Thursday, April 17, 2014

A Visit to Kamlah Fort and Baba Kamlahiya of Sarkaghat, Mandi, H.P.


Kamlah is located in the lap of the Shivalik Hills, on the south of the Dhauladhar and Beas river. The nearest small towns are Dharampur and Sandhol which lie in the Sarkaghar tehsil of mandi district of Himachal Pradesh. 


Just with co-incidence I had to visit my sister living at Bhartpur (Bharauri) located at only about 15 KM distance back from Kamlah fort towards Dharmpur(Sarkaghat).

This was a fine day to take the opportunity to visit the Kamlah Fort and Kamlahia Baba Temple which is inside the fort itself.
I was told by my relatives that road to the KAmlah fort is not in good condition and buses are only few, so it was wise enough to ride my 100 cc, TVS Sport Star. The road is not in good condition and if you have some tougher option, such as Bullet, that would be better.

  • How to Reach Kamlah Fort?

This is only at about 100 km distance from Mandi town via Dharmpur. If you are from some far state or districts, then I must tell you that in order to reach Kamlah fort, you have to come to Dharmpur.  Nearest Railway is a narrow gauge at Joginder Nagar(around 50km) to Pathankot. Nearest Airports are Gaggal Airport(Kangra) and Buntar Airport(Kullu).
Mata Sakraini Temple, on the right side, on the way to Kamlah Fort, clicked on 16th April, 2014

This fort is on Sarkaghat-Joginder(Sarkaghat-Baijnath) Nagar road via Dharmpur. Either from  Sarkaghat or Joginder Nagar go to Dharmpur and then from Dharmpur you have to turn on to the Sandhol road but the temple is at a further left turn of about 5 to 6km.

Kamlah Fort, Sarkaghat, Mandi (H.P.) - clicked on 16-04-2014
Once you reach Chamba Naun, you may take the footsteps to travel a distance of about 1.5 km or you may choose vehicle on road which goes to the base of the fort. You will get help of any person which you meet on the way so, it is easy to reach the place.

  • Brief History of the Kamlah Fort:

According to a Himachal Tourism website, construction of Kamlah garh(fort) got started under the ruler-ship of Raja(King) Hari Sen. From strategic point of view Sikandar-Dhar was best spot for constructing a fort so, this was completed by his son Suraj Sen  in 1625.
History of Kamlah Fort written in Hindi (clicked on 16th April, 2014)
As of 18th April 2014, fort still stands in somewhat poor condition at a height of about 4772 feet (1454 Meters). This remained in-vincible for many years until 1840, when it fell into the hands of Bentura, Maharaja Ranjit Singh's general. In 1846 control was restored back into the hands of the Mandi state kings.

Mughals also tried to conquer the fort before Maharaja Ranjit Singh but failed in their minds itself to plan an attack on such an invincible fort. Kings have their own history of attacks and reasons of attack but a story is told by the locals that when army of Ranjit Singh conquered the fort, Rani(Queen) who was kept hiding at Rani Gufa(Queen's Cave) inside the fort, jumped from a height before getting into the hands of enemies alive.

  • What Stands now:
When you step up on a vertical path to reach the main entrance of the fort, you can imagine how difficult this was to conquer the fort. More than that it was difficult to build the fort, its hard to even imagine how they might have carried those heavy stones to the top.

Kamlah Fort's main entrance on 16-04-2014 , Sarkaghat, Mandi(H.P.)

Sikandar-Dhar is somewhat different than other mountains,this contains angular edges and  on some faces this is absolutely 90 degrees vertical. One can see that the fort is now degrading due to the weathering actions but I saw that work of repairing and cleaning was undergoing.

3rd main entrance of the Kamlah Fort, clicked on 16th April 2014

Paths are constructed with the Marble tiles which are offered as a gift to the Kamlah Baba by the worshipers. Queen's cave(Rani ki Gufa) is now utilized as a shelter to the goats offered by the people to the Kamlah Baba.
Kamlah Fort clicked on 16th April, 2014

I inquired the goat keeper and got to know that goats are auctioned for sale. Cutting the animals in the name of God is now prohibited and I was happy to know that. On the top of mountain stands a simple temple of Kamlahiya Baba. Construction work was under its way to enlarge the temple to some what larger dimensions.
This is Queen's Cave(Rani ki Gufaa), now utilized for safekeeping of the Goats and sheep of Baba Kamlahiya

You will find some monkeys roaming around the temple and there are stories that they snatch if something interests them so, please beware. I was alone but, I was not carrying anything such as fruits and purse in hand which might interest them but, I was worried about my camera.
Locals go singing, chanting in groups from villages to worship the local deity, they are known as Jataru in local language of Madyali.

  • Who is Baba Kamlahiya?
Ancient tale goes like this, two saints Baba Balak-nath and Baba Kamlahiya traveled to the holy state of Himachal Pradesh from Jammu and chose two different places for their meditation and worship.
Baba Kamlahiya at, Kamlah Fort, Sarkaghat, Mandi(H.P.) - clicked on 16-04-2014
Baba-Balaknath went to Deot-sidh near to Shah-talai in Kangra and Baba Kamlahiya started to live at this place.
On top of the mountain, below a tree, he used to meditate and worship and was offered milk by a local old lady. One day that lady delayed the offering which made him to wait, so, he asked the reason for the delay but, old lady got angry and yelled and cursed him.
Baba returned empty handed and never went back to ask for anything. They searched him but he was not found anywhere but one day, a shepherd noticed something un-usual happening.
Baba Kamlahiya Temple, as stood on 16th April, 2014

He saw that one of his sheep was spraying milk at the same place where Baba used to worship and meditate. Within short time his number of sheep and goats started to grow and his business boomed. People started believing that Baba has left his body but he was still present at the place under that tree.

They put a statue at the base of the tree and started to worship him.This belief gets reinforced with a numbers of stories of getting people's wishes fulfilled which they pray from this lord. Tree was old and dried so, they cut the tree and constructed a temple in which they enshrined him.

For a short video clip of the visit, please visit:

Thanks for your kind visit!