While surveying the area near Trikuta Hill, outcast prince of the Bhati kingdom Rawal Jaisal met a sage named Eesul, who mentioned a prophesy of Jaisal’s Yaduvanshi clan would one day establish a kingdom here. Inspired by the encounter, Rawal Jaisal established his kingdom and capital city at the Trikuta Hill and called it Jaisalmer based on his own name. Built by Rawal Jaisal in 1156, the 7-storey Fort Palace was the former royal residence of the rulers. We got an official audio guide for our visit. Though there were a number of rooms under renovations when we were there. Perhaps the time was a little late, not too many tourists were around in the palace. Not as monumental as its counterpart in Jodhpur, the Palace was nonetheless a unique element of Jaisalmer Fort that no tourist coming this far into the Thar Desert should miss.
The sati handprints mark the entrance of Jaisalmer Fort Palace. Sati handprints were made by widows of the king who committed self-immolation when their husband passed away in ancient times.
The ornate balcony was the focus of the first courtyard we entered in the palace complex.
From a window on the upper level, we could have a close look at the exquisite detail of the balcony and palace facade.
The Rajasthani heritage of elaborated carvings can be seen all over the palace.
Some of these amazing stone carvings were gifts to the maharaja. This one is placed in the king’s bedroom as an interior decoration.
Stained glass is commonly used in Rajasthani palaces.
From a roof terrace, we enjoyed a “maharaja”‘s view of the fort’s bastions and the yellow sandstone city of Jaisalmer below Trikuta Hill.
The yellow tone of the city presents the perfect scenery of what a picturesque desert oasis.
Not all rooms were completely restored, but even without the original furniture, the wall tiles and wooden carvings were delights for the eye.
Some original furniture were on display behind protective glass.
The king’s bedroom opens to a beautiful courtyard where musicians and dancers would provide pleasant entertainment.
The king’s entertainment courtyard was intimate in scale and finished in beautiful floor and wall tiles.
Some palace balconies offer magnificent views of the city below.
Towards the end of our tour, we passed by a physical model of Jaisalmer Fort, offering us a good opportunity to have a better understanding of the fort layout and places that we had visited throughout the day.
It was late in the afternoon and there were hardly any tourists left in the fort.
Without audio guide and map handout, touring the Jaisalmer Fort Palace would be like walking in a maze.
Near the end of the walk, we passed by quite a few empty chambers.
The detailed ornaments of the palace offered us a glimpse of the beautiful sandstone carving of Jaisalmer. In the following day, we would continue to explore the ancient city for other amazing works of local stone craftsmen.
Standing on a rock hill 120m above the old city of Jodhpur, many consider Mehrangarh Fort the most impressive fortress in India. Director Christopher Nolan must have the same feeling when he chose to shoot a scene of The Dark Knight Rises here back in 2011. Built in the 15th century by Rao Jodha, the king of Mandore who found the city of Jodhpur, Mehrangarh has impressed spectators for centuries with its massive defense walls and exquisite palaces. Since 1971, maharajas and princes in India were deprived of their privileges and remuneration. Maharaja Gaj Singhji of Jodhpur has since then became a politician in the parliament. In 1972, he found the Mehrangarh Museum Trust to restore and maintain his famous fort. Throughout the years, they have done a decent job in restoring the fort and establishing a museum to showcase the artifacts of former royal family. The Mehrangarh was the first place to visit during our stay in Rajasthan. We spent the rest of the day at the fort. We took our time to wander around the fort and listen to the informative audio guide, which was included in the admission of foreign visitors.
Built in the 19th century by Maharaja Man Singh, a chattri (umbrella dome on pillars) was a memorial of feudal lord Thakur Shyam Singh Chauhan welcome most visitors in front of the massive fort.
The impressive Mehrangarh is one of the largest forts in India.
After entering the first gate Jai Pol, we soon arrived at the gates of Dodh Kangra Pol (left) and Imritia Pol (middle) on our way up to the fort.
Through the Imritia Pol, we followed other visitors and walked up to the next gate Loha Pol.
At the Loha Pol Gate, music performers rested in a niche along with their traditional drums and instruments.
At Loha Pol Gate, we walked by a series of small hand prints on the wall. Those small hand prints or the sati marks were left by the wives and concubines before their sati ritual. In the sati custom, these women would dressed in wedding finery and joined their husband in death on his funeral pyre.
Beyond Loha Pol Gate, we entered a long courtyard where we had our first glimpse of the beautiful facades of Jhanki Mahal (Palace of Glimpses) and Phool Mahal (Palace of Flowers).
Through the Suraj Pol or Sun Gate beyond a set of steps, we entered the Shringar Chowk Courtyard, the first part of the admission zone.
The Shringar Chowk Courtyard was the site of coronation for the maharajas.
At Shringar Chowk Courtyard, a staff was performing the act of opium smoking.
From Shringar Chowk, we entered the second courtyard known as Daulat Khana Chowk (Treasury Square). Constructed by Maharaja Ajit Singh in 1718, the second courtyard was the perfect spot to admire the splendid palaces of Mehrangarh: Daulat Khana Mahal (centre), Phool Mahal (right) and Jhanki Mahal (left).
The Daulat Khana Mahal (Treasury) showcases some fascinating artifacts of the royal family, including a collection of elephant’s howdahs, the wooden seat covered with gold and silver sheets fastened on the elephant backs for riding.
The display at the museum was full of wonderful display of paintings, artifacts and furniture of the royal family.
The Phul Mahal or Palace of Flowers was a private reception hall constructed in the 18th century. It was used for private receptions or cozy music performances.
From Phul Mahal, we walked over to the roof of Daulat Khana Mahal, where we could look back down to the Daulat Khana Chowk (Treasury Square).
Takhat Vilas was the private chamber of Takhat Singh in the 19th century. All surfaces were painted or decorated with colours. The Christmas balls were interesting additions to the interiors, at a time when Western influences came as trendy articulations in lives of the wealthy.
At Jhanki Mahal, a hallway was converted into the Cradle Gallery to display the facy cradles of the royal family, many of which were used for ceremonies during festivals.
From the upper floors in the palaces, we occasionally encountered great spots to look down to the blue city of old Jodhpur.
The Holi chowk courtyard was where the Maharaja and his wives and concubines celebrated important festivals.
With more than 250 stone latticework designs, the impressive building facades at Zenana Deorhi Chowk (Women’s Square) provided the perfect finale for the fortress visit.