Arki was the capital of the princely Hill state of Baghal, which was founded by Rana Ajai Dev, a Panwar Rajput from Dhar state in Central India. The state was founded around 1643 and Arki was declared its capital by Rana Sabha Chand in 1650. Now, Arki Fort is a converted hotel and lovely to visit.
The Arki Fort was built between 1800 and 1805 by Rana Prithvi Singh, a descendent of Sabha Chand. The fort was captured by the Gurkhas in 1806. Rana Jagat Singh, the ruler of Baghal, had to take refuge in Nalagarh. From 1806 to 1815, the Gurkha General Amar Singh Thapa used Arki as his stronghold to make further advances into Himachal Pradesh as far as Kangra.
The Gurkhas were, however, driven out by Rana Jagat Singh assisted by Sir David Ochterlony and the British forces during the Gurkha War in 1815/1816.Thereafter Rana Jagat Singh regained control of Arki.
Rana Kishan Singh, who ruled the state from 1840 to 1867, developed the town of Arki in a planned manner. The Rana was a far-sighted ruler and built horse and mule tracks to connect Arki with Shimla and Bilaspur. Many artisans, scholars and businessman from other parts of India settled in Arki during his reign as he provided them with tax free land free of cost.
The Rana was a patron of arts and had muralled interiors installed in the Arki Fort in 1850. The murals are a prime attraction among tourists today.
The Last ruler of Baghal was Shri Raja Rajander Singh (1928/2010) who overhauled the administration and introduced radical constitutional reforms. After Indian independence he was an M.L.A., 1st Commandant General of Home Guards, Director of Civil Defence. During the Indian Rebellion of 1857, Rana Kishan Singh assisted the British forces and for which he was presented the title of Raja. Another revolt was suppressed in 1905 with the help of the superintendent of Shimla Hill States. This was as payback for the support he had received earlier to drive Gurkha out.