Overlooking the beautiful city of Jaisalmer, the massive “Jaisalmer fort” is a history in itself defining the bravery of the royal rulers and the artistic legacy of fine craftsmanship of ancient India. The beautiful monument stands tall and lively on the pristine sands of the colossal Thar desert overcoming all the defeats of the brutal rulers like Alauddin Khilji of ancient India. The massive fort always entertains the history buffs with its intricate architecture and the spellbound beauty of the palace never ceases to attract tourists from all over the world. Once the steep cobbled honeycombed pathways with twists and turns were constructed to make the fort invulnerable but now the criss cross ways that leads to the royal palace ignites curiosity of the tourists.
The fort is named under UNESCO world heritage and was erected by Rawal Jaiswal in 1156 AD. Rawal Jaisal was the founder of the city of Jaisalmer and thanks to him for constructing the amazing fort. The fort is built with yellow sandstone that changes its color from tawny lion color during sunrise to honey gold color during sunset. It never ceases to surprise even in a full moon night.
The fort is in the middle of mammoth Thar desert and often forms a camouflage.Known as “Sonar Qilla” (Golden fort) due to its distinctive attribute, the fort astonishingly covers a fourth of the city’s population. The gigantic fortress with 99 bastions house palaces, temples, museum, shops, restaurants, residential places, hotels, all made of yellow sandstone. Located on the hills of Trikuta, the fort is triangular in shape with cobbled pathways leading to a breathtaking view of Jaisalmer. There are three canon on the lanes of the stunning pathways.
The entrance of the fortress is prodigious and a hub of shopping , known as Manek Chowk. The Manek Chowk offers an conspicuous view of the fort ornated with intricate carving, massive gateways , jharokas, facades, towers, turrets and the ornamental architecture with flower and star pattern displaying the figure of life. The walls of the fort is dotted with small windows and a heavenly abode for many pigeons. The Sonar Qilla fort is triangular in shape with four gateways namely Ganesh Pol, Akshya Pol, Suraj Pol and Hawa Pol.
Akshaya pol is the entrance gateway that leads to the fort. The Suraj pol gateway has the figurine of a Sun god exactly at the centre of the gate , the first ray of the rising sun strikes the gate and so the name. The Hawa pol (Windy gate) has an excellent cross-ventilation of air and embellished with palaces and courtyard that was erected in 17th century. As you cross the Manaek Chowk , Akshaya Pol, Surya pol and Hawa Pol are the gateways that comes across while walking through ancient Sonar Quila. The Hawa Pol is the place where all the lanes of the fort meets. The Hawa Pol is famous for Raja Mahal and Rani Mahal.
The Raja Mahal and Rani Mahal are the famous attraction and the stark difference between their architecture makes one easily identify the palaces. Raja Mahal is the palace of the kings and the architecture of the buildings is ornated with numerous windows, terraces and precise architecture. Rani mahal is designed with jharokas . lattice screen with geometrical pattern and small terrace. The lattice screen allows free flow of air and also maintained the privacy of women in ancient era. The outer walls of the Rani Mahal is designed with motifs of flower and other forms of life. The havelis inside the fort reminds us of the wealthy traders of ancient India.
The havelis are designed with facades, numerous windows with extensively intricate architecture designs. The walls of many houses inside the fort are three layered- the top layer is made of the elegant sands of Thar desert and cow dungs. The three layered wall offers a relaxing temperature inside the residence when the temperature soars high outside. There were wells inside the fort for drawing water and the blue stains of water near the well takes us beyond the present. The water was drawn not by women but by camels. The camels were tied with one end of rope and another end of the rope is tied with a bucket and the camels were allowed to walk through the narrow lanes. As the camels move far, the buckets come closer.
The fortress houses many temples and the most popular are Jain temples, Laxminath temple. There are seven Jain temples inside the fort connected to one another. The temples are dedicated to the twenty three tirthankaras of Jainism. The entrance of the Parsanath temple is stunning and has fine architecture carved in yellow sandstone displaying different figurine of life. The interior of the temple is carved with Jainism principles in the form of different motifs. The ceiling of the temple is dome shaped conveying the message of life in the finely cut stones. The idols of Tirthankkars has small motifs of different animals that signifies a tricky way to find their names. There is a huge tunnel of 17 km that is situated at the base of the temple.
The Laxmikanth temple is an illustration of simple architecture ornamented with silver in the facade. The temple is embellished with sculpture of God and diverse paintings. Considered to be of the oldest temple in India, the pillars of the temple was constructed in ninth century and the entrance of the temple is stunning portraying fine architecture.
The entrance of the fort is encircled with an array of shops selling embroidered Rajasthani garments, trinket, beautifully crafted carpets with small glass fittings and camel leather bags. Camel leather bags are quite famous in those places and the bags are crafted from the skin of perished camels. Artificial jewelry collections are huge and comes with little bargaining. The jewelries are crafted in Rajasthani style with intricate designs.
One of the strange thing about the city is selling of Bhangs. Bhang is made from cannabis plant and in many places of India and world it is often considered as a drug. But in Jaisalmer Bhang lassi is a popular drink and is enjoyed by tourists and visitors. The yellow sandstone walls of the fort is often the walls to display the finest crafted garments by the vendors. Jaisalmer is also a place of music and dance . Many locals of the fort is seen playing soulful countryside music with ravanahatha, a single stringed musical instrument. Listening to the soulful songs with the essence of Rajasthan in the royal city of Jaisalmer, the only bounty city in the shimmering sands of Thar desert is a moment to live for!