Forts in Rajasthan
 
Alwar Cittaurgarh Jalore Nagaur
Amber Deeg Jhalawar Ranthambhor
Bharatpur Dungarpur Jodhpur Sojat
Bikaner Jaipur Kota Udaipur
Bundi Jaisalmer Kumbhalgarh  
 
The Rajputs were prolific builders who left behind a legacy of some of the most imposing and magnificent forts and palaces in the world. A bid for survival in the harsh Thar Desert and a history replete4 with valour, romance and tragedy:heforts and palaces of Rajasthan are a microcosm of the images from the past.Cities, towns and villages - all had theirforts and protective ramparts. It was customary to build the palace within thefort, outside which lay the city, enclosed within afortified wall, as in Jaipur and Udaipur. Someforts occupied commanding heights on hills overlooking the city, as in jodhpur and Alwar. At Amber and Bundi, the ramparts start at the base of the hill, the palace stands against the hillside, while thefort is on the summit.In Jaisalmer, Kumbhalgarh and Chittaur, the entire settlement is within the fortifications as an enclosed unit, while the Bharatpur and Deeg forts had moats. And the palaces set in the sylvan setting of gardens, delicately constructed pavilions and the gaily sprinkling fountains...
 
JAIPUR
The City Palace:
In the heart of the old fortified city, on the main street named Chaura Rasta stands the City Palace, the magnificent royal residence.  On entering this Palace which is surrounded by an embattled wall one comes to a huge paved court, beautifully proportioned.  In the centre of the court is Mubarak Mahal, now part of the museum, which houses the private collection of costumes, jewellery etc. of the former royal family.  One enters the main Palace through Singh Pot to reach the Diwan - I - Aam, a spacious audience hall with graceful pillars.  The Chandra Mahal, facing Diwan - I - Aam having carved screens, projecting balconies and slender towers with Chattries, now houses the Maharaja Sawai Man Singh-11 Museum which has an exquisite range of rare books, miniature paintings, arms and the private collection of the former ruling family.  Also within is Sheesh Mahal with its shining mirrors, inset in walls and painted in floral designs.
Rambagh palace:
Until recently, the residence of the royal family, Rambagh Palace is now a world famous palace hotel.  The magnificent building has spacious corridors, wide terraces, splendid reception and banquet rooms and large well-laid gardens. 
Moti doongri
The Takhta Shahi Palace, a castle built in the 20th century - Moti Doongri or the Pearl hillock is situated south of Rambagh Palace. it is still the residence of the descendants of the erstwhile rulers.
jaigarh fort
The Jaigarh Fort is older than the Amber Palace Complex.  It is situated on a higher hill to the south of the Palace overlooking it. The fort is famous for the gun foundry and has one of the biggest cannon on wheels in the world made in the same foundry.
nahargarh fort
This fort overlooks the city from the top of a hill.  An ideal place to see the glittering lights of Jaipur city in the evening. The Raiasthan Tourism and Development Corporation has two restaurants here.
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AMBER
Amber is situated 11kms. From jaipur on the Jaipur-Delhi road. Amber, the old capital of Dhundhar or the erstwhile Jaipur state, was originally a stronghold of Meena tribals, the Kachhawaha Rajputs conquered it and made it their capital. Within the ramparts of the fort is the Palace of Amber. Upto Jai Pol, the first gateway, one can ride on elephant back. On entering Jai Pol, one comes to a huge courtyard. On entering Singh Pol, to the left is the Diwan - I - Aam or the Hall of Public Audience. On the south side, the beautiful Ganesh Pol leads to the inner palace. The gallery above the gate with lattice work windows was designed so that the women folk could view the activities below, yet remain unseen. The corridors to the left and right of the gate lead to the inner chambers, supported by carved pillars and walls having beautiful paintings. Towards the right is Sukh Niwas, which has paintings in turquoise and trellis designs. It has a channel for running water in the center, which flows through the portico. The inner rooms have wooden doors inlaid with ivory. The Diwan - I - Khas opposite Sukh Niwas, has foral relief work and carvings of insects, The ceiling has exquisite inlaid mirror work. The mirror work motifs in the inner room are so delicately designed, that a single lit match stick gives an impression of a starlit sky. jas Mahal has beautiful inlay work and tempera designs and the terrace beyond it was an open air theatre called Nat Mahal. Beyond this complex is situated the older part of the palace built by Maharaja Man Singh I.

