Amidst the golden stretches of desert sand, the Jaisalmer Fort towers to a conspicuous height atop the Trikuta Hills. The yellow sandstone that has been extensively used in its construction makes it appear a part of the sandy region. Infact, it sometimes gives a fleeting impression that the fort itself has emerged out of the surrounding sand.
The history of the fort tells us that it was built by Rai Jaisala in the year 1156 when he felt that his capital at Lodurva (15 km north west) was susceptible to foreign aggression. The ensuing period saw many postive and negative happenings like the emergence and decline of kings, onslaught by invading army (especially by Ala-ud-din Khilji), mass suicide by women and children and blossoming of art and architecture. The fort at all these time stood erect without perishing into the mound of sand.
At one point of time in history, the Fort housed the entire population of Jaisalmer. Though with an increase in population, people were forced to move out of the fortified city and find shelter in the surrounding area. Today, the city of Jaisalmer is divided into two parts - the one that is within the fort and the other, that is at the foot of the Trikuta Hill outside the fort.
The stately look of the fort narrates the tale of war, romance, sacrifice and chivalry for which the Rajput clan is so well noted. Visitors come to view its impressive grandeur from outside and also wander in its narrow winding lanes inside. The shops, havelis, art and craft bazaar have an unmistakable attraction that is hard to ignore. The fort is worth visiting again and again.
The 250 feet tall mega structure of the Jaisalmer Fort has 30 feet high crenallated walls to boost its protective coverage. There are 99 bastions too that enhance the defensive mechanism of the fort. 92 of these bastions were built between the period of 1633-47. Within the fortified city are enclosed numerous palace complexes, temples and havelis that leave a lasting impression on the vistors.
There are four massive gateways that lead to the gate including Akshaya Pole, Suraj Pole, Hawa Pole and Ganesh Pole. The Suraj and the Ganesh Pole have an image of Sun and Lord Ganesh respectively at the top. The Dussehra Chowk is reached after passing below the last gate, Hawa pole. Here, a beautiful palace Raj Mahal stands as if greeting the visitors. This palace was once the residence of the royal family but today it has been converted into a museum and heritage centre.
The seven Jain Temples hold a commanding presence in the Jaisalmer Fort and are dedicated to the revered Jain Tirthankaras like Sambhavanath, Rikhabdev, Chandrprabhu and Parasnath. The temples are interconnected by a series of courtyards and walkways. They have walls, pillars, columns adorned with fine sculptures in sandstone and marble. Some of the worth noticing images in these temples include a dancing image of a woman balancing sets of balls on her raised forearms and dancing figures of musician welcoming God.
Jaisalmer was inhabited by wealthy merchants who were mighty impressed by the royal lifestyle of the Rajput kings. In order to bring themselves at par with this luxurious lifestyle, the merchants built mammoth havelis with a touch of royal elegance. There are many havelis within the fort area that have presently been converted into shops, with the exception of one that serves as a museum.
The wells of the Jaisalmer Fort that were once used to draw out water for the use by people are still functional and attracts a whole lot of people.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TravelPod member and not of TravelPod.com.