India’s Popular 15 Big Forts

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The land of India has been embellished with some of the most majestic forts in the world. Reflecting a rich culture, history and a good taste in architecture, these massive forts take one back in the glorious time of Maharajas and Emperors, where each bastion, window, porch, courtyard and even the outer wall recount historic tales. Done up in a such way with fine mosaic, frescoes, latticework, one cannot help but fall in love with these stunning pieces of architecture that India is so proud of. Here are some of the largest and most popular forts in India:

Mehrangarh Fort, Jodhpur, Rajasthan

Mehrangarh Fort Jodhpur

Photo: Wikipedia

Perched on a cliff called Bahuchiriya, Mehrangarh is a 15th century royal fort in Jodhpur. Literally meaning ‘The Sun Fort’, Mehrangarh is indeed one of the most popular big forts in India. Guarded by 7 gates, Mehrangarh fort was built primarily for the military defense but inside the fort one can find some of the most beautiful palaces. The palaces have ornately decorated ceilings and walls. It is estimated that 17 generation of Rajput rulers have reigned here and have added several structures like temples, palaces and courtyard yet not even one structure looks out of place as the blending has been skillfully done. The delicate carvings on the fort are also worth mentioning as despite the fragile nature of the sandstones used, the job of intricate carvings has been done so well. Mehrangarh is also one of the best preserved forts of India; and in order to be maintained, a part of it has been converted into a museum. Imposing and invincible, the fort has towers of about 120ft and its walls are 6m thick at place. This colossal fort led writers Rudyard Kipling saying that it is not a work of men but giants!

Best Time to Visit: October to March

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Red Fort, Delhi

Red Fort, Delhi

Photo: Richard Lamprecht

Built in 1648 as the fortified palace of Shahjahanbad, Red fort is indeed one of the most majestic structures in India. Named after its massive enclosing wall of red sandstone, the architecture of the fort is credited to architect Ustad Ahmad Lahori. The fort has four accesses that are strategically made in each direction, the famous one being the Lahori Gate. Red fort including the earlier Salimgarh fort occupies an area of 120 acres. Bastion mounted with domed kiosks at regular intervals, colossal entrance gates, octagonal towers, semi arch arcades and minarets make Red fort a majestic structure in Indian history. The mosaic work seen in almost all the structures in the fort complex is worth appreciating, in fact the entire for is worthy of admiration for its tenacity of planned architecture.

Best Time to Visit: October to March

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Gwalior Fort, Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh

Gwalior Fort
Ruled by almost 110 rulers from different dynasties, Gwalior fort is profoundly steeped in history. The fort has been the witness of events like Tatya Tope fighting the British and Rani Lakshmi Bai breathing her last. What surprises one here are giant Jain sculptures carved of the cliffs and rocks at the foot of the hill on which the fort is built on. Gwalior fort has some of the most dramatic sites and it begins the moment one enters the gate. The Man Singh Palace is amongst one of the most beautiful structures present in the fort complex. The architectural style of the palace is a perfect example of the blend of Mughal and Hindu along with a hint of Chinese architecture. The ceramic glaze tiles, beautiful motifs and intricate lattice work all contribute in making Gwalior fort a very appealing monument in India.

Best Time to Visit: October to March

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Golconda Fort, Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh

Golconda Fort Hyderabad
Getting its name for Golla Konda (Shepherds’ Hill), Golconda Fort is another popular forts in India. What makes Golkonda famous apart from this majestic fort was the fact that it was the centre of the diamond trade; the Kohinoor and the Hope Diamond are some of the famous ones excavated from the mines here. Golconda actually had four forts enclosed by a 10kms long outer wall. The fort comprises of 87 semicircular bastions, eight gateways, four drawbridges, large number of royal apartments and halls, temples, mosques, magazines and stables. What fascinates the visitors to Golconda is the acoustic effect that can be experienced at Fateh Darwaza. Reflection excellent sense of engineering this acoustic effect is about clapping hands at one place, the sound of which can be heard at pavilion, which is almost a kilometer away.

Best Time to Visit: Octber to March

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Jaisalmer Fort, Jaisalmer, Rajasthan

Jaisalmer Fort

Photo: bit.ly/1iy1MWn

Often dubbed as Golden Fort, Jaisalmer is probably one of the largest forts in India. This 12th century fort has been voted by visitors as a wondrous fort in Rajasthan. It is one of the largest desert forts in the world infact a large population of Jaisalmer still lives within the fort. It is believed that the fort has been made without using water, and definitely it is a marvel of architecture as construction seems impossible without water. The fort is 1,500 ft (460 m) long and 750 ft (230 m) wide and is perched on a hill of a height of 250 ft (76 m) above the surrounding country side. The bastions of the fort form a chain about 30 ft (9.1 m) and the basement of the fort has 15 ft (4.6 m) tall walls that forms a double line of defense. Since a large number inhabit the fort’s premises, chances are that one will be able to learn and witness a lot here.

