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What to See in India
Forts of Rajasthan

Forts of Rajasthan

Chittaurgarh Fort
About Chittaurgarh
Chittaurgarh exhibits the pride and glory of Rajasthan in the form of its various forts and monuments. It is a ruined citadel where the royal past lives in the imposing forts, graceful palaces and spectacular chhatris. The entire city echoes with the tales of romance and valor unique to the Rajput tradition.

The Chittaurgarh Fort
The Chittaurgarh Fort is a living testimony to the bravery of the great Rajput rulers who laid down their life fighting a superior enemy instead of leading a life of submission. The fort is located on a hill that dominates the modern township of Chittor. It is a fine example of the Rajput style of architecture.

The fort of Chittor is believed to have been the capital of the Gahlot and Sisodia kings who ruled Mewar from the eighth to the sixteenth century AD.

The fort is named after Chittrangad Mauraya. The Sisodia ruler Ajay Pal (AD 1174-1177) improved the fort wall built by the Gahlot king in the ninth century AD The fort has witnessed three ferocious sieges and each time her defenders, demonstrating true Rajputana pride, fought valiantly against the enemies. The magnificent fort rises 150 m above the surrounding region and runs to an approximate length of 3 km covering an area of 60 acres and peripheral length of 13 km.

Legend has it that it was because of the beautiful Padmini that Chittaurgarh was sacked the first time. When Sultan Ala-ud-din Khilji, the ruler of Delhi, heard of Padmini’s beauty, he requested Rana Rattan Singh (her husband) for a glimpse of the queen. However, the Sultan was permitted to see only the reflection of the queen from a water tank that overlooked the palace. Ala-ud-din is said to have been so carried away by Padmini’s beauty that he attacked Chittor in order to possess her. This led to the first bitter and bloody siege of the Chittaurgarh fort and the subsequent mass suicide.

How to Reach
Chittaurgarh does not have an airport. It has rail links to cities like Ahmedabad, Ajmer, Udaipur, Jaipur, Kota, and Delhi. There are also regular buses for Ajmer, Bundi, Kota, and Udaipur from Chittaurgarh. For local transport, one can use auto-rickshaws and taxis.

Jaisalmer Fort
Deep in the heart of the Thar Desert is Jaisalmer, one of the last princely bastions in the region. Founded on what was the cross - road of lucrative trade routes, this remote settlement came to be celebrated for the valour of its rulers, and for the aesthetic sense represented by their palaces and havelis.The rich merchants engaged stone - craftsmen who worked delicately on the sandstone mansions they built, filling up facades with sculptural filigree, screen windows, delicate pavilions and beautiful balconies. Today, these veritable art - museums are still inhabited, and their colourful celebrations and festivals have placed Jaisalmer Fort firmly on the world tourism map. The golden - yellow sandstone of Jaisalmer Fort, over 800 years old, crowns the Trikuta Hill. Within its walls, defended by 99 turrets, lies the old city, nearly a quarter of modern Jaisalmer. Seen from outside, the sight must be almost identical to what was seen by merchants on their overland camel caravans to central Asia. Once this desert outpost was an important gate for the trade route, and Jaisalmer grew wealthy on the proceeds. But the advent of commercial shipping relegated the town to relative obscurity.

The fort stands almost 30 metres over the city and houses an entire living area within huge ramparts. Walking through the narrow lanes is an experience worth savouring. It is approached through Ganesh Pol, Suraj Pol, Bhoot Pol and Hawa Pol. Also, within it are many beautiful havelies and a group of Jain temples dating from the 12th to the 15th centuries.

Being part of the Desert Triangle and the venue of Desert Festival, the place is accessible by rail, road and air and has tourist accommodation ranging from high budget to low budget. The city is also covered by the "Palace on Wheels" a train-cum-road package, which needs no description. This place too witnesses large flow of tourist traffic in winters.

Taragarh Fort - Kota
Book NowAbout Kota
Kota in southern Rajasthan is a place with a chequered history. Once a small village with forested landscape, the real transformation of Kota took place after the Rajputs and princely rulers took over. Today, the forts, palaces and gardens of Kota reflect the erstwhile glory of the place. The most magnificent of these monuments is Taragarh Fort, built in 12th century by the founder of Kota Ajay Pal Chauhan.

About Taragarh Fort
The main entrance to the imposing Taragarh fort is located some 39 kms away from the town centre that can be approached by a sharply sloping road. The main gateway of the fort has some meticulous carvings of elephants. Infact, there are three gateways to the fort. They are named Lakshmi Pol, Phuta Darwaza and Gagudi ki Phatak. Most parts of these impressive gateways are now in ruins.

