Ranthambhore Fort

One of the things that make Ranthambhore National Park so mesmerising is the backdrop of the majestic Ranthambhore Fort. So a visit to the fort is a must. As we entered the fort one evening, the sun was already down on the horizon, and we weren’t too sure of spending too much time inside. It looked just too ‘touristy’. Soon a local guide started following us, while we didn’t want him. After much negotiation, we agreed to let him ‘guide’ us through a tour of the fort. It turned out, as usual in such places, to be a good idea.

The Ranthambhore Fort has seen many ups and downs and our guide Lal Singh narrated them all, some fact, some legend. As we walked through the stone corridors, the large Pols (or doors), the narrow winding steps, the Badal Mahal, Hameer Palace etc, his stories enacted the scenes in our minds. We felt our blood boil at the back stabbing of Rana Hameer Singh, the heart saddened at the mass Jauhar of the fort women, we heard the footsteps of infantry, and the horses running up the stone steps.

From the Badal Mahal and the higher regions of the fort, we sat and soaked a commanding view of the Ranthambhore National Park and the Padam Talao. We imagined the tigers basking by the lake amidst the tall grass. We heard the Bulbuls sing, the Indian Robins chase flies in the bush. We wished we had come with more time.

Built around 944 AD at an altitude of 700 metres above the surrounding plains by the Nagil Jats, the fort was also known as Ranasthambha or Ranasthambhapura. There is a Buddhist Bharhut Stupa inside the fort. established around 3rd Century BC, by the Maurya King Ashoka. One of the pillars bears an inscription which reads:

Moragirihma Nāgilāyā bhikhuniya dānam thabho.

Meaning: ” Pillar-gift of the Nun Nagila of Moragiri.”

Moragiri mentioned here is a town in Satara district, Maharashtra. Thus Nagil clan was in existence during Ashoka’s period as followers of Buddhism. (From Wikipedia).

Over centuries the fort passed through the hands of many ruling dynasties. The majestic architecture and its history of the Ranthambhore Fort make it a must see in the small dusty town of Sawai Madhopur.

Guide Map of Ranthambhore Fort.
Guide Map of Ranthambhore Fort.
Ranthambhore Fort Steps and Chatri
The winding steps up the fort are designed very well to slow down an enemy assault.

Read moreRanthambhore Fort

Jodhpur : The Blue City

Few cities evoke a colour in mind, like Blue for Jodhpur (the other one which does is Pink for Jaipur, or this awesome pink village in Maharashtra). Jodhpur, a walled city, was the capital of the kingdom of Marwar. The city was built circling the majestic Mehrangarh Fort, built by the King Rao Jodha in around 1460 AD. For some reason, a whole lot of houses in this walled city have been painted blue. Some say it’s because the colour keeps the homes cool in the long hot summers. Some say the founder King Rao Jodha had asked for the houses to be painted blue. Perhaps we will never know.

Nevertheless, it’s a gorgeous city full of architectural joy in its narrow lanes.

When to visit: Summers are killing in their heat, so a good time to visit is the winters. If you are a music buff, tie your visit around end October when the summers are just receding and Fort Mehrangarh becomes host to one of India’s best folk music festivals, the Jodhpur RIFF (Rajasthan International Folk Festival).

Where to stay: When in Jodhpur do try and stay close to the Mehrangarh Fort, inside the Jodhpur Blue City. That’s when you can really soak in the city and all it has to offer. There are plenty of stay options at various price points, and we chose Shahi Guest House.

Where to shop: Sadar Bazaar near Ghanta Ghar or Clock Tower is the market area. You can get your textiles, souvenirs, arty stuff, veggies… just about anything.

How to reach: Jodhpur has an airport so you can fly in. It’s also well connected by train and chair cars leave from Jaipur every morning (apart from many other trains). You can also reach Jodhpur by road.

What to eat: Do try the Rajasthani Thali (meal) at Gypsy restaurant, Sardarpura. For a fine dining experience, do have a meal at the Hanwant Mahal Restaurant in the Umaid Bhavan Palace hills. Also try the local Pyaaz Ki Kachauri, Chaach, Lassi, Gatte Ki Subzi, Kadi, Ker Sangri etc. Jodhpur, like most of Rajasthan, is great for food.

