Friday, February 23, 2024

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Jaisalmer Fort

Place : Jaisalmer District, Rajasthan
Significance : It is the second oldest of Rajasthan's major forts after Chittorgarh. 
Best Season : October to March
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The main attraction in Jaisalmer, Jaisalmer fort is located in the southern part of the state of Rajasthan, India. Constructed out of yellow sandstone it stands 76 m above the town on a triangular hill 'Trikuta' enclosed by a 9m wall with 99 bastions. Built in 1156 AD by the Rajput King Rawal Jaisal, from where it derives it's name, Jaisalmer fort is a magnificent fortress that boasts a number of elaborated wooden havelis. The fort is the second oldest of Rajasthan's major forts after Chittorgarh. 

Often called the Sonar Quila or the Golden fort, because the fort's wall merges with the golden hues of the desert ambience and becomes a magical honey-gold. Jaisalmer fort is approached through four massive gateways - Akshaya Pole, Suraj Pole, Hawa Pole and Ganesh Pole. The entrance gate is Akshya Pol which is situated on the eastern side of the fort. Across the road is the Suraj-Pol. Built by Maharawal Bhim, the Suraj Pol is flanked by heavy bastions and has bands of decoration. The gate is embellished with a figure of Sun and Lord Ganesh. Constructed during the 17th century, the Hawa Pol is a massive Gateway, attached by palace and courtyard known as Dussehra Chowk. The Ganesh Pol is another massive gate that also has the image of Lord Ganesh at the top. 

Like other Rajput Forts, one can see Jain and Hindu temples, palaces and charming havelis inside this fort. The jali work and delicately ornamented balconies and windows with Bengali style makes this fort as a marvel of Rajasthani architecture. The enormous stone paved ramp leads to a large courtyard inside the fort where one can see a beautiful palace the Juna Mahal. It is a seven storey palace that has many squares which were formerly used to review troops, hear petitions and entertainment for important visitors. One of the oldest Rajasthani palaces it stands under a vast umbrella of metal that is mounted on a stone shaft. Next to it is the men's quarters including the Rang Mahal. Situated above the Hawa Mahal it was built during the reign of Mulraj II (1762-1820). It's murals and mirror decoration makes it as a worthy visit. The historic spot of the Satiyon-Ka-Pagthiya(step of the Sati) is situated at the entrance of the palace.

The other major monument in the fort is Rajmahal, the royal residence. Now this is converted into the Jaisalmer Fort Palace Museum and Heritage Centre. Entry fee Indian Rs 30, Foreigners Rs 70; Timings 9 am-6 pm.

There are 7 Jain temples in the fort. These temples were built from 15th to 16th century and Parshvanath Temple is the most impressive among these. It has a fine gateway, an ornate porch and 53 subsidiary shrines surrounding the main structure. The finely carved torana and the ceiling of the sabha mandapa are reminders of it's great architecture.

There are thousands of carved deities and dancing figures housed here. Inside the temple there is a Gyan Bhandar (Jain Library). It contains more than 1000 old manuscripts- some of them from the 12th century and written on palm leaf. It has also a collection of Jain, Pre-Mogul and Rajput paintings . The Library opens daily from 1000 to 1100. Jain temple is open to visitors daily from 0700 to 1200, Entry free. The other Jain temples in the complex are The Sabhavnatha, The Rishbhanatha (which has more than 600 images as decoration), Shitalnath Temple, the double-decker Shantinath and Kunthunath shrines, Lakshminath Temple (the oldest temple in the fort) etc.