Rajasthan is the home of one of the proudest clans of India, the Rajputs. The stories of their bravery, romance, and patriotism shine light on the rich history and culture of this state. They built some of the most stunning forts and palaces in the country. Here’s a round-up of the most magnificent ones:
Built in 1799 by Maharaja Sawai Jaisingh, the founder of Jaipur, the Hawa Mahal, also known as the “The Palace of Winds” is located on the edge of the City Palace. It was designed by Lala Ustad Chand and constructed with red and pink sandstone. Hawa Mahal’s unique five-storey exterior is akin to the honeycomb of a beehive with its 953 small windows called jharokhas through which the breeze flows in and keeps the palace cool. It is believed that Hawa Mahal was built so that the royal ladies could enjoy the street functions and festivals without being revealed to the public.
Rana Kumbha Palace
Located inside the Chittorgarh Fort, Rana Kumbha Palace was built by Bappa Rawal in 734 AD. The oldest structure inside the fort, this is the birthplace of Maharana Udai Singh, the person who founded the city of Udaipur. Legend says this is the palace where Maharani Padmini along with 700 other women chose self-immolation when the Sultan of Delhi, Alauddin Khilji attacked this palace. Do not miss the light & sound show that takes place here every evening.
Sitting atop a hill, Jaigarh Fort was built by Maharaja Jai Singh in the 18th century to protect the cities of Jaipur and Amber. Inside this fort, you can find temples, palaces, gorgeous architectural structures, and gardens. It is home to the largest weapon of the Rajputs as well as the largest cannon on wheels in the world, Jaivana.
Overlooking the beautiful city of Jaipur, Nahargarh stands on the edge of the Aravalli Hills. This fort is connected to the Jaigarh Fort and the architecture here is a mixture of Mughal, Rajput, and European styles. Sawai Raja Man Singh had this fort built specifically for his queens. According to local tales, the king was so passionate about this fort that his ghost still guards it.
A classic example of the blend of the Mughal and Hindu architecture, Amber Palace was the former capital of the Kachhwaha Rajputs. Built in white marble and red sandstone, it took approximately 100 years to complete the construction of this palace. The light and sound show at sunset tells you about the legendary history of this palace.
Considered to be the ‘most haunted place in India’, Bhangarh Fort is located in the Alwar district right on the edge of the Sariska Tiger Reserve. You will find no villages near this fort because of the supernatural happenings inside. In fact, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has prohibited locals and travellers alike from entering this fort after sunset.
Chittorgarh Fort is one of the oldest forts of Rajasthan. This UNESCO World Heritage Site was not only the home of Meera Bai, but it has also been witness to the bravery of Gora and Badal (warriors who fought to rescue Ratan Singh). This is also the place where Rani Karnavati performed Jauhar (self-immolation) with the noble ladies in 1535.
Located in Jodhpur, Mehrangarh Fort has never been sieged, not even once. The onsite museum offers you a glimpse at the lifestyle of the Mughals as well as the Rathore clan. Inside this fort, you will find architectural marvels like the Phool Mahal, Moti Mahal, Daulat Khana, and the Sheesha Mahal.
Umaid Bhawan Palace
Built by Maharaja Umaid Singh, the Umaid Bhawan Palace is the last royal palace built before the independence of India. There is a legend behind the construction of this luxurious palace. A famine struck Jodhpur (Marwar) in the 1920s and the locals approached the Maharaja for help. In order to employ the locals and give them a daily wage, Maharaja Umaid Singh commissioned the construction of this palace, which was completed in 1943.
All these forts and palaces have some legend or myth associated with them. Visit them all and you will get a picture of how life was during the reign of the Rajputs.