Mehrangarh Fort stands on a rocky hilltop which is about 120 m from the ground. The fort is one of the most magnificent and biggest ones in the Indian sub-continent. Battlements of the fort is around 6m to about 36m in height. The fort is still maintained and run by a royal family of Jodhpur. The legend as well as history of the fort is not only interesting but enriched with battles, wars and more. The main entrance of the fort is from the northeast side and is called Jai Pol. There is a museum inside the fort that retains the antiques from the royal families as well as from the battles. The entry to the fort is free but there is a charge for the museum. You will have to walk around 300 m to reach the main entrance or take an autorickshaw for the same. Dodh Kangra Pol is the exit gate of the fort. There are other gates called Loha Pol and Suraj Pol as well.
Among the places to visit in Jaipur, missing Amer Fort exploration is almost next to impossible. The grandeur that this place shadows over the city is quite remarkable and looks more like a protective shield to Jaipur from one end. Once you reach the area and check out the fort from a distance, the picturesque image will look more like a movie scene. The fort is located outside the city away from the hustle bustle. One of the major attractions here is the Sheesh Mahal or the Palace of Mirrors that surely should be checked out once. Mirror work is embedded on the walls, pillars and the ceiling of the Mahal making it as enthralling as possible. The lush green lawn of the Amer Fort is another of the things worth a mention here. Take a walking tour, shop from the souvenir shop and take a break at the coffee shop to have a fulfilling day.
This is an 800 year old fort and is also known as the Golden Fort of Rajasthan. This is one of the most magnificent fortifications of the state and is the second oldest also after the Chittorgarh Palace. The title given to this fairytale fort complex is because of its light color which almost merges with the color of the desert sand like a mirage coming out of it. Jaisalmer City is located in the interiors of the Thar Desert and the King Jaisal planned to make this place his capital. The intricate designs on the sandstone base of the fort buildings make them look even more heavenly. It is also the only living fort of the country. This means almost half of the whole city resides inside the fort complex even today. This includes rich merchants, artisans and other common people as well. Earlier, the whole population of the kingdom lived inside but a part had to move out given the constraint of increasing population. From earlier times onwards, Jaisalmer has been a very important trade connection especially with the Muslim kingdom. Till today you will find a number of Muslim merchants dwelling here. An interesting legend about the history of this fort complex says that Lord Krishna, the leader of the Yadav clan once dreamt of setting up his kingdom in this area and his wish was fulfilled by King Jaisal, who also belonged to the Yadav clan. The fort crowning the Trikut Hills looks no less than a dreamland. You can come here in the month of February and enjoy the famous Annual Camel Fair and other festivals too.
This fort is the second most important fort of Rajasthan after the Chittorgarh Fort. It is a magnificent fort built by Rajput Rulers. The fort complex has as many as 13 bastionas and huge wall which holds the record for being the Second largest wall in the whole world, the first being the Great Wall of china of course. The fort can be easily reached by local buses and cars and the way to the entrance includes zig- zag roadways and forests also. Inside the fort complex are many palaces and temples apart from other buildings of royal importance. This is also the birthplace of Maharana Pratap Singh. This fort was a refuge for other rulers and their families during war times. This fort is also said to have protected Rana Udai Singh when he was very small and there was a battle. The most famous palace here is the rooftop palace known as the Badal Mahal. This palace is colorful and gives the look of a room floating amidst the clouds. The basic colors used here turquoise and green and Maharana Pratap is said to have born in this palace specifically. There is also a large balcony from where you can get the best views of downtown. Strolling along the ravines of Kumbhalgarh is also a blissful experience.
Jal Mahal also known as Water Palace in English is yet again one of the things to do in Jaipur. It is located in the heart of the famous Man Sagar Lake and near the cenotaphs of royal ladies and Maharanis of the city in the earlier times. Madho Singh was the one behind the formation of the Jal Mahal in the same year as that of Hawa Mahal- 1799. The idea was to get a summer resort made for the royal family. The place was also used for hunting ducks during the warm season. Under the Jal Tarang project going on currently, this place is closed for restoration.
Hawa Mahal - Palace of Wind
As one of the most distinctive part of Jaipur, Hawa Mahal located amidst the busy streets is something that cannot be missed. The grandeur of the place surely catches the attention of each one passing by. The structure is made from pink sandstone and has a honey-comb like shape that makes it all the more interesting. There are 5 storey in the monument and surely looks extraordinary. The place was built by Maharaja Sawai Pratap Singh in the year 1799 to help the ladies watch all the happenings on the streets including the processions that took place from time to time. From the extreme top of the Mahal, you can have a spectacular view of the Jantar Mantar as well as City Palace. For those interested in exhibits, the good news comes in the form of a small museum within the mahal that has great paintings, ceremonial armours as well as rich relics. For the entry, move to the backside of the complex.
