and energetic environment at the fort in the evenings and everyday, there are cultural shows and events that aim to educate and inform the pubic while providing entertainment. The 7D show dedicated to the life and exploits of Maharaja Ranjit Singh is especially very popular with kids.
In the evening, after a day of fun and exploration, guests can treat themselves to a luxurious sit down dinner at the exquisite in house restaurant in Amritsar at the fort called Kesariya Darbar. This restaurant serves top tier traditional Punjabi cuisine using the same recipes that were once served here to royalty and royal guests. The food and drinks are par excellent and many of the dishes are true delicacies that you may have never tasted before.