Forts, Travel

Junagarh Fort: A paradox between medieval military architecture and beautiful interior decoration

The 16th-century Junagarh Fort, a huge complex of buildings and halls all at ground level with a mot surrounding the fort in the city center. The Junagarh Fort is the most famous in Bikaner, Rajasthan, which was originally called the Chintamani Mahal until the 20th Century. This is a rare fort because even after thousands of attempts by vicious invaders, this fort remains unconquered over time. The museum provides the Audio Tour facility at a nominal charge in French, German and English. If you are on a visit to Bikaner, this place should be on the top of your list of places to visit. 

This fort is a Rajasthan heritage site in the holy city of Bikaner and it comes under UNESCO’S world heritage site. Right from sitting at the ticket counter, giving a free guide for the fort who is well versed and friendly.

This is a humongous place on the inside. Will easily need over 1.5 hours to cover and you’ll be amazed by the sheer size and the beauty it had to offer.

Then the place is clean and the monuments and the things well preserved and nicely displayed, within the fort there is a Museum display of traditional textiles and royal portraits a big airplane. You will wish forts and monuments at other places should follow this fort.

Let’s move inside of the Fort  and learn about some history :

The land fort is having good fortification, 37 bastions, 2 gates, a palace, Karan Mahal, Pool Mahal, Anup Mahal, Chandra Mahal, Ganga Mahal, Badal Mahal, Vijay Mahal, Rang Mahal, Dungar Niwas, temple, museum, ditch, and many monuments. The Suraj Pol or the Sun Gate is the main entrance to this fort.

The Chintamani Fort was renamed Junagarh, the early 20th century when the ruling family moved to Lalgarh Palace outside the fort limits. The fort complex was built under the supervision of Karan Chand. Construction of the walls and associated moat commenced in 1589 and was completed in 1594. It was built outside the original fort of the city, about 1.5 kilometers from the city center. 

An impressive fort, we would suggest you take the Audio Guide and be drawn into the past in the lyrical story of the Rao’s of Bikaner. The erstwhile Royals of Bikaner are to be commended in the grand upkeep of this piece of history for posterity to connect. From the beautiful Anoop Chowk, seen in various Bollywood movies, to the sandalwood World War II Memorabilia and the sandalwood ancestral throne all lovingly preserved by the Maharaja Karni Singh Trust. Each ruler added his touch to the fort creating layers of History, Anoop Mahal with it is gold leaf work, Badal Mahal created to invoke the rains in this arid landscape this is one of the best living samples of the history of Rajputana.

 Facts about Junagarh Fort :

  1.  The V-shaped ridges on the floor of the ramp prevented the horses from slipping on the slope as they trotted up. 
  2. The inbuilt gaps between the ridges allowed for the smooth flow of water down when the ramp was cleaned or when it rained.
  3. Junagarh Fort is built of red sandstone which gives it its striking color. However, yellow sandstone has also been used extensively.
  4. There are nine temples and shrines, gardens, stables for horses and elephants, armories and barracks, and an old jail for errant royals. 
  5. The nets served as a veil for the women of the royal family who observed the purdah system adopted from the Mughal culture. 
  6. One would expect the King to sleep in a rather high king-sized bed. In Junagarh Fort, the king’s bed is hardly two feet from the floor and narrow in size. 
  7. Junagarh Fort was built long before the arrival of electricity.
  8.  At night, the walls were cover with intricately carved niches for candles and lamps. Mirrors and colored glass were embedded on the walls throughout the room to reflect the light from the lamps and brighten up the room.
  9.  The Badal Mahal was the “me space” or “the den” of Maharaja Sardar Singh who was a music enthusiast. 
  10. The mirrors also enabled the king to spot an intruder quickly.

The famous film “MANIKARNIKA” shooting was done in this fort. The fort is a true example of modernity that blends away tradition. The rule of this fort was very dynamic in their thinking which results in very modern architecture during that time also. The fort is magisterial in every sense and should be surely visited on your trip to Bikaner. Also, on buying entry tickets you are provided with a guide for every 15-20 group of people as you can’t enter the fort without a guide. 

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About Samiksha Dashora

To the new beginning from dusk to dawn of my time, I shall grow like forest fire. Beneath the makeup and behind the smile I am just a girl who wishes for the world.

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