Yet another beautiful mansion in Jaisalmer, it was started by Guman Chand Patwa. The mansion took 55 years to be completed. Gumans sons completed it later. The most beautiful features of this mansion are the archways, gateways and especially the balconies, known as jharokhas. The golden color of the mansion catches the eye of every visitor at once. The tour of the whole mansion will take not more than 45 minutes. This is no doubt one of the most splendid residences in the beautiful city.
This fort is in the Bikaner city of Rajasthan. This fort has a record of not being able to be conquered by anyone ever. It was built by the Rajput ruler Maharaja Rai Singh, who was an important official in the court of Emperor Akbar and was there till the reign of Jahangir. He is said to have headed a number of battles and received victory in hem. As a token of appreciation, the emperors would shower him with gifts in the form of revenues that he later used to build this magnificent palace complex. He also applied all the knowledge and taste that he had gathered during his journeys to other places. The palace complex is huge and has a number of palaces, buildings, temples, bastions, towers and domes. The main materials used for the building purpose are red sandstone and marble. What is the most remarkable are the intricate stone work on every inch of the complex and the range of variety used to complete the fort. The Suraj Pol was the main entrance gate and the others included the Chand Pol, Daulat Pol, Fateh Pol and others. The main palaces inside included the Chandra Mahal, Karan Mahal, Ful Mahal, Anup Mahal, Badal Mahal and others. There is also an old museum inside the fort complex.
Kuldhara Abandoned Village
Rated as one of the most haunted villages of Asia, this small place in Jaisalmer has been desolated for almost a century now. It is known that once their lived a Rajput king who was cursed because of which the place is still not fit to be resided by people. There are a number of ruins of forts and palaces but the government has strict rules that no one should be entering this place after sunset. There have been a number of investigations which have proved the presence of supernatural forces in the Kuldhara Village.
Dilwara Jain Temples
One of the architectural wonders of the world, the Dilwara Jain Temples is sometimes considered architecturally superior than the Taj Mahal also. These temples are surrounded by lush green hills and look like nothing extra ordinary from the outside. As you enter the temples, you find human skills displayed at its best. The temples were built during the 11th to 13th century during which time there was no road transport to transport the marble blocks till this height. It is known that the task was done by elephants. The ornamental carvings in the walls, ceilings and pillars of the temple are marvelous. The creativity of artisans even so long ago can leave any one in awe. There are 5 main temples inside that are dedicated to a tirthankara each. These are the Sri Mahavir Swami Temple. Sri Adinath or Vimal Vashi Temple, Shri Parshvanath Temple, Shri Rishabhdaoji or Peethalhar Temple, Shri neminath Ji or Lunaashahi Temple.
Birla Mandir Temple
A completely marble made Mandir, Birla Mandir in Jaipur is not only famous but one that gives a feeling of peace and calmness to the visitors. Though, there are a number of Birlan Mandirs around the nation, the one in this city is quite hugs. The cleanliness, the maintenance and the well-planned structure and system is bound to take you off your feet. Apart from that, the architecture of the entire monument is worth a heavy sigh. The temple is a dedication to Lord Vishnu and Goddess Laxmi. It is also known as the LaxmiNarayan Temple for these reasons. There are quite a number of foreign tourists visiting this place all throughout the year.
Nathmal Ji Ki Haveli
This mansion in the heart of Jaisalmer is rated as the best in the city in terms of splendor. This mansion was the residence of Diwan Nathmal ji Mohta, who was the Prime Minister of the Maharaja of Jaisalmer at that time. The construction credit goes to a Muslim brother duo, Hathu and Lulu. The light color sandstone and the beautiful life size statues made in the mansion are remarkable. The pair of huge elephants on both the sides of the entrance seems like they are guarding the mansion as well as welcoming the guests inside. Inside the mansion the walls are filled with beautiful paintings and carvings of various incidents from daily lives, floral motifs and also modern equipments such as cars and fans. It is said that the builders had not seen these things ever but they made them with mere imagination of what they had heard from other people.
Chand Baolu StepWell
This is a step well that looks much more beautiful than just a well. This is now under the administration of the Archeological Survey of India and is an evident example that the Rajputs never ran out of water. The geometric complexity of this monument makes it even more attractive and charming. The green water of the well is no more in use but makes it a prime tourist attraction. The place is in the Abhaneri District of Eastern Rajasthan.