To the left of the staircase, as one leaves the palace, is the Kali Temple, famous for it solid silver doors. The old city of Amber sprawls beneath the palace.

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ALWAR

On a steep cliff overlooking the city of Alwar, stands this fort. Permission from the district authorities is necessary to visit the fort because the police wireless Station is located here, Passing through the gates known as jai Pol, Suraj Pol, Lakshman pol and Chand Pol, one comes to a huge courtyard where some cannons lie. A flight of steps leads to Nikumb Mahal. Within the fortress are the remains of an old temple and jai Mahal.

city palace
Most of the ground floor of this 18th century palace has been converted into offices. A part of the complex houses the museum which has rich collection of rare artefacts and arms.
Lake palace , Siliserh

8kms. from Alwar is Siliserh lake. Built on a hill-side overlooking the lake, this former hunting lodge is now a hotel.

sariska palace
Built at the end of the 19th century in honour of the Duke of Connaught, son of Queen Victoria, it was used as a hunting lodge. Now it has been converted into a heritage hotel. Also worth a visit are the Vijay Mandir Palace, the later royal residence (can be entered only with prior permission of the former Maharaja) and the fort of Rajgarh, 36kms. south of the Alwar.
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BHARATPUR
the fort

The impregnable fort was also called Lohagarh for its vast outer fortifications. The massive double ramparts were built of solid packed mud and rubble, surrounded by large moats, which are at places 45 m. wide and upto 15 m. deep. Now, only part of the inner mud wall remains. jawahar Burj and Fateh Burj, the two towers in the inner rampart are said to have been erected to commemorate the victory over the Mughal and British forces. The gateway has paintings of war elephants.

The palace
Actually three palaces in one, built by various Maharajas. The sunken garden reflects Mughal influence. The Mahal Khas or royal apartments have smaller rooms and latticed windows, set within long, arched alcoves. The rooms are not on the same levels and the walls are covered with delicately painted designs. The main central wing houses a museum which contains items collected from excavations at nearby sites. The Karma Mahal to the west previously housed the state armoury and treasury.
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DEEG
gopal bhawan

The rulers of Bharatpur built their pleasure palaces at Deeg, about 32 kms. from Bharatpur. Gopal
Bhawan, the most impressive building, overlooking Gopal Sagar tank, was built in the mid 18th century. It faces the formal garden. On the front terrace is a marble swing said to have belonged to Noor jahan. The banquet hall is spacious with a double row of graceful pillars. In one of the rooms on the upper floor is a solid black marble bed, on which the corpses of the Maharajas were laid. The dining hall in yellow marble with curved sloping window arches, the Royal Chess Room with a low arcade of columns and a sunken section in the centre where the huge chessboard was laid out are worth seeing. Gopal Bhawan, with all its windows having stone lattice work, is flanked by two pavilions, Sawan and Bhadon with curved roofs and ornamental spires.

To the north and south of the garden are Nand Bhawanand Krishna Bhawan respectively. The focal point of the garden, directly opposite Gopal Bhawan, is the pillared summer pavilion called Keshav Bhawan overlooking Roop Sagar tank.

suraj bhawan

Built in white marble, an exquisite palace, with balconies overhanging the water.

purana mahal

One of the oldest buildings, it was the chamber of the court ladies. The palace walls display Rajput paintings having Mughal influence.

deeg fort
The fort stands on a higher level with massive walls and a moat. It has a couple of bastions and one is still mounted with a huge cannon.Within the fort are some locally cast guns and a haveli, mostly in ruins.
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RANTHAMBHOR:
The style of construction of this 9th century A.D. fort is unique, since it is concealed within hill ranges and dense forests and is not visible from a distance. It is defended by strong gates. The construction of tile walls is along ridge lines and they wind up, down the precipice.
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UDAIPUR
city palace
The City Palace complex is a huge structure consisting of several palaces. It forms a single facade overlooking the Pichola Lake. Built by Successive kings, the additions so carefully planned, that it is difficult to believe it was not conceived as one. The entrance is through Hathi Pol, along the main street of the city, leading to Tripolia Gate via Bada Pol. A large portion of the City Palace now houses a musuem.

