Hill Forts of Rajasthan


Hill Forts Of Rajasthan

The World Heritage committee, on 21 June 2013, decided to include six hill forts of Rajasthan in UNESCO’s World Heritage List, adding to the proud and international recognition to this Indian state. These forts are as follows:

Amber Fort

Amber Fort (also pronounced as Amer Fort) is situated in Amer, about 11 Kilometres from Jaipur, the capital city of Rajasthan. Built on a high hill overlooking Maota Lake, it was constructed by Raja Man Singh in 1592 and was completed by Raja Jai Singh 1.

Displaying a pleasant fusion of the art work of Hindu and Mughal architecture, it is built of red sandstone and white marble. Interior walls of the fort is decorated with carvings, precious stones and mirror settings adding to its richness. The fort is divided into four sections. Suraj Pole is the main entry that leads to Jaleb Chowk, the main courtyard of the Palace. On climbing the staircase up the first level of courtyard, is the second courtyard consisting of ‘Diwan-e-Aam’ where the king used to listen to complaints and needs of the public. The third courtyard, entered by the Ganesh Pol, consists of private palaces of the Maharajas. Trippola Gate and Lion Gate are also a must-see inhere. The fourth courtyard includes the Zenana region which was dedicated to queens’ palace. Sheesh Mahal, whose walls and ceiling is carved with beautiful paintings and flowers made of pure glass, is the most beautiful part of Amber Palace. It also boasts the famous building of ‘Sukh Mahal’ where the kings used to spend time with their queens and concubines. One can also enjoy a royal elephant ride in the Fort.

Opening hours of Amber Fort is 8 a.m. to 5.30 p.m. Entry fee for Indians is INR 25 and for foreigners is INR 200.

Domestic flights connect Jaipur, which is just 11 km from Amer, to Delhi, Mumbai, Calcutta, Varanasi, Aurangabad, Udaipur and Jaipur. Jaipur is also connected to all the major parts of country via trains. Excellent road networks also connect Jaipur to Delhi, Mumbai, Gujarat and Rajasthan. Deluxe buses, AC coaches and government buses are also available at comparatively cheap rates.

There are many hotels of all ranges providing required facilities to visitors to stay comfortably. Umaid Mahal, Anurag Villa, and Hotel Vimal Heritage are some of them.

Jaisalmer

Jaisalmer Fort is located in the heart of the city of Jaisalmer in Rajasthan. Built in the 12th century with yellow sandstone, this monument looks like a ship in a sea of golden sands of the great Thar Desert from afar, giving it the name of Ship Fort and sonar kila as well. It is the second oldest existing fort of Rajasthan next to Chittorgarh Fort.

Built by Rajput ruler Rao Jaisalmer atop the Trikuta Hill, this fort is 250 feet tall with a 60-feet-tall main gate carved from Indian Rosewood. It has 99 bastions out of which 92 were built between 1633 and 1647. The homes, stables and King’s Palace are architecturally built along the three concentric walls of the forts. The walls have carvings of chariot wheels, fruits and flowers that adds to the beauty of the historical monument. Ganesh Pol, Rang Pol, Bhoota Pol and the Hava Pol are the four massive gateways that wind up the fort. Maharwal, a five-storey palace, situated before the Chauhata square demonstrates the finest stonework of Jaisalmer. Juna Mahal is another seven stories building under a huge metal umbrella which also attracts tourists. About one-fourth of the city’s populations still reside within its fortification. Wells provide a regular source of water.

Since Jaisalmer has an extreme type of climate, the best time to visit this city is the months of October and March. Entry fee for Indians is INR 30 & for foreigners it is INR 250. Timings of the Fort is from 9 a.m. till 5 p.m.

The easiest way to reach Jaisalmer is by air since the Jaisalmer airport, which is well linked to Jaipur, Jodhpur and Delhi, is just 5 km from the city center. Jaisalmer Railway station is also another option for tourists visiting here. Roadways services are also very good with regular bus services from Jaipur, Jodhpur, Ajmer and Bikaner. Hotel Roop mahal, Nachana Haveli Hotel and Wind Deserts Camp are some of the hotels inside the Jaisalmer Fort, which will give you the feel of the city of Rajputs. Many other good hotels are there for a comfortable stay in this historical city.

Chittorgarh Fort

Chittorgarh Fort was built by Maurya Rulers in 7th century AD. It lies 112 kilometers away from the city of Ajmer, Rajasthan. The fort is located near the Gambheri River in Chittorgarh. It is also acknowledged as the largest fort of India. The fort is secured by seven huge gates (locally called Pol) namely Padan Pol, Ram Pol, Laxman Pol, Jodla Pol, Ganesh Pol, Hanuman Pol and the Bhairon Pol, which served as watch towers in earlier times. These Pols are made from massive stone structures with pointed arches to provide a safeguard from elephants and canon shots. The fort also has many magnificent palaces including Rana Kumbha Palace, Fateh Prakash Palace and Padmini Palace. Vijay Stambh and Kirti Stambh are the most famous towers of the fort celebrating the victory of Rajputs. During evenings, the Vijay Stambh is illuminated making the fort look more panoramic. Gamukh reservoir, which gets water from a cow’s mouth shaped rock, is also worth visiting. Neelkanth Mahadev Temple, Sammidheshwara Temple, Kumbha Shyam Temple, Meerabai Temple, Kalika Mata temple and Jain Temple are some of the temples inside the Fort complex. It also hosts one of the biggest Rajput festivals called ‘Jauhar Mela’ annually.

