Situated in the city of Bikaner, Junagarh fort was previously known with a different name – “Chintamani”. It was only later when Bikaner’s ruling family moved to stay outside the fort’s territory to Lalgarh palace that the fort was renamed as the Old Fort or Junagarh Fort. While most of the forts in Rajasthan are built on top of Aravallis, Junagarh is not. In fact, the civilization of the city grew, making this fort as the center.
The Historical Appeal
Bikaner came into focus during 1571-1611 with Raja Rai Singhji. Later when Mughals came, he accepted their supremacy and was made army general of a troupe in Akbar’s as well as Jahangir’s court. Gradually, he won more than half of Mewar for the Mughal dynasty and that won him, in turn, a lot of rewards and accolades. He was given jagirs in both Gujrat and Burhanpur. He built the Junagarh fort with all the amount of revenue that he acquired from those places. Raja Rai Singhji was very keen in arts and architecture, and all of that is reflected in the architecture of this fort, an essence of all the countries that he had to visit. In the midst of the desert, this fort thereby became an embodiment of art and culture.
Later, Karan Singh was given the responsibility of the court under the Mughals and he had built Karan Mahal. Anup Singh, another ruler constructed anew palaces and a royal abode for females named “Zenana quarters”. To the older Karan Mahal, he added a Diwan-I-am and named it Anup Mahal. Gaj Singh during 1746-1787 renovated the Chandra Mahal. Suraj Singh ornamented the audience hall with glass works and beautiful paintings. Dungar Singh was the one to build the Badal palace. Ganga Singh during his reign built the Ganga Niwas Palace.
Each one of the rulers, who reigned, contributed in some way to the fort’s present structure, awe-inspiring artwork, and rich heritage.
What Can You Expect?
On entering within the fort’s premises, the tourist would be taken aback at all the palaces and temples that are made either of red sandstone or marble. The palaces take the tourists to a journey of old royalty, picturesque courtyards, large sized balconies, designs and carvings on the walls, glass painted windows and kiosks etc. “A paradox between medieval military architecture and beautiful interior decoration”, this fort is sine qua non in itself. There are several Jain temples as well, dated in the early 16th century. Interiors are fraught with Rajasthani paintings, artworks etc. There is a mélange of Gujrati, Mughal as well as tribal Rajasthani architecture. Seven gates of the fort are gigantic in size and enchanting in appearance.
Ways To Reach Junagarh Fort
Bikaner is well connected with cities like Jaipur, Jodhpur, Jaisalmer, Delhi, Ahmedabad etc through air. There are various superfast trains available between Bikaner and cities like Jodhpur, Kolkata, Chennai, Mumbai etc. Rajasthan State buses, as well as private buses, can take you to Bikaner and distant tourist buses also leave from Agra, Pune, Jaisalmer etc.