| केसरिया बालम आवोनी, पधारो म्हारे देश जी |
~ My beloved, come and visit my place ~
The quoted folk song of Rajasthan intones the land’s warm hospitality to welcome all. “The Land of Maharajas”, Rajasthan is a state located in north-western part of India. Famed for its exotic forts, palaces, monuments and heritage buildings, Rajasthan is a sought after tourism destination. In this travel blog, we will highlight 6 extraordinary hill forts of Rajasthan withstanding the test of time.
Best Time To Visit Rajasthan
The Climate of Rajasthan is generally arid or semi-arid which characterizes blistering heat in the summer and bleak winter. The best seasons to visit Rajasthan is from September to March as days are sunny, not too humid, with cooler nights. The month of September bids farewell to Monsoon and becomes hospitable, October and November months bring out festivities in full swing and in March, euphoric Holi paints the kingly state bursting with colors. The months of chill are acute, but better than scorching heat in my personal opinion.
Connectivity To Rajasthan
Jaipur, the capital city of Rajasthan state is only 235KM from Delhi and is well connected by air, road or Indian Railways. A journey of not more than 6 hours will take you to the pink city from Delhi. Other Rajasthan cities are easily accessible from Jaipur and different ranges of public or private vehicles can transport you to any part of vibrant Rajasthan. In this blog, we will highlight 4 fascinating cities of Rajasthan, namely, Jaipur, Chittor, Jodhpur and Jaisalmer – dwelling of 6 iconic hill forts of Rajasthan.
- Amer / Amber Fort – Jaipur
- Chittorgarh Fort – Chittor
- Jaigarh Fort – Jaipur
- Jaisalmer Fort – Jaisalmer
- Mehrangarh Fort – Jodhpur
- Nahargarh Fort – Jaipur
The Astounding Amer or Amber Fort, Jaipur
In Brief : Amer Fort
Amer Fort or Amber Fort is located in Amer, a town near Jaipur, the capital city of Rajasthan. Raja Man Singh, ruler from the Kachhwaha clan of Rajputs began construction in 1592 and the fort, which was built as a strong, safe haven against attacking enemies, was completed by Mirja Raja Jai Singh. The striking fort, built with red sandstone and marble is in perfect mélange of Hindu and Muslim architecture is designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
History of Amer Fort
The city of Amer was the home town of princess Jodha- the Consort of Akbar. Raja Man Singh was an ally in the court of Akbar. Due to this, many structures in Amer fort are influenced by Mughal style architecture and reflected in every nook and corner of this trumphant fort. Also exquisite Rajputana elements peak through its architecture. The palace features large ramparts and quite a few elaborate gateways with cobbled paths which add a solemn aura to the fort. The carvings and ornamentations on the walls and ceilings of the palace are exemplars of the artistry of the Rajput craftsmen and architects.
In & Around Amer Fort
Perched on “Cheel ka Teela” (Hill of Eagles) of Aravalli ranges, the sturdy fort overlooks Maota Lake, the main source of water for the Amer Palace. One of the major attractions of this fort are tamed elephants embellished in colorful velvets, synonymous with Indian royalty – the power and opulence Indian kingdoms once constituted. Every year a great many tourists throng the Amber Fort to mount on these majestic elephants up the vertical ascend to the entrance of the Amer Fort. Although I decided against riding those lofty elephants, instead trekked my way up the hill. The elevation of the fort presented perfect panorama of Jaipur cityscape in my conquest. Whilst I was engrossed with my camera lenses focusing on the vantage points, I was about to be crushed by an enormous elephant, if not for a fellow passenger who alerted me. On rush hours, the hilly road could be cramped by sightseers and the elephants keep coming one after another. If you are commuting on foot, you need to watch out for those bigfoot beasts. Enthusiasts can also enjoy sound and light shows depicting historical accounts on Amer Fort and bask in its royal splendor.
Indulge yourself in a soothing stroll in and around the fort complex. You will be taken aback by the grandiosity of the then lords, especially in the third courtyard which houses royal palaces. Since the fort complex is enormous, it could take hours to saunter, so you can opt for a jeep or golf buggy, services available within the Amer Fort territory.
Intricate Architecture of Amer Fort
Architecture of amazing Amer Fort is a proclamation of Rajput extravagance and an unmissable landmark of Jaipur. The palace is quartered into four parts; each with an open courtyard, offering breathtaking view of the fort and the adjoining Aravalli hills. Beautiful sunrises and sunsets can be captured in wide angel shots standing on the palace courtyards. No wonder Amer Fort scores as my all time favorite fort in India.
