Forts and Palaces in Rajasthan

The wall of Alwar Fort, in Alwar, is 5 kilometers long. Located on hilly terrain almost 600 meters above sea level, it was built by the Raput rulers before the advent of the Mughals. Prince Salim, the future Mughal emperor, stayed here at the Salim Palace. The rugged terrain surrounding it made it almost impregnable.

Also situated in Alwar is the Vinay Vilas Mahal, built in the 18th century. It was influenced by Mughal architecture and has pillars and large halls.

The Chittaur Fort, in Chittaur in southern Rajasthan, was built by the Mauryans in the 7th century. It straggles over an area of 700 acres. The massive gates guard the fort well. The elaborate chhatris (ornamental umbrellas) are a testimony to the grandeur of the Rajput days. Also worth visiting is the Palace of Queen Padmini, one of the most beautiful women of her times.

Jaipur's City Palace, in the heart of the old city, is a graceful structure consisting of marble arches and pillars, richly carved and decorated with semi precious stones. It occupies almost 1/7th the area of Jaipur, and is built inside a fort complex. The Palace Museum houses weapons of the Maharanas and warriors of the erstwhile Jaipur state.

Hawa Mahal, also in Jaipur, was built in 1799 AD. It was built for the royal women so they could watch the sights of the city without being seen themselves. The octagonal sandstone structure has a latticed façade. This permitted the ladies of the palace to see the world outside while secluded from strangers.

The massive Jaisalmer Fort, made from Jaisalmer's unique yellow sandstone, is known as the Golden Fort because of its deceptively gilded appearance. It is perched atop a hillock, overlooking the barren desert terrain below. The fort once protected houses, bazaars and entertainment districts. It houses old temples, havelis, and no less than five palaces.

Meherangarh Fort, in Jodhpur, is located on a 125 meter high hillock. Babur called it a pearl among India's forts because of its invincibility. It can be entered through 4 massive gates. The Moti Mahal, Phool mahal and Shjeesh Mahal are beautiful palaces inside the fort, with opulent interiors of walls with murals and carved pillars.

The Umaid Bhawan Palace, in Jaisalmer, was built comparatively recently. It took 15 years to finish the construction of this lavish palace. Built of sandstone, the Umaid Bhawan Palace houses now houses a heritage hotel and a museum.

The Udaipur Palace, situated beside the lovely lake Pichola, is an architectural wonder. Its architecture shows a marked European influence. The Chhoti Chitra Shali is decorated with blue tiles, while the Chini Mahal has interiors done up in Chinese and Dutch tiles.

The Lake Palace, on the Jag Niwas Island in Udaipur, has ceilings and walls painted with animals and bird motifs.

Apasrt from forts and palaces, Rajasthan is also known for its magnificent havelis and temples. The havelis in the Shekhawati region, especially Mandawa, are fabulous. Built by rich merchants, these havelis have intricately carved facades and opulent interiors, with frescoes and mirror work. The Patwon ki Haveli in Jaisalmer, was built by a family of cloth merchants. It is no less opulent than the palace of a king.
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