The historical Bahu Fort has a significant role in the ongoing nine-day festival of Navratras and the upcoming Jammu Festival, which begins on April 13.
For paying obeisance to the nine deities in Navratras, Hindu devotees daily visit Bahu Fort as it houses Maa Kali Temple - a revered shrine installed by Maharaja Gulab Singh. Besides, the upcoming Jammu Festival will see the fort decorated for a number of events featuring songs, drama and dances.
Located imposingly on a plateau at a height of 325 metres above the sea level measured from the surface of the panoramic Tawi river, Bahu Fort, which was built by King Bahulochan in 1350 BC, has both mythical as well as strategic importance for the people of Jammu who revere the fort as a symbol of religious obeisance besides being a saviour against enemy attack.
“Like almost all other forts in Jammu region, Bahu Fort, too, had a temple inside its premises which the erstwhile princely rulers built as a shrine for obeisance. Secondly, the installation of ‘Maa Kali’ idol in it relates to Maharaja Gulab Singh who is said to have dreamt about Maa Kali’s idol being desecrated at Gujranwala, now in Pakistan. So he brought the idol for installation in the Bahu Fort temple,” says Bittu Pujari, who manages the sanctum of the temple. The fortified structure has walls made of sandstone and has eight octagonal towers which have enclosures to house guards. The fort was declared as a state-protected monument under the Ancient Monument Preservation Act, 1920, said Peerzada Mohammad Ashraf, former deputy director, Directorate of Archives, Archeology and Museums.
The 1971 Indo-Pak war gave Bahu Fort an insignia of saviour for the people of Jammu. The legend has it that Pakistan aircraft which flew midnight with bombs and ammunition to blow off the only steel bridge on the Tawi river to snap J&K’s link with the rest of the country failed to accomplish their mission as the fort stood as a vision-blocker for the enemy in locating the target. Brig Anil Gupta, however, attributes the enemy’s failure to technical incompetence of the bomber aircraft and the layout of Jammu region. “There is no truth to it but the fact is that Pakistan raiders could not blow off the bridge link due to its technical incompetence to carry precision-guided munitions. The speed with which the American sabre jets and Chinese star aircrafts took off and came down failed to pinpoint the target due to smaller vision of the bridge and greater expanse of the Tawi river,” said Brigadier Gupta.