The palace features many sublime structures, such as – the ornate gateway Ganesh Pol, Sukh Niwas (The Pleasure Hall), dazzling Sheesh Mahal or the mirror palace, Jai Mandir, Diwan-i-Khas (The house of ministers) and the Diwan-i-Aam (The house of Public). The prodigious Ganesh Pol gate is the center of attraction at the Amer Fort. Bedecked with alluring frescoes, the gate opened into the king’s private quarters and a beautiful Mughal styled garden separated its twin buildings. Sheesh Mahal or the Mirror Palace is embellished with glass enameled panels and multi-mirrored ceilings, the bewitching Sukh Niwas or the Hall of Pleasure with its ivory embedded sandalwood doors was the amusement expanse of the sovereign and every inch of it was etched in romance. The Jai Mandir is also been noted for its stunning marble relief panels. A visit to these medieval buildings transport visitors back to the glorious era of kings and emperors. Vigorous paintings of famous Rajput chiefs adorn the walls of the palace unveiling regal lifestyle and family history of the monarchs.
The Amer or Amber Fort is replete with inspiring stories of grit and grandeur of the Rajput kings. If you are a travel and photography enthusiast, Amer fort should be at the top of your bucket list.
Photography Tips For Amer Fort
Amer Fort in Jaipur is a photographer’s paradise and you will want to have your camera handy while touring. It is often considered as one of the most Instagrammable spots in India. Here are few points to take notice before you chalk out your itinerary.
- To use a tripod is forbidden throughout the grounds, and there is security staff consistently patrolling each area of Amer Fort. Nevertheless, if you enter to the fort premises early in the morning, you may be able to get some pictures before the gurds ward you off!
- To avoid crowds in your exclusive Amer Fort shots, we recommend arriving as early as possible.
- Keep your camera equipment secures to avoid theft.
Summary : Amer Fort In A Nut-Shell
Location: It is located in the small town of Amer, which is about 11 km from Jaipur.
Timings: 8 am to 5.30 pm and from 6:30 pm to 9:15 pm.
The Amer Palace is quite vast and takes upto 4-5 hours to take a complete tour. If you are unable to walk to the fort, you can catch a jeep or golf buggy instead, the latter being the cheapest option.
Entry Fee: Rs. 550 per person for foreign nationals and Rs. 100 for Indians.
Amer fort elephant safari: The elephant ride uphill to the the fort entrance is a thrilling experience and the fare is Rs.1100 for two people. It takes about 30 minutes for the elephant to plod up the hill. If you plan on taking the elephant ride, try to reach there early in the morning to avoid long queues in the later hours.
Amer Fort Light & Sound Show: If you happen to visit the Amer Fort after dark, the show will be an added pearl to the multitude of memories you’ll take with you. The ticket for the show is available at the ticket counter for Rs.100.
The Jaunty Jaigarh Fort, Jaipur
In Brief : Jaigarh Fort
The Jaigarh Fort is a monumental bastion commissioned in 1726 AD by Sawai Jai Singh II. This almost unscathed fort, also known as the “Fort of Victory” is surrounded by huge castellation and is connected to the Amer Fort or Amber Fort, with subterranean transits. Intended to safeguard the Amer Fort and the palace within the complex, the Jaigarh Fort is architecturally similar to the Amer Fort. Situated on the promontory called the “Cheel ka Teela” or the Hill of Eagles, Jaigarh Fort is located at a height of 500 feet above sea level and offers a wide-ranging visibility of the city of Jaipur.
History of Jaigarh Fort
Amer, the city in which the forts of Jaigarh and Amber are located, was governed by the Kachawahas from the early 10th century. During the Mughal dynasty, the Jaigarh Fort became the empire’s main cannon foundry and was also used as storage refuge for munitions for combats. The Jaigarh fort was never conquered in battle and is proclaimed as the strongest of all forts in Jaipur. Under the Mughal regime, the fort endured an ambush by Aurangzeb who defeated and killed his own brother Dara Shikoh, the overseer of the cannon outpost in the fort. After a while, the fort was handed over to Jai Singh II who proudly forged the mighty “Jaivana Cannon”, the world’s largest cannon using the devices of the depository. Since the fort never encountered any major resistance afterwards, and the celebrated cannon only test-fired, once!
