Built between the 5th and 18th centuries, the hill forts of Rajasthan are majestic, elaborate architectural marvels. There are six of them, built by various Rajput kingdoms over the centuries as royal residences, defensive fortifications and symbols of power. Today, the walls of these protected monuments still stand tall amidst dense forests and the desert sands. These hill forts seamlessly combine architecture from the Mughal Empire, neighbouring Sultanates and even the Maratha Kingdom, resulting in a distinctive style of their own. And if you are visiting the “Land of kings”, these abodes of the emperors must be on your list of places to explore. ALSO READ: Famous forts of Rajasthan that define splendor
Considered one of the largest forts of India, Chittorgarh Fort was the capital of the Mewar Dynasty, spreading across nearly 700 acres of land. It was ruled by the Mewars since the 7th century before falling to the Sisodiya Rajputs and being abandoned finally in 1568. The fort has been a prominent fixture in many legends, including the infamous invasion and subsequent capture by Alauddin Khilji, second ruler of the Khilji dynasty. After coming into the hands of the Sisodia Dynasty, Chittorgarh saw a renewal of its fortunes before being captured by Mughal Emperor Akbar. This Siege of 1567 resulted in the formation of a new capital, Udaipur. Today, most of the protected heritage site still stands, including its seven majestic gates and historic monuments like the Kirti Stambh and Vijay Stambh, Gaumukh reservoir, Padmini’s Palace, Fatah Prakash Palace and Rana Kumbha Palace.
The Kumbhalgarh Fort dates back to the 15th century, located a little over 60 km from Udaipur, which became the new shining capital of the Mewars after the fall of Chittorgarh Fort. It was built by Rana Kumbha and its 38 km long wall of this fort is actually the second-longest one in the world, after the Great Wall of China. It is surrounded by 13 mountain peaks, and built over ridges that stand at an altitude of 1,914 meters above sea level. The fort has seven gates and ramparts, with curved bastions along the walls and massive watch towers. The road to the fort takes you through these gates, but not before cross a dense jungle and deep ravines. Its strong walls have withstood several attacks, with the fort falling to invaders only a couple of times in 400 years. Inside, you will find around 360 temples, with the beautiful Badal Mahal or Cloud Palace at the top of the entire fortification.
Lying with the jungles of the Ranthambore National Park, the Ranthambore Fort should definitely be visited if you are exploring the park. It is said to have been built during the reign of Chauhan Rajput ruler Sapaldaksha, with the foundation stone being laid in 944 CE. The fort lies on a hill around 700 feet above the forested plains around it, and has seen several other rulers for centuries. It repeatedly changed hands over the centuries between the Chauhans and various Sultanates and Muslim dynasties, including the Ghurids and the Delhi Sultanate. It eventually came into the hands of Emperor Akbar and then, in the 17th century, the Kachwaha Maharajas of Jaipur. The fort’s walls run through an area of 4 km, with several ponds that were once mines to get stone for the fort. There are also several temples from the 12th and 13th centuries to see here. ALSO READ: 5 temples in Rajasthan that are pure architectural marvels!
Located along the banks of the Kali Sindh River, Gagron Fort is actually surrounded by water on three sides, with the Ahu River flowing along one side. It is said to have been built by the Dor Rajputs, also known as the Doda clan, before falling in the hands of the Khichi Chauhans sometime in the 12th century. After this, the strategically-located fort kept switching between the Rajputs and Sultanates of the time until the 18th century, including the Khiljis, Ranas and Mughals. In 1707, Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb granted the fort to Maharao Bhim Singh of Kota, ending the centuries of wars. The fort dates back to the 7th century, and has witnessed several battles over the years. It lies around 12 km from the city of Jhalawar, and the splendid Dargah of Sufi saint Mittheshah lies just on the outside of the fort.
The Amber or Amer Fort lies just 11 km from Jaipur, built by the legendary Maharaja Man Singh of the Kachwaha clan in 1592 CE and further expanded by his successor, Maharaja Jai Singh I. The fort has since undergone several structural revisions and additions until 1727, when Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II funded Jaipur, the new capital city. Best seen from the top of an elephant, the fort has four massive courtyards, with the first one, Jaleb Chowk, being the site of several parades and the popular Shila Mata temple. The second courtyard was the Diwan-Ai-Aam, where the public assembly was held at the time of kings. The third courtyard was for the kings themselves, and consists of the Sheesh Mahal, Lion Gate, Tripolia Gate and the Mughal Gardens, all of which are shining examples of Mughal and Rajput architecture.
Built in 1156 CE by Rawal Jaisal, the Bhati Rajput ruler, the majestic Jaisalmer Fort is located on Trikuta Hill in the Thar Desert. The yellow sandstone walls of the fort have given it the name ‘Sonar Quila’ or Golden Fort, and have seen several invasions by rival kingdoms. The fort itself has an astounding 99 bastions, and its walls once contained the entire popularity of Jaisalmer city. Today, several monuments remain from the heydays of the fort, including the Raj Mahal, Lakshminath Temple and the Jain temples, along with merchant havelis with ornate balconies, doors and windows. The fort is accessible via four huge gateways, and there are several museums worth visiting within, along with eateries and other sights. ALSO READ: 20 breathtaking pictures of Rajasthan that will leave you in awe
Have interesting travel photos you’d like to share with us? Send photos from your travels to firstname.lastname@example.org, don’t forget to mention where you’ve shot the picture and get a chance to be featured on our website! So what are you waiting for? Hurry!
Have something to add to this story? Post your comments in the discussion board below; we will be thrilled to hear from you!