Wednesday, February 28, 2024

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Junagarh Fort

Bikaner, Rajasthan
Visiting Time
Timings : 10 am - 4.30 pm
Best Season
October to February
Junagadh Fort is one of the few Forts in India which was never conquered. 
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Bikaner city of Rajasthan, was a barren land and Bikaji (the son of the Rathor Rajput Prince Rao Jodha, the founder of Jodhpur) converted this into a magnificent city of forts and palaces. Bikaner city was established around the Junagarh fort at Ratti Ghati. Previously known as Chintamani Fort,
the Junagarh Fort is an imposing edifice situated quite adjacent to the public park. Built on plain land, Junagadh is one of the few Forts in India which was never conquered. 

The fort was started between 1589 and 1594 by Raja Rai Singh, the Sixth ruler of Bikaner (one of the most distinguished generals in the army of Emperor Akbar) but had palaces added for the next three centuries. One of the magnificient Indian architecture in the midst of Thar Desert, Junagarh Fort is a raised platforms made of swords. The fakirs used to dance barefoot on this platform. The fort is a blend of Rajput, Mughal and the Gujarati architectural designs. A 986m long light red sandstone wall surrounded by a moat, 37 bastions and two entrances fortify this fort.

The pavilions have beautifully designed palaces with balconies, Dutch glazed tiles, Chinese wallpapers, fine jali screens with richly decorated interiors and lacquered doors, Rajput Paintings etc. Apart from these, there are several royal public court buildings and intimate zenanas (women's quarters) inside it. Among the famous are the Karan Mahal, Chandra Mahal and Anup Mahal. A palace museum shows the glamorous life of the Rathore-maharajahs.

One can enter the fort through two entrances - the Karan Pol facing east protected by four gates and Chand Pol facing west protected by two gates. All these gates have wooden doors with iron plating.

Built of golden sandstone Suraj Pol displays symbolic hand prints of 59 wives who who committed the act of sati when their husbands died in battle while defending the fort. It also served as the place where musicians announced the arrival of important visitors. The next gate near to this, situated on the left side. One can see more sati symbols here. From this gate, one reaches the Fateh Pol. The other gateways are believed to have been built under the reign of Maharaja Gaj Singh. Between the main gate and the palace, there is a quadrangle gate called the Trpolia gate before accessing the royal chambers. Next to this lies the Har Mandir. It was the royal temple dedicated to Lakshmi Narayan, Vishnu and his consort, this temple is one of the oldest temples in Bikaner. Birth and wedding ceremonies were celebrated here. 

In the next quadrangle courtyard, there houses a large central pavilion built in Carrara Italian marble. In houses a water pool which is still filled with water during summer season. The famous Karan Mahal also known as the public audience hall is also in the same quadrangle. The first monument in Bikaner it was built by Maharaja Anup Singhji as a memorial of his father Raja Karan Singhji. Adorned with white marble and stucco design, the palace has a silver throne of Maharaja Karan Singh in it. It has gold-leaf paintings.

Anup Mahal is a multi storied palace used as the governance chambers. One of the best palaces of Junagarh fort it was built by Anup Singh. It also has one throne where the ruler would sit and entertain his foreign guests and highly placed officials.

The Chandra Mahal (Moon Palace) is a beautiful palace near to the Phool Mahal Palace. Houses with gold plated Hindu gods and goddesses, paintings and precious stone, it was the room, where the king used to worship. One can enter the Sheesh Mahal (Mirror Palace) through a couple gates which is situated in Chandra Mahal. It has mirror work, carving and marble decoration. There are several cavities in the walls of the mirror palace. 

Floral Palace (The Phool Mahal), is the oldest part of the palace. Built by Maharaja Gaj Singh, it's walls are decorated with floral designs. Inside the rooms the interior walls are decorated with stucco work and glass inlay works.

Badal Mahal (Hall of Clouds) is a palace with stylised blue-and-white clouds designs. The palace is elaborately decorated with carved panels and mirrors. The Bijai Mahal, Durga Niwas, and Rang Mahal have excellent paintings and tilework. The fort also includes the Chetar Mahal and Chini Burj and Ganga Niwas. 

Established in 2000, the Museum in the Junagarh Fort shows the glorious heritage of the Bikaner rulers. It displays Sanskrit and Persian manuscripts, jewellery, jars and carpets, arms and weapons, treaties, royal costumes, textiles, portraits, decorations and the 'Farmans'. Its protrait gallery houses the miniature paintings and the black and white portraits of young men and women in their traditional gear and group photographs of important events during the time of Maharaja Shri Ganga Singh. Timings: 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM everyday.

Still Camera and video Camera photography permission can be get from Museum Ticket counter. Photography is restricted in certain areas.
Timings : 10 am - 4.30 pm, Fee : for ordinary camera Rs 30, for Movie Camera Rs 100.