Architecture of Jaigarh Fort : What’s inside
Taking after the name of his highness Jai Singh II, the Jaigarh Fort was designed by a dexterous architect called Vidhyadhar. Built with hefty walls of red sandstone, spreading over a vast range of 3 KM in length and 1 KM in width, the fort is an exalted cue of the city’s prosperous past. The noteworthy structures built inside the Jaigarh Fort are:
Jaigarh Fort has a square shaped garden, named “Charbagh” and is laid out in an area of 50 square meters. Divided in four quarters proportionately, each part of the garden has blossoming of different flowers. The garden is located in the courtyard of the fort.
The palaces of the fort have spacious halls and court rooms. The gateway to the palaces is triple arched and is painted with red and yellow colors. The latticed windows inside the palaces add an extra zing to the look and feel of the fort architecture. You will find central watch tower installed on an uplifted platform. Another prominent element is the ‘Awani Darwaza” from wherea view of Sagar Lake can be cherished.
The armory chamber of yesteryears is displayed for the tourists with an extensive collection of weapons like swords, muskets, guns, and cannon balls. Paintings of Maharajas like Sawai Bhavani Singh and Major General Man Singh (one of the senior officers in Indian army) are furnished in the walls of the chamber.
One of the pivotal attractions of Jaigarh fort is the Jaivana cannon, the largest cannon on wheel famously developed in 1720 during the reign of Sawai Jai Singh II. The cannon was fired just once to test its range, when it was filled with gunpowder of 100kg and after shooting, the range was found to be around 35km. The length of the barrel is 6.15m and weight is 50 tons.
Summary : Jaigarh Fort In A Nutshell
Visiting Time – 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM
Cost of Entry for Indians – INR 70 per head
Cost of Entry for Foreigner – INR 150 per head
Visit Duration: Minimum 1 hour to scout the entire fort complex
The Notable Nahargarh Fort, Jaipur
Brief History of Nahargarh Fort
The noticeable fortification called Nahargarh Fort was built originally to protect the city of Jaipur from looters, along with Jaigarh Fort but the fort was never under any attack during its course in history. Although Nahargarh Fort was a bystander to many historical events such as the Maratha Treaty and shelter to the European nationals. The fort commissioned in 1734 by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II, the founder of Jaipur, encompasses a larger than life structure that would not only shield the city but augment its appeal and luxuriance. Originally named ‘Sudarshangarh Fort’, but later changed to Nahargarh meaning “Abode of Tigers” as the area was once frequented by the royal animal. Another theory surfaces that the fort was cursed by the spectre of Nahar Singh during its construction and the name “Nahargarh” was ushered upon the fort to pacify the spirit of the Rathore Prince. Also a temple was built inside the fort dedicated to prince Nahar Singh.
Hence, the aura of Nahargarh Fort is blended in Folklore and history. The interiors of this prominent fort, a perfect fusion of Rajput and European styles will render a glimpse into the times and lives of an era gone by. Located on the oldest mountain range of the world, Aravalli Hills, the fort presents a multifaceted view of the entire Jaipur city and a prime tourist destinations of Jaipur. At any time of the day, the fort is a feast for the eyes standing in its full glory but in the evenings, the fort looks like a dream shimmering with modern-day luminescence. You must plan to visit the fort after dark to get an awesome vision of Jaipur city-lights.
The fort underwent multiple renovations between 1883 to 1892 by the then Maharaja of Jaipur, Sawai Ram Singh.
#Trivia- The palace was initially constructed as a harmonious refuge for the royals, looking over Jaipur city from the ridge.
#Trivia- During the Indian Rebellion of 1857, the then ruler of the region Sawai Ram Singh provided protection to many Europeans who were accommodated in the fort.
#Trivia- Nahargarh Fort is a popular film shooting location. Some of the Bollywood films shot here include Rang De Basanti, Jodha Akbar, among others.
