Revamped Bhim Garh Fort

One of the main attractions of Reasi district is its historical fort built by General Zorawar Singh, the famous Dogra warrior General who is said to have driven away Chinese from Ladakh. The Fort known as Bhim Garh is built on River Anji on a hillock. To bring this historic fort on the tourist circuit, renovation and conservation work, following keen interest having been evinced by the then Governor N.N.Vohra, was taken up by the Tourism Department. As regards cost of the project, considerable amount was donated by Shri Mata Vaishnodevi Shrine Board. Two phased restoration and conservation work on this valuable monument cost an amount of nearly Rs. 6 crore. This fort needed notonly external face lift, repairs and restoration process but internal area too was given a look to add to its lustre . Well, if the aim of the entire exercise was to attract tourists only , it would be tantamount to diluting its importance and relevance from historic as well as cultural angles . We feel the paramount need is the concern as to how such priceless monuments and symbols of proud Dogra heritage were prevented from decaying and ultimately waning in oblivion. There are countless monuments in our Jammu region which loudly call for their preserving and endeavours to somehow bring their glory back the way they should have otherwise managed and cared about to stand tall to remain young in our psyche as also feel them as if in original form while physically visiting these silent tales of past glory. However, having said so, it also cannot be ignored that not only our younger generations should be motivated to get acquainted with the importance of such monuments so that they could feel proud of the legacy and carry the message down to other coming generations, but undertake research activities to know more and in varied form historically and culturally about them with particular reference to the standard of architecture, workmanship, design and allied aspects of these monuments. Since it is an era of sharing of cultural and historical achievements and tourism being the best mode and the channel, it is incumbent upon the Government to devise ways and methods to attract tourism which besides being a medium to spread the impressive beauty and magnificence of our Dogra culture and heritage, would also result in increasing of revenues, incomes and generate other economic activities in the district concerned at micro levels. Such monuments could , therefore, generate enough income and revenue for self sustaining, managing and maintaining their care. The fact that the project of renovation and restoration of this monument should have been a comprehensive project prepared only after consulting experts and taking into consideration all aspects especially how the monument could be promoted and what special features and aspects of the raising of proposed infrastructure should have got preference in order to make it an attraction for tourists , have been found not given due attention. The result is that the whole of the last year by the beginning of which it was all ”complete” in its renovation work and duly handed over by the Tourism Department to Department of Archives, Archaeology and Museums, could not see any footfall of tourists to this monument. While, agreeably , most of the year got washed away in utter dormancy because of the scare of Corona pandemic as human movement was restricted and air and rail traffic were suspended, tourism sector was hit hardest , feeling the greatest impact of the pandemic hence this fort to a larger extent also missed the increasing number of visiting people. Anyway, effortsare needed to be taken to set right those areas where more is needed to be done to see how best to utilize the infrastructure created for the convenience of tourists and local visitors. Basic facilities which are needed by tourists at such places , the management thereof could be mooted to be outsourced for better results and utility . A proper strategy needed to be evolved by the Government, especially by the Tourism Department and others, to attract more tourists. Government could convene a few official meetings and other events occasionally around the complex to generate awareness and importance of the monument so that it got the required push . School and college excursions to the monument like initiatives, needed to be taken. Cultural and festivals related events and mela as needed to be conducted around the complex. Sky is the limit for devising ways to promote tourism, it is the question of mindset and a sincere and strong administrative will.Periodic reviews of bettering the facilities could be a better way to ensure, on continuous basis, the fort remained in the requisite proper limelight