Located in the city of Jaisalmer, Rajasthan, this fort is the only fort in the entire world which is labeled as ‘living fort”. Till date, one-fourth of the population of the old city stays inside the territory of the fort keeping it very alive. 800 years back, the fort was all that the city had. Later, in the 17th century, people began residing outside the fort walls as well. It was built in 1156 AD by the king Rajput Rawal Jaiswal. The runs for 460 meters and has a width of 230 meters.
Made of yellow sandstone, the fort changes its color to honey gold during sunsets, making the entire structure look like it is made of pure gold, hence the name “Sonar Quila” or “Golden Fort”. Jaisalmer fort is one of the oldest forts in Rajasthan. As old as it gets, so are stories linked to it. Rawal Jaiswal is said to have been dissatisfied with a previous construction near Lodhruva. When he discovered Jaisalmer, this fort was constructed and made the new capital.
Sultan Alauddin Khalji had attacked Rawal Jethsi during 1293-94 CE. There was a siege which continued for years after. It ended on a terrible note of a mass “Jauhar” (an act of committing suicide by jumping into the fire) performed by all the women of Bhati Rajput community. Most of the male members died on the battlefield against Sultan. The fort remained desolated for next few years. Later, some Bhatis who had successfully survived, came back to reclaim their abode.
The fort was under the control of Mughal Empire for quite some time before it was undertaken by Maharawal Mulraj in 1762. The strength of this massive structure made it witness several attacks against the Marathas. When the British had first made their advent into India, there was a contract signed between East India Company and Mulraj which granted him the control of the court and also the protection of the same against any foreign attack. Trade in those days thrived in the city due to its strategic location. However, after the independence and partition of India, the relevance of the trade route declined.
What Can You Explore?
Tourists pass through four various gateways to finally reach the citadel. There is the Raj Mahal, the palace of Maharawal. Built in the same material as the fort’s, there are 7 Jain temples, one such temple comprises of more than 600 idols and ancient scriptures. A Laxminath temple has been raised in the names of Lakshmi and Vishnu. Since it is a “living fort”, there are havelis of wealthy merchants who had carved beauteous structures out of yellow sandstone to maintain the consistency of the entire structure. The Vyas haveli still lived in by the successors is a famous watch of the tourists because of the intricate architectural designs.
How To Reach The Fort?
Since Jaisalmer has no airport, tourists can take a flight till Jodhpur which is just 300 kilometers away. There are several trains connecting the two cities. Rajasthan Roadways, as well as private buses, can be availed from Jaipur, Bikaner, Mt. Abu etc. Experience the rustic charm of Jaisalmer by reaching there through “Palace on Wheels”, the luxurious train.