Exploring The Architecture of Nahargarh Fort
A timeless symbol of Indo-European architecture, Nahargarh Fort inhabits several distinguished structures. The fort is said to be over 700 feet tall. To the left of the fort, there is “Tadigate”, an entrance adjoined with a temple dedicated to the deity of the Jaipur monarchs. Beside the main temple, situated is the temple dedicated to the Rathore Prince Nahar Singh Bhomia. Inside the fortress, will appear a two-storey building, called “Madhavendra Bhawan” built by Sawai Madho Singh, housing royal suites for the king and his 12 queens, which is further divided into 9 quarters or similar apartments, with each having a lobby, bedroom, kitchen, toilets and store. The queens apartments are identical in nature and were constructed in such a manner that the king could be reticent of which queen he was visiting. The other significant structure inside the palace is “Diwan-i-aam” or the House of Commoners, an open air enclosure where the Rajput rulers interacted with their loyal subjects. The hallways of the fort are intricately frescoed deriving inspirations from both European and Rajput patters. The delicate minakari works exhibited along the corridors and connecting chambers are surely for your visual treats.
Photography At Nahargarh Fort
In and around Nahargarh Fort, travelers will find many vantage points to have a peek at the surrounding area, the Jaipur cityscape – opportune moments for shutterbugs to adjust their lenses and click unforgettable landscape shots. Nahargarh fort is a photographer’s paradise preferring history, scenic views and medieval architecture. Professional photographers should be equipped with night-time imaging accessories to shoot the illuminated fort and the city it stands guard.
Summary : Nahargarh Fort In A Nutshell
- Nahargarh Fort is a massive area and walking around may consume several hours. Visitors are recommended to come prepared for that.
- Cycling and trekking are two activities allowed inside the Nahargarh Fort and tourists can opt for organized trips which are chargeable.
- Do not miss out the Nahargarh Biological Park located within the fort premises – royal history holding hands with bountiful nature, that is the specialty of Nahargarh Fort.
- Entrance Fee: Rs. 50/- per person for Indian Nationals and Rs. 200/- per head for foreign tourists.
- Opening Hours: 10:00 AM – 5:30 PM
- Visit Duration: Approximately 2-3 hours.
The Charming Chittorgarh Fort, Chittor
In Brief : Chittorgarh Fort
On the Berach River, a tributary of the Banas River lies Chittor District in the southern part of Rajasthan – home to the Chittorgarh Fort, the largest fort in India and Asia. The legendary fort of Chittorgarh is infused with medieval Indian history and today, the fort amazes thousands of visitors from around the world. Once the capital of Mewar, the celebrated fort was a safe haven from the combatants. A symbol of overwhelming power and rare heights of luxury, Chittorgarh fort resonates with heroic tales. Owing to its magnificent edifice and display of Rajput culture in truest form, the Chittorgarh Fort was declared a UNESCO’s World Heritage Site in the year 2013.
Chronicles of the Chittorgarh Fort
Earlier the fort of Chittorgarh was known as Chitrakut. Chitrangada Maurya or Chitrang Mori was a chieftain of the Mori Dhangar clan who laid the foundation of the fort of Chittorgarh. According to myths, Bhima (one of the Pandava brothers of Maharabharata epic) struck the ground here, which resulted in water springing up to form a large reservoir. The water body allegedly formed by Bhima is an artificial tank called Bhimlat Kund. In the 8th century, the fort was taken into control by Guhila leader Bappa Rawal. This sturdy fort since then witnessed reigns of many monarchs reverberating many historical events. The fort was impounded not once by thrice by ruthless intruders. The Hindu Rajput chieftains of Chittor fought fiercely to maintain their sovereignty.
In 1303, the Delhi Sultanate tyrant Alaudddin Khalji led an army to conquer Chittorgarh, which was ruled by the Guhila King Ratnasimha. The infamous Sultan coveted the beguiling queen of Mewar, Padmavati. To avoid captivity the Rajput women committed suicide jumping into flames and Rajput men killed themselves to avoid slavery.
The Fort flourished during the reign of Rana Kumbha in 15th century and 84 structures were built inside the fort for its defense. Later, in 1535 the fort fell into the hands of Sultan Bahadur Shah of Gujarat. It is said that a similar mass sacrifice happened in 16th century when the Sultan captured the fort. Later, the fort was taken over by Mughal Emperor Akbar and remained under the Mughals, until British took assumed power over whole India.
Chittorgarh evokes memories of dauntless Rajput men and women in the intermittent battles that they had to fight against raiders from Northwest or Delhi. Chittor witnessed both the ravages of war and the triumphs of the spirit. The city of Chittor stands strewn with monuments and battlements as evidence of the blood and gore that it went through in medieval times.