The tourists can visit the Fort during any part of the year, winters being most favorable during September to March. The fort remains open till 5:30 pm. Entry fee is INR 10 for Indians and INR 100 for foreigners.

The nearest airport is in Udaipur which is 70 km away from Chittorgarh. There is also a railway station in Chittorgarh which has direct rail links with Delhi, Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Jaipur, Udaipur and Kota. It is also well-connected by road to all parts of India.

There are a large number of hotels of all ranges and facilities within the city of Chittorgarh.

Kumbhalgarh Fort

The Kumbhalgarh Fort is located about 103 kilometers from Udaipur in the Rajasmand district of Rajasthan. It was built by Maharana Rana Kumbha in the 15th century. Surrounded by 13 mountain peaks, it is built on the topmost hill which is about 1,914 metres above the sea level. The 36-km-long winding walls that act as fortification of the fort, is the second largest wall in the world after The Great Wall of China, which are so wide that it can let eight horses walk side by side. The fort is guarded by seven massive gates. The massive entrance gate of the fort is known as Ram Pol. It contains about 360 temples inside the complex of the fort, the most famous being the Shiva Temple with a six-feet-tall Shivalinga.

At the top of the structure is ‘Badal Mahal’ or the Palace of Clouds. The two-storied structure is divided into two interconnected sections – The Zanana and The Mardana Mahal. Consisting of beautiful rooms with oil paintings on the walls in colors of green, white and turquoise, it provides a picturesque view of the whole of the town .It is also the birth place of Maharana Pratap who is one of the great Rajput warriors.

The fort remains open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily throughout the year. For Indian Nationals, the entry ticket of Kumbhalgarh Fort is INR 10 and for foreign nationals it is INR 100 only.

It is best to have a single day tour to this place from Udaipur along with Ranakpur Jain Temple. This temple is 45 kilometers away from this Fort by road. Udaipur is well-connected to the major cities of India by road, rail and air transport.

There are few high-end heritage hotels or resorts in Kumbhalgarh area and they are very expensive. It is better to have a one-day trip to Kumbhalgarh from Udaipur and to return by evening.

Ranthambhore Fort

Standing atop a hill in Sawai Madhopur in Rajasthan, is one of the structurally finest forts designed with security measures that make it an impregnable fort. It got its name from two adjoining hills – Rann and Thambhore. The fort covers the entire top of the Thambhore hill at the heart of the Ranthambhore National Park. The walls, which are about seven kilometers in length and cover a large area around the fort, are heavily built to protect it from any intruding army. It is surrounded by massive stone walls which are strengthened by towers and bastions. The four colossal gateways are strong enough not be broken even by herds of elephants. There are many buildings inside the fort including temples of Lord Shiva and Ganesh.

It is recommended to visit the fort in the months of October and March when the weather changes from monsoons to winters and from winters to summers. To worship Lord Ganesh, lots of local people visit the Ganesh Temple built inside the fort on Wednesday every week.

From the month of October to January, the fort remains open from 7 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. in the morning and 2:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. in the evening while it opens from 6:30 to 10 a.m. and 2:30 to 6 p.m. the remaining months.

The entry fees for Indians in INR 25 while for foreigners it is INR 200.

The closest airport is in Jaipur, 150 kilometers away by road. The town lies on the main Delhi-Mumbai rail link road, so visitors from Delhi and Mumbai are advised to take a train, which is not only cheaper and faster but also much more comfortable.

Since the eastern part of the fort has the stream of Gupt Ganga flowing there, visitors are advised to stay in the western part of the fort. There are many lodges and resorts in Sawai Madhopur with prices ranging from US $ 5 to US $ 1,000 or more.

Gagron Fort

Located at about 12 kilometers from Jhalawar city in south-eastern part of Rajasthan, Gagron Fort is one of India’s forts that is both a ‘Jal-Durg’ and ‘Van-Durg’ i.e. a fort protected by water and forest respectively. It stands on a low hill at the junction of two rivers, the Kali Sindh and the Ahu, whose water protects it from three sides. The fourth side is covered by a canal. Its foundation was laid in the 7th century while it was completed in the 14th century. There is a Dargah of Sufi Saint Mittheshah outside the fort. The monastery of Saint Pipa Ji, who is one of the eight disciples of Guru Ramanand is also nearby. It is surrounded by forests and has behind it the Mukundarrah range of hills.

Other than its design and structure, this fort is distinguished by the bravery and chivalry of the then Rajput rulers. It remains open from 8:00 a.m. to 6.00 p.m. throughout the year, with an entry fee of INR 70 for foreigners and free for Indians.

Gagron Fort is about 88 kilometers from Kota city. There is no rail connectivity for Jhalawar. The nearest airport is at Udaipur which is about 284 kms from Jhalawar. One can take auto rickshaws and taxis to reach Gagron fort from Jhalawar. It is a very small town and has only 3-4 decent hotels within the city.



Last Updated on : January 2, 2014

     


     

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