Best Time to Visit: October to March

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Red Fort, Agra, Uttar Pradesh

Red Fort Agra

Photo: LASZLO ILYES

Red Fort in Agra bears an exceptional testimony to the history of Mughal Empire. Agra Fort was built in the year 1565 and during the reign of Akbar, the main part of the fort was made. This 94 acre semicircular fort is complimented with its lofty bastions, bastions at intervals, with battlements, embrasures, machicolations and string courses. Like the Delhi Fort, Agra Fort has two main entrances – Amar Singh Gate and Delhi Gate. The citadel has large number of fairytale land like palaces and out of which Jehangiri Mahal is the example of Mughal architecture at its best. The palace has an interesting façade; it has arched portals, series of ornamental porches and octagonal towers on either side. There is a complex arrangement of rooms, halls, corridors and verandahs in the palace. Several of the buildings are made of marbles decorated with beautiful carvings; each monument matches the apogee of Indo-Muslim art. The fort also offers a distant view of Taj Mahal from the second floor. The Red Fort is marvel and indeed one place that must be visited in Agra.

Best Time to Visit: October to March

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Kangra Fort, Kangra, Himachal Pradesh

Kangra Fort Himachal

Photo: Aleksandr Zykov

The Kangra Fort is located atop a hill situated at the confluence of Banganga and Patal Ganga river (also known as the Majhi), in the south western outskirts of the old Kangra town. The fort was built by the founder of Katoch Dynasty, Bhuma Chand and is also known by other names, Nagarkot and Kot Kangra. This isolated fort is magnificent and is amongst the best forts to visit in India. Situated some 20kms from Dharamshala Kangra Fort was first mentioned in the war records of Alexanader the Great. The fort has been the pride and defense of Katoch King, there are number of temples and palaces that make a significant part of it. The shrines of Lakshmi-Narayana Sitala. Jain Temple and Ambika Devi are amongst the most famed ones here.

Best Time to Visit: March to June and October to November

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Chittorgarh Fort, Chittorgarh, Rajasthan

Chittorgarh Fort
The seat of Mewar rulers, Chittaurgarh fort is a spectacular fort perched on a hill of 591ft of elevation. The fort is built on 280 hectares of land and is probably one of the most beautiful fort in Rajasthan. What makes the fort unique is the fact that it was self sufficient in water with 84 water bodies in the form of wells, ponds and step wells with the storage capacity of 4 billion litres of water. However, there are only 22 water bodies remaining today. The fort comprises of Saat Pols or Gates and each has been built as massive stone structures with secure fortifications for military. The reservoirs, chhatris, stambha, palaces and temples are the attractions of this fort. The fort is massive and thus requires atleast a day for a thorough tour.

Best Time to Visit: October to March

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Panhala Fort, Kolhapur, Maharashtra

Panhala Fort Kolhapur

Photo: Flickr

Situated about 19kms from Kolhapur, Panhala Fort is amongst the biggest forts in Deccan. The fort has a perimeter of 14 km (9 mi) and 110 lookout posts and is at an elevation of 2,772 ft (845 m) above sea level. Panhala fort is built on the Sahyadris and it has numerous underground tunnels, out of which one is almost 1 km long. The architecture of the fort is in Bijapuri style with the peacock motif of the Bahmani Sultanate visible prominently on several structures. Some of the older bastions also have the lotus motif of the time period of Bhoja II. There are several structures in the fort namely, Teen Darwaza, Wagh Darwaza, Andhar Bavadi, Kalavanticha Mahal, Ambarkhana, Dharma Kothi and Sajja Kothi that are the major attractions of Panhala fort.

Best Time to Visit: October to March

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Srirangapatnam Fort, Srirangapatnam

Srirangapatnam Fort

Photo: Sivakumar

Built in the 15th century, Srirangapatnam Fort is one of the outstanding monuments built during the Vijayanagar Empire. However, the most elaborate work was done in the fort during the reign of Tipu Sultan who was also called the Tiger of Mysore. This double-walled fort is built with massive granite blocks in this region. The fort is in a triangle shape and has 40 ft high walls on all three sides. Two important gateways – the Mysore Gate and the Elephant Gate – to the fort are on the side facing the highway. There are number of military, religious and civic structures like Gumbaz, Ranganathaswamy Temple, Daria Daulat Palace or the Palace of Tipu Sultan and Masji-e-Ala or the Juma Masjid.

Best Time to Visit: October to March

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Amber Fort, Jaipur

Amber Fort Jaipur

Photo: Ashley Coates

Between Delhi and Rajasthan, Amer Fort can rightly be called the Gateway to Rajasthan. The construction of the fort is said to have begun in the 10th century but it was completed in the 1599. This imposing fort built on top of a hill has the record of never being conquered. Inside the fort are beautiful palaces and gardens, exquisitely painted and decorated rooms, hammams and terraces. Sheesh Mahal, Diwan-e-Aam, The Summer Residence, Palace of Man Singh I and Sila Mata Temple are the major attractions of the fort. The fort is enriched with frescoes, Jaaliwork and mosaic work. Today, a state of the gallery also operates from inside the fort. A sound and light is now a permanent feature to attract the visitors. The Palace is divided into four main sections each with its own entry gate and courtyard. The main entrance is through the Suraj Pole (Sun Gate) which leads to Jaleb Chowk, the first main courtyard.