Incredible Architecture of Chittorgarh fort
The fort of Chittor is deemed as one of the most outstanding forts of India and is irrefutably the “Pride of Rajasthan State”. The formidable fort sprawls over a 600 feet high hillock covering a massive area of 700 acres above the plains of the valley drained by the Berach River. A standing sentinel to the courage and valor of Chittorgarh, this honey colored fort is sturdy as well as visually stunning. The awe-inspiring fort with its palatial complexes, gates and temples never ceases to astound tourists. Shaped as a large fish with a length of 5 KM and circumference of 13 KM, the fort was built on the basis of Rajput architecture though ideas like vaulted substructures belong to Muslim architecture. After walking around 1 KM on a limestone bridge, constructed over river Gambhir, a tributary of Berach river, you will find yourself in a six-gateway fort occupying a large portion of the plateau. The rest of the plateau is almost barren except for a few temples and a rusted loop road that runs through the region. There is so much to explore in this rock island and many legends to hear. Almost near crumbling, the fort holds many unparalleled structures that everyone should visit before it goes into dust with passage of time.
The fort, which is also known as Water Fort, contained 84 water bodies inside its grounds, of which 22 exist today. The fort covers 65 historic structures, which include four palaces, 19 large temples, 20 water bodies, 4 memorials and a few victory towers.
Major Tourist Attractions of Chittorgarh
There are several structures inside the fort of Chittorgarh, built during different eras. Let us highlight here 3 crucial sopts:
1. Vijaya Stambha or The Tower of Victory
Adjoining Rana Kumbha’s Palace stands Vijay Stambh, a nine-storied tower made of red stone. It is the landmark victory tower for Mewar monarchy and is the focal point of fascination in the whole Chittorgarh Fort. It was raised in 1440 AD by Rana Kumbha to celebrate his triumph over the combined armies of Malwa and Gujarat sultanates led by Sultan Mahmud Khilji. The tower is dedicated to Lord Vishnu. If permissible, climb 157 stairs to reach the top floor of the victory tower to look over a panorama of the fort. The illumination of the tower after dark makes it more enticing.
Surajpol is the eastern gate of the fort. It is the main entrance of the fort and offers a fabulous view of the plains.
Right opposite to the gate, there is Neelkanth Mahadev Jain Temple.
To the north of the gate, you will find the 22 meters tall Tower of Fame, also known as Kirti Stambha built by a Jain merchant namely Jeeja Bhagerwala during the reign of Rawal Kumar Singh. This tower is dedicated to Jain Tirthankar and has many carvings of the Tirthankar. The tower has seven levels and a stairwell allowing access to the top of the tower. The tower is illuminated in the evening and looks even more appealing.
3. Padmini Palace
Towards the south of the fort, near the 8th century sun temple dedicated to Goddess Kali, lies the palace of Maharani Padmavati, fondly called as Rani Padmini, the queen of Mewar. It is said that the gates of this palace were later taken by Akbar for his Agra Fort.
The Legend of Queen Padmavati
The Rawal of Mewar, Ratnasimha, also known as Ratan Singh or Ratan Sen fell in love with the daughter of the king of Singhal kingdom, the then Sri Lanka. Following a chain of events Rawal Ratan Sen and Padmavati wedded but an enmity ensued between Padmavati and the first wife of Ratan Sen, Nagmati. Raghav Chetan, a Brahmin, banished by Ratan Sen from his court for fraud, reached Alauddin Khalji, the sultan of Delhi and was full of praises for Rani Padmavati, the enchantress. Alauddin was hell-bent on acquiring her and hence, besieged Chittor.
It is said the Alauddin caught a glimpse of Queen Padmini’s reflection on a series of mirror and was impressed. For the sole purpose of capturing her, he decided to attack the fort. It is said that he waged a war for 8 months, before imprisoning King Ratnasimha, the ill-fated husband of Queen Padmini. After the fall of Mewar King, the women inside the fort along with Queen Padmini sacrificed themselves in a pyre of fire rather than submit to invaders. This mass immolation is called ‘Jauhar’ and epitomizes the fiery spirit of the Rajput women. The men of the fort also killed themselves with their swords. Later, Alauddin handed over the fort to his son, Khidr Khan.
Thus each stone on the fort of Chittorgarh is inlaid with sagas of bravery and hecatomb by men and women to uphold Rajput pride and that inspires the narrative of Chittorgarh Fort. The anecdotes of Queen Padmavati is penned down in many literatures – poems, novels which immortalized the endurance of her, bestowing Rani Padmini a cult following in Rajasthan households. A magnum opus Bollywood movie named “Padmavat”, a biopic of the fierce queen popularized the epic of Maharani Padmavati throughout India and abroad.
