The Great Indian Forts (Durgs), Pride of the land and flag bearers of our Military Might
Indian is a country which has been ruled by a number of rulers and dynasties. The glorious legacies of those rulers marked some of the magnificent creations in this land, of which forts emerged out to be the cultural heritages of India. The forts of India reflect its rich cultural past and historical significance behind them. Some of the major Indian forts and palaces are seen in the state of Rajasthan. Most of the forts in this state are built in the names of kings and queens. The exquisite carving works and fine architectures of forts lure every tourist towards it. Some other popular forts are also situated in the state of Delhi, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.
Kangra Fort – The Oldest Fort in India
Hill Fort of Himachal, History roots in the Mahabharat
You may be wondering why I included this in my List. The builders of Kangra Fort hailed from the The Katoch Dynasty, that traces its roots in the Mahabharata. Apart from that this Fort is mentioned in the War Records of Alexander the Great too, hence making it the oldest recorded Fort of India. This fort has an Unique distiction of being ruled by great Hindu Kings, Muslim Invaders, Sikh Maharaja and Christian Rulers of British empire.
The Kangra fort is situated at a distance of 20 kms from Dharmasala, Kangra town, in the state of Himachal Pradesh. The fort lies along the Banganga and Manjhi streams and is filled with natural beauty. It is 5 kms away from the road bridge. Ruled by Kashmiris and Britishers, the fort was constructed by the royal families of Kangra.
Fusion of ancient and medieval architectures can be seen in Kangra fort. Old paintings, Temples, palaces, museums surrounded by its long walls and huge gates are the main attraction of this fort. The huge gates or ‘Darwaazas’ are quite famous. The most popular is the Ranjit Singh Darwaaza, which is 4 kms long in both sides. Other major gateways are Ahni Gate, Amiri Gate and Jahangiri Gate. But the best one is Darsshani Darwaaza,, which is oldest among all.
Laxmi Narayan Mandir and Shaitala Mandir are the Hindu temple attractions of Kangra fort. Ambika Devi Temple is also an interesting place to visit. There is a Jain temple which has a stone image of Adinath. Mirror Palace of Kangra fort with a watch tower on its upper level is a major exotic palace.
Besides, the Kangra Valley attracts a large number of tourists from every corner of the world. It is an important monument of Himachal Pradesh and is preserved by the Himachal Pradesh tourism department. Located among the green valleys of Himachal Pradesh this fort this fort is a major tourist destination in the state. Kangra is well connected to every major cities of the country via air, rail and road. You can visit this place during winter season.
Beautiful Amber Fort (Rajput Fort) of Mehrangarh
The Amber fort is located at a distance of 11 kms from Jaipur, the capital city of the state of Rajasthan on the Delhi-Jaipur highway. Usually referred as Amer fort, the construction was started by Maharaja Man Singh I in 1592 and completed by his son Jai Singh I. The architecture of the fort reflects both the Mughal and Hindu culture carved with red sand stone and white marble.
Historically, the fort used to be an administrative headquarter and military bastions for the Rajput kings. Being an astounding monument of Kachhawaha Rajput period, the fort it well known for its glittering appearance. The amber fort has a palace named as amber palace which depicts the delicate architectural work. The Seesha Mahal is decorated with painting scenes, precious stones and mirrors and is considered to be the integral part of the fort. Some of the major fort attractions are Old Amber Palace, Diwan-I-Am, Diwan-i-Khas, Shila mata Temple, Ganesh Pol and Suhaag Mandir.
The Old Amber Palace was built during 13th century. Ancient amber temples and crumbling palaces can be seen here. Diwan-i-Am or the Hall of Public Audience was built by Mirza Raja Jai Singh. Diwan-I-Am used to be a place for public hearing. Diwan-i-Khas was used as a hall of private audience with excellent glass decorations and mural carvings on the walls. Shila mata Mandir was constructed by Raja Man Sigh in the year 1604. A black marble idol of the Goddess Kali is worshipped here. A beautiful garden or Charbagh lies in Ganesh Pol which is a beautiful place of Amber fort. Other attractions around Amber fort are Jagatsiromani Temple and Temple of Sanwalji. All routes of transport are available to visit this place. Ideal time is throughout the year except Holi.
