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Forts and places of India

BEST FORTS AND PALACES OF INDIA

Of all the Indian monuments, forts and palaces are most fascinating. Most of the Indian forts were built as a defense mechanism to keep the enemy away. The state of Rajasthan is home to numerous forts and palaces. Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh are also not far behind. In fact, whole India is dotted with forts of varied sizes. The magnificent forts and palaces of Rajasthan were built during the medieval period. The notable feature about each of the forts and palaces is the exquisite carving work that has survived till date and still receives appreciation from people worldwide.


The Red Fort of Delhi 

Red fprt of Delhi This fort is probably the most famous landmark in Delhi besides the Qutb Minar and surely one of the most important tourist attractions in Delhi. Built by the 5th Mughal emperor, Shahjahan in the early 17th century, the fort was the most massive and important structure in Shahjahanabad, as Delhi was then known as. The red sand stone structure is an imposing structure with massive walls, ramparts and magnificent gateways. The fort has witnessed many defining moments in Indian history including the famous uprising of 1857. The walls of the fort extend to 2 kilometers, while the height varies from 18 meters to 33 meters. Inside the fort, the bazaar, the streets, and the fountains take the visitors to the medieval ages. The original palace had been badly damage during the siege of Delhi in 1857. A portion of the Palace, including the public hall, Private hall, Rang Mahal, and the Moti Masjid, or pearl mosque is open for public viewing. The gates of the fort are equally fascinating structures. A museum and a small shopping arcade are relatively recent additions to the fort. Light and sound shows enthrall tourists after dark. The fort is the venue of the prime minister’s address to the Nation on the 15th of August every year, the independence day of India.  Old Fort or Purana Qila: This fort was built by the Afghan ruler Sher Shah Suri, during his reign between 1538 and 1545. The site of the fort is also believed to be the location of the ancient city of Indraprastha. The massive walls and the three large gateways are the most prominent features of the fort visible from a distance. Inside, the octagonal sandstone tower and the Sher Mandal (also known as Humayun’s library) are the main attractions. The Qila i koharam mosque, popularly known as the mosque of Sher Shah, is situated close to the fort. This fort is one of the important tourist destinations in Delhi.  Tughlaqabad: The Tughlaq dynasty was the founder of this city. Ghiyasuddin Tughlaq, followed by Mohhammad bin Tughlaq ruled from here. Though largely in ruins now, this is one of the most prominent among the Delhi forts. The fort is located about 8 kilometers from Mehrauli, the site of the famous Qutb Minar. The tomb of Ghiyas-ud –din Tughlaq is the highlight of the fort .Only 13 of the 52 gates of the fort remain to be seen today. The sloping walls of the fort are between 10- 15 meters in height. The citadel and a tower known as Bijai-Mandal stand tall among the ruins.  Kotla Firoz Shah, Jahanpanah, and Siri are the other forts in Delhi that used to stand proudly in the medieval ages.


The Golconda Fort in Golconda 

Golconda FortIt is 11.5 km from Hyderabad. Built on a steep, granite hill, the fort is magnificient deserted fort-city build by the Qutub Shahi Kings in 14 th century. The Hindu Kakatiya Kings of Warangal gave the hill fort to the Muslim Bahmani Kings. Quli Qutab Shah (1512-43), the first of seven Qutab Shahi rulers, and his successors built the fort, which was lost to Emperor Aurangzeb after his long siege of 1687. The famous diamond bazaars lined the road up to the Fateh Darwaja, which were guarded by Abyssinians. There is a Persian-wheel water system, hot and cold water pipes inside the fort.