Summary : Chittorgarh Fort In A Nutshell
- Go footloose inside the fort complex surveying the territory. You can hire a licensed guide to identify vital architectural structures.
- For elderly visitors, opt for vehicle exploration as it would take around two to three hours to cover the fort.
- Climb up the victory tower to get an all-encompassing view of the fort and the surrounding region.
- Visit during the Rajput annual festival to enjoy processions and other cultural activities inside the fort.
- Children will enjoy feeding the fishes in the water reservoir.
- Contemplate the fort from a distance after sunset. The fort will be painted with different hues.
- You can stay back for sound and light show which is conducted for half an hour, every evening. The show covers the history of the fort from King Chitrangada to current date.
Visiting Time – 9:45 AM to 6:30 PM
Cost of Guide – INR 400 for four hours (available for on-foot or vehicle tours)
Cost of Vehicle – INR 500 per trip (Vehicles can hold up to 4 tourists)
Cost of Entry for Indians – INR 50 per head; INR 25 for students and senior citizens
Cost of Entry for Foreigner – INR 200 per head
Sound and Light Show – INR 100 per head (Tuesdays and Fridays for English narration shows and rest of the week for Hindi narration shows)
The Marvelous Mehrangarh Fort, Jodhpur
“A palace that might have been built by Titans and colored by the morning sun”
~ Rudyard Kipling on Mehrangarh Fort
Mehrangarh Fort : A Brief History
At the focal point of the desert city Jodhpur, exists the Mehrangarh fort built by Rao Jodha Rathore in the year 1459 spreading over an area of 5 KM. Set atop a rocky apex, the fort overlooks the walled city, where many buildings are painted in the shade of blue. In those periods of battles and invasions, a fort like Mehrangarh was an embodiment of vigor and pride – not only a citadel, but also an adobe for the royal families. An epicenter for nurturing art, music, literature and with many temples and shrines – the fort is also a place of reverence. The contemporary premier of the Rathore clan and custodian of the fort, Maharaja Gaj Singh II, has conserved the history of his ancestors and converted Mehrangarh Fort into a museum. Extensive displays of weaponries, paintings, elaborate royal palanquins which once transported regal beauties – preserved the legacy of the rigorous Rathores who once dominated the state of Marwar.
For the Rathore dynasty, Sun was the mightiest of all deities. The name “Mehrangarh” was derived from two words: “Mihir”, which means the Sun and ‘Garh’ implies Fort. Gradually the fort garnered the name “Mehrangarh” colloquially.
The Legend of Mehrangarh Fort
Rao Jodha, the chief of the Rathore clan established Jodhpur as the capital of Marwar in 1459. The new capital city called for a brand new fortress and the aspiring king Jodha came across the pinnacle of Jodhpur, a hill known as “Bhakurcheeria” or the mountain of birds and decided to carve a solemn fort out of it. With a zealous mind, the king commanded his aides to relocate the dwellers on the hill. One soul, a hermit named “Cheeria Nathji” defied the king’s orders, for he took delight in feeding and tending to birds. Persuaded, the stubborn man abandoned the hill, but accursed the monarch: “Jodha! May your citadel ever suffer a scarcity of water!” The curse terrified the Rathore supreme that his kingdom would be inflicted by repeated droughts should he erect the palace of his dreams on the hill. So he took efforts to subdue the saintly man by dedicating a temple and a residence for the saintly man. Furthermore, to ensure that the new site proved propitious, he buried a man alive beneath the foundations of the castle. The loyal man “Raja Ram Meghwal” sacrificed his mortal life voluntarily and in return was promised his family’s prosperity, till date his descendants reside in Raj Bagh, “Raja Ram Meghwal’s” Garden.
Splendid Architecture of Mehrangarh Fort
An epitome of royal glory, this crown jewel of Jodhpur city, Mehrangarh Fort is renowned for its imposing architecture. The fort is secured by colossal walls measuring 118 ft in height and 69 ft in width, and ensconce several palaces, known for their intricate carvings and broad courtyards. The fort has seven entrances, including “Jayapol” or ‘victory gate” built by Maharaja Man Singh to commemorate his victories over Jaipur and Bikaner armies. “Fattehpol”, another victory gate was built in celebration of Maharaja Ajit Singhji victory over Mughals. Visitors can spot few imprints of cannonballs fired by the Jaipur army at the “Dedh Kamgra Gate”.
