Rajasthan, the “Land of the Kings”, is studded with an outrageous number of magnificent forts dating back to the Rajput era. These forts range from the surreally romantic forts of Amber and Mehrangarh to the battle-scarred forts of Chittorgarh and Jaigarh.

To give you an idea of the best forts to visit during your next trip to Rajasthan, below is a list of the top ten forts of Rajasthan.

 

1. Amber Fort (Amer Fort)

 

Located 11 km to the northeast of Jaipur, Amber was the capital of the Kachhawa Rajputs before Jaipur was built. The strongly fortified complex of Amber Fort is set on a steep hill overlooking the beautiful Maota Lake. It was originally built by Raja Man Singh I but was completed by Jai Singh I and Sawai Jai Singh II over a hundred years later. The palace consists of a series of courtyards, audience halls and private apartments on different levels. Most noteworthy in this complex are the features of the impressive Ganesh Pol gate and the magnificent Shish Mahal.

 

2. Mehrangarh Fort

 

Rising perpendicular and impregnable from a rocky hill that itself stands 120 metres above Jodhpur’s skyline, Mehrangarh Fort is one of the largest, most impressive and best preserved forts in India. The fort comprises of a vast interconnected network of palaces, museums, courtyards and halls. Most notable among them are Moti Mahal (Pearl Palace), Phool Mahal (Flower Palace), Sheesha Mahal (Mirror Palace), Sileh Khana and Daulat Khana. Due to its beautiful backdrop, Mehrangarh Fort is also a popular site for filming. It was one of the filming locations for the movie, The Dark Knight Rises, which was released in June 2012.

 

3. Jaisalmer Fort

 

Jaisalmer Fort rises like a fabulous mirage out of the Thar Desert, the awesome contours of its bastions softened by the golden hue of the yellow sandstone. It is also known as the Golden Fort as its massive yellow sandstone walls are a tawny lion colour during the day, fading to honey-gold as the sun sets, thereby camouflaging the fort in the yellow desert. This is the only fort with living quarters for the townsfolk. Royal palaces, a cluster of Jain temples, mansions and shops are all contained within its walls.

 

4. Chittorgarh Fort

 

The great, battle-scarred Chittorgarh Fort is one of the greatest forts in Rajasthan and is well worth reshuffling your itinerary to explore. It epitomises in its tragic history the valour, romance, chivalry and strict death-before-dishonour code glorified in Rajput myths and legends. It rises from the plains like a huge rock island, nearly 6km long and surrounded on all sides by 180m rocky cliffs. Sprawling across 280 ha (692 acres), Chittorgarh’s ruined palaces, temples and towers bear witness to its illustrious and turbulent past, when it was the capital of the Sisodia rulers of Mewar, between the 12th and 16th centuries.

 

5. Kumbhalgarh Fort

 

Situated about 80 km north of Udaipur,  Kumbhalgarh Fort is a remote yet fantastic 15th century fort that fulfils every romantic fantasy and summons up thoughts of the chivalrous, warlike Rajput era. Built by Maharana Kumbha, who also built the great fort of Chittorgarh, Kumbhalgarh Fort was justly reputed to be the most impregnable fort in Rajasthan. The isolated fort is perched 1100 m above sea level, with endless views melting into the blue distance. The journey to the fort, along twisting roads through the Aravalli Hills, is a highlight in itself.

 

6. Ranthambhore Fort

 

The 10th century Ranthambhore Fort stands at a height of 215 m (705-ft) in the centre of Ranthambhore National Park, the famous national park of Rajasthan. Scattered around this forest fort are ancient temples and mosques, hunting pavilions, crocodile-filled lakes and vine-covered chhatris.

 

7. Nahargarh Fort, Jaipur

 

Built by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II, the founder of Jaipur, Nahargarh Fort was constructed as a place of retreat on the summit of the ridge above the city. Though the fort never came under attack during the course of its history, it did witness some historical events. From several vantage points in the old city of Jaipur, Nahargarh Fort can be seen sitting on top of a cliff face. The views from the fort itself of the Jaipur city below, is equally marvellous. In addition to the stupendous views, Nahargarh Fort also has an interesting palace, showcasing a mix of Indian and European architecture. A wander around the fort is also interesting, as the ruins are worth inspecting, especially the water tank.

 

8. Jaigarh Fort, Jaipur

 

Situated atop Cheel ka Teela (Mound of Eagles) legendary Jaigarh Fort, also known as the “Victory Fort”, watches over the old capital of Amber. This massive fort was planned by Jai Singh I but the fort that stands today dates from the reign of Jai Singh II. Punctuated by whimsically hatted lookout towers, the fort was never captured and is a splendid example of grand 18th-century defences, without the palatial frills that are found in many other Rajput forts. It has water reservoirs, residential areas, a puppet theatre and the world’s largest wheeled cannon, Jaya Vana. The fort is a steep uphill walk (about 1km) from Amber and offers great views from the Diwa Burj watchtower.

 

9. Junagarh Fort

 

Constructed between 1587 and 1593 by the third ruler of Bikaner, Rai Singh, Junagarh Fort is protected by a 986-m (3,235-ft) long sandstone wall with 37 bastions, a moat and, most effectively of all, by the forbidding expanse of the Thar Desert. Not surprisingly, the fort has never been conquered, a fact which explains its excellent state of preservation. Within the fort’s austere stone walls are no less than 37 profusely decorated palaces, temples and pavilions, built by its successive rulers over the centuries, though in a harmonious continuity of style. The most outstanding is the Anup Mahal, built by Maharaja Anup Singh in 1690 and his Hall of Private Audience.

 

10. Gagron Fort

 

Situated 12 km from Jhalawar, the 7th century Gagron Fort is perched on a low ridge and is surrounded by the waters of the Ahu and Kali Sindh rivers on three sides; a deep moat on the fourth side completes its defences. It is surrounded by forests with the Mukundarrah hill ranges behind it. It is one of the rare forts that are protected by both water and forest.

 

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