The whole building is in soft cream colour, its massive towers crowned with cupolas. The Sheesh Mahal with inlaid mirror work, the Krishna Vilas with rows of scenes of various themes- painted in miniature style, the blue & white Chinese and Dutch tiles of Chini Chitrashala, the scenes from the Radha-Krishna stories painted on the walls of the Bhim Vilas, the intricately crafted peacocks in fine mosaic relief on the walls of Mor Chowk of Priyatama Vilas, the beautifully laid out gardens and fountains of Garden Palace-Bada Mahal and the beautiful-

contructed Zanana Mahal are ail worth viewing. The former royal guest house, Shiv Niwas is now a luxurios hotel

jag niwas lake palace

Jag Niwas, better known as Lake Palace, built on one of the islands of Lake Pichola, served as a summer residence of the former rulers. Its balconies and windows overlook the, lake. This airy complex has marble floors and granite columns. The gardens and fountains are well laid and the rooms are well decorated. Jag niwas is now a world famous hotel, called Lake Palace Hotel.
*_* Stay in Lake Palace Hotel

jag mandir

Jag Mandir, also on an island of Lake Piclola, is said to have been built by Maharana Karan Singh as a retreat for his friend prince Khurram, who later became Emperor Shah jalan. The Cupolas, a lofty dome, majestic palms, beautiful rooms with inlaid stories and paintings of the palace are worth seeing.

sajjangarh palace

Constructed by Maharana Sajjansingh on the top of a hill overlooking the city, the Sajjangarh palace is visible from a distance. From the palace, the hills, lakes, rivers, fields, forests, temples and palaces miles away are visible.

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CHITTAURGARH
Chittaur is the most important fort in Rajasthan. Built on a long rugged In] I and covering over 280 hectares with its fortfications, palaces, towers & temples, it is a testament to the glory of the land, historic battles and valiant people who preferred death to dishonour. It has a history of grimness juxtaposed with glory and was the capital of Mewar for eight hundred years. Seven gates defend the approach to the fort on the west, while there is one gate to the east and another to the north. It is distinguished by enormous inner ramparts. Within the ramparts is the palace of Rand Kumbha, now a huge ruined structure. Facing Kumbha's palace is the palace of the heirs-apparent, a three storeyed structure where the mystic Princess Mira Bai lived in seclusion. Rana Kumbha's Vijay Stambh or Victory Tower was built in celebration of his victory over the forces of the Sultans of Malwa and Gujarat. The tower is 37 metres in height and has nine storeys. The building and pillars inside each storey are carved from top to bottom. Kirti Stambh is another tower in the fort. It is smaller and less ornate. It was built by a Jain merchant and is dedicated to Adhinath, the first of the Jain Tirthankaras. The structure is 23 metres in height and has seven storeys. The fort also houses the palace of the celebrated beauty, Princess Padmini, which has a beautiful water pavilion. Equally interesting is the palace of Patta, the young Commander of the -fort after the death of jaimal. The 13 kms. of battlements enclose not only fortresses and palaces, but also

temples, bazars and granaries with reservoirs and lakes providing the much-needed water to sustain them. Among the important temples in the fort are a cluster of Jain temples, temple of Vishnu, Mirabai temple, Nilkantha Mahadev temple, the Kalika Mata temple (which originally was a Sun temple) and the Adbhutnath Shiv temple.
*_* Hotels in Chittorgarh

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KUMBHALGARH

Range upon range of the Aravalli hills protect this impregnable fortress, the second most important citadel of Mewar. Surrounded by thirteen mountain peaks, guarded by seven great gates and seven ramparts, strengthened by rounded bastions and immense watchtowers, this mountain fortress has witnessed many battles. The winding road leads through deep ravines and thick forests to Arait Pol with its watch-tower, Hulla Pol, Hanuman Pol, Ram Pol, Bhairava Pol, Paghra Pol, Top-khana Pol and Nimboo Pol.

On top of the fort is the Badal Mahal Palace. It encloses beautiful rooms with pleasant colour schemes of green, turquoise and white, which provides a fascinating contrast to the raw, earthy and grim fortress. The palace was rebuilt by Rana Fateh Singh in the late 19th century. The legendary Maharana Pratap was born here
*_* Hotels in Kumbhalgarh

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JALORE

"Let the sky be torn, the earth turned upside down, let the iron armour be cut to pieces, heads severed, body fighting alone, but jalore would not surrender." This is a well known couplet about jalore, since it withstood constant onslaughts for a long time and was regarded is one of the most impregnable forts of the country. The palaces constructed in the fort are simple and without embellishment.