Fort St George in Chennai : 

Fort Saint George - ChennaiThis is the first British fort in India, built in 1639, and a base of British expansion in South India, and subsequently to all over the Indian Subcontinent. The fort was the scene of some famous battles in the 18th century. The French occupied the fort for some time during the war of Austrian succession in Europe. The British regained the fort after the treaty of Aix –la Chapelle. Today, the fort serves as the administrative headquarters of the legislative assembly of Tamilnadu. The fort has many interesting attractions within it, including the museum, St Mary’s Church, and the Wellesley house. The canons of Tipu Sultan placed at the ramparts of the museum are a reminder of the famous struggles between the British and the brave Indian king.  Fort St David: After a series of skirmishes between the British and the French, the fort finally came under permanent British possession in 1785. This fort was bought by the British East India Company from the Marathas in 1690. Robert Clive became its governor in 1756, shortly after the fort became the British headquarters in South India in 1746. the fort is situated near Cuddalore , about hundred miles from Chennai, ( Madras ) on the Coromandel coast.  Gingee fort: The original fort was built by the Cholas in the 9th century. The fort has undergone numerous shifts in power from then on. It was modified by the Vijayanagar Empire in the 13th century, and gained a formidable reputation. The Gingee Nayaks made it their headquarters during the Nayak domination in Tamilnadu. The fort also served as a Maratha stronghold during the reign of Shivaji, and his son continued fighting against the mughuls from here. After a brief period of French possession, the fort finally came under British control in 1761. Gingee fort never witnessed war again. Presently it serves as a museum preserving the many historic buildings including the granaries, prison cells, the Kalyan Mahal and the Chenjiamman temple. The fort is situated at a height of 800 feet, and is surrounded by an 80 feet wide moat.  Udaygiri Fort: This little known fort in the Kanyakumari district has been recently converted into a bio-diversity park by the forest department. The fort was built in the early 17th century and underwent major modifications in the 18th century under the Travancore rulers. The Tombs of the Dutch admiral De Lennoy and a Chapel built in his memory are notable monuments within the fort.  The other important forts in Tamilnadu are the Vellore fort, Vettakottai fort , Sankagiri, and the Dindigul fort.


Bidar Fort in Bidar, Karnataka:

Bidar fort - BidarBidar was the capital of the Bahmani kingdom of Deccan before the kingdom disintegrated into the smaller states. The small remnant state of Bidar was overcome by the mughul forces under Aurangzeb in 1656. It came under the Nizams in 1724. The major attractions of the fort are the imposing gates, the ramparts and the Rangin Mahal, with its richly decorated interiors.  Gulbarga: Gulbarga was famous as the Capital of the Bahmani kingdom from 1347 till 1428 when the kingdom disintegrated and the city came under the remnant sultanate of Bidar. The once mighty fort lies in ruins now, but some structures like the Jama Masjid which is an imitation of the famous mosque in Cordoba in Spain and the tombs of the Bahmani kings are well worth a visit to this fort.  Bijapur Fort:  This was the headquarters of the Adil Shahi dynasty after the founder Adil Shah whose reign is considered as the golden period of Bijapur. A landmark victory over the Vijayanagar Empire in the Battle of Talikota led to the rise of Bijapur as one of the most powerful dynasties in the Deccan. The Jama masjid had been built to commemorate that victory. The citadel, halls, passages and gardens still seem like frozen in time.The architecture of this fort is unique as it is a fusion of many prevalent styles. The tomb of Ibrahim Adil Shah II (1586 – 1626) is one of the major attractions of the fort. The Bijapur fort still stands today with all its historical importance as one of the most impressive forts in Karnataka.  Vijayanagar Fort:  This city was famous all over the world during its heydays due to its architectural brilliance and impeccable town planning. The empire reached its zenith during the reign of Krishnadevaraya (1509-29). The capital is entirely in ruins now, but one can visualize the magnificence of the city from the scattered buildings and remains of the city walls. The ruins are spread over a vast area of 16 square kilometers and are among the most important places to visit in Karnataka.  Seringapatam Fort: This fort was the abode of Tipu Sultan and the centre of his campaigns against the British. Located 16 kilometers from Mysore, the fort has one of the most attractive structures among the Karnataka Forts. The interiors are splendid examples of the architecture of that period. The paintings depicting Tipu Sultan’s wars against the British are among the special attractions of the fort.


