Top 10 Great Forts of India
Having been an integral part of the glorious past and history of India, it is only natural that Indian history and archaeological records speak volumes about the numerous grand, majestic forts and monuments adorning our country. Wonderful stories of grandeur, pride, fearlessness.
These forts are a testimony of excellent Indian and Mughal architecture and brilliant craftsmanship of those times and hence it is of little wonder that these structures have become famous tourist attractions across the country. Some of them have been categorized as UNESCO World Heritage Sites in India.
Described below are the top 10 great forts of India.
Amer Fort, Jaipur – Rajasthan :
Standing strong in Amer, 11 kms away from Jaipur, the Amer Fort is one of the most famous forts in Rajasthan. Built of red sandstone and marble and overlooking the Maotha Lake, this old fort which has influences of both Indian and Mughal architecture, still has beautiful interiors and many pavilions and halls which have a charm of its own. This was one of the forts along with five other forts in Rajasthan, that was declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site as part of the group Hill Forts of Rajasthan.
How to reach Amer Fort :
By air – The Jaipur airport at Sanganer, which is just 12 km from the city centre is well connected to several major cities in the country.
By train – Jaipur has a good railway network with several cities in India.
By bus – The Rajasthan State Road Transport Corporation has several buses plying to Jaipur from other cities within the state. Buses are also available from cities like Delhi, Kota, Vadodara, Ahmedabad and Ajmer.
Once in Jaipur, tourists can either take a taxi or hire a car to take them to Amber.
Chittor Fort, Chittorgarh – Rajasthan :
One of the largest forts in India, the Chittor Fort situated in Chittorgarh, is another UNESCO World Heritage Site along with five other forts of Rajasthan as part of the Hill Forts of Rajasthan. Built over a hill of approx. 591 feet, it is spread across almost 692 acres on the banks of the Berach river and has many historical palaces, gates, temples and two very conspicuous memorial towers. Once exhibiting nearly 84 water bodies in the form of wells, step-wells and ponds, this fort now has only 22 water bodies which are fed by natural catchment and rainfall. The fort is also known for hosting the biggest Rajput festival called ‘Jauhar Mela’ which is held annually to celebrate the courage and bravery of Rajput ancestors and women who preferred and practiced death or self-immolation rather than surrendering themselves in defeat to the Mughal forces where they would be plundered, raped and looted.
How to reach Chittor Fort :
By air – The Dabok Airport at Udaipur is the closest and has regular flights to various other cities.
By train – Chittorgarh has a good rail network with several other cities across the country.
By bus – Buses are available regularly from many other cities to Chittorgarh.
Jaisalmer Fort, Jaisalmer – Rajasthan :
Also known as Sonar Quila or the Golden Fort because of its sandy or beige hue like the Thar Desert, especially at the time of the setting sun, the Jaisalmer Fort in Jaisalmer city is believed to be the second oldest and one of the most impregnable forts in India. Considered as one of the very few ‘living forts’ in the world due to a large residential population even today, this fort has several interesting features like the massive gateways, the Raj Mahal Palace, 7 Jain temples with over 600 idols, the Laxminath Temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu and Laxmi, numerous merchant havelis and other marvelous examples of ancient craftsmanship and architecture.
How to reach Jaisalmer Fort :
By air – As a military airport, the Jaisalmer Airport handles only chartered flights. Hence the next best nearest airport is at Jodhpur which has regular flights to several cities. From here one can hire either pre-paid or private taxis to travel to Jaisalmer.
By train – Jaisalmer is well connected with several cities by rail.
By bus – One can travel by bus upto Jaipur as there are no direct buses to Jaisalmer. From Jaipur, one can ride on the state-run sleeper coaches which operate regularly between Jaipur and Jaisalmer.
Red Fort, Delhi – Uttar Pradesh :
The Red Fort in Delhi is definitely one of the most important monuments in India and has a special significance owing to the fact that the Independence Day celebrations are held at that venue every year since independence, where the Prime Minister hoists the Indian national flag and gives a speech which is broadcast nationally. Built by Emperor Shah Jahan, the fort exhibits a blend of Mughal, Persian and Timurid styles of architecture and its gardens have influenced many a building and gardens across Delhi, Rajasthan, Punjab, Kashmir and other places. The Red Fort has an interesting historical past and is known for its artwork and craftsmanship. Here is another fort which has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
How to reach Red Fort :
By air – The Indira Gandhi International Airport is well connected by flights to several major cities across the country.
By train – Delhi has five major railway stations which has excellent rail network across the country.
By bus – There are a variety of bus services on offer from Delhi to various places within the state as well as to other nearby states.
Agra Fort, Agra – Uttar Pradesh :
Situated just two and a half kilometres from the prestigious and grand Taj Mahal in Agra, the Agra Fort is another magnificent structure built by the Lodis. Constructed on the banks of the Yamuna River, this fort appears more like a walled city with its monumental gates, double fortifications with massive circular supports, several beautiful palaces made of marble and enchanting carvings, a series of ornamental porches and towers. One of the most well maintained forts in India, the Agra Fort has also been accorded the title of UNESCO World Hertiage Site. One can also view the Taj Mahal in the distance from the second floor of the fort.
How to reach Agra Fort :
By air – The Kheria airport in Agra is a seasonal commercial airport which only handles flights form Delhi. One can hire taxis to take you from here to the city
By train – Agra is well connected by the rail network to several cities across the country.
By bus – There are buses plying between Agra and Delhi, Jaipur, Gwalior, Lucknow and Kanpur daily.