The panorama of Jodhpur city from Mehrangarh Fort appears like a blue carpet laid at the foot of a hill. The architecture of the fort progressed periodically and distinctively under different rulers of Jodhpur. The conspicuous palaces within the fort are – “Moti Mahal”, “Phool Mahal”, “Sheesh Mahal”, “Zenana Dude” or the palaces of the queens, “Takht Vilas” and “Jhanki Mahal”, to name a few. The places of worship within the fort complex are – Chamundi Devi Mandir and Nagnechiaji Mandir, dedicated to Goddess Durga and the Kuldevi respectively.
The Memorial of Rajaram
To mark the great sacrifice of Rajaram Meghwal, a sandstone memorial was built over his grave at the fort site. His name, the date of burial and other pertinent facts are engraved on the burial stone to enlighten the tourists about the fateful event.
The Sati Handprint Murals
The wives of royalties would often commit “Sati” or self-immolation by hurling themselves on husband’s funeral pyre or to escape dishonor by assailants. Towards the left side of “Loha Pol” (Iron Gate), there are around 15 or so handprint murals of the consorts of one of the former kings, Maharaja Man Singh, who committed “Sati” in the year 1843.
Prior to that momentous event, 6 spouses and 58 mistresses of Maharaja Ajit Singh committed “Sati” after the king’s demise in 1731, according to folktales.
Summary : Mehrangarh Fort In A Nutshell
Mehrangarh Fort Museum
A portion of the sizable Mehrangarh Fort is converted into a state-of-the-art museum preserving timeless and priceless relics. Accompanied by the Mehrangarh Fort museum curator, you can set off a private tour that includes personal stories and anecdotes about the various exhibits and collections. The museum features outstanding items owned by Rathore clans for centuries, including an array of munitions from every period, swords adorned with jade, rubies and emeralds, paintings that portray the mastery of Marwar-Jodhpur artistry, elaborate royal palanquins used as transports by kings and queens, royal garments and costumes. If you are a history aficionado, this promising museum will definitely live up to your expectations.
Festivals Celebrated in Mehrangarh Fort
Some of the festivals worth mentioning are the “World Sacred Spirit Festival” and “Rajasthan International Folk Festival” which are organized every year by the Mehrangarh Museum And Trust garnering lot of international attention.
Visiting Time – 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM
Cost of Entry for Indians – INR 100 per head; INR 50 for students and senior citizens
Cost of Entry for Foreign Nationals – INR 600 per head; INR 400 for foreign students
Elevator Ride Charges – INR 50 (One-way)
Audio Guide – INR 180
#Trivia- One should consider audio guidance, if keen to take a deeper look into the history of the fort.
- Do take a elevator ride to go directly to the top of the fort and then come down gradually through the corridors of the fort. The sight of Jodhpur cityscape from the uppermost part o the fort will be mind-blowing.
- Photographers are advised to carry cameras with a bright flash lights, as lighting is not ample in most of the palace rooms.
- You must stay late to witness a mesmerizing vista painted in sunset hues by the backdrop of this historic fortress.
The Gorgeous Golden Fort or Sonar Quila, Jaisalmer
Jaisalmer Fort : A Brief History
Jaisalmer Fort, commissioned in 1156 by the Rajput Rawal Jaisal – the founder of Jaisalmer city, is the second oldest fort in Rajasthan. Sited at the crossroads of important trade routes (including the ancient Silk road), the Jaisalmer Fort is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and India’s only “living fort”. The fort continues to inhabit around 5,000 people – mostly descendants of Brahmin and Rajput families who once ruled the kingdom. For centuries, the city of Jaisalmer flourished within the enclosures of Jaisalmer fort. The first settlements outside the fortification was recorded in the 17th century to accommodate the growing population. As you steer through narrow alleys inside the fort compound, an astir city greets you. The historic Jaisalmer Fort, a testimony for many battles is one of the milestones for Rajasthan tourism. Jaisalmer royal Dushyant Singh is the “crowned king” and the present custodian of this 800 years old Fort.
The Golden City Jaisalmer
Jaisalmer at the heart of the Great Thar Desert is titled the “Golden City” because of the yellow sand casting a golden shadow to the city and its neighboring areas. The medieval city stands on the fold of Trikuta Hill, a sandy expanse of the desert, crowned by the fort, also curved in yellow sandstone, keeping a vigil over the city.