Daulatabad Fort, Maharastra : 

Daulatabad FortThis is the best known fort in Maharashtra. The place was originally known as Deogiri and was ruled by the Yadava rulers. It came under the occupation of Muslim rulers in the 14th century and the place was renamed Daulatabad by Muhammad bin Tughlaq in early 14th century. The fort is an impressive structure with its strong outer walls, fortifications, ramparts, and canons still standing among the ruins. The mughul pavilion, perched high on a cliff, presents a panoramic view of the surrounding area. The lush greenery of the surroundings is an attractive sight from the walls of the fort, especially during the monsoon. The Chand Minar, a 210 feet high tower, and Chini Mahal are among the notable monuments of the fort.  Sinhagad: This fort is associated with many bloody battles during the reign of Shivaji, a period marked by constant skirmishes between the Marathas and the Mughuls under Aurangzeb. The fort got its name from a comment made by Shivaji after the death of Tanaji, his brave commander, who had fought till death to capture the fort for his king. The memorials of Tanaji and Rajaram, shivaji’s son, are the main attractions in the fort. The fort is within easy reach from Pune and Kalyan village. A trek from Donaje, near Pune to the top is a rewarding experience.  Vijaydurg – Sindhudurg: These two forts served as important naval bases during Shivaji’s reign. The forts are marvels of engineering of those times, being built by transporting great amounts of iron , lead and stone over water . The triple line of walls, numerous towers and the impressive buildings inside the fort indicate the important given to the forts by Shivaji. The forts also have a large number of temples built within the complex. Of these, the temple holding the Shrine of Shivaji is worth special mention.  Bassein:  The Bassein fort is a firm reminder of Portuguese presence in the west coast around present day Mumbai. The ruins of this fort tell us the story of European conquest in India. This fort can be reached easily from Vasai, a suburb near Mumbai. The Buddhist relics at Nalasopara , about 10 kilometers from Bassein, are also a place worth a visit.  There are many other forts in Maharashtra. These include the forts at Ahmednagar, Murud Janjira, Gavilgarh, Purandhar, Ratangarh, Jaigad, and Raigarh.


Gwalior Fort, Madhya Pradesh :

Gwalior fortThe Gwalior fort is a magnificent medieval structure built by the rulers of the area. The fort has a maximum length of 2.4 kilometers, and a maximum breadth of 820 meters. It is built on an elevated area with a maximum height of 104 meters. The fort is a fine example of medieval Indian architecture. There are many impressive structures within the fort including the Suraj Kund, the Saas Bahu temple, Teli ka mandir and many Jian temples. The fort also offers a magnificent view of Gwalior city, especially after sunset. The light and sound show is a major attraction of the fort.  Mandu : Mandu is the most famous among the Madhya Pradesh forts. It is famous for the legends involving the romantic pair of Baz Bahadur and his queen Roopmati. The architecture of this fort presents an interesting blend of Islamic and local elements. The fort stretches for 13 kilometers along the Vindhyas. Mandu flourished in the 15th century as the capital of the Paramara Dynasty who ruled over Malwa. The fort is home to many palaces, mosques and other buildings. The Jama Masjid deserves special mention as a fine example of medieval Islamic architecture.  Asirgarh : In its heydays, the fort of Asirgarh was considered the most secure fort in India. It is said that even Akbar faced great difficulties in his attempts to conquer the fort and ultimately had to bribe his way into it.  Chanderi Fort : This fort is located on the Malwa Bundelkhand border atop a hill southwest of the Betwa River. The fort towers 71 meters above the city , and is a major tourist spot in Madhya Pradesh. The main gate of the fort is known as Khooni darwaza , a chilling reminder of the ruthless battles the fort has witnessed. The walls and fortifications of the fort have been developed during the reigns of the Islamic rulers of the region. The fort came under bundela Rajputs in the late 16th century, and since then many Hindu and Jain temples have been constructed in it.  Deogarh: This fort is located amidst scenic surroundings in the Chhindwara district of Madhya Pradesh. Deogarh was the capital of the Gond kingdom hat flourished here during the late 17th century. The fort is an interesting place to visit with its numerous tanks, wells, temples and buildings.  Datia Fort, Bhandhavgarh Fort, Gohad Fort and Narwar Fort are some of the other prominent forts in Madhya Pradesh.