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JODHPUR

The fort, known by the name Mehrangarh Fort and situated about 400 ft. above the city, dominates the surrounding plain. The walls built on the edge of the cliff have round and square towers and battlements. The seven successive gateways area deterrent to any invader with their iron spikes. The walls are68ft. wide. and 117 ft. high at places.

The palaces in the Mehrangarh Fort were constructed by Rao jodha and his successors from 1456 A.D.

onwards. The various buildings now serve as the Mehrangarh Museum. The Moti Mahal has stained glass windows that create a colourful mosaic with the play of light and shade on the glowing colours. The Mughal influence is evident in the miniature renderings 0 of Shah jahan and Aurangzeb. Equally fascinating are the Phool Mahal and an exquisite display of jodhpur miniatures in the Mardana Deori. The other important palaces like Chandan Mahal, the Darbar Takhat or Throne Room, the Rang Mahal, the Umaid Vilas etc. are also worth visiting,

 
umaid bhawan palace

Constructed in about 16 years as a famine relief measure, this majestic royal residence is said to have over 300 rooms. It is built in stone and is also known as Chhitar Palace. Part of the palace is now a luxurious hotel, a part houses a museum and the rest is still used by the former Maharaja as his residence,

The Rai-ka-Bagh Palace, now housing Govt. office sand the Tulati Mahal, which is now a hospital in the city, are also notable buildings.

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SOJAT

Situated at a distance of 10 kms. from Jodhpur, Sojat Fort was the main centre of the Jodhpur force for keeping a watch over Godwad and to resist attempts of invasion from Mewar. There was always a powerful force stationed, owing to strained relations with the Rana of Mewar,

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NAGAUR

Nagaur had a turbulent history and swung between Hindu and Muslim ownership. The fort site on a high

ground in the city, further protected by double walls of massive proportions, the outer one 8 metres high,the innner one 16 metres high and of thickness tapering from 9 metres at the base to 4 metres at the top. The

palaces in the fort, once set in formal gardens, have delicate murals of cypress trees and peacock feathers, occasionally framing a dancer or a flower, that decorate the exterior walls. There are more beautiful paintings inside.

On way to Jodhpur from Nagaur is Khimsar, the fortress, which is now a hotel.

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JAISALMER

According to a local quatrain,remote, isolated, unique jaisalmer appears out of a wasteland of rock and sand like some surrealist dream of an inspired visionary." The foundation of the fort was laid in 1156 on Trikuta hill by the Bhatti chiefjaisal.The fort, also called Sonar Kila- a Golden Fort, made of yellow standstone, seems to ignite into a golden flame when scorched by the desert sun. Numerous bastions of upto 325 ft. are made accessible through gates-Ganesh Pol, Akshya

Po], Suraj Po] and Hawa Pol. The walls of the fort are built in dry masonry. The 19th century Badal Mahal is home to the current royal descendant. There is a cross cultural merging of Rajput and Islamic building styles. There are the Rana Mahal, Gaj Vilas and Moti Mahal which have balconies and cupolas with finely executed carving and stone tracery. The pillared galleries, carved balconies and endless corridors create an intricate and wonderful setting. The narrow lanes and low but simply-designed houses in the fort are also interesting. The houses of rich merchants and nobles have exquisitely carved facades and projecting balconies. The large square

in the fort, Manik Chowk, once used to be a big grain market.

The fort of Pokaran is on the road to Jodhpur from jaislamer.

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BIKANER
junagarh fort

In the bleak,hard, rocky scrub country of the Thar desert stands the picturesque fort built by Raja Rai Singh in the late 16th century. The fort is known for its range of thirty seven palaces and pavilions built by different kings standing out above 9 metre wide defensive walls. Balconies and oriel windows lend it grace and dignity. Dungar Niwas has painted walls giving out the effect of pietra dura. A white marble tank provides a cooling effect on hot days. The Chandra Mahal has paintings on lime plaster walls. The Phool Mahal is more elaborately decorated with mirror work.TheGangaNiwasDar6arHall with its carved walls and ceiling, the Har Mandir where marriages, births and Gangaur festivals were celebrated, the Gaj Mandir Sheesh Mahal with its ivory inlaid bed, beautiful swing seat, silver chairs and polished wooden chests and cupboards are all beautiful sights.

