Famous Forts And Palaces of Rajasthan
India is renowned the world over for its glorious past, heritage and culture. Most famous for its history of kings, queens, palaces, forts and territories, India has been a country of countless riches, magnificent architectural structures and monuments and a vibrant historical lineage. However, Rajasthan, the largest state in North-West India, is literally called the ‘Land of Kings’ and is home to the most awe-inspiring and marvelous palaces, havelis and forts. Most of these massive, impressive architectural wonders have now been converted to heritage hotels, government organizations and some retained as the private residences of the royal family.
The best time to visit this state is during the winters, from October to March. The weather cools down completely and is pleasantly chill during the days and is cold at nights.
Here is a list of a few famous forts and palaces that one must visit on a trip to Rajasthan.
Amer Fort, Jaipur :
This magnificent fort cum palace is situated high on the Aravalli range of hills in Amer town, near Jaipur which is the capital of Rajasthan. The fort is distinctive for its artistic Hindu style features with large ramparts/ walls, series of impressive gates, lovely cobbled paths and overlooks the Maota Lake. The lavish palace is constructed of red sandstone and marble and stretched out over four levels, each with a courtyard and consists of the Hall of Public Audience, the Hall of Private Audience, the Sheesh Mahal (the mirror palace) and Sukh Niwas where a cool environment is artificially created by winds that blow over a water cascade within the palace. Attracting a lot of tourist footfalls, the Amer Fort has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site as part of the group ‘Hill Forts of Rajasthan’.
Timings: 8:00 am to 6:00 pm and Light show: 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm
How to reach :
By air – The airport is located at Sanganer, which is 12 kms away from the heart of Jaipur city and has both domestic as well as international flights coming in regularly.
By train – Jaipur city is very well connected by rail to a host of other cities across the country. One can also opt to travel luxuriously on the ‘Palace On Wheels’ which takes you to, in and around Jaipur city, leaving you with a wonderful experience.
By bus – The Rajasthan State Road Transport Corporation offers regular as well as deluxe and Volvo buses from various cities like Delhi, Ahmedabad, Ajmer, Udaipur, Kota and Vadodara.
Mehrangarh Fort, Jodhpur :
Located in the centre of the city of Jodhpur, at an altitude of 410 feet above the city, the Mehrangarh Fort of the Rathore clan is one of the largest forts in India and enclosed with thick, imposing walls. These walls house several beautiful palaces like the Moti Mahal(Pearl Palace), Phool Mahal (Flower Palace), Sheesha Mahal (Mirror Palace), Sileh Khana and Daulat Khana and are admired for their intricate carvings and sprawling courtyards. The fort has seven gates which include Jai pol gate, celebrating Maharaja Man Singh’s victories over Jaipur, Bikaner and Udaipur armies and Fatteh pol gate built by Maharaja Ajit Singh, symbolizing the defeat over Mughals. Currently, the museum in the Mehrangarh Fort is one of the most well-preserved museums with royal palenquins of those times and the Rathore heritage of royal cradles, howdahs, miniatures, musical instruments, arms, paintings, costumes and furniture. The Chamunda Mataji Temple within the fort is most famous and is worshipped by most of Jodhpur’s citizens, especially during Dussehra.
Timings: 9 am to 5 pm
How to reach:
By air – The domestic airport at Jodhpur has regular flights to and from other cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Udaipur and Jaipur.
By train – Jodhpur has a very good rail network with cities like Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai and Kolkata.
By bus – There are several Private, deluxe and luxury buses along with some government-run buses that operate regularly between Delhi and Jodhpur.
Jaisalmer Fort, Jaipur :
Jaisalmer Fort is the second oldest fort in Rajasthan and believed to be one of the very few or perhaps the only ‘living fort’ in the world as nearly one fourth of the old city’s population still resides within the fort. One of the largest fortifications on this planet, the Jaisalmer Fort is bounded in with three layers of walls, has 99 bastions or strongholds, two prime canon points and several architectural structures, which include the Royal Palace, the impressive gateways, merchant havelis and temples for both the Hindu and Jain religions. Historical records reveal that this fort essentially comprised of the city of Jaisalmer and over time, in order to accommodate the growing population of the city, the first settlements shifted out of the fort walls in the 17th century. The fort’s massive yellow sandstone walls have a sandy colour during the day and turn to a honey-gold colour as the sun sets, camouflaging the fort well with the yellow, sandy deserts and thus also acquiring the name of ‘Sonar Quila’ or Golden Fort. The location of the fort on the high Trikuta Hill in the Thar Desert, ensures that the towers of this fort are visible far and wide.