Amber Fort, Jaipur Rajasthan:

Amber fort Jaipur This fort was previously a palace within the walls of what is today known as the jaigarh fort. The two forts are connected by fortified passages, and can be visited together. The Fort used to serve as the capital of the rulers of Jaipur. Raja Mansingh, the trusted commander of Akbar, started the construction in 1592. The splendor of the fort can still be witnessed by elephant rides around the complex. The interior chambers still maintain much of their past glory. The hall of mirrors is a fascinating structure, the intricate mirrors still captivating tourists. The twin forts offer a panoramic view of the Maotha Lake and the Jaipur city.  Junagarh Fort: This famous fort in Bikaner is one of the most notable among the Rajasthan forts. The fort was never captured by the enemy ever since construction was started in 1587. Raja rai Singh is credited for the building of the fort. The magnificent structure is one of the finest examples of Rajput architecture. The fort includes many beautiful buildings like the Durga Niwas, Anup Mahal, Suraj Pol, Chandra Mahal and Phul Mahal. The fort museum informs tourists about the history of the fort.  Kumbhalgarh Fort: Famous for being the birthplace of Maharana Pratap, this fort in Rajasamand district of Rajasthan has walls stretching up to a length of 36 kilometers. The fort has many important and impressive buildings built inside it, including over 350 Jain and Hindu temples. The imposing structure was considerably enlarged through the years after its construction in the 15th century. This fort is also the center of much folklore about Mewar and its greatest hero, Maharana Pratap.  Mehrangarh Fort: The fort was built by Rao Jodha in the city of Jodhpur. It rises above the city at a height of 400 feet. The walls of the fort are 68 feet wide and 117 feet high. Construction was started in 1459, after a shift of capital from Mandore. The fort houses many splendid buildings and monuments like the Moti Mahal, Chandan Mahal, Rang Mahal, and the throne room. The bird’s eye view from the fort is also a major highlioght of the fort.  Chittorgarh Fort: Probably the most famous among the Rajasthan forts, Chittorgarh is one of the most important tourist destinations in Rajasthan. The tales of Queen Padmini, said to have committed self immolation (jauhar) after anticipating capture of the fort by Alauddin Khilji, are still told by the guides here. The fort has witnessed many decisive battles in the history of Rajasthan and has been attacked repeatedly by invaders, including Akbar in 1568. The victory tower (Vijay stambha) and Tower of fame ( Kirti Stambha ) are among the finest structures in the fort. There are many other attractions in the fort, including Rani Padmini’s palace, Rana Kumbha palace, Ratan Sen palace, and many water tanks. The gates of the fort are also worth special attention.  The other important forts in Rajasthan include the golden fort of Jaisalmer, Nahargarh fort, Taragarh fort, Neemrana fort, and Ranthambore fort.


Agra Fort, Uttar Pradesh :  

Agra fort - AgraUndoubtedly topping the list of tourist destinations in Uttar Pradesh, the Agra fort has witnessed some of the most dramatic and decisive moments of Indian history. The fort was modified by Sikander Lodi, the first Delhi sultan to live in Agra. It came under mughul control after the defeat of his son Ibrahim Lodi by Babur, the first mughul emperor. Since then all the great mughuls have ruled India from this magnificent and gigantic fort.  Red sandstone was used during the renovations of the fort under Akbar. The fort is one of the grandest examples of mughul architecture and far outshines all the other Uttar Pradesh forts in comparison. The four gates of the fort include the Delhi gate and the Lahore gate, which is the current entry point for tourists. Inside the fort, marvelous buildings built by Akbar and his successors have been impressing onlookers for hundreds of years. The major buildings inside the fort include the Diwan-i-aam, Diwan-i-khaas, Moti masjid, Mina masjid, jahangir Mahal, Khaas Mahal, Naubatkhana, Sheesh mahal, and the Musamman Burj. The archways and the richly decorated pavilions still reflect the incredibvle grandeur of mughul palaces.  Aligarh Fort: This fort was considered one of the strongest in the country during its heydays. It was built during the reign of Ibrahim Lodi by a governor of Kol in 1525. The fort changed many hands before coming under the control of the Marathas. The British took possession of the fort from the Marathas after defeating them in the battle of Ally Ghur. After this the fort remained under the British. During the 1857 mutiny, the Indian soldiers in the British army garrisoned in the fort mutinied but without any bloodshed.  Allahabad Fort: This magnificent fort is situated on the banks of the Yamuna River. It was built by Akbar in 1583, and is the largest fort built by him. It was one of the grandest forts of its time, and still retains much of its grandeur in its many buildings, doorways and pavilions. A very small area is open to the public today, which includes the three magnificent galleries, the beautiful zenana, Jodhabai’s palace and many other splendid structures. An Ashokan pillar from the 3rd century BC is also located within the fort. The Indian army uses much of the fort’s area today. The intact walls of the fort can be seen from a long distance.  Fatehpur Sikri: Emperor Akbar built this amazing palace near Agra in the small village named Sikri. Although it cannot be called a fort, this complex served as the mughul capital for many years under Akber, before it was abandoned due to shortage of water. The fatehpur Sikri complex is one of the most brilliant among all mughul monuments. There are many magnificent structures inside the complex that include the Panch Mahal, the Diwan-I khaas, Jodhabai’s palace, the Ibadatkhana, Jama masjid, Buland darwaza, and the tomb of Salim Chishti.  There are many other forts in Uttar Pradesh that are known for their grandeur and historical importance. These include the Jhansi fort, Kalanjar fort and the forts built by the Sharqi rulers in Jaunpur.


