Jaisalmer Fort

Rajasthan tour: Day 4 of 7 Days Series

My pick for the best fort in Rajasthan is Jaisalmer Fort. This fort is neither as magnanimous as Jodhpur fort nor as rich as Bikaner fort but this is the best because of its homeliness, its humaneness. Everything is messed up inside fort; it is packed with houses, temples, handicraft shops, restaurants and hotels; kids are gleefully playing in the narrow winding roads; evening chants wafting through air; everything seems so real inside fort, there is no false mask of frivolity.  Strolling through honeycombed roads fills heart with extraordinary resonant feeling, which takes special place in memoir. You can sit on fort rampart looking at town below 100m; you can enjoy the exquisite view of sunset overlooking the surrounding dessert or you may endlessly count bright stars in clear night sky. Nobody disturbs you in this heavenly atmosphere.

Fort Rampart and the town below

Balancing act in Fort entrance

Winding roads inside fort

One of the few remaining canons

View of this beautiful yellow sandstone fort is so surreal that it spurred Bengali filmmaker Satyajit Ray to write a story called Sonar Kella (The Golden Fortress), which he later made into a movie. Jaisalmer fort is one of the rare living forts in the world. About 2000 people lives within the fort. This fort was built in eleventh century by Rajput rulers.

Maharawal Jaisal Dev, founder of Jaisalmer

During fifteenth and sixteenth century it witnessed many battles between Rajputs and the Bhattis, the Mughals of Delhi and the Rathores of Jodhpur. This fort witnessed johar for three times; choosing death rather than dishonor for themselves if their husbands were ever defeated on the battlefield, the women jumped in huge fire amidst the cacophony of drum beat aiming to overpower their scream. Once enemy was about to capture the fort and there was no time for organizing johar, Rajput rulers cut the throat of wives and that is called as half johar. In total this terrible act of johar happened for three and half times in Jaisalmer history.

Vehicles are allowed upto main courtyard, the entrance of Maharawal Mahal (The King’s Palace), leaving the fort atmosphere calm and quiet.

MAHARAWAL MAHAL:

The palace of Maharaja (the king) is five-storey façade of balconies and windows displaying some of the finest masonry in Jaisalmer. Floor upon floor of small rooms, narrow staircases, low doorways connecting rooms, long winding narrow balconies forcing the entrants to stoop were built keeping a single aim in mind, to delay the entry of enemies upto royal rooms.

Maharawal Mahal

Low roof staircases and doorways

In museum, you can enjoy stamps and banknotes of different centuries, finely sculpted statues, and interesting armories. In Tripolia Mahal a family tree of Mahrawals trace their ancestry all the way back to Lord Krishna.

Size does matter – Imagine height and weight of Rajput brave-hearts (for ease, my height 170 cm)

A septuagenarian shopkeeper beside the entrance of Maharawal Mahal regaled us with tales of Jaisalmer fort and Rajasthan. Pointing gnarled finger to a well opposite to his shop he told that when Arjuna (character from Mahabharata) was thirsty Lord Krishna pierced the earth with his arrow building that well to quench thirst of his favorite disciple.

Bada Bagh from Maharawal Mahal roof

Quick Note:

♦ Take audio guide instruments from Maharawal Mahal entrance before visiting the palace.

♦ Check opening and closing timings; generally 8-6 in summer, 9-6 in winter

JAIN TEMPLES:

The finely carved Jain temple complex was built between twelfth and fifteenth centuries using Jurassic sandstone, with yellow and white marble shrines. The mandapa is supported by intensely sculpted pillars that form a series of toranas. You can find here plenty of sensual carving, fine sculptures of apsaras and gods around the walls, pillars and ceilings.

Torana at the entrance of Jain temple

Apsaras welcome you from ceiling

Made of yellow stone

Made of black stone

Made of white marble stone

Quick Note:

♦ Slippers and leather items are not allowed inside temple and there is no secure place to keep those outside

♦ While we visited, temple was open from 7:30 am to 12:30 pm

Visit to Jaisalmer Fort is incomplete without viewing sunset from fort. Choose a good restaurant to sip wine or opt for yoga classes while sun is setting in horizon. Desert Boy’s Guest House may be one of the choices, beside that Restorante Italiano may be another choice, but its better to avoid their food.

Items offered are interesting, read between the lines… minors skip this

Enchanting moment

http://www.jaisalmer.org.uk/

♦ Jaisalmer weather: http://www.mustseeindia.com/Jaisalmer-weather

A History of Rajasthan by Rima Hooja

The Golden Fortress by Satyajit Ray (a Child Fiction book translated from Bengali)

5 responses to “Jaisalmer Fort

  1. Pingback: Thar Desert | Smile Awhile·

  2. It’s simply amazing. What a great collection & composition. I found professionalism in your photography. Very informative & invaluable guideline as well for all who really want to study the Indian archaeology.

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