Nurpur formerly known as Dhameri in the ancient times is located in the scenic Kangra district of Himachal Pradesh. The beautiful fort of Dhameri was built by Raja Basu Dev, the then ruler of Pathankot of the Pathania clan in the late 16th century. The historic fort offers a mesmerizing view of Jabhar Khud, a tributary of a rivulet called Chakki.
The fort is impressive in its design and architecture and the wondrous carved panels of animals, figures of men, women, children, kings, gods, goddesses and birds leave you awestruck. Even the carved roof of the fort is magnificent in its structure and detailing. However, the fort is in ruins because of natural conditions as well as the British who destroyed most of the fort in 1849 and whatever was remaining was destroyed during the earthquake of 1905. Though the fort is crumbling, the deep niches, decorative arches and faded paintings add to its grace and elegance.
Legend has it that Nur Jahan, the most beloved wife of Mughal emperor Jahangir visited Dhameri and was so enchanted by the serenity and natural beauty of the valley that the name was changed to Nurpur in honour of her.
There is a very interesting story associated with the history of Brij Raj Swami Temple in the fort. It is said that Raja Jagat Singh of Nurpur visited the Raja of Chittorgarh on the latter’s invitation along with the Raj Purohit. Next to the opulent palace that was assigned to Raja Jagat Singh and his priest was a temple. When the king went to rest at night, he heard the distinctive sound of ghungroos and music emanating from inside the temple.
He listened for a few moments and then decided to take a peek inside the temple where he found a woman dancing in the room singing hymns in front of the idol of Shree Krishna. Astounded by what he had just seen, the Raja quickly narrated the events to his trusty priest. The priest understood the sanctity of the events that had transpired as well as that those idols of Shree Krishna and Meera were very much alive. He pondered over the matter for a few minutes and suggested that he ask for those idols from the Raja of Chittorgarh as a gift.
Raja Jagat Singh did as he was told the following morning. Either the Raja of Chittorgarh did not know that the idols of Shree Krishna and Meera were much real or he did not want to violate the dharma of a guest who had been invited by him – whatever the reason might have been, he happily gifted those idols as well as the tree of Maulashree to Raja Jagat Singh.
Raja Jagat Singh who was still under the spell of the astonishing sight that he had witnessed at night gave the design for the temple to his counsel and installed these idols in the grounds of the fort. The idol of Meera is made of ashtadhatu and the idol of Shree Krishna is made of black marble in the ancient Rajasthani style. It is one of the few places where both Shree Krishna and Meera Bai are worshiped together.
Raja converted his royal court into a temple for the Lord and decorated the entire temple with paintings depicting the various leelas of Lord Krishna. Some of these paintings are still there and stand testament to the erstwhile beauty of the temple, but a part of it has been whitewashed even though the fort and temple are under the protection of Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).
Written by Lakshmi Subramanian
* Photos are only symbolic (Taken from public domain/internet and any copyright infringement is unintentional and regrettable)