Lake Palace, Udaipur, Rajasthan :

Taj Lake Palace - UdaipurThe Lake Palace hotel amazes and delights you at every turn. Every inch of it is made of pure white marble, slender carved columns, fountains, filigreed screens and swimming pool, created for the private frolics of a princess. It is the early morning musical cacophony of birds and white masses of bougainvillea drooping over a rippling lily-pond that attracts the tourist.  Lake Palace houses 84 rooms including 17 beautiful suites and 53 Deluxe rooms. The rooms and the suites of the hotel are beautifully designed; each having a particular theme & decorated with textiles and handicrafts of the region. The royal banquet rooms are now reception rooms, bars and restaurants. The cuisine of the most mouth-watering variety brought to life by our skilled chefs. Be honored and indulged as befits royalty. Various events can be organized at Lily Pond and at Baragae Gangaur. Puppet show and Rajasthani folk dance and music can also be arranged.


City Palace of Jaipur, Rajasthan :

City Palace JaipurSplendidly unique and exquisite, City Palace is located in the capital of Rajasthan and is a perfect example of traditional Rajasthan and Mughal architecture. Originally built by Maharaja Jai Singh II of the Kachhwaha clan of Rajputs, developments have been made to the palace complex by many of his successors. The City Palace stands majestically on the hill guarded by crenulated fort walls. In contrast to its rough exterior, the inside presents a delicate and exquisite world of beauty with lavish use of marble, mirror work, frescoes, wall paintings, silver doors, fountains and gardens.  The City Palace consists of four main palaces. The Palace of Joy, Dilkusha Mahal, is lavishly decorated with frescoes and paintings. Moti Mahal, or Palace of Pearls, Sheesh Mahal, or Palace of Mirrors, and Krishna Mahal are decorated with colours and paintings. The ground and first floor of the Chandra Mahal, form the Maharaja Sawai Man Singh Museum. The museum has an extensive collection of art, carpets, enamelware and old weapons. The paintings include miniatures of Rajasthani, Persian and Mughal schools. The Mubarak Mahal, or the Auspicious Palace, contains the textile section of the museum.


Wind Palace (Hawa Mahal), Jaipur, Rajasthan :

Hawa Mahal, Jaipur Constructed in 1799, Hawa Mahal is the most sensational monument in the city of Jaipur. The palace, overlooks one of Jaipur’s main streets and was originally constructed to offer women of the court an upper hand, so that they can watch the activities taking place in the bazaar and the surrounding streets behind stone-carved screens. For this purpose, it was designed with over 900 niches, and the entire building is shaped like a crown adorning Lord Krishna’s head.  The site offers superb views of the city, including the many old palaces and houses which were painted ocher-pink for the 1853 visit of Prince Albert. The five-story, pyramid-shaped structure is made up of small casements, each with tiny windows and arched roofs, beautifully modelled and carved. There is a total lack of ornamentation on the inner face of the building. The chambers are plain and more mass of pillars and passages leading to the top storey.


