It is ironical how the state that is set against the arid sands of Thar desert has a history that is so vivid and exciting. We are referring to the beauty of Rajasthan, also referred to as the 'Land of Kings' and may we say rightfully so. The western state of India has historical inferences dating back to the Indus Valley civilisation that used to flourish in certain parts of the region that is now the state of Rajasthan. The ingenuity of ancient civilisation only continued among the many tribes that ruled the state in different times across history. While the landscape saw political struggles as various rulers tried to assert their authority, the landscape also changed slowly to accommodate beautiful art and architecture.
The contributions of various dynasties made across time is reflected in the many monuments, palaces and forts that has made Rajasthan a popular and exotic travel destination. Parts of the region allows travellers to be lost in the royal grandeur and beauty of the past, so much so that it is easy to forget that time has since then changed! The many magnificent forts of Rajasthan are some such venues that transport travellers to a different world in a different time. Here is a look at some of them.
Also known as Bala Quila, the Alwar Fort situated in the Aravalli mountains is one of the most popular forts in Rajasthan. Originally built by Hasan Khan Mewati, the fort has seen change of hands many times in the course of history. Located at a height of 340 mt above Alwar city, the fort can only approached by climbing a steep path or by driving the muddy trails in a four-wheel drive.
Photo Courtesy: Carlton Browne
Popular among the forts of Rajasthan as a haunted place, the Bhangarh Fort is an imposing structure built against the backdrop of the Aravalli range. Built in the 17th century, the fort has many legends associated with it, all with the common conclusion that there was a curse on the fort and the surrounding village. In fact, the government has strictly prohibited anyone from staying at the fort at night, due to the many paranormal activities that have been reported here. The entrance to the fort is through the now dead city and gives travellers a spooky feeling.
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The Amer or Amber Fort in the town of Amer in Rajasthan is located atop a hill and is a popular tourist attraction in the region. The fort is known for its beautiful Hindu styled architecture and the lovely Matota Lake that is in the vicinity of the fort. Take a royal tour of the fort atop elephant rides that are provided through the Sun Gate. The fort is so beautiful that it is also popularly referred to as the Amer Palace.
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The fort presents a forbidding image with its thick walls and immense fortifications, located atop a hill and consisting of various structures on the inside. The fort complex consists of many beautiful palaces that are known for their detailed architecture. The fort has seven entrances and the exteriors to date proudly sport the marks of the many battles it has withstood. Ensure to travel through the museum located at the fort, which is one of the best in the state and gives a descriptive understanding of the history and culture of the region.
Photo Courtesy: Alicia Nijdam
Located in Bundi city is the Taragarh Fort, also referred to as the 'Star Fort'. Offering a stunning view of the surrounding area, the fort situated atop a steep hill was built in 1354 AD. The once glorious fort had palaces adorned with wall murals and glass windows that have long gone to ruins. It was also popular in its day for the network of tunnels that were said to weave through the hill under the fort, however, today it is a maze that no one dares venture into for the lack of maps.
Photo Courtesy: Lev Yakupov
Holding the title of the largest fort in India and the grandest such structure in Rajasthan, the Chittorgarh Fort is indeed a place to visit in the state. Ruled by the Marwar clan, the fort is a standing example of medieval military strategy. Situated above the green plains of the river Berach, the fort once boasted of over 80 water bodies that dotted the landscape, however, only 22 of them remain today. The inside of the fort has many beautiful structures such as the Vijay Stambha, Kirti Stambha, Rana Kumbha Palace, etc.
Photo Courtesy: Santosh Namby
Listed among the hill forts of Rajasthan and a World Heritage Site, Kumbhalgarh Fort built during the 15th century is also the birthplace of the brave warrior ruler Maharana Pratap. The fort has over 360 temples inside it, interestingly 300 of them are Jain temples. A noteworthy feature of the fort includes the fort wall, which is Asia's second largest. Make sure to watch the lovely lighting show that makes the fort look surreal every evening.
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Another World Heritage Site in Rajasthan is the Ranthambore Hill Fort, located within the National Park. Located strategically above a hill, the fort is surrounded by green plains. The fort interiors houses many Hindu and Jain temples. The fort is located with many other attractions in the vicinity such as Kachinda Valley and Surwal Lake to name a few.
Photo Courtesy: Gopalsinghal
The most popular tourist attraction in the entire state of Rajasthan is what is known to be the largest fortification in the world, the Jaisalmer Fort. Rising above the arid landscape, almost like a hallucination, the yellow sandstone structure is a perfect example of camouflage. Locally also called the Sonar Quilla or the Golden Fort, for the shine it takes when bathed in sun light. The major attractions of the fort include; the Raj Mahal, Laxminath temple, imposing gateways and the havelis of rich merchants of the day.
Photo Courtesy: Koshy Koshy
The unique fort situated in the Jhalawar district of Rajasthan is among the lesser known forts in the region, despite having earned the status of a World Heritage Site among the hill forts of the state. The unique and scenic structure is also known as a water fort and is definitely worth visiting.
Photo Courtesy: RameshSharma1
Located on a hill is another place to visit in Rajasthan, the famous Neemrana Fort. It is known to be one of the oldest fort heritage resorts in the country and is famous for the picturesque views it provides of the surrounding region. The fort itself is a striking structure and makes for a must-visit attraction.
Photo Courtesy: Abhinav Swara