In the north of India lies the majestic state of Rajasthan, the ‘Land of the Kings’. Encompassing the Thar Desert, the Aravali Range, the Keoladeo National Park World Heritage Site and three National tiger reserves, Rajasthan is also home to some of the world’s most beautiful palaces and forts. It’s no surprise that it is one of India’s most popular states for visitors.
As we start a new year, here at Boundless Explorism, we have put together a list of unmissable forts and palaces full of beauty, history and tradition which should be included on any trip to Rajasthan.
Famous for its lakes, Udaipur is a favourite filming location and with its vast palaces, beautiful gardens and spectacular scenery, it’s easy to see why Construction began on Udaipur’s City Palace in 1553 by Maharana Udai Singh II and continued over the next 400 years. The City Palace became the administrative centre for the Maharanas. Built on a hill on the east bank of Lake Pichola, the complex comprises several palaces and villas linked through a series of chowks (courtyards, bazaars or streets), with two of these – the Fateprakash Palace and the Shiv Niwas Palace – now heritage hotels. The Palace showcases the magnificence and splendour of Rajput architecture, whilst its interiors display intricate mirror-work, murals, silver-work, frescoes, towers and cupolas.
Within the vista of the City Palace is the beautiful Lake Palace. Situated floating on an island in Lake Pichola and only accessible by boat, the Lake Palace was originally built in 1793 by Maharana Jagat Singh II as a summer dwelling. Originally known as Jig Niwas, the palace is a masterpiece of black and white marble adorned with semi-precious stones. Stepping off the boat to the palace, the visitor enters a beautiful landscape of elegant gardens, fountains, courtyards and terraces. Used as the lair of Octopussy in the James Bond film, the palace is now a luxury Taj hotel with Royal Butlers who are descendants of the original royal retainers. A stay in the Lake Palace may be pricey, but it is the best way to experience the full opulence of the floating Lake Palace.
Near Jaipur in the town of Amer is the Amber Fort (or Amer Fort). Construction on the fort was started by Maharaja Man Singh in the sixteenth century and added to by successive rulers. Built-in distinctive sandstone, the fort is divided into four main sections, each with its own courtyard. A series of tunnels connect Amber Fort with Jaigarh Fort and parts of these have been restored and opened to the public. Amber Fort is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Jaipur. The fort is perched on a hilltop overlooking lake Moata and the journey up the narrow road leading to the fort’s Suraj Pol (sun gate) gives today’s visitor the experience of how magnificent and imposing the fort would have appeared to those arriving many centuries ago.
Hawa Mahal (Palace of the Winds) was designed by the celebrated architect Lal Chand Ustad in 1799. Its red and pink sandstone is in keeping with the ‘pink city’ of Jaipur. The facade is a pyramidal honey-comb structure facade featuring 953 small windows (Jharokhas) designed to allow the royal women to observe the street life below without being seen themselves. This unique design also ingeniously provides a cooling system as air passes through the structure. The palace now houses a museum.
The magnificent Mehrangarh Fort in Jodhpur was built by the Rajput ruler Roa Jodha in 1459. The fort complex covers 1200 acres of land on top of a hill overlooking the city. The fort was built over a period of 500 years and encompasses various architectural styles and some gorgeous stained glass work. The seven gates to the fort were built to commemorate various victories in battle. The fort is now open as a museum showcasing the rich history of Jodhpur.
Near Rajasthan’s eastern border lies one of India’s largest forts, Chittorgarh Fort, covering an area of around 700 acres Built high above the banks of the Barach river, the fort encompasses 65 structures, including temples, palaces, ponds, wells and step-wells. Chittorgarh’s Jain temples have become a major tourist attraction. In 2013, along with Amber and Jaisalmer on our list, Chittorgarh Fort was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
For a large part of its 800-year history, Jaisalmer Fort contained the whole city. Today it is one of the world’s only living forts with around 4000 inhabitants living within its walls. The fort was built in 1156 by the Rajput ruler Rawal Jaisal, from whom the city gained its name. Part of the magic and majesty of Jaisalmer fort is seeing it at sunset. As the sun sets across the Thar desert, the fort changes from its yellow sandstone colour to a beautiful gold. It’s no wonder Jaisalmer Fort is also known as The Golden Fort.
India is a beautiful country with enormous history and culture. People in India are really welcoming with some great smiles on their faces and values rooted deep, as we believe in manifesting our tourism slogan “Atithi Devo Bhava” which translates as “the guest is God”.
We help traveller’s to find their perfect boundless vacation with the pride and satisfaction of contributing towards a noble cause of empowering women in India.
You will experience an insightful understanding of the city’s rich history, culture, and lifestyle led by our friendly English-speaking female tour guide (who also is the brand ambassador of our organisation).