Jal Mahal, Jaipur, Rajasthan :

Jal Mahal JaipurJal Mahal is an 18th century pleasure palace and is located in Jaipur, the capital city of Rajasthan. The palace is perched amidst Mansagar lake, which is in turn nestled amongst the Nahargarh hills. The Jal Mahal Palace, Jaipur is noted for its sophisticated design and grand architecture. The Palace was developed as a pleasure spot and was used for the royal duck shooting parties. A causeway leads to Jal Mahal Palace situated in the middle of Man Sagar lake, opposite the cenotaphs.  The first four floors of this building is under water, only the top floor remains outside. One can have a wonderful view of the lake and the palace from Nahargarh Fort Built in 1799, the palace is now abandoned, but reasonably well preserved. The lake eco system is home to a variety of migratory and resident birds. The Mansagar Dam on the eastern side of the lake acts as a vantage point for viewing the lake and the valley.


Umaid Bhawan Palace, Jodhpur, Rajasthan 

Umaid Bhawan Palace

Jodhpur’s Royal Residence, the splendid Umaid Bhawan Palace, is its’ most dominant landmark, visible from every part of this sprawling city. Perched atop Chittar Hill, this magnificent edifice is considered the largest private residence in the world. You drive past the immaculate lawns to be greeted by a doorman in Rajput livery. A choice of 98 rooms and suites, appointed with the furniture originally created for the Palace. Enjoy the sumptuous buffet laid out daily for lunch and dinner at the Marwar Hall, with a wide choice of Indian, Continental and Rajasthani specialties. Residents can amble through the throne room for private audience, a library, a private museum, an indoor swimming pool, a billiard room, tennis courts, unique marble-floored squash courts and garages.


Lalgarh Palace, Bikaner, Rajasthan :

Lalgarh palaceWith huge crystal chandeliers and rare paintings, the ultimate grandeur of Lalgarh Palace Hotel authentically recreates the lifestyle of royal Rajasthan. All these create an ambiance that is unique and ideal for formal, conferences and corporate meetings as well as for personal relaxation.  Designed by a Britisher for Maharaja Ganga Singh, this palace displays a magnificent blend of oriental and European style. All 38 rooms here is a suite with period furniture – four poster beds, chaise-lounges and exquisite carpets. Deluxe room one king bed: single double occupancy. There are formal lounges and meals are served in a dining hall reminiscent of the banquets once hosted here. Other remarkable features of the palace are its own museum and, clay pigeon trap and skeet shooting facilities at adjoining ranges.


Havelis in Delhi

Haveli in DelhiThe major havelis include Seth Chhunnamal ki Haveli, Hakeem Ahsanullah Khan ki Haveli, Haksar ki Haveli where Pt Jawaharlal Nehru got married to Kamala Nehru, Namak Haram ki Haveli named after a traitor Bhuwani Shankar in Chandni Chawk, Haveli Zeenat Mahal, named after Emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar’s domineering queen, Mirza Ghalib ki Haveli, Haveli Hissamuddin Haider at Ballimaran to name a few. Except Chunnamal Id Haveli, most of the havelis are on the point of ruin.