The Anup Mahal houses the gorgeous and opulent coronation room in rich glowing red and gold. Magnificent doors with beautiful raised lacquer work, ornamented with opaque glass inlay work, impart a jewel-like opulence to this royal chamber. A wing of the fort contains an excellent museum and library of Persian and Sanskrit manuscripts and an armoury.

lal garh palace
Lalgarh Palace is a red sandstone building designed by Swinton Jacob, a part of it is now a palace hotel. This magnificent palace is of graceful proportions, set amidst spacious lawns. Superb cut-work embellishes the overhanging balconies and facades, the effect being one of rose coloured lace. The interiors have a western influence with Belgian and Bohemian glass crystal chandeliers, billiards, cards and smoking rooms. The banquet hall is adorned with trophies of wildlife.
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KOTA

The City Palace is within the fort, which lies in the heart of the city and access is through a busy market. The precincts of the City Palace enfold within its embrace, the royal stables, garrisons, treasury, courts, arsenals, store, opulent public and private apartments and kitchens. This property now houses a museum which has a rich collection of arts and artefacts. The small museum housed in the Hawa Mahal has a beautiful collection of stone idols and architectural fragments of Kota State. The Raj Gaddi (Throne) is in the beautiful Raj Mahal, which is embellished with gold & glass work on the walls and silver and mirror work on the ceiling. It also has marvelous wall paintings. The Akhade-ka-Mahal now displays regalia & paraphernalia of the state, besides other articles. The Bara Dari and the Bhim Mahal were used by the ruler for private parties and private audience. Bada Mahal was the private living quarter of the ruler. It has beautiful wall paintings and some Kota Kalam miniatures.The veranda in front has beautiful paintings of various schools and periods, set in glass on the walls, as also superb marble friezes. The balcony called Sooraj Gokh has rich gold, glass and crystal work. The Zanana Mahal is also worth seeing.

The Jag Mandir Palace is built in the middle of a lake called Bada Talao. The Brij-raj Bhawan Palace on the banks of the Chambal was once the British Residency and the Umed Bhawan Palace is the residence of the present royal descendant of Kota.

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BUNDI
the fort

The 14th century Taragarh Fort sprawls on top of a 500 ft. hill. There are huge water reservoirs inside the fort. It has strong battlements and bastions. The Bhim Burj housed the huge 16th century Garbh Ganjam cannon reputed to burst the eardrums with its noise. Below Taragarh is the Bundi Palace, which is a typical example of architecture. In Ratan Daulat, the chamber of public audience, stands a simple white marble throne. The Chhatra Mahal has beautiful wall paintings of the Bundi School. Ratan Mahal has many pillars, each mounted with four small black-stone elephants. The Zanana Mahal and Badal Mahal also have very good wall paintings. In Chitra Shala, one can see the best of Bundi wall paintings in varied themes.

Amidst beautifully laid garden, atop the bund of Jait Sagar is the Sukh Niwas. There are some very good sculptures in the garden. The Phool Sagar Palace, about 10 kms. west of Bundi, is an excellent structure. The location is well planned, as also the decoration of this Rajput edifice.

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gagron fort, jhalawar

Built on alow ridge at the confluence of the rivers Ahu and the Kali Sindh, the famous Gagron fort was protected by watter on three sides and there used to be a deep moat on the fourth side. This famous fort also has a rich historical past and is worth a visit.

 
 
DUNGARPUR

Built on the lines of a fort, is the juna Palace or Old Palace with strong ramparts, watchtowers, turrets and cupolas. The interior has lime plaster walls, polished and covered with mirror work, frescoes and Chinese tiles.

Udai Vilas Palace, built by the side of a lake, is a masterpiece of Rajput architecture. The pillars covered with friezes, arches supporting curved brackets, airy balconies and windows are a breathtaking sight.
*_* Stay in Udai Bilas Palace

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OTHER FORTS AND PALACES:

The elegant Samod Palace is now a heritage hotel. Its Durbal Hall is famous for its inlay of mirrors and stones, its stucco work and gilded strapping. The neglected Sikar Fort too has painted rooms and windows. The

beautiful fortresses or palaces of Nawalgarh, Dundlod, Mandawa etc. have been converted into comfortable hotels.

The Taragarh Fort at Ajmer is located at a strategically important place. The palaces of Kishangarh have beautiful nominator wall paintings. They are well worth a visit.

There are numerous other known and unknown forts and palaces in Rajasthan. The blood-soaked history, of Rajasthan in the medieval and early modern period necessitated a tradition of fortifications, not only by kings but also their feudatories. Now, these forts bear silent testimony to the heroic deeds of the kings, their nobles and warriors.

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