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Forts and Palaces of India

Jodhpur - Forts - Palaces

Mehrangarh Fort -  Situated on a steep hill, Mehrangarh Fort is one of the largest forts in India. The fort has been a witness to the splendour of a bygone era. The beauty and the grandeur of numerous palaces in the fort narrates a saga of hard sandstones yielding to the chisels of skilled Jodhpuri sculptures. To enter the Mehrangarh fort, seven gates have to be crossed. 

Some of these gates still bear marks of many a siege that this fort has withstood. Its very hard to imagine how any invader even thought of conquering this fort, which at places has 17 feet thick and 68 feet high walls. 

fort places at jodhpur

The Mehrangarh Fort encloses many palaces, which are known for their intricate carvings and sprawling courtyards. Moti Mahal or the Pearl Palace has a delicately carved stone screen and treasures the Sringar Chowki, royal throne of Jodhpur. Umaid Villas displays the Rajput miniature paintings and Ajit Villas exhibits musical instruments and the royal costumes. Both these villas are joined by a beautiful mirror room.

The Jodhpur Coat of Arms is kept in the Phool Mahal. Walls of this Flower Palace is covered with paintings depicting various musical moods. The Maan Villas displays Rathore armoury and the 'Tent room'. This tent room is an imperial Mughal campaign tent, used by Shahjahan but wrested by Jaswant Singh from Aurangzeb in a battle. Made of red velvet and embroidered with gold thread, it gives some idea of the grandeur with which the Mughals approached even their battles.  

Bikaner - Forts - Palaces

Junagarh Fort -  Junagarh Fort in Bikaner is considered one of India's most impressive fort complexes. It's exquisitely decorated interiors are in an excellent state of preservation. Built in 1588 by Raja Rai Singh, it is one of the few major forts that was not built on a hilltop. The complex consists of palaces, courtyards, pavilions, and balconies. The walls are adorned with carved stones, marble, paintings, and inlaid semi-precious stones. Each palace in the complex was built by a different ruler over the centuries. The most recent additions were made in 1943.
The Anup Mahal is one of the most impressive rooms in the complex. The ornately lacquered walls are covered in red and gold with colored glass inlay. White plaster pillars are decorated in delicate patterns and covered with gold leaf.
In a land where water is rare, the Badal Mahal or Cloud Palace's walls are painted with a fresco of rain clouds. The Rain Fresco photograph shows a painting of Krishna and Radna surrounded by the blue cloud motifs. 

Jaisalmer - Forts - Palaces

Jaisalmer Forts -  Deep in the heart of the Thar Desert is Jaisalmer, one of the last princely bastions in the region. 

The golden - yellow sandstone of Jaisalmer Fort, over 800 years old, crowns the Trikuta Hill. Within its walls, defended by 99 turrets, lies the old city, nearly a quarter of modern Jaisalmer. Seen from outside, the sight must be almost identical to what was seen by merchants on their overland camel caravans to central Asia. Once this desert outpost was an important gate for the trade route, and Jaisalmer grew wealthy on the proceeds. But the advent of commercial shipping relegated the town to relative obscurity. 

The fort stands almost 30 metres over the city and houses an entire living area within huge ramparts. Walking through the narrow lanes is an experience worth savouring. It is approached through Ganesh Pol, Suraj Pol, Bhoot Pol and Hawa Pol. Also, within it are many beautiful havelies and a group of Jain temples dating from the 12th to the 15th centuries. 

Being part of the Desert Triangle and the venue of Desert Festival, the place is accessible by rail, road and air and has tourist accommodation ranging from high budget to low budget. The city is also covered by the "Palace on Wheels" a train-cum-road package, which needs no description. This place too witnesses large flow of tourist traffic in winters. 

