Jaisalmer Fort of Rajasthan known as Sonar Quila or the Golden Fort of Rajasthan, rising from the sand, the mega structure merges with the golden hues of the desert ambience and the setting suns in its most colourful shades gives it a fairy tale look. Deep in the heart of the Thar Desert is Jaisalmer of Rajasthan, one of the last princely bastions in the region. Founded on what was the cross - road of lucrative trade routes, this remote settlement came to be celebrated for the valour of its rulers, and for the aesthetic sense represented by their palaces and havelis.
Its simply a magic, the bastions envelops a whole townships that consist of palace complex various security sources and the havelis of rich merchants carved with an incredibly light touch, several temples and the residential complexes of the armies and traders placed strategically on the trade route, from where the ancient caravans passed en-route passing all the riches for the prosperity to an otherwise non source full kingdom. These merchants served and acquire a great deal of power and noble status in the royal courts of Bhatti Rajputs who founded the state in the 12th century and proceeded further. But the rich merchant inspired by the classic style of the royals, constructed huge mansions (havelis) adjacent to each other in the nature of medieval culture and profusely decorated walls and ceilings and intricately carved outdoors and interiors. The rich merchants engaged stone - craftsmen who worked delicately on the sandstone mansions they built, filling up facades with sculptural filigree, screen windows, delicate pavilions and beautiful balconies. The colourful art forms and some how side kind the royal heritage and made it appear paler in comparison. The craftsmen were usually Muslims who were induced on their journey to exhibit their skills. The result was architectural purity that cannot be seen elsewhere.
The golden - yellow sandstone of Jaisalmer Fort of Rajasthan, over 800 years old, crowns the Trikuta Hill. Within its walls, defended by 99 turrets, lies the old city, nearly a quarter of modern Jaisalmer of Rajasthan. Seen from outside, the sight must be almost identical to what was seen by merchants on their overland camel caravans to central Asia. Once this desert outpost was an important gate for the trade route, and Jaisalmer of Rajasthan grew wealthy on the proceeds. But the advent of commercial shipping relegated the town to relative obscurity. The fort of Rajasthan stands almost 30 metres over the city and houses an entire living area within huge ramparts. Walking through the narrow lanes is an experience worth savouring.
However, since the British rule, due to the rise of sea trade and growth of the port of Bombay, the city went through a major economic recession. After the independence and partition of India, the ancient trade route was totally closed and thus sealed the fate of the city of Rajasthan. However, the strategic importance of Jaisalmer of Rajasthan was revealed during the 1965 and 1971 wars between India and Pakistan. Today, these veritable arts - museums are still inhabited, and their colourful celebrations and festivals have placed Jaisalmer Fort of Rajasthan firmly on the world tourism map.
History of the Jaisalmer Fort in Rajasthan, India
Jaisalmer fort of Rajasthan is one of the finest in the country but more aptly said Jaisalmer Fort of Rajasthan looks rather incongruous given the desolation around it. Located in the middle of the Thar Desert (literal meaning abode of the dead) of Rajasthan, it rises like a mirage from the sands, with its huge turrets pointing skywards. Built in 1156, Jaisalmer of Rajasthan is the second oldest of Rajasthan’s major forts after Chittorgarh of Rajasthan. Constructed by Raja Jaisal, who was searching for a new capital as the earlier one Lodurva was too vulnerable to invasions, he built the fort and the city surrounding it. Jaisalmer Fort of Rajasthan has an interesting legend associated with it, according to which, Lord Krishna-the head of the Yadav Clan, foretold Arjuna that a remote descendent of the Yadav Clan would built his kingdom atop the Trikuta Hill. His prophecy was fulfilled in 1156 A.D. when Rawal Jaisal, a descendent of the Yadav Clan and a Bhatti Rajput, abandoned his fort at Lodurva on advice of a local hermit Eesaal and chose the Tricut Hills as his new abode and founded a new Fort and Capital -Jaisalmer of Rajasthan.
Jaisalmer Fort of Rajasthan has tales of heroism and valor attached to it. Ala-ud-din Khilji attacked and captured the fort in the 13th century and managed to hold it for 9 years. It was during the seize of the fort, the Rajput women committed Jauhar. The second battle at the fort happened in 1541, when Mughal emperor Humayun attacked the fort city.
Architecture of the Jaisalmer Fort in Rajasthan, India
Mounted atop Trikuta, the almost triangular triple-peaked hill, the fort rises like a sunbeam from the desert, 250 feet tall, and is reinforced by an imposing crenellated sandstone wall 30 feet high. It has as many as 99 bastions. The view of the 99 bastions of the yellow sandstone fort, the desert citadel of Raja Jaisal, is spectacular to behold. The fortifications have grown exponentially over the centuries, and wells within the confines still provide a regular source of water to the fort of Rajasthan.
The fort contains 3 layers of walls. The outer or the lower layer is made out of solid stone blocks and it reinforces the loose rubble of Trikuta Hill. The second wall, i.e. the middle wall snakes around the fort. From the inner most or the third wall, the Rajput warriors used to hurl boiling oil and water, and massive round blocks of rock as missiles on the enemies when they got trapped between the second and the third walls. The defensive mechanism of the fort is even more enhanced by the 99 bastions of the fort of Rajasthan. Of these, 92 of which were built between 1633 and 1647 to be used as gun platforms. It is approached through Ganesh Pol, Suraj Pol, Bhoot Pol and Hawa Pol. Also, within it are many beautiful havelies and a group of Jain temples of Rajasthan dating from the 12th to the 15th centuries.