During its heydays, Taragarh fort was renowned for its tunnels crisscrossing the entire hillside. These tunnels allowed the king and his deputies to flee in case there was an imminent danger to their lives from enemies. Unfortunately, no maps of these tunnels are available in present times.
From the Taragarh Fort, a spectacular view of Kota town is available.

Fort Attractions

The Water Reservoirs
The Taragarh fort has some huge water reservoirs . These reservoirs were built to store water and supply it to the residents during time of crisis. It is said that if released in full force, the water had the capacity to wash away people residing below. The reservoirs have been carved out of the rocky base of the fort.

Bhim Burj and Garbha Gunjan
There is a massive stone tower within the fort complex called Bhim Burj. The tower was built to house a huge cannon named Garbha Gunjan. Garbha Gunjan is regarded as the second largest cannon in India. The cannon made such a thunderous sound that soldiers had to run immediately after firing it.

Rani Mahal
Rani Mahal is a small palace within the fort complex built for the wives and concubines of rulers. The Mahal has, however lost most of its charm as the shine of its spectacular murals and stained glass windows have completely faded away.

According to local belief, a huge fortune lies somewhere inside the Taragarh fort. It is said that the fortune was guarded by an Afghan family of warriors and even the king never had direct access to it. But with the death of the last Pathan warrior during World War I, the secret was lost for ever. Locals say that the fortune consists of precious gold, diamonds, rubies and gems. Though a few missions were launched by later rulers to find the treasure, all efforts have been in vain.

Junagarh Fort-Bikaner
About Bikaner
The sprawling desert city of Bikaner is located in the north west of Rajasthan. The city was founded by a descendant of Rao Jodha, the founder of Jodhpur. The city is encircled by a 7 km long wall having 5 entrances. A city where the royals lived in the past, Bikaner has attractive forts and palaces. One of them is Junagarh fort, ranking among the most attractive fort complexes built during medieval period.

About Junagarh Fort Complex
Junagarh Fort is a rare example of a medieval period monument whose beauty and grandeur remains intact due to some great preservation efforts. A look at the exquisitely carved walls of Junagarh gives the impression that the fort has been built only a few days back. This magnificent fort was built in the year 1588 A.D by Raja Rai Singh, one of the most trusted generals of Emperor Akbar. Another striking feature of Junagarh fort is that it has been built on lower grounds. It may be mentioned that forts are generally built on higher plains to enhance their defensive characteristics. In spite of that, Junagarh fort could never be conquered. As many as 37 bastions guard the fort and access inside the fort is provided by only two gates. Suraj Pol or Sun Gate is the main entrance to the fort. The fort consists of attractive palaces, courtyards, pavilions and balconies.

Fort Attractions

Anup Mahal
Anup Mahal is one of the most beautiful palaces inside the fort. The shining walls have been covered in red and gold. The coloured glass inlay works on the walls look very impressive. Equally beautiful are the white plaster pillars decorated in many different patterns and attached with gold leaf.

Badal Mahal
Badal Mahal has some of the finest paintings adorning its walls. Most of these paintings have water as its main theme. The Rain Fresco painting of Radha-Krishna is regarded as the best.

Phool Mahal
Another beautiful palace is the Phool Mahal whose exquisitely carved windows, balconies, towers and kiosks gives it a splendid look.

Fort Museum
The fort also houses a museum having an impressive collection of the items used by the royals. These costly items throw light on the lavish lifestyle of the royals. The collections include illuminated manuscripts, jewellery, carpets, arms and weapons used by the royals. Even treaties signed and farmans (orders) issued by the royals have been well preserved and displayed.

Some other beautiful buildings inside the fort complex are Chandra Mahal, Karan Mahal, Durga Niwas and Ganga Niwas. Karan Mahal was built as part of victory celebrations over Aurangzeb. It may be mentioned that most of the structures inside the fort have been built using red sandstone and decorated very richly.

Mehrangarh Fort - Jodhpur
Book NowSituated on a steep hill, Mehrangarh Fort is one of the largest forts in India. The fort has been a witness to the splendour of a bygone era. The beauty and the grandeur of numerous palaces in the fort narrates a saga of hard sandstones yielding to the chisels of skilled Jodhpuri sculptures. To enter the Mehrangarh fort, seven gates have to be crossed.

Some of these gates still bear marks of many a siege that this fort has withstood. Its very hard to imagine how any invader even thought of conquering this fort, which at places has 17 feet thick and 68 feet high walls.

The Mehrangarh Fort encloses many palaces, which are known for their intricate carvings and sprawling courtyards. Moti Mahal or the Pearl Palace has a delicately carved stone screen and treasures the Sringar Chowki, royal throne of Jodhpur. Umaid Villas displays the Rajput miniature paintings and Ajit Villas exhibits musical instruments and the royal costumes. Both these villas are joined by a beautiful mirror room.