Image Credits : Hans A. Rosbach, Wikimedia Commons
The Diamond Fort of Golkunda
whose rulers were known for administration and patronage of art rather than military might
The Golconda fort lies at a distance of around 11 kms from Hyderabad, the capital city of Andhra Pradesh. In Telugu language, the fort is referred as ‘Shepherd’s Hill’ or ‘Golla Konda’. Situated due west of Hyderabad with a height of 120 meters, the Golconda fort was built during 13th century by the Kakatiya Dynasty. The outstanding architecture of the fort makes it the most magnificent fortress in India.
According to history, Golconda used to be a famous market for diamond including the ‘Kohinoor’ during the Qutub Sahi Dynasty. In its epic battle with Mughal emperor Aurangzeb, the fort was destroyed leaving only the present ruining parts. The unique architecture, the exotic designs with an amazing ventilation system is the high points of Golconda fort. There are four distinct forts and a 10km long outer wall with 87 semicircular bastions. On its North-Eastern side, there is a rough pentagon popularly known as Naya Quila. ‘Fateh Darwaza’, the lowest bastions of Golconda is a larger tract covered with bazaars, temples, mosques, soldiers, mansions of nobles, barracks etc.
The main attraction within the fort is ‘Bala Hissar’, which is the highest point of the fort. It has palaces, water supply system and a canon called ‘Rahban’ canon, which was built by Aurangzeb on the Pethla Burj. The tombs are carved with precious stones and surrounded by beautiful gardens. The ‘Kala Mandir’ and the ‘Durbar Hall’ are also located within the fort. The ‘Durbar Hall’ is believed to be the secret underground tunnel of the fort. Another specialty of this place is the echoing entrance hall. They say the guards in the entrance hall could notify the people on the top of the fort (king’s palace) by clapping which echoed all the way to the top of the hill using some marvel technology of that time.
One beautiful thing associated with Golcunda is its famous love story of Qutub Sahi Prince and the local village girl. The fort sings the saga of love and art apart from its rich proud military might. I have visited this place twice and admire every bit of this fort.
A famous sound and light show is now organized in the fort by the Andhra Pradesh tourism to depict the glorified history of Golconda. To reach this place, the nearest airport and railhead is Hyderabad. The road transport services are available from the main city to other parts of the state. You can visit the place anytime in a year. ( Image credit : Rudolph.A.furtado, Wikimedia Commons )
Most Powerful Marine Fort – MURUD JANJIRA
one of the few naval support forts in India
This fort is located in Murud village in Raigad district at a distance of 60 kms away from Alibaug, in the State of Maharashtra. Janjira is a corruption of Arabic word ‘Jazira’, which literally means ‘An Island’. Situated on the top of a hillock, it is one of the strongest marine forts in the country. This 300-year old oval shaped fort is believed to be constructed by the Ahmednagar rulers under the supervision of Malik Amber, a regent, during 15th century period. It is said that this fort was originally built with wood by the Murud fishermen to protect their villages from the pirates, but later was destroyed by Ahmednagar Ruler Nizamshah to build a stone fort here. Palaces, quarters, mosque, a big fresh water tank, all can be found in Janjira fort. Murud village is famous for its coconut and betel palms, beautiful beach and casuarinas. Kashid and Nandgaon beaches are the most popular ones. The famous Ganapati temple is located in Nandgaon where an annual fair is held in February every year. The Nawab Palaces and the Janjira Caves are also among other interesting places of Janjira fort. There are a number of towers, turrets and canons within the fort. Kalal Bangadi, Chavari and Landa Kasam are some of the popular canons left in Janjira and two sweet water lakes also exist inside the fort. Some of the parts of the Janjira fort are destroyed and only ruins are being viewed today. Still the fine architectures of this fort is worth enjoying. Mumbai is the nearest airport and railhead to reach the fort. Besides, bus transport services are always available throughout the state. This place can be best visited during winter season.
Image Credits: Himanshu Sarpotdar