A trip to India is always incomplete without a visit to the state of Rajasthan. Complete with royal palaces and extensive forts, this desert state boasts of India’s glorious past, dotted with the legacies of the Rajput kings. Situated in the heart of the Thar Desert on top of the Trikuta hill, lies a jewel of the crown of Rajasthan – the Jaisalmer Fort.
The fort has about 99 bastions and is one of the largest forts in the world. Made completely out of sandstone, the fort is a sight to behold. The fort seems camouflaged in the mornings as the pale yellow color of the sandstone blends with the hue of the desert. After sunset, however, the fort turns a different leaf and shines like gold under the exceptional system of lighting that illuminates the structure.
Built in 1156 A.D. by the Rajput ruler Rawal Jaisal, the fort is also known as ‘Sonar Quila’, meaning ‘the Golden Fort’, because of the color that is rendered to it by the sandstone. The fort first came under attack by Ala-ud-din Khilji in the 13th century and was later captured by Humayun in the 16th century. A close look at the fort reveals both Rajput and Mughal influences on the architecture.
In earlier days, the entire city was located within the walls of the fort.
With the passage of time, however, and consequent explosion in the population of Jaisalmer, people moved out of the fort and settled along the foot the Trikuta hill. The fort still has residues of the civilization that existed in it. Along with the ‘Raj Mahal’, or the Royal Palace, the Jain temples, the Laxminarayan temple and the havelis of the wealthy merchants of the yesteryears, the fort is filled with the houses of people who still live inside it. The numerous cafes that lined along the winding alleys and roads inside the fort are a recent phenomenon that caters to the growing tourist population visiting the fort every day.
When visiting the state of Rajasthan, a stop at this fort-city is highly recommended. To heighten the experience, you would want to consider living in the hotels inside the fort and experience a hands-on experience of the life in it. Best visited during the winter that stretches from October to March, the Jaisalmer fort is an experience that does not find a parallel in the numerous other forts of the state. It is truly an exceptional piece of architecture that, coupled with a bit of history, makes it such an important tourist destination in this part of the country.