Best Time to Visit: October to February

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Daulatabad Fort, Aurangabad

Daulatabad Fort Aurangabad

Photo: bit.ly/1NVLe8d

Often complimented as an impregnable fort, Daulatabad fort is one of the finest forts in Maharashtra. Perched on a hill about 600 ft above the ground level, this fort is a testimony of Tughlaq dynasty. The fort has a massive courtyard, which has number of cannons. Bharat Mata ka Mandir, of which the architecture suggests that it was a mosque and a temple too; The Chand Minar, an after-thought to the fort built by Alaudin Bahmani, the falls gates, built to confuse attackers and narrow curvy paths are the major attractions of Daulatabad fort. Apart from it the maze that was built to confuse attackers is also the highlight of this fort. Daulatabad is indeed and interesting fort that should be visited in India.

Best Time to Visit: October to March

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Junagarh Fort, Bikaner

Junagarh Fort Bikaner

Photo: Flickr

An impressive fort, Junagarh was built by Maharaja Rai Singh in 1588. Maharaja Rai Singh was a well-travelled individual and it is due to his experience that gave Junagarh Fort an exclusive look that is appreciated in the world of architecture. This massive rectangle shaped fort has walls that are 14.5 feet (4.4 m) high and 40 feet (12 m) wide. It encompasses an area of 5.28 hectares and was surrounded by a moat, which no longer exists. 37 bastions and seven gates made the fort impenetrable by the enemies. The fort has a number of palaces and temples, which are made of red sandstone (Dulmera) and marble. The palaces have assortment of courtyards, balconies, kiosks and windows and they reflect the grandiose living style of the past Maharanas of Rajasthan. Often Junagarh Fort has been described as a paradox between medieval military architecture and meticulously done interior decoration.

Best Time to Visit: October to March

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Jhansi Fort, Jhansi

Jhansi Fort Uttar Pradesh

Photo: Flickr

Once, the stronghold of Chandela Kings, Jhansi Fort in Uttar Pradesh is one of its kinds when it comes to architecture. Perched atop a hill, Jhansi fort has sturdy granite walls that are 16-20 feet thick and on the south side meet the city walls. There are as many as 10 gates that offer access to the fort. Shiva temple, Ganesh temple at the entrance, and the Kadak Bijli cannon, which was used in the uprising of 1857, Rani Jhansi Garden, Dargah of Ghulam Gaus Khan, Moti Bai and Khuda Baksh are the major attractions of Jhansi Fort. The fort sprawls in a land of 15 acres (61,000 m2) and measures 312m in length and 225m in width. Like other forts, Jhansi fort has also been a witness to the glorious era of Chandelas and as well as their defeat.

Best Time to Visit: October to March

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Jaigarh Fort, Jaipur

Jaigarh Fort Jaipur

Photo: Wesley & Brandon Rosenblum

Overlooking the Amber Fort, Jaigarh Fort is another majestic structure that is worth seeing in India. Situated on a hill of Aravalli range, Jaigarh Fort was built by Raja Jai Singh II in 1726. Sprawling in the area of 3kms, Jaigarh is a massive fort that is most famed for its cannon foundry. Fortified with thick walls of red sandstone, the fort has a length of 3 kilometres (1.9 mi) and a width of 1 kilometre (0.62 mi); it also has an imposing square garden (50 metres (160 ft) square) enclosed. There are number of palaces that have court rooms and halls with screened windows. A central watch tower is also built on a raised ground; it provides excellent view of the surrounding landscape. The Aram Mandir, Ram Harihar temple, the Kal Bhairav temple Awani Darwaz and Charbagh garden are some of the attractions of Jaigarh Fort. Arched gateways painted red and yellow, cyclopean walls built with dressed stone and plastered with lime mortar, mosaic work, frescoes and lattice work make this fort a stunning place to witness.

Best Time to Visit: October to March

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We sure hope, you had a great time reading this blog. You can help us with adding more to this list of big and popular forts in India.

Incase, you are planning a trip to one of these forts, we would be glad to help you plan your trip. Contact us at +91-9212777223 or email us at info@tourmyindia.com for more India tour packages.

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About

From the Lake District, Nainital, Nidhi Singh is a well traveled writer whose love for nature can be seen in her writings. She loves to trek and enjoy nature and portrait photography. Nidhi has covered most of the valleys along the foaming streams of Jammu & Kashmir and aspire to cover all major trekking routes of Ladakh and Uttarakhand. She also takes keen interest in different cultures and traditions of the world and enjoys collecting mementos. With her flair for writing and personal travelling experiences, she offers vividly descriptive write ups.


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