India is a land of many wonderous sights. It’s long and colorful history has left its mark in the different parts of the country. One of the best ways to explore the history of India is to visit its different forts. Once the strongholds of the ruling families, these forts today stand as a testimony to the glorious past of our country. The forts are replete with stories of bravery, battles, intrigues, and romance. Even if you are not a history buff, there is a lot of interesting elements that you can explore in these top five forts of India.
The Forts of India are a great way to learn about the heritage, culture, and evolution of architecture in the country. There are also fascinating folklore associated with the different forts and their residents which are very interesting to hear. When you think of forts in India, you at once visualize the spectacular and imposing structures of Rajasthan. However, there are also some great examples of fort architecture in other parts of India, viz, Delhi and Hyderabad. These forts are magnificent examples of planning, architecture, and are also treasure troves of some of the most beautiful wall paintings, frescos, inlay work, and murals.
Here are the top five forts in India that you must visit to understand the grandeur and opulence of the country’s past.
Mehrangarh Fort, Jodhpur
Perched four hundred feet on top of a steep cliff, the Mehrangarh Fort is a sight that is hard to forget for anyone visiting Jodhpur. The climb up to the fort and the view of the famous Blue City spread out below is an experience of a lifetime. This magnificent fort was built by the Rathores, one of the senior branches of the Rajput clan. It has been standing tall since five centuries overlooking the city of Jodhpur. The royal family of Jodhpur has preserved this fort and opened it out to the public to come and witness its grandeur.
There is also a museum within the fort complex which exhibits artifacts, paintings, arms and armors, textiles, and so much more from the time of the great Maharanas. The Mehrangarh Fort, also known as the “Citadel of the Sun” is a must-visit fort for anyone visiting Jodhpur. Apart from being a repository of history and culture, it is also a great place for adventure lovers. You can take part in zip lining activity near the fort and feel the rush of adrenalin course through your body!
The Mehrangarh Fort complex also hosts many interesting festivals and events throughout the year that encompass the arts, music, culture, and so much more. You can check the dates of the upcoming events while planning your visit and include them in your itinerary for an unforgettable experience.
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Entrance Fees: INR 120 for Indians and INR 600 for Foreign Travelers. For international travelers, an audio guide is included within the price of the ticket. There are also government-certified guides available at the entrance of the forts whom you can hire at a predetermined cost.
Timings: The Fort and Museum are open on all days from 0900 hours to 1700 hours.
Chittorgarh Fort, Chittor
Once the capital of the mighty kingdom of Mewar, the Chittorgarh Fort is known as the largest fort of India. Within its premises, there are many historical temples, palaces, and other important structures from the times of the brave Rajput kings and queens who lived here. The story of Chittorgarh, also simply called Chittor, is one of great romance, valor, sacrifice, and heroism. It is said that the queen of Chittor, Padmini was one of the most beautiful women in the country and Alauddin Khalji heard of her beauty and wanted to make her his queen consort. However, the chivalrous Rajputs were greatly offended by this demand and prepared to fend off Alauddin’s army.
After a long and hard battle, the brave Rajputs were defeated by the cunning Turks and they prepared to lay siege on the fort and loot its riches and women. The proud Rajput queens and noblewomen chose to self-immolate themselves to escape from the indignity of being touched by the Turkish army of Alauddin. This glorious event has been made immortal in the annals of history by folk songs and ballads composed by local poets. There was also a greatly publicized Bollywood movie that was made on this epic story.
As you climb the steep road up to the fort you can feel the history, culture, valor, and sacrifice which are the cornerstones of Rajput heritage. The architecture of the fort is also very interesting for history buffs and you can hire one of the local guides available at the fort to learn more about it. The Chittorgarh Fort has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2013 and is definitely a must-visit for everyone. Chittorgarh is located 112 kilometers from the city of Udaipur and is best done as a day excursion from there.
Entrance Fees: INR 35 for Indians and INR 550 for foreign nationals.
Timings: The fort is open to visitors on all days from sunrise to sunset.
Jaisalmer Fort, Jaisalmer
Known as the “Sonar Qilla” or Golden Fort, the Jaisalmer Fort is one of the most enthralling forts in India. This spectacular fort was immortalized on the silver screen by the Oscar-winning director Satyajit Ray in his film called “Sonar Qilla”. Since then it has been a highlight for tourists, especially Bengali travelers, to Rajasthan to visit and explore. Located in the desert town of Jaisalmer this fort is built out of yellow sandstone, which has earned it the epithet of Golden Fort.
The Jaisalmer Fort is the second oldest fort in India built in 1156 CE by Jaisal, the Rajput ruler at the time. It is one of the very few “living” forts that still exist in the world, with people continuing to inhabit the houses within the walled fortress. A major part of Jaisalmer city still exists within the fort walls which stands on top of the Trikuta Hills. The massive fort complex towers over the city of Jaisalmer that has spilled out outside the fort walls in the later years.
