Standing in the middle of the golden sand of the Thar desert, the Jaisalmer Fort is one magnificent fort of India. It is not just counted one amongst the largest fort in India but also begs two other important titles-one, it is the oldest desert fort in the world, second, it is oldest of all the forts in Rajasthan. The fort has also been declared UNESCO World Heritage site in the year 2013. The fort is a must-visit site for tourists during the Rajasthan trip. Indeed, it has a prominent place in the heritage of the country.
The Jaisalmer fort was built in 1156 AD. Bhati Rajput ruler, Rawal Jaiswal who founded the city also got this fort made during his reign. The city surrounds the fort and the fort stands with pride on the Trikuta hill of Jaisalmer. The fort is 1500 feet long and 750 feet wide. If you see its height then it is 250 feet above the surrounding countryside. Literally, when visitors see this fort from a distance, say 30 miles, they can only see some sheer golden cliff. The fort is also locally known as Golden Fort or Sonar Quila. This is because of the reason for the use of yellow sandstone for the construction of its massive walls. The hue of the stones turns into tawny lion color during the day and appear in honey gold hue whilst the sunset.
Other attractive features on the outer side of the fort are its bastions. There are 99 of them in total, each measuring 32.8 feet tall. However, 92 of them were built between 1633 and 1647. The fort clearly speaks of a fine fusion of Islamic and Rajput culture.
Inside the fort:
To enter the fort, there are four gateways- the Akhai Pol, Ganesh Pol, Suraj Pol, and Hawa Pol. The outermost one is the Akhai Pol which is said to be the latest addition to the fort. It was built during the 18th century when the base wall was further extended into the desert. Once you pass the gates, you reach the Dashera Chowk. It is in the shape of a square and forms the center of the fort. If you believe the sources, it is said that the Chowk was the main site for Jauhar in the 14th and 15th centuries. Jauhar is a rudimentary custom where women of the fort would throw themselves into the fire in order to avoid being captured and enslaved.
The prominent attraction inside the fort is the Palace of the Maharawal. The marble thrown of the Maharawal lying there is an unbelievable site for visitors. Other interesting places in the fort include Jain temples and Laxminath temples. The fort also has museums, shops, restaurants, and residential accommodations unlike other forts in the country. You will be surprised to know that Jaisalmer fort houses 2000 residents, making its India’s last “living fort”.
The fort is filigreed with incredible detail. Watching a sunset from here is an experience of a lifetime. Trust us, the quote of architecture professor, Vikramaditya Prakash that, “Rajput forts were not easy to build” will make more sense to you once you visit the fort.
Important for travelers on Rajasthan tour, Over the centuries, the fort is getting deteriorated. The recent introduction of the modern plumbing system in the fort is leaking the water in the foundation of the fort, resulting in the weakening and collapsing of many structures.
The fort is open every day from 9.00 am to 6.00 pm. Reaching the fort is not a big task. An auto-rickshaw can take you there. Reaching the city is also easy, this desert city of the state is very well connected through rail, road, and air with all other major cities of the country.