Mysore - Forts - Palaces

Mysore Palace -  The Mysore Palace, once the residence of the Wodeyars, is one of the largest palaces of its kind in India, and one of the most splendid. Designed in the Indo-Saracenic style by Henry Irwin, the British consultant architect of Madras state, it was built in 1912 for the twenty fourth Wodeyar Raja on the site of the old wooden palace that had been destroyed by fire in the year 1897. Twelve temples surround the palace, some of which are from earlier periods. 

mysore fort places

The palace provides a magnificent view on Sunday evenings, and during festivals, when the whole palace is illuminated by thousands of lightbulbs. The entry to the palace is through the Gombe Thotti or the Doll's Pavilion, a gallery of Indian and European sculpture and ceremonial objects. Halfway along is the elephant gate, which is the main entrance to the centre of the palace. The gate is decorated with floriate designs, and bears the Mysore royal symbol of a double headed eagle. To the north of the gate are dolls, dating from the earlier nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and a ceremonial wooden elephant howdah (frame to carry passengers) decorated with 84 kilogram of 24 carat gold.Walls which lead to the Kalyan Mandapa or the royal wedding hall, are lined with elaborately detailed oil paintings, illustrating the great Mysore Dussehra Festival of 1930. The hall itself is magnificent, featuring chandeliers, and multicoloured stain glass arranged in peacock designs. On climbing up the stairs, is the Public Darbar Hall, or the hall for public audience, which has paintings of some celebrated artists, and offers wonderful views of the parade grounds and the Chamundi Hills. Chamundi Hills has a temple dedicated to Goddess Chamundi or Durga. The smaller Private Durbar hall or the hall for private audience, features some splendid work of beautiful stained glass and gold leaf paintings. 

Udaipur - Forts - Palaces

City Palace -  This majestic white Royal building towers itself on a hill and is surrounded by crenellated walls. The palace was completed in its present form by the contribution of many rulers. Originally started by Udai Singh, the later addition were so carefully planned and integrated with the original building that it becomes difficult to belive that the building was not conceived as a whole. The palace stands along the shores of lake Pichola.

Approach to the palace is through the Hati Pol or the elephant gate. The Bara pol or the great gate leads to the first court which joins Tripolia or the triple gate. Between the two gates are eight carved toranas or arches which marks the spot where the rulers were weighed against gold or silver the equivalent value of which was then distributed among the poor. Beyond the Tripolia is the arena where the elephant fights were staged.

forts at udaipur

The path then leads to a series of courtyards, overlapping pavilions, terraces, corridors and hanging gardens- a harmonious profusion hard to describe.The soft cream coloured central Chhatri has facing of blue coloured tiles with massive octagonal towers crowned with cupolas. The Sheesh Mahal has inlaid mirror work. The Krishna villas has a series of miniature paintings which are witness to the Royal processions, festivals and the game of 'Chogan'. The Chini Chitrashala is famous for its Chinese and Dutch tiles, the latter of which has depiction of biblical scenes including the flight to Egypt. Radha-Krishna stories are painted on the walls of the Bhim Vilas. The glass mosaic gallery with its superb stained glasses and portraits afford a panoramic view of the city below. The Mor chowk has a brilliant mosaic of peacocks set in the walls showing the three seasons: summer, winter and monsoon. There are exquisite terrace gardens with fountains in the Amar villass.

Delhi - Forts - Palaces

Red Fort -  This great fort on the banks of Jamuna, built by Shahjahan as the citadel of the seventh Delhi founded by him, then known as Shahjahanabad and now old Delhi, is a significant link between the past and the present, for it is from here that the prime minister of India addresses the people on the Independence Day, which is August 15th.

red fort at delhi

The largest of Old Delhi's monuments is Lal Quila or Red Fort whose thick red sandstone walls, bulging with turrets and bastions, have withstood the vagaries of time and nature. The Lal Quila rises above a wide dry moat in the northeast corner of the original city of Shahjahanabad. Its walls extend from two kilometers and vary in height from 18 metres on the river side to 33 metres on the city side. 

Day and Night View of Red Fort, Delhi

Mughal Emperor Shahjahan started construction of the massive fort in 1638 and work was completed in 1648. The fort contains all the expected trappings of the centre of Mughal government: halls of public and private audience, domed and arched marble palaces, plush private apartments, a mosque and elaborately designed gardens. Even today, the fort remains an impressive testimony to Mughal grandeur, despite being attacked by the Persian Emperor Nadir Shah in 1739 and by the British soldiers during the war of independence in 1857.