Jhansi Fort, Jhansi – Uttar Pradesh :
Located in the middle of Jhansi City, atop a large hilltop called Bangira, the Jhansi Fort is a sprawling 15 acre construction with a massive strengthing wall surrounded by a moat on both sides. The granite walls of the fort are between 16-20 feet thick and meet the city walls on the south side. One of the really old forts of India, the Jhansi Fort displays a mixture of Maratha and Bundela style of architecture. This fortress is a great reminder of the valour and bravery of Rani Laxmibai who fought against the British troops and took control of the fort during the revolt of 1857 and then made a daring escape on horseback before the British plundered the city.
How to reach Jhansi Fort :
By air – The Gwalior airport at Gwalior in Madhya Pradesh is the closest to Jhansi.
By train – Jhansi has a good rail network with several other cities across the country.
By bus – Buses are available from major cities of the country to Jhansi.
Gwalior Fort, Gwalior – Madhya Pradesh :
One of the oldest and largest hill forts near Gwalior, in Madhya Pradesh, the Gwalior Fort has been seized by several rulers during its long history. The fort, as it stands today, consists of a self-protective structure and two main palaces along with other monuments like temples, water tanks and some more palaces. Gujari Mahal and Man Mandir are famous structures within the fort, the former now having been converted into an archaeological museum. It also houses the Scindia School which is an exclusive school meant for the sons of Indian princes and nobles. The fort appears to have an irregular appearance due to the uneven, rocky hill structure beneath.
How to reach Gwalior Fort :
By air – The Gwalior airport is well connected with several other cities of the country by regular flights.
By train – There is a good rail network between Gwalior and other cities of India.
By bus – Buses to Gwalior are available from several cities across the country.
Raigad Fort, Maharashtra :
This hill fort is situated at an altitude of 2700 feet above sea level in the Sahyadri Mountain Range at Mahad, in Raigad, Maharashtra. The fort was seized by Shivaji, from Chandarrao More who owed feudal allegiance to the Sultan of Bijapur, who renovated and expanded the structure and made it his capital when he was crowned the king of the Maratha Kingdom which eventually became a huge empire and extended over most of western and central India. The fort has approximately 1737 steps leading up to the main entrance and it also has an aerial tramway which can drop off tourists to the fort in 10 minutes. The fort overlooks an artificial lake known as the Ganga Sagar Lake and one can spot ruins of the once grand main palace made of wood, the queens quarters, various chambers, of some watch towers and also of some market. One can also see the execution point from the cliff where sentenced prisoners were thrown to their death, way back then. This area is now cordoned off.
How to reach Raigad Fort :
By air – Lohegaon airport in Pune is closest to Raigad.
By train – There are regular trains to Raigad from several cities of the country.
By bus – There is no bus stand in Raigad and the nearest one that tourists can travel to is at Lonavala or Murud.
Daulatabad Fort, Maharashtra :
The historic and triangular Daulatabad Fort is an impressive fortress built atop a conical hill. Situated around 16 km away from Aurangabad, this fort exhibits excellent architectural skills and was considered one of the few unconquerable forts in India. The fort had many design features to make it difficult for the enemy to penetrate the fort as well as fool them into captivity once they managed to enter this mammoth structure. Multiple and intricate defense mechanisms and several escape routes are the most prominent feature of this fort. It was Muhammad Bin Tughlaq who renamed this fort ‘Daulatabad’, meaning ‘City Of Fortune’. The Chand Minar, Elephant Tank, Chini Mahal or Chinese Palace, Bharatmata Mandir and Jami Masjid are all important monuments inside the fort.
How to reach Daulatabad Fort :
By air – Daulatabad does not have an airport. The nearest one is Chikkalthana Airport in Aurangabad.
By train – There are regular trains to Daulatabad from several cities of the country.
By bus – There are no direct bus routes to Daulatabad. The nearest bus stand is at Aurangabad.
Kangra Fort, Kangra Valley – Himachal Pradesh :
Built on the outskirts of Kangra town by the royal Rajput family of Kangra, this fort is located on a steep rock in Purana Kangra, about 20 kms from the town of Dharamsala in Himachal Pradesh. It is considered as one of the oldest and largest forts in the Himalayas, strategically built at the confluence of Banganga and Majhi rivers. A narrow and cobbled path lead to the massive doors of the fort and once inside, tourists can see the river streams winding through the beautiful green hills. The fort was taken over by several rulers until it was heavily damaged in the earthquake of 1905. The stone shrines of Laxmi-Narayana and Ambika Devi and a Jain temple with a large idol of Rishabhanatha are some of the most visited structures within the fort. Close by is the famous Jayanti Mata temple on a hilltop. Also located close to the entrance of the temple, is a small museum which displays the history of the Kangra Fort. Adjoining the fort itself is the Maharaja Sansar Chand Katoch Museum run by the Royal Family of Kangra.
How to reach Kangra Fort :
By air – As there are no direct flights into Kangra, one can fly into Gaggal Airport at Dharamsala which is about 14 kms away.
By train – The nearest railway station is at Amb Andaura, 48 kms away.
By bus – There are buses available to Kangra from several major cities of the country.
Best time to visit :
Kangra Fort can be visited anytime between March to June and October to November, when the weather is very cool and pleasant.
However the best time to visit the rest of the forts would be during winter, from October to March, when the weather is nice and cool.
Picture Credits : Amer Fort – Quora, Chittor Fort – tripadvisor.com, Jaisalmer Fort – Shadows Galore, Red Fort – dreamstime.com, Agra Fort – Sygic Travel, Jhansi Fort – dreamstime.com, Gwalior Fort – tiiciitm.com, Raigad Fort – trawell.in, Daulatabad Fort – Trans India Travels, Kangra Fort – Holidify