Timings: 6 am to 5 pm
City Palace, Jaipur :
This well-designed and majestic palace is situated right in the heart of Jaipur and is one of the most popular tourist sites in this ‘Pink City’. It was the seat of the Maharaja of Jaipur, who ruled his kingdom from here and till date a major part of the palace is still a royal residence. Exhibiting a wonderful fusion of classic Rajasthani style of architecture along with Mughal and European style architecture, this palace has earned its place of pride in Rajasthan Tourism owing to its exquisite construction design and prominent role in history. Comprising of several gateways, small palaces, a large courtyard, different halls and a beautiful Krishna Temple, the palace provides an amazing tour for history enthusiasts, as well as normal tourists. It also houses a museum which displays an interesting collection of carriages, palanquins and European cabs.
Timings: 9.30 am – 5 pm daily, except for major festivals like Diwali, Holi, etc.
Udai Vilas Palace, Udaipur :
Located on Lake Pichola, with the backdrop of the Aravalli Mountain Range, the magnificent Udai Vilas Palace leaves one gasping with awe and wonder. The palace was beautified with a wonderful arrangement of fountains, massive captivating courtyards and an assortment of delightful gardens. The classic stone carvings, attractive ornate balconies, delicate figurines and the amazing private infinity edge pool speak volumes of the marvelous architecture and design. One of the most picturesque palatial constructions in Rajasthan, this structure was built of bluish-grey sandstone and has been converted into a heritage hotel, run by the Oberoi Group of Hotels in recent times. Guests are treated, tended to and entertained as royalty, leaving one with an unforgettable memory . It is of little wonder then, that this property is judged the best in Asia and the fifth best hotel in the world.
Timings: 12 am – 12 pm and 9 pm – 12 am
How to reach:
By air – The Maharana Pratap Airport in Udaipur is well connected with regular flights to several major cities of India.
By train – It also has a vast network of railways which connects it to major cities like Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Jaipur, Indore and Kota.
By bus – Private as well as State-run buses offering regular, deluxe, luxury coaches etc are available to and from Delhi, Ahmedabad, Indore, Kota and Jaipur.
Lake Palace, Udaipur :
Formerly known as Jag Nivas, the magnificent marble structure of Lake Palace, is located in the middle of Pichola Lake and looks out on the city of Udaipur. It was originally built to enjoy as a summer palace and is spread across almost 4 acres of the Jag Nivas island in Lake Pichola. The structure was constructed facing the east so that the Royal Family could pray to the Sun God early morning. It also served as a shelter for the British Army and several British families during the Indian Sepoy Mutiny in 1857. It was only after the structure of the palace started deteriorating, that a decision to convert the palace into a hotel to obtain more revenue for maintenance, was taken and Lake Palace was handed over to the Taj Hotels and Resort Palaces. Ever since, the palace has been renovated to add many more plush rooms and give it an even more extravagant and luxurious set-up. It is also perceived as one of the most romantic palaces of the country.
Timings: 9.30 am – 4.30 pm
Samode Palace, Jaipur :
The Samode Palace is an incredibly attractive heritage structure in Jaipur, blended with the best of Rajasthani and Mughal art and architecture. It attracts plenty of tourists, not just for its palace, but also for the Samode Haveli and Samode Bagh, which is again designed on the lines of the Mughal gardens. Initially built as a Rajput fort, it was eventually converted into an exquisitely designed palace by the then serving Chief Minister Rawal Berisal. A 475 year old mansion, the Samode palace displays a marvelous collection of intricate artwork and paintings. The open dining area and inviting swimming pool are a great draw for guests residing there. Having been converted into a hotel some time ago, guests are pampered with authentic Rajasthani culture and tradition here. The rich marble floors, mosaic walls, frescoes and floral themes further add to the grandeur of the palace and make it one of the most gorgeous locations for a wedding in Rajasthan.
Picture Credits : Amer Fort – jaipurweddings.com, Mehrangarh Fort – Tour My India, Jaisalmer Fort – trawell.in, City Palace – jaipuronline.in, Udai Vilas Palace – hindustantimes.com, Lake Palace – hotels.com, Samode Palace – My Wedding Planning