Entrance to the fort is through the imposing Lahore Gate, which takes its name from the fact that it faces Lahore, now in Pakistan. This gate has a special significance for India since the first war of independence and important speeches have been made here by freedom fighters and national leaders of India. 

The main entrance opens on to the Chatta Chowk, a covered street flanked with arched cells that used to house Delhi's most talented jewellers, carpet makers, weavers and goldsmiths. This arcade was also known as the Meena Bazaar, the shopping centre for the ladies of the court. Just beyond the Chhata Chowk is the heart of the fort called Naubat Khana or the Drum House. The musicians used to play for the emperor from the Naubat Khana and the arrival of princes and royalty was heralded from here. 

The other attractions within this monument are the Royal Baths or hammams, the Shahi Burj, which used to be Shahjahan's private working area and the Moti Masjid or the Pearl Mosque, built by Aurangzeb for his personal use. The Rang Mahal or the "Palace of Colours" housed the Emperor's wives and mistresses. This palace was crowned with gilded turrets, delicately painted and decorated with an intricate mosaic of mirrors, and a ceiling overlaid with gold and silver that was reflected in a central pool in the marble floor. 

Even today, the Lal Quila is an eloquent reminder of the glory of the Mughal era and its magnificence leaves many wonder-struck and breathless. It is still a calm haven of peace which helps one to break away from the frantic pace of life outside the walls of the Fort and transports the visitor to another era of time. 

Gwalior - Forts - Palaces

Gwalior Fort -  Gwalior is a legendary city, with a very interesting and colourful past. 
The city of Gwalior is dominated by the hill - top fort , the history of which goes back over 1000 years. During this period of 1000 years, Gwalior fort has been annexed by many rulers, including the Tomars, Mughals, Marathas and the Britishers. In the early 19th century, the fort was passed on to the Scindias. The fort has been a mute witness to some of the final and most dramatic events of the Mutiny, in mid 1858. Rani of Jhansi, the heroine of the Indian independence, was killed here during the final assault on the fort in 1858. 

The Gwalior fort, rising about 100 metres above the ground, sprawls over a length of about three kilometres. The width of the fort also varies between one kilometre and 200 metres at different places. The mighty sandstone walls of the fort encompass about six palaces, three temples, and several water tanks. The tourist can have a magnificent view from the fort walls, over the old city of Gwalior. 

Hyderabad - Forts - Palaces

golconda fort

Golkonda Fort -  Golconda Fort is one of the most magnificent fortress complexes in India. It is located on the outskirts of the city of Hyderabad, the capital of the state of Andhra Pradesh. The history of Golconda Fort dates back to the early 13th century, when this south eastern part of the country was ruled by the Kakatiyas. The bulk of the ruins of this fort, date from the time of the Qutab Shahi kings, who had ruled this area in the 16th and 17th century. 

Golconda city remained the capital of the Qutab Shahis from 1512 to 1590, from where they later shifted it to Hyderabad. Golconda Fort is itself built on a granite hill 120 metres high, and is surrounded by walls of solid stone. The fortress had held out for eight long months, when in 1687, the fort was besieged by the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb. It finally fell to the Mughals, after it was treacherously betrayed. The outer wall surrounding the entire township of Golconda, is about 11 kilometres long, and is strongly fortified. In its heyday, the 10 kilometre long road from Golconda to outer Hyderabad, was a fabulous market selling jewellery, diamonds, pearls and other gems, which were famous all over the world.

One of the most remarkable features of Golconda, is its system of acoustics. The sounds of hands clapped in the grand portico can be heard in the Durbar Hall, at the very top of the hill. The tombs of the Qutab Shahi kings, lie about one kilometre north of the outer wall of Golconda. These graceful structures are surrounded by landscaped gardens, with beautifully carved stonework. 



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