Rajasthan’s history lies revered in its forts, a few of which spot the parched scene. A strong legacy of some of the most impressive & magnificent forts and palaces in the world, was left behind by the brave Rajputs- who are known to be prolific builders.
Urban communities, towns and villages – all had their own forts and defensive walls. As commonly seen in Jodhpur and Udaipur, it was absolutely necessary and obligatory to create the palace inside the fort, outside which lay the city, enclosed within a protected wall. Some fortresses stood over great heights on hills, thereby overlooking the entire city. Perfect examples of such forts can be seen in Alwar and Jodhpur. On the other hand, in Jaisalmer, Kumbhalgarh and Chittaur, the whole settlement is enclosed within the fortification as a single unit.
The most majestic and most popular forts are :
CHITTOR FORT – CHITTAURGARH
Chittaurgarh is most likely India’s most noteworthy medieval fort which was set up in the seventh century. Sisodias left for a war against the Mughals in the popular battle of Haldighati, from this courageous town of Chittaurgarh. Situated on a great height, Chittaurgarh sprawls remarkably over the nearby towns.
Chittaur is among the most prominent legacies left behind by the Royal Rajputana culture. Despite of the fact that it has been attacked twice in the sixteenth century itself, once by the Mughal Emperor Akbar and the second time by the Sultan of Gujrat, it’s grandeur can still be witnessed from its remains. The palaces with huge facades and the apartments with their detailed architecture never fails to mesmerize the visitors. Some of such palaces include Rana Kumbha’s Palace and another royal residence which is considered as Rani Padmini Palace along with her other palaces.
The buildings that are in a fair state of preservation include two towers- the 22 meters high, twelfth century Kirti Stambh (Tower of Fame) which was constructed by a Jain shipper, and Vijay Stambh (Tower of Victory) which is 37 meter high and beautifully carved with the Hindu mythological scenes, brought up in fifteenth century to honor triumph in a war against kings of Malwa and Gujrat. Apart from these, there are numerous temples such as the Kumbha Shyam and Kalika Mata Temples.
JUNAGARH FORT – BIKANER
In 1593, the fort of Junagarh, Bikaner was built by the great Raja Rai Singh- who’s known to have served as the General in Emperor Akbar’s army. The majestic has been made using red sandstone and circled by a canal, around which the cutting edge city of Bikaner has spread. Junagarh comprises of a few royal residences and the apartments in a decent condition of preservation. Some of the palaces in Junagarh such as the Anup Mahal and Chandra Mahal are among the most luxuriously decorated in Rajasthan. As a result, they give out an impression of a rich inlay of hard rocks. However, in reality, the apartments are just painted in a lavish style.
KUMBHALGARH FORT – KUMBHALGARH
If Chittaurgarh was the pride of Sisodias, Kumbalgarh is the crown that they rightfully earned for themselves. Raised by Rana Kumbha, this secure fortress perches itself on top of 13 mountain tops in the Aravalis. Inside the fort, Badal Mahal is particularly unique for its perfect interiors and its impressive tallness, as compared to other structures. Few ancient Jain sanctuaries from the Mauryan period- can also be found within the fort. Unlike Chittaurgarh, buildings at Kumbalgarh are mostly intact and in a decent condition.
MEHRANGARH FORT – JODHPUR
Mehrangarh is one of the most astonishing hill forts of Rajasthan and seems to ascend from the bluff coloured sandstone hill itself. The fort has been built so beautifully into the base that it is almost impossible to tell where the slope ends and where the walls begin. It was established in the fifteenth century by the Rathore Rajputs when they moved their Capital from neighbouring Mandore to Jodhpur. It can be approached through a sequence of seven gateways set at a specific angle to ensure that the armed forces couldn’t accuse them of any achievement. Past the gateways, the fort-palace is an absolute pleasing sight to the visitor’s eye. The wings of regal apartments that have been set across the high courtyards hold almost five centuries of swarming history within their walls. It is known that Rao Jodha and his successors from 1456 A.D. are the successful builders of this majestic Mehrangarh Fort.
The stained glass windows at the Moti Mahal (Palace of Pearls) make a beautiful mosaic with the play of lights and shade on the sparkling colours. The miniature renderings of Shah Jahan and Aurangzeb clearly represent the Mughal impact. The Phool Mahal (Palace of Flowers) along with an exquisite showcase of Jodhpur miniatures is found to be equally captivating and beautiful. There are other significant palaces too. Some of them are: The Chandan Mahal, The Rang Mahal, The Durbar Takhat etc.
JAISALMER FORT – JAISALMER
As per a native quatrain, remote, disengaged, remarkable and peculiar Jaisalmer shows up out of a wasteland of rock and sand, just like some surrealist fantasy of an inspired visionary. The inception of the fort commenced in the year 1156 by Bhatti boss Jaisal when Bhatti Rajputs moved from Lodurva. Made from yellow sandstone, the fort came to be known as Sonar Quila (Golden fort). It is said that the yellow sandstone appears to ignite into a golden flame when scorched under the desert sun. Soon, Jaisalmer became extremely rich town due to its strategic location on the trade course along which the ancient caravans passed. Jaisalmer’s fame and wealth reached an extent where the merchants who were also appointed as Ministers at the Royal Court, began to summon more authority and power than the rulers themselves. Therefore, it isn’t a big surprise that the extensive mansions of the traders, constructed adjacent to one other in the nature of medieval desert communities, are so beautifully decorated that the palace appears relatively pale in front of them.
The stronghold is made available through entryways – Ganesh Pol, Akshya Pol, Suraj Pol and Hawa Pol. The dividers of the fortress are implicit dry stone work. The nineteenth century Badal Mahal (Palace of Clouds) is home to the current imperial relative. There is a cross society converging of Rajput and Islamic building styles. There are the Rana Mahal, Gaj Vilas and Moti Mahal which have galleries and vaults with finely executed cutting and stone tracery. The restricted paths, however low, just outlined houses in the post are additionally fascinating.