Jodhpur Station 2
The Jodhpur Station has a beautiful old world charm.
Jodhpur Station
A clock tower and red sandstone structures at Jodhpur Station prepare you for a town steeped in heritage.

Read moreJodhpur : The Blue City

Fort Seengh Sagar : Probably The Most Romantic Getaway In Rajasthan

Soon after our lunch at Deogarh Mahal Palace, our warm and generous host, Veer Bhadra Singh Ji asked us what would we like to do? Of course, we would like to see around the place. He suggested we take a look at one of their hotel properties, Fort Seengh Sagar, in the nearby rural area. … Read more Fort Seengh Sagar : Probably The Most Romantic Getaway In Rajasthan

Chitradurga : A Beautiful Fort Hidden Amongst Boulders

On our way back from Coonoor, we took the NH4 (Mumbai – Pune – Bangalore Highway), and decided to take a break at Chitradurga. It’s a small dusty town, which is surrounded by small hills and many windmills. We had heard of an ancient fort at Chitradurga, and decided to visit it before leaving for Mumbai.

The fort is very close to the main highway, hidden behind hills. The fort doors open at 6am, and that’s the best time to see it, because of the light and the cooler weather. It is probaly the most beautiful fort we have seen in India. Not much remains today save walls and ruins, but one can make out what a magnificent fort it must have been in its time.

If you have time, do walk through the city. There are plenty of ancient buildings still standing.

From Wikipedia: Chitradurga Fort or as the British called it Chitaldoorg, straddles several hills and a peak overlooking a flat valley in the Chitradurga District, Karnataka, India. The fort’s name Chitrakaldurga, which means ‘picturesque fort’ in Kannada, is the namesake of the town Chitradurga and its administrative district.

Built in stages between the 17th and 18th centuries by the dynastic rulers of the region, including the Rashtrakutas, Chalukyas and Hoysalas as well as the Nayakas of Chitradurga, feudal lords in the Vijayanagar Empire, the fort is a marvel. The Nayakas of Chitradurga, or Palegar Nayakas, were most responsible for the expansion of the fort between the 15th and 18th centuries. They were defeated by Hyder Ali at Chitradurga in 1779. Later the fort was expanded and strengthened by Hyder Ali and his son Tippu Sultan,who succeeded Madakari Nayaka V, the last ruler of the Nayaka clan.

The fort is built in a series of seven concentric fortification walls with various passages, a citadel, masjid, warehouses for grains and oil, water reservoirs and ancient temples. There are 18 temples in the upper fort and one huge temple in the lower fort. Among these temples the oldest and most interesting is the Hidimbeshwara temple. The masjid was an addition during Hyder Ali’s rule.The fort’s many interconnecting tanks were used to harvest rain water, and the fort was said to never suffer from a water shortage.

DSCF3565
The entrance to the fort is made of many sharp right angled turns, to slow down any invading soldiers, who can then be tackled by fort security from behind these stone walls.

Read moreChitradurga : A Beautiful Fort Hidden Amongst Boulders

Prabalmachi : A village in the hills

Prabalmachi (390 metres above sea level), is a quaint little village hidden in the hills off the old NH4 (Mumbai – Pune highway). On your way to Pune, on the NH4, before the first highway toll booth, take a left. Drive towards the Prabalgad Fort. The road is fit only for an SUV and after … Read more Prabalmachi : A village in the hills

Bhor Rajwada, Maharashtra

In one of our drives, we were passing through a small town and couldn’t help but stop at the sight of a large and beautiful palace. We found out this was the Rajwada of Bhor. The town of Bhor (once a princely state) is located some 51 km south of Pune, close to the Bhatgar … Read more Bhor Rajwada, Maharashtra

Panchgani, Maharashtra

Panchgani is a beautiful 6-7 hour drive from Mumbai*. As you cross Pune, the drive gets better and you move ahead for another 1.5 – 2 hours and take a right. Then the ride up the hills is awesome, and best attempted on a weekday. Avoid the weekend, when Panchgani / Mahabaleshwar become as crowded … Read more Panchgani, Maharashtra

Sinhagad Fort near Pune

Sinhagad Fort is easily accessible from Pune by road. The best seasons are monsoons and winters. There is a parking lot at the top where one can safely park the car and then explore the fort ruins by foot. As with most popular destinations, avoid the weekends. You get some of the most amazing bhajji … Read more Sinhagad Fort near Pune