Hill forts of Rajasthan is a group of six majestic hill forts situated on the rocky terrains of the Aravali Mountains. These forts are fort of Chittaurgarh, fort of Kumbhalgarh, Ranthambore fort, Jaisalmer fort, Amber fort and fort of Gagron , situated in the districts of Chittaurgarh, Rajsamand, Sawai Madhopur, Jaisalmer, Jaipur and Jhalawar respectively. These forts are known for their marvelous architecture and represent “military hill architecture” of the Rajputs. The forts bear testimony to the power of the Rajput princely states that flourished in the state of Rajasthan between 8th to the 18th centuries.
Situated amidst the golden stretches of the great Thar Desert of Rajasthan, Jaisalmer Fort is one of the largest fortifications in the world. It is located on Trikuta Hill, in the heart of city of Jaisalmer. It was built in 1156 AD by the Rajput ruler Rawal Jaisal. The massive yellow sandstone walls of the fort changes color during the day hence camouflaging the fort in the yellow desert, hence the fort is also known as Sonar Quila or Golden Fort.
Like any other Rajput forts of Rajasthan, this fort has also witnessed many battles and has been captured by different rulers. Ala-ud-din Khilji captured the fort in the 13th century and held it for 9 years; Mughal emperor Humayun attacked the fort in 1541. The fort has witnessed bravery of Rajput fighters and women who committed Jauhar.
The infrastructure of the fort is designed as to give utmost protection to the fort. The fort is 250 feet tall, and is reinforced by a sandstone wall which is 30 feet high. There are 99 bastions around the fort. The fort contains three layers of walls. The outer, made of solid stone blocks reinforces the loose rubble of Trikuta Hill. The middle or second wall wraps the entire fort and from the innermost wall the Rajput warriors once hurled boiling oil, water and massive blocks of rock at the enemies, who would get trapped between the second and third walls.
The fort envelops a whole townships consisting of massive gateways, royal palaces, temples within the fort. The fort which stands proudly in the heart of the city and is a monument of great historical importance is facing great threats due to rapid increase in residence population and increasing construction, water seepage, tectonic activities etc.
Ranthambore Fort in Sawai Madhopore
Within the famous wild life sanctuary of Ranthambore which was hunting grounds of the Maharajahs of Jaipur lies the invincible fort of Ranthambore. The fort is situated near the town of Sawai Madhopur.
The exact founders of the fort is not known, the fort is believed to have been built during the 8th century by the Chauhans ruler Some also associate it with Nagil Jats . Like any other fort , this fort has also been attacked and captured by various rullers at different times. Qutub-ud-din (1209), Allaudin Khilji (1301), Feroz Tughlaq (1325) , Bahadur Shah of Gujarat (1530) and finally Mughals in 18th century. Finally in 19th century the fort was given back to the Maharaja of Jaipur and it remained with them till independence.
The fortress of Ranthambore is surrounded by Vindhyas and Aravallis hills . Ranthambhore name came from the two hills, Rann and Thambhore which are in close proximately of each other. The fort lies on Thambhore hill . The fort is spread in an area of 7 km. There were many buildings inside the fort but a few of them have survived now. Inside Ranthambore fort there are three Hindu temples dedicated to Ganesh, Shiva and Ramlalaji constructed in 12th and 13th centuries from red Karauli stone. There are two pavilions, Badal Mahal , Dullah Mahal, 32 Pillared Chhatri and Hammirs court , There is also a Jain temple of Lord Sumatinath (5th Jain Tirthankar) and Lord Sambhavanath , there are mosques, barracks, step-well and gates.
Chittaurgarh Fort in Chittaurgarh
Situated on the left bank of the Berach river , Chittaurgarh Fort is the largest fort of India. This grand monument is also called as Water Fort as it had 84 water bodies inside, out of which only about 22 exist today. Every corners of the fort tells the bravery tales of of Maharana Pratap Singh and the great Rajput rulers of Rajasthan and the gallantry and sacrifice of their devoted queens. The folklore about the gallantry of Rani Padmini can be still heard inside the fort. The important monuments inside the fort are are Gaumukh reservoir, Vijay Stambha and Rana Kumbha palace.
Kumbalgarh fort in Rajasmand,
At a distance of 64 kms in north-west of Udaipur city of Rajasthan is Rajasmand district, where lies the great fort of Kumbalgarh, built during 15th century by Maharana Kumbha, this fort is also the birth place of Maharana Pratap, the great warrior king of Mewar. Majestically standing at a height of about 1180m, this invincible fort provides a magnificent and panoramic view of the countryside from its top. The fort is surrounded by thick walls which are 15 KMS long, which is supposed to be the second longest wall in the world after the Great Wall of China. This grand fort also has 360 temples within the walls. This wall is a great example of brilliant architecture of Rajput era and runs through the mountains and cliff and provides protection to the fort. The fort has seven huge and magnificent gates guarding the entrances and the security of the fort was strengthened by rounded bastions and immense watch towers.
The fort was so impregnable that even the great Mugals couldn’t capture it alone and they have to be assisted by armies of Delhi, Amber and Marwar to breach its defenses. It is believed that after the fort of Chittorgarh, Kumbhalgarh Fort is the second most important fort of Rajasthan. The huge complex of the Fort has numerous palaces, temples and gardens making it more magnificent.
Amer fort in Jaipur
Situated in a serene backdrop of the Aravali Hill at a distance of about 11km from Jaipur. Amber or Amer Fort is one and white marble this marvelous fort encompasses numerous attractions like temples, gardens and palaces . The whole fort is facing the Maota Lake, which enhances the beauty of the location.
Originally Amer was the capital of Rajput Empire but, due to its rugged terrain, its expansion was becoming difficult, hence the capital was shifted to Jaipur subsequently. The earlier structure was built in the Rule of Raja Man Singh and the process of expansion and improvement continued till 1727 when “Sawai Jai Singh II” shifted his Capital to Jaipur. The Rajput rulers operated from this fort till the capital was shifted to Jaipur.
Amer fort is a classic fort palace with a magnificent architecture and artistic aura. The interior of palace and walls depicts impressive paintings, carvings , stone and mirror works and splendid use of colors. Amer fort/palace was the citadel of the ruling kings before they shifted their capital to Jaipur. The fort gives a picturesque blend of both Hindu and Mughal architecture. Amer fort is a beautiful gemstone in the royal crown of Rajasthan.
Gagron Fort is situated in Jhalawar district of Rajasthan. It is a historical and religious place and an example of hill and water fort. The fort is surrounded by water and is also known as “Water Fort”. This magnificent fort was laid in 7th century and completed in 14 the century. Outside the fort there is a Dargah of Sufi Saint Mitthesha, where a fair is held every year in Moharram. There is also a monastery of Saint Pipa Ji, who is among the chief eight disciples of Guru Ramanand and was comtemporary of Saint Kabir.