Rana Kumbha Palace
The palace was destroyed during an attack by Allauddin Khilji. The palace also has the cellar where the beautiful Rani Padmini had performed the act of 'Jauhar' (self immolation) along with other ladies of the fort during the attack. The palace was attacked twice after that. It was then never restored.
Salim Singh-ki Haveli
Another beautiful gem of Jaisalmer, this mansion was built by Salim Singh in the year 1815 when Jaisalmer was the capital of the Rajput Kingdom. Salim Singh was the Prime Minister of the court at that time and this was his residence. The specialty of this mansion that makes it stand out from others is the fact that the bricks and stones of this are not joined with cement and mortar. They are joined with long and strong iron rods. The mansion is so huge that it is said the king was also jealous of it. It is also one of the most innovative buildings of that era. The theme from which the design of the mansion was inspired is a dancing peacock. The 38 balconies projecting out resembles a peacock dancing. The intricate designs of the walls and pillars are also remarkable.
Moosi Maharani ki Chhatri
The cenotaph is a monument of love. It was built by Maharaja Vinay Singh, son of Maharaja Bhaktawar Singh in his fathers honour. This is also known as Moosi Rani ki Chhatri, named after one of the mistresses of Maharaja Bhaktawar Singh. Moosi Bai is said to have performed Sati by jumping into the pyre of her husband in this place only. After this incident she was given the status of a Queen. This monument is built outside the main palace. It is a two-storey building made of red sandstone. It is based on many small white marble pillars. There are also many domed pavilions on the ground floor. The Bengali styled arches and the just opposite red and white color just increases the grandeur of the beautiful monument.
Taragarh Fort has a structure like a star (Tara' means 'Star') and was constructed in 1354, by Rao Bar Singh. Unlike most forts (made of sandstone) it is built with serpentine stone (green colored) and is situated vertically on a steep hill side. It is considered to be one of the oldest forts in Rajasthan and has no elements of Mughal or any other architectural influence. It has seen many rulers like the Rajputs, Marathas, Mughals and many battles as well. The fort has another unique feature of many having tunnels built running across the hill. However, these are now inaccessible, one, due to lack of actual map and two, due to the miserable condition the fort is in.Once we were through the beautiful Chitrashala we embarked on the steep climb to the top of the hill, to the Taragarh Fort. The guards at Chitrashala helped us refill our water bottles* and select solid sticks to keep the monkeys at bay and help in the trek.
City Palace is a name that rings a bell of amazing culture and great architecture. It is one of the must things to do in Jaipur. The palace is located in the centre of the city and is a combination of amazing courtyards, buildings and gardens. Jai Singh was the Maharaja to build the outer most wall of City Palace. However, there has been various restorations and adaptations in the following centuries till date. There are various buildings within the palace, many of which were built in the 20th century. Where architecture is concerned, it is a beautiful mix of Rajasthani and Mughal cultures. The entry gate, Virendra Pol leads to the Mubarak Mahal which has a colonial look and a mix of Islamic, European and Rajput style of architecture. Today, this place is a museum that shows various exhibits starting from royal shawls to costumes. Some other places to explore here are diwan-e-khas, diwan-i-am, the armoury and Chandra Mahal.
Shilpgram is a cultural museum located in the heart of Udaipur. For those who love handicraft, this is the ultimate place to head to. You can see a variety of crafts and craftsmanship here. The place also holds an annual fest in December every year which is the best time to check their varied collection. Along with this, you can also find a lot of detailed work about the Rajputana clan. The traditional items are preserved well so that even the future generations can take a peek in the history of the place. The museum is well-maintained and also organizes dances at regular intervals.
Vinay Vilas Palace
This palace was built in the 18th century and just like the name suggests, it was built by Maharaja Vinay Vilas. This palace is also known as the City Palace of Alwar and is the main palace in this city. The beautiful monument is a pure and perfect blend of Rajput and Mughal architecture. This is an evidence of the relations between the two empires in spite of all the battles and wars. There are a number of other attractions inside the monument. The most important ones out of these are the Moosi Maharani ki Chhatri, Purjan Vihar, the beautiful, artificial lake built by the Maharja himself and the Alwar Museum of course. The Alwar Museum is the most popular out of all and has a vast collection of antiques. There is a huge collection of manuscripts in various languages such as Persian, Urdu and Sanskrit. Some of these are Bostan, Waqiat-e- Babri, Gulistan and others written during the Mughal period goving a vivid account of the royal life of the Mughals. There is also a division of the museum where you will find a collection of weapons of the Indian Army and there is a huge collection of beautiful paintings as well.