Jaisalmer Fort of Rajasthan in India - A Marvel Built in Sandstone
Just as the Taj in Agra is worth visiting on a full moon night, Jaisalmer fort by nightfall is a sight to behold, it has all the romance and suspense of a Hitchcockian mystery. You half expect an invading army to march up to the castle, over its enormous paved flagstones, while those defending the fort shoot missiles at them from the ramparts. Suffice to say the Jaisalmer fort is one of the marvels of Rajasthani architecture, particularly of the stone-carver’s art.
A commanding fort etched in yellow sandstone stands with its entire awesome splendor, dominating the amber-hued city of Rajasthan. The life within the citadel conjures up images of medieval majesty visible in its narrow lanes strewn with magnificent palaces, havelis and temples of Rajasthan and of course skilled artisans and ubiquitous camels. The setting Sun turns Jaisalmer of Rajasthan into a beautiful golden brown which is a spectacular sight. The main attractions inside the fort of Rajasthan are:
Raj Mahal (Royal palace) of Jaisalmer Fort
Jain temples of Jaisalmer Fort
Laxminath temple of Jaisalmer Fort
4 massive gateways of Jaisalmer Fort
The mammoth Merchant Havelis of Jaisalmer Fort
Palaces of the Maharawals at the Jaisalmer Fort in Rajasthan, India
Also, in front of the Chauhata Square lie the palaces of the Maharawals. Leading up to them is a flight of marble steps topped by the Maharawal’s marble throne. Near the Maharawal’s marble throne lies the five-storied Tazia (metal) Tower which has an ornate architecture and Bengali-style roofs. The five-tiered structure was constructed by Muslim craftsmen who worked on the building. The outer defences of the citadel are fortified by another high wall with a pathway running parallel to the first rampart. Beyond the entrance is the Ganesh Pol, leading up to the Rang Pol.
There was a time when everyone lived inside the fort of Jaisalmer Fort itself, protected by its massive ramparts. As the population of Jaisalmer of Jaisalmer Fort expanded, people started emigrating from within the fort’s precincts from about the 17th century. However, even today the fort is a hive of activity, and you’ll witness a cross-section of the populace living within it as you travel through its winding streets and alleys.
Uniqueness of the Jaisalmer Fort in Rajasthan, India
This is the world's only living fort of Rajasthan and about a quarter of city's population live in the fort of Rajasthan. At one point of time the entire population of Jaisalmer of Rajasthan used to live within the fort; but with the increase in the population, people was forced to move out and find shelter under the foot of the Trikuta Hill.
The fort of Rajasthan also has a peculiar gadget hoisted on top of its ramparts. Since Met departments were in short supply in those days, this was used to forecast the weather. Every year in April a flag would be placed in its centre and, based on the direction in which it blew, the weather for the entire year was forecast. If it blew northwards it indicated famine, and if it went westwards Ho the citizenry could rest assured that a fine monsoon was in the offing. May seem a bit primitive today but the system was probably just as accurate or inaccurate as the Met office nowadays.
Who would have dreamt in such a vast sand oasis; a castle worthy of an ancient throne and such an art of carved stone work. The famous Indian film director Satyajit Ray also wrote a detective novel and later turned it into a film – Sonar Quila (The Golden Fortress) which was based on this fort of Rajasthan.
Best Time to Visit Jaisalmer Fort in Rajasthan, India
The perfect time to visit the golden city is during the Desert Festival of Rajasthan held in January - February every year, when the city reverberates to the sound of melodious tunes and rhythms, folk dances, exciting competitions and contest, especially the turban raying contest. Mr. Desert contest and camel races enliven the festivals colorful craft bazaars are setup for the occasion and a sound and light spectacle is organized with folk artistes performing against the splendid backdrop of the famous Sam sand dunes of Rajasthan on the full moon night.
Location and Transport
Jaisalmer of Rajasthan is situated in the very heart of Rajasthan and a popular tourist destination of Rajasthan. Being part of the Desert Triangle of Rajasthan and the venue of Desert Festival, the place is accessible by rail, road and air and has tourist accommodation ranging from high budget to low budget. The city is also covered by the "Palace on Wheels" a train-cum-road package, which needs no description. This place too witnesses large flow of tourist traffic in winters.
Distances of important cities from Jaisalmer: New Delhi (864 km), Jaipur (558 km), Mumbai (1177 km), Ahmedabad (626 km).
Though Jaisalmer of Rajasthan is not directly connected to Airways as such, Jodhpur airport of Rajasthan is 285 Km away. Jodhpur of Rajasthan is connected to all the major metros of India by government owned as well as private airlines. From Jodhpur you can hire Cabs or take a train journey according to your wish and preference.
Jaisalmer of Rajasthan is connected to major cities of India through broad gauge as well as meter gauge railway tracks. Direct trains from Jaisalmer of Rajasthan are available to Jodhpur of Rajasthan as well as Delhi. Jaisalmer of Rajasthan is connected through both 'Broad gauge' as well as 'Meter gauge' tracks. You can also travel to Jaisalmer by Palace on Wheels.
Jaisalmer is well connected to the rest of state by well-maintained roads. Due to its proximity to Indo-Pak boarder, special emphasis is given on its maintenance. Deluxe & Ordinary buses of Rajasthan Roadways & Private companies operate form Jaisalmer of Rajasthan to Jodhpur of Rajasthan, Jaipur of Rajasthan, Bikaner of Rajasthan, Barmer of Rajasthan, Mount Abu of Rajasthan, Jalore, Ahemdabad etc, Roadways main bus stand opposite Railway station & Golden bus terminal near State Bank of Bikaner and Jaipur, Shiv road, Jaisalmer of Rajasthan are the two major bus stands.
General transportation in Jaisalmer of Rajasthan consists of auto rickshaw and bicycles because these are good means to get around. Auto rickshaw is a cheap mode of transportation but drivers might not be friendly all the times. It is recommended to take rickshaw when you take congested roads in order to avoid bottlenecks.