Architecture of Jaisalmer Fort
The gigantic 1500 feet long and 750 feet wide fort and the base has a 15 feet tall wall forming the fort’s outermost ring, within its triple ringed defense architecture. The fort constitutes 99 parapets, of these 92 were built between 1633 and 1647. The architecture of the Jaisalmer Fort is integrated in Islamic and Rajput finesse. There are 4 gateways to enter this fort i.e. Ganesh Pol, Akshya Pol, Suraj Pol and Hawa Pol.
The main structures inside the fort are:
- The Raj Mahal Palace, former residence of the Maharawal of Jaisalmer.
- Corridor of Jain temples: Inside the Jaisalmer Fort, there are 7 Jain temples built by yellow sandstone during 12-16th century. Askaran Chopra of Merta built a huge temple dedicated to Jain Guru Sambhavanatha. The temple has more than 600 idols with many old scriptures. Chopra Panchaji built Ashtapadh temple inside the fort.
- The Laxminath temple, dedicated to the deities Lakshmi and Vishnu.
- Numerous Merchant Havelis, large houses often built by wealthy Rajasthani merchants, carved from yellow sandstones. Some havelis date back to hundreds of years. Some of these have many floors and countless rooms, with decorated windows, archways, doors and balconies.
- Shree Nath Palace, once inhabited by the prime minister of Jaisalmer. Some of the doors and ceilings are notable examples of old carved wood from many hundreds of years ago.
- Exquisite Rani Ka Mahal (The Queen’s Palace) with its ornate jharokhas and jaalis
- The “throne of the king”, found on a raised concrete platform on one side of the central square, called Dussehra Chowk
The fort’s massive yellow sandstone walls are a tawny lion color during the day, fading to honey-gold with the setting sun, thereby camouflaging the fort in the yellow desert. Hence the fort is aptly called as the “Sonar Quila” or Golden Fort. The prominent clifftop position of the fort makes the sprawling towers of its fortifications apparent from many miles afar. The Golden Fort is a grand symbol of Rajputana glory and royalty.
Thronging Life Inside Jaisalmer Fort
Counted amongst the largest forts in the world, Jaisalmer fort is the most celebrated landmark of Jaisalmer city. Unlike other olden forts of Rajasthan, Jaisalmer fort does not emit an aura of quietude – on the contrary, the 12th century fort thrives with shops, restaurants, residential accommodations, hotels, museums etc. The Jaisalmer Fort is one of the few living monuments in the world and home to a fourth of the city’s population. Life inside Jaisalmer Fort burgeons – a row of minuscule shops vending curios near the main gate, the buzz of a lively market after passing by the boundary walls, the familiar scenes and noises of residential areas – washed clothes hung out to dry, children playing around, the occasional whistle of a pressure cooker coming out of havelis. Few deserted havelis are turned into museums, preserving household items used by the former occupants for generations. Climbing up the stairs of these havelis or meandering down the lanes inside the fortress could be challenging, for they are very narrow. The alleyways were constructed this way to inhibit the enemies to enter with their elephants.
Princely states in India have relinquished power, but in Rajasthan monarchical pride does not cease to exist. Dussehra calls for an elaborate celebrations inside the Jaisalmer fort, a vibrant fair is organized graced by the king of Jaisalmer.
Shooting at Jaisalmer Fort
The glimpse of sunset at the backdrop of sand dunes creates magic. Wonderful opportunities for tourists, especially professional photographers to click unforgettable pictures. The golden fort looks picturesque bathing in the early morning light when the first rays of the sun touches the sandy ground, these sights inspire imagination to creative souls. The world renowned film maker and writer Satyajit Ray conceived a thriller story “Sonal Kella” (The Golden Fortress) honoring the Golden Fort, later adapted into a film by him. Climax scenes were shot in and around the Jaisalmer Fort. After the release of the film, the name “Sonar Kila” was widespread enticing travelers to come and visit this wondrous fort.
Summary : Jaisalmer Fort In A Nutshell
Timings: Fort Palace Museum – 8 AM to 6 PM (April – October); 9 AM to 6 PM (November to March)
Jain Temples: 8 AM to 12 PM (Sambhavnath, Chandraprabhu, Rikhabdev); 11 AM to 12 PM (other temples)
Time Required To Cover: 3-4 hours
Entry Fee: Indians – INR 50 per person; Foreigners – INR 250 per person
Eateries: The fort has numerous eateries, including Italian, French and native cuisines