Right from Jaipur city, I could see the western skyline of the Hill of Eagles dominated by the extensive stone ramparts and watch tower of the Jaigarh Fort. Reputed to be a fort that has never been captured, it is one of the few military structures of medieval India that has remained intact over the years.
Known also as the Victory Fort, Jaigarh Fort is located at a comfortable distance of 15 kms from the city of Jaipur. The journey to the Fort includes a steep climb passing through rock strewn thorn bush forests. I felt that the tough terrain itself was enough to give the occupants of the Fort an edge over intruders. In spite of that, it was interesting to note that at certain places even as the SUV that I was in was struggling to gather momentum at the precipitous slope, the locals were scaling those slopes by foot effortlessly.
I stopped by on the way to the Forts and decided to stroll in the peaceful and inviting woodlands. Except for the distant sound of occasional vehicles passing by on the road, where the SUV driver-cum-guide waited for me patiently, I enjoyed the walk through the wilderness for almost an hour. I particularly loved the solitude amongst the birds and animals in their natural habitat. Sometimes they scampered past in spite of my quiet steps. It was an out of this world feeling to be all alone, in a remote corner of the world, listening to the melody of the many singing birds.
Upon returning the driver expressed his disapproval for exploring deep into the forest for so long, and that too, alone. He apparently thought of the possible threat of the lurking wild animals. To this I only smiled in return, thinking how dull would travels be if a little thrill is not added to it.
The Jaigarh Fort offers a wonderful view of the City below, and this was one of the scenes that my camera was unable to capture well. The view from Dungar Darwaza, the main gate, and Diwa Burj, the watch tower, overlooking the Jaipur city is especially beautiful.
Jaigarh Fort was constructed by Sawai Jai Singh II of Jaipur in 1726 and was used as the treasury of the royal family of Jaipur. In Mughal times, the Jaipur region was a major weapon-producing centre for the Mughal and Rajput rulers, several of which are on display in the Jaigarh Fort’s museum. The display includes a variety of arms, guns, axes, shields, swords etc – all inherited memories of battles of the past. Inside the Fort are palaces, a granary, cannon foundry, some temples, Diwa Burj watchtower and a giant mounted cannon, Jaivan. Jaivan is believed to be the largest cannon in the world and is one of the main attractions of the Jaigarh Fort. Built in 1720, legend has it that four elephants were needed to move it.
Since Jaigarh Fort once served as the treasury of the Kachwahas, some people were convinced that at least a part of the royal treasure may have been stashed there somewhere. Probably to make a thorough search on that, the Jaigarh Fort was sealed for seven years by the government, and was reopened to public in 1983.
The Jaigarh Fort is on top of the hill, while Amber Fort is at the bottom. Many people regard the two as one complex, and both these forts are supposedly inter-connected with well guarded passages. Jaigarh Fort was made to tighten the security of Jaipur and Amber Fort, and due to this fact, some do not find this Fort as artistic as other forts and palaces, but I found it certainly has its own charm. Looking at the myriads of ramparts and bastions of this fortified Fort, I could well imagine the glory of its unassailable historical past.
Nahargarh Fort is one of the smaller forts of Jaipur yet it has immense walls and bastions. Built in 1734 by Jai Singh as a retreat for his wives, further additions were made in 1868.
The term Nahargarh refers to the Abode of Tigers, so it is also called the Tiger Fort. There is a legend that it was named Nahargarh after Nahar Singh, a prince whose spirit would destroy the construction of the Fort and not allow its progress further. So after a tantric prayer to the spirit it agreed to leave on condition that the Fort is named after him.
The Fort stands at the top of rugged point of the Aravalis and offers a splendid view of the City. The geometrically shaped Nahargarh Fort was made to serve as a means of supporting the security of Amer.
There are many buildings situated inside the Nahargarh Fort. Among them, the most delightful is the Madhavendra Bhawan that has a group of 12 identical suites for queens, with a head suite for the king himself. It was built by Sawai Ram Singh II. I found the series of inter-linked rooms with colourful corridors and hallways particularly appealing.
Different from most other forts in Jaipur, the Nahargarh Fort is not thronged by tourists and I had a nice feeling of exploring it leisurely in comfort. The Nahargarh Fort looks its best in the night, when it is dazzlingly lit and forms a beautiful backdrop of Jaipur.
For those travellers interested in exploring the majestic past of India and combining it with experiences of the royal heritage, the Jaigarh Fort and Nahargarh Fort near it are excellent destinations to make the trip to Jaipur a memorable one.