In India, the experience of visiting a fort is no less than magical. As one ventures into the confines of the majestic walls of the forts, one gets to witness how every corner comes alive with a story told many times, or a tale yet to be told. The experience of visiting forts is unique for every traveller: that is precisely what makes them alluring. Here are 15 forts that you may consider visiting, in order to immerse yourself in the old world charm of incredible India.
1. Amber Fort – Jaipur, Rajasthan
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Amber Fort of Jaipur is popular for its colourful history and its breathtakingly beautiful architecture. Consisting of sandstone and marble structures, this Rajput fort is constructed on the foundations of an 11th century fort. One of the main attractions of this fort is the ‘Sheesh Mahal’ or the ‘Mirror Palace’, which is decorated with an intricate inlay of mirrors on the walls.
2. Mehrangarh Fort – Jodhpur, Rajasthan
This fort, famous for its eclectic mix of architectural styles, also offers a grand view of the “blue city” of Jodhpur. It is also a centre for cultural activities in Rajasthan, as the royal family hosts a number of cultural events, including the Rajasthan International Folk Festival.
3. Jaisalmer Fort – Jaisalmer, Rajasthan
Famously known as Sonar Fort; noted for its unique colour, this sandstone fort in Rajasthan is bursting with local colour, as it is surrounded by flea markets and other local attractions. This fort has also been used a setting for Satyajit Ray’s popular Bengali film “Shonar Kella”.
4. Chittor Fort – Chittorgarh, Rajasthan
Often hailed as the residence of Rani Padmavati, this fort is also famed to be the largest of its kind in India. Supposedly built by the Mauryas, this fort also has mythical associations with the narrative of The Mahabharata. The fort also encloses the site where the famous Rajput queen supposedly performed ‘jauhar’, or a ritual act of self-immolation, along with hundreds of other women.
5. Udaipur City Palace – Udaipur, Rajasthan
The sprawling palace situated on the banks of Pichhola Lake is an eclectic mix of Rajasthani, Mughal, European and Chinese architecture. One of the most iconic structures in Rajasthan, this palace has been the location for the shooting of the James Bond movie ‘Octopussy’, and the Sanjay Leela Bhansali film ‘Goliyon Ki Raasleela Ram-Leela’.
6. Kumbhalgarh Fort – Rajsamand, Rajasthan
Built as a stronghold against the aggression of the Mughals, Kumbhalgarh is located at a strategic point, atop the Aravalli mountains. This unimpregnable fortress boasts of its strong walls which have a thickness of fifteen feet as well as several beautiful temples housed by it.
7. Agra Fort – Agra, Uttar Pradesh
This massive red sandstone structure originally built by the Lodi Sultans was later conquered by the Mughals, and served as their residence for centuries. Interestingly, this imposing fort hides several secret tunnels that run underneath its superstructure.
8. Red Fort – Delhi
One of the most iconic structures of India, the Red Fort serves as the location for the Republic Day ceremony. Situated on the banks of the river Yamuna, this fort retains much of the traces of its glorious Mughal origins, in spite of being heavily modified by the British following the Rebellion of 1857.
9. Golconda Fort – Hyderabad, Telangana
An architectural marvel, this fort is known for its amazing acoustic effects, by which sounds from the gates can be heard at the citadel. This fort also provides a panoramic view of its surroundings, and provides its visitors an opportunity to witness a glorious sunset from its walls.
10. Chitradurga Fort – Chitradurga, Karnataka
This picturesque fort in Karnataka houses about 18 different temples, of which the most notable is the Hidimbeshwara temple. Both the temples and the fort are supposed to have mythological associations with the Mahabharata, especially the figure of Bhima. Located amidst rocky forests, visiting this fort may require a significant journey on foot.
11. Gwalior Fort – Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh
Dating back to the third century, this fort has passed from one ruler to another several times, and thus has a very colourful history. The awe-inspiring artefacts from this fort are preserved in the Gujari Mahal, which has now been converted to a museum. The outer walls of the fort are decorated with blue mosaic tiles and rows of yellow ducks, which are a few of the things that make this fort an unique attraction.
12. Junagarh Fort – Bikaner, Rajasthan
One of the less popular forts in Rajasthan, this fort has beautiful Rajashthani art and inlaid walls that adorn its interiors, which have been expanded and modified numerous times since it was constructed. Located right in the middle of the city of Bikaner, this fort is an ode to the amazing history of the Rajputs, as it provides the travellers an opportunity to look at various artefacts and memorabilia from the distant past.
13. Kangra Fort – Kangra, Himachal Pradesh
Another fort with a mythical past that links it to the Mahabharata, this fort is situated amidst the picturesque ice-capped hills of the Himalayas. Although heavily damaged by an earthquake in 1905, this structure is still extremely impressive, and houses several temples inside it.
14. Raigad Fort – Mahad, Maharashtra
Although mostly in ruins, the Raigad Fort is a testament to the architectural and engineering prowess of the Maratha leaders. Associated with various folk tales, the fort is the location for the mortal remains of Shivaji and his family.
15. Srirangapatna Fort – Srirangapatna, Karnataka
Built in the 15th century, this fort was the residence of Tipu Sultan and his ancestors. The fort encloses the Juma Masjid within its walls, as well as the Ranganathaswami temple. This fort also contains two imposing dungeons z which were used to detain prisoners back in the day. The fort also contains a “Rocket Court”, which was apparently used by Tipu Sultan to launch missiles.
Replete with stories of their own, these forts in India stand testament to the glorious past of India. For the history buff who does not mind an adventure, these forts are the best locales for trips that enrich the mind and free the spirit.