The Jodhpur Coat of Arms is kept in the Phool Mahal. Walls of this Flower Palace is covered with paintings depicting various musical moods. The Maan Villas displays Rathore armoury and the 'Tent room'. This tent room is an imperial Mughal campaign tent, used by Shahjahan but wrested by Jaswant Singh from Aurangzeb in a battle. Made of red velvet and embroidered with gold thread, it gives some idea of the grandeur with which the Mughals approached even their battles.

Amber Fort - Jaipur
The Amber Fort in Rajasthan built in 1592 by Raja Man Singh, is one of the finest examples of Rajput architecture. Perched high on a barren ridge, it commands extensive views over a deep narrow valley and the wider plains beyond.

The building was finally completed in the early18th century when the threat of Mughal domination was receding. Amber was once, the capital of the Mina tribes, believed to be the original inhabitants of this region.

Located up on the hills that surround Jaipur, the fort, sprawled along the Maotha Lake, boasts of a massive complex gateways, courts, stairways and pillared pavilions, and palaces that recall the glory and wealth, of Amber's association with the Mughals. This complex was built by Raja Man Singh, Mirza Raja Jai Singh and Sawai Jai Singh, over a period of about two centuries.

The front courtyard of the complex, is adorned with the magnificent, pillared hall of the Diwan - i - Am, and the two - tiered painted gateway Ganesh Pol. The palace of mirrors, Sheesh Mahal, is of special interest. It has walls inlaid with exquisite mirrors. The Jas Mandir, perched on the upper floor, is a superb amalgam of Mughal and Rajput style of architecture, as is evident from the exquisitely carved Jali screens, and fine mirror and stucco work.

The fort is entered through the 'Dil-e-Aaram' Garden, laid out in the traditional Mughal style. An imposing flight of stairs leads to the 'Diwan-E-Am' (hall of public audience) which has latticed galleries and double row of columns each having a capital in the shape of elephants on the top. To the right are steps that lead to the small Kali Temple. Maharaja Man Singh was a great devotee of Goddess Kali and prayed to the goddess for victory during battles. The temple has huge doors made of silver. The larger white marble Shila Mata temple, has the image of Goddess Kali, brought by Raja Man Singh from Jessore in East Bengal (now Bangladesh).

Jaigarh Fort - Jaipur
Book NowAbout Jaipur
Jaipur, the capital of northern Indian state of Rajasthan is one of the most attractive cities of India. The credit of transforming a largely barren landscape into a splendour in pink goes to the brave hearted Rajputs and aristocratic princes of Jaipur. The legacies that they left in the form of magnificent palaces and forts gives the Jaipur landscape an enchanting look even to this day. Leading the pack of attractions of the 'Pink City' is the Jaigarh Fort- an example of the great expertise that Rajputs had over building military structures.

About Jaigarh Fort
Built by Sawai Jai Singh in the year 1726 to bolster the defence of the area, Jaigarh is the best example of a full-fledged citadel. A simple looking fort, no palaces or other delicate structures have been built inside the fort. The architecture makes clear Sawai Jai Singh's intentions of using the fort purely as a military structure. Also known as the Victory Fort, Jaigarh is located some 15 kms away from the city centre on a cliff. The fort is surrounded by huge battlements. The inside walkways have been built in such a way that a clear view of all the sides are easily available. There is a steep road leading to Dungar Darwaza-the main entrance of Jaigarh fort. The view that one gets of Jaipur city from the fort is simply amazing.

Fort Attractions

The chief attraction of this rugged military structure is Jaivana, world's largest cannon on wheels. The cannon was built in the year 1720 in the foundry of Jaigarh. Although a debatable issue, some historians are of the firm opinion that the cannon was fired only once. It is said that the huge cannon had the potential of causing immense damage if fired upon approaching enemies.

Water Channels
Another striking feature of Jaigarh are the water channels built inside the fort. All the channels were part of the rainwater harvesting system. There are a total of 3 underground tanks at the fort. The largest of them had the capacity to store 60,00,000 gallons of water. Thus, it was clear that proper arrangements were in place to store essentials during times of war.

Fort Museum
Jaigarh fort also houses a beautiful museum. The museum has a very impressive collection of armory used during that period. This collection includes swords, shields, guns, muskets and cannon balls. Some old photographs of Jaipur's rulers and military generals have also been kept in the museum.

Shubhat Niwas
Another place that stores some of the precious items of Rajput warriors is Shubhat Niwas, the meeting hall of warriors. One could surmise the circumstances under which military strategies were devised after visiting the place.
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What to See in India
What to See in India
Taj Mahal Agra
Taj Mahal - Khajuraho Temples
Kalka - Shimla Railway - Golden Temple
Forts of Rajasthan - Temples of South India
Kaziranga National Park - Great Indian Himalayas

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