It is yet another UNESCO World Heritage Site and is one of the most spectacular and well-maintained forts in the country. Jaisalmer was an important stop on the trading route for merchants and was a prosperous town in its heydays. There are many shops, temples, and even a palace complex within the walls of the Jaisalmer Fort which you must visit. Experience life and culture of the people as it would have been at the time of the prince and princesses. Don’t forget to get a souvenir made out of the famous yellow sandstone from the shops within the fort.
Entrance fees: INR 50 for Indians and INR 250 for foreign nationals.
Timings: You can visit the fort and the city within the fort from sunrise to sunset on all days of the week.
Read More About:- Jaisalmer – The Fabled Golden City
Red Fort, Delhi
This was the nerve center of the later Mughal emperors and a symbol of the sovereignty of the country. This exquisite fort complex built by Shah Jahan and later added to by subsequent Mughal emperors became one of the most opulent forts to be present anywhere in the world. The riches that were accumulated within the walls of the treasury in Red Fort took the Persian Emperor Nadir Shar hundred of camels to loot!
One of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites of Delhi, the Red Fort is a must-visit for all who are visiting Delhi. Today only parts of the original Mughal design and architecture remain within the fort complex, but these are also extremely beautiful. The Red Fort earns its name from the red sandstone that was used to construct it. This stone was greatly favored by the Mughals and can also be seen in the walls and gates of the Agra Fort, Fatehpur Sikri, and Taj Mahal. Within the fort, you can see marvelous buildings constructed out of marble with exquisite inlay work.
The most famous among these is the Diwan-e-Khas or the Hall of Audience for special persons. It is here that the famous Peacock Throne was situated, and the Emperor received his special guests. The Peacock Throne contained the Koh-I-Noor diamond which was carried away by Nadir Shah when he pillaged Delhi in 1739. There are also other attractive places within the fort complex such as the Diwan-e-Aam, the covered market as you enter the fort, the Rang Mahal (Palace of Colors), and many others. There is also a museum within the fort complex that you can visit to gain an in-depth understanding of its residents.
After the battle of 1857, the British formally occupied the Red Fort and destroyed many of the Mughal structures and gardens to build barracks for its soldiers. Today, what we see are the remnants of what was left by the British and only a portion of the exquisitely designed gardens and palaces of the late Mughal rulers.
Entrance Fees: INR 35 for Indians and INR 500 for foreign nationals.
Timings: The fort is open to visitors on all days except Mondays between 0930 hours and 1630 hours.
Golconda Fort, Hyderabad
Located 11 kilometers from the city of Hyderabad lies the awe-inspiring Golconda Fort perched on top of a craggy hill. The climb to the top of the fort is definitely a steep one, but the view from the top is reward enough for the efforts. Built initially by the Kakatiya rulers of the region in the 12th Century CE, the fort was later rebuilt and added on to by the Qutub Shahi rulers. It was later abandoned in favor of a more elaborate palace in the main city by the subsequent rulers.
Near the Golconda Fort are the famous Golconda Diamond Mines from which it is believed that the Koh-I-Noor was mined. You can also pay a visit to the mines after the fort complex. Most of the fort lies in ruins today, however, renovation is being carried out by the government. As you climb to the top of the fort through a labyrinth of broken walls and pillars, you will feel like you’re in the middle of some treasure hunt. Remember to wear comfortable walking shoes and carry hats and sunglasses as it can get pretty hot.
See the unique carvings and plasterwork patronized by the Qutub Shahi rulers and learn about their history from one of the government certified guides available at the entrance of the fort. They will also tell you many interesting tales of the rulers who lived here and of the court intrigues and battles that were fought. At the very top of the Golconda Fort, there is an immaculately maintained mosque and a temple which are both still in use by the local people. Even if you are not religious, you can enjoy the breathtaking view of the city of Hyderabad sprawled out below from your unique vantage point.
Entrance Fees: INR 15 for Indians and INR 200 for foreign nationals.
Timings: The fort is open to visitors between 0900 hours and 1700 hours on all days of the week.
Historically Rich India
There is so much to explore in our country and explore its beautiful heritage and culture. One of the ways in which you can do this is by discovering the majestic forts of India. Located in different parts of the country and built over different periods and in different styles, these are a great way of understanding the evolution of fortification and architecture under the different rulers. From rudimentary constructions of the early medieval rulers to the more complex plans of the later kings and emperors, the forts of India are a treasure trove of history and culture. The above are the five forts in India that you must visit and feel yourself getting awed by their magnificence and splendour.