Havelis of Shekhavati

Haveli in Mandawa - ShekhawatiThe Shekhavati region consists mainly of the Sikar, Churu and Jhunjhunu districts. This region has dry and extreme climatic conditions, and the annual rainfall does not exceed 38-45 centimeters. Shekhavati has a wealth of traditional arts, crafts and architecture, with some of them being living traditions. Shekhavati is accessible by both road and rail. Shekhavati were famous for building luxurious havelis (palaces, mansions) throughout the region. They painted themselves right into the walls, filling both the interior and exterior walls of their palaces and temples with frescoes of themselves, their lives and loves, their heroes and their gods.  These havelis were built mainly in the latter half of the 20th century by the Marwari merchants of Shekhavati, who ventured out primarily to Calcutta and Assam. The lavish Havelis are a fine example of craftsmanship – some of them are even painted in pure gold. A few of these havelis have now been converted into heritage hotels, although most of them are looked after by old family caretakers for their busy seths who visit them once in a while. Shekhavati also has a number of small fortresses and a deer sanctuary at Tal Chhapar. The best way to visit and view this region is either on a Horse Safari or a Camel Safari.  Sikar Further on in Sikar is Biyani Haveli with its beautiful blue frescoes. Blue was traditionally the most difficult colour to render in wet fresco plaster. That makes these walls, completed in the 1870s with expensive synthetic imported German dye, a statement of the owner’s status.  Nawalgarh Nawalgarh seems at first like a sleepy dull desert town, but this town has one of the highest concentrations of decorated havelis in all Shekavati. The Poddar Haveli is now a school, certainly one of the most amazingly decorated schools anywhere. Watch out for the ghost while examining the Uttarian Haveli.  Kota Kota is the industrial center of Rajasthan. Earlier, it was the capital of an independent state of the same name. There are hydro-electric power plants and an atomic power plant here. Places of interest here are the forts, the Government Museum, Rao Madhav Singh Museum, Chambal Gardens, Jag Mandir (a temple on an island), etc.  Bundi The town is in a narrow valley and looming above it is the Taragarh Fort. This was built in 1372. Inside the palace is the picture gallery with murals of hunting, historical and religious scenes painted in Bundi style.  Alwar Alwar with its historic fort, palaces & beautiful gardens offers an unforgettable experience. The medieval fort crowning a scarped hill overlooks the town below.  Mandawa Castle Mandawa castle now offers delightful hotel accommodation. Look for loopy western references in the town’s frescoes like the man riding a bicycle.  The Piramal Haveli The Piramal Haveli in Bazar, Shekhavati, has traditional courtyards enclosed by colonial pillared corridors. Frescoes of flying angels and gods in motor cars adorn the walls. Serving the famed local vegetarian cuisine.


Havelis of Jaisalmer

Havelis in JaisalmerFounded by Prince Jaisal Bhatti, Jaisalmer is one of the most remote towns of India, located deep in the heart of the Thar desert. On either side of the narrow lanes are the sandstone havelis, with stone carvings, screen windows, delicate pavilions & balconies. These beautiful mansions were built by Jaisalmer’s wealthy merchants and several of these fine sandstone buildings are still in beautiful condition. Patwon ki Haveli is the most elaborate and magnificent of all the Jaisalmer havelis. Salim Singh ki Haveli was built about 300 years ago and is still partially lived in. Salem Singh ki Haveli Salim Singh ki Haveli was built about 300 years ago and is still partially lived in. Salim Singh was the prime minister when Jaisalmer was the capital of a princely state and his mansion has a beautifully arched roof with superb carved brackets inn the form of peacocks. The mansion is just below the hill and, it is said, once had two additional wooden storeys in an attempt to make it as high as the Maharaja’s Palace.  Patwon ki Haveli It is the largest and most elaborate haveli in Jaisalmer. The five Patwa havelis were the first ones to crop up in Jaisalmer and are known locally as the Patwon-ki-haveli. The first was constructed in 1805 by a merchant called Guman Chand Patwa and is the biggest and the most ostentatious. The five-storeyed complex which reportedly took 50 years to finish. The unsung heroes as far as the Patwa mansions are concerned are the unnamed stone carvers who wielded the chisel with as much skill as a surgeon handles a scalpel. The havelis are built in yellow sandstone with a different design on every window and arch. There are extensive corridors and chambers all supported by exquisitely carved pillars. Nathmal-ki-Haveli Nathmal-ki-Haveli is the third of its kind supposedly built in AD 1885. Characterized by intricate architecture and craftsmanship, it belonged to later-day prime minister Nathmal, who gifted it to the Rawal. The haveli has two wings left and right, which were carved by two brothers with splendid miniature paintings. The jharokhas are the specialty of the haveli as they seem to emerge from a book of poetry because of the fine stone carvings. It is not Haveli but a stone garden carved in all flowers and in creeper motifs which has the most interesting workmanship. Their main carvers were Lalu and Hathi who carved front alleviation in their artistic presentation which can be seen clearly on the front side.