The foundation of the Gobindgarh Fort was laid in the mid 18th century by the leader of the Bhangi misl (clan). The imposing brick and lime structure, though locally known as the Bhangian Da Kila, derives its formal name from Guru Gobind Singh. Historically, possession of the fort was considered akin to possessing power over Punjab’s religious and political centres. It fell into Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s hands in the early 19th century during his expansionist missions. He further strengthened the walls of the fort and built a moat around it, adding several strong bastions to the structure.
It is said to have housed the Maharaja’s treasury, including the famed Kohinoor diamond within its walls. Legend has it that Ranjit Singh was coveting the legendary cannon Zamzama (which finds mention in Rudyard Kipling’s Kim), reportedly fashioned for Ahmad Shah Abdali out of metal utensils looted from Lahore. It was appropriated by the Bhangis and housed within Gobindgarh fort. Following his annexation of Amritsar, the cannon was transported to Lahore by Maharaja Ranjit Singh for use in subsequent expeditions and today, it stands sentinel outside the Lahore Museum.
One of the most striking and historic edifices of Amritsar, this is the only surviving fort from the times of Maharaja Ranjit Singh. It has had a continuous historical narrative including events from the struggle for independence. This historical layering is also visible in the fort’s distinct military architectural style and layout. It comprises two concentric layers of fortified walls with bastions and is entered through two successive gateways. The inner enclosure includes numerous buildings which have an obvious colonial look and feel about them. Currently under renovation, it will soon be thrown open to public visits.