South of the ghats, on the opposite side of the river, the residence of the maharaja of Varanasi, Ramnagar Fort looks down upon the Ganges. The best views of the fortifications – especially impressive in late afternoon – are to be had from the bridge to the fort, which is reached by a road heading south from the BHU area. This was previously a seasonal pontoon bridge, but that is now being replaced with a new permanent bridge – while that is under construction, shared autos to the fort from the BHU are taking a detour via the next crossing south. The fort can also be reached by chartering a boat from Dashaswamedh Ghat.
Inside, the fort bears testimony to the wealth of the maharaja and his continuing influence. A dusty and poorly kept museum provides glimpses of a decadent past: horse-drawn carriages, old motor cars, palanquins, ornate gilded and silver howdahs (elephant seats), hookahs, costumes and old silk in a sorry state are all part of the collection, along with an armoury, some minute ivory carvings, an astronomical clock and hunting trophies. Some visitors have reported having tea with the affable maharaja after chance encounters.