Forts of Rajasthan
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 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 Chittaurgarh Fort
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 Padminis 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 Padminis
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
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
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
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
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
About Junagarh Fort Complex
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 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.
Another beautiful palace is the Phool Mahal whose exquisitely
carved windows, balconies, towers and kiosks gives it a splendid
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
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.