Panhala Fort: Kolhapur

Panhala or Panhalgarh, about 19kms north-west of Kolhapur, is possibly the largest and most important fort of the Deccan. Roughly triangular in shape, the hill fort stands at a height of about 850 metres and has a circumference of approximately 7.25kms. Half of its length is protected by a natural scarp reinforced by a parapet wall and the remaining half is surrounded by a strong stone wall strengthened with bastions. The fort had three magnificent double walled gates, out of which two have survived. The Teen Darwaza to the west is an imposing and powerful structure. There are a number of ruined monuments in the fort. The most impressive among them are the three huge granaries. The largest among them, the Ganga Kothi, cover nearly 950 sq m space and 10.7 metres high. In the north-east corner there is a double story building, called Sajja Kothi, where Shivaji had imprisoned his errant son, Sambhaji.

Panhala was the capital of the Shilahara king Bhoja II during 1178-1209 Ad. It was successively held by the Yadava and Bahamani Kings. In 1489 AD, the fort and the territory was taken over by the Adil Shahi dynasty of Bijapur. Shivaji seized the fort in 1659 AD. It was from here that Shivaji, when encircled by the forces of Siddi Johar, escaped one rainy night to Vishalgarh. Later, the fort remained with the Marathas, except for a short period in between, when it went to the Mughals. The fort remained with the Kolhapur State till India achieved independence.

The famous Marathi poet Moropanta (1729-94Ad) was bron and brought up at Panhala. There is also the Samadhi of Ramachandra Amatya, the author of Ajnapatra, an important work on statecraft, including for construction. Today, Panhala is a sort of hill station and provides all the necessary facilities for tourists.

Srirangapatnam Fort : Srirangapatnam

One of the prime attractions in Mysore, Karnataka is the famous Srirangapatnam fort. Built in the year 1537 by a feudal lord, this magnificent fort is considered to be the second toughest fort of India. The Srirangapatna Fort has four main entrances known by the names of Delhi, Bangalore, Mysore and Water and Elephant gates. The fort has a double wall defense system, which is what makes it impenetrable. The legendary Tipu Sultan's residence was inside this fort. Hence, it is also known as Tipu Sultan Fort.

Tipu Sultan was known as the Mysore Tiger since he fought the British forces here with true courage and valor. It is here that he breathed his last while fighting the British forces in Mysore during the 18th century. The credit of keeping the British away from southern India truly goes to Tipu Sultan and his father who was another courageous leader, Hyder Ali. The fort is located on an island in midst of River Cauvery. The landscape surrounding the fort is very serene and beautiful and is a must visit if you are traveling to Karnataka.

The architectural style of the fort is supposed to be Indo-Islamic and there is a Persian inscription on the gateway that announces its date of construction. There are two dungeons in the lower chambers of the fort that were used to imprison captured British officers. It is also said that Buddha visited and stayed on one of the islands near Srirangapatnam. A temple dedicated to Lord Sriranganatha is also situated over here that is yet another important landmark and tourist attraction.

Chittaurgarh Fort : Chittaurgarh

Chittorgarh, also called Chittaur, from the 7th century to the 16th, was the capital of Mewar under the Rajputs. Chittaur evokes memories of great heroism and sacrifice by Rajput men and women in the intermittent battles that they had to fight against invaders from Northwest or Delhi. Chittaur witnessed both the ravages of war and the triumphs of the spirit. Allaudin Khilji who coveted Queen Padmini of Chittaur, invaded the city in 1303 A.D. Queen Padmini and the women of the court sacrificed themselves in a pyre of fire rather than submit to anybody. This supreme sacrifice has been called 'Jauhar' and epitomises the fiery spirit of the Rajputs of the day. The city stands strewn with monuments and battlements as evidence of the blood and gore that it went through in medieval times.

The Chittaur Fort is the best known fort in Rajasthan. Its origins are traced to the Pandavas of Mahabharata. It is said that Bhima, one of the Pandava brothers, built the fort. Standing on 180 meters high hill, the fort covers an area of 700 Acres. Inside it is the Meera and Khumba Shyam Temple. It is associated with Meera, a mystic poetess devoted to Lord Krishna whose life and bhajans have become part of the folklore and literary traditions of the region and several parts of India.

Chittorgarh (Chittaurgarh) is the epitome of Rajput pride, romance and spirit. It reverberates with history of heroism and sacrifice, which is evident as it echoes with the tales sung by the Bards of Rajasthan. The main reason for visiting Chittorgarh is its massive hilltop fort, which is a depiction of Rajput culture and values.

The fort of Chittor is regarded as one of the most outstanding forts of the country and is indeed the "Pride of Rajasthan State". The formidable fort is perched atop a 180 meter high hillock covering a massive area of 700 acres and is a standing sentinel to the courage and valour of Chittorgarh. It is belived that the fort was build by the Mauryans in 7th century and further strucres were added to it by the successive Mewar rulers.

The one mile long serpentine road to the fort is quite steep and exhastive. The fort is approached through seven huge gateways or ´pols´, which are guarded by watch tower and massive iron spiked doors.

Kangra Fort : Kangra

The Fort, occupying a long strip of land is enclosed with high rampart and the walls cover a circuit of about four kilometres. The main entrance gate is called the Ranjit Singh Gate which is followed by a narrow path leading to Jahangir gate, through the Ahani and Amiri Darwaza, both attributed to Nawab Alif Khan, the first Mughal Governor of Kangra. Thereafter is the Andheri Darwaza from where the path is forked into two directions. The path to the left, through Darsani Darwaza, leads to the portion containing the Laxminarayan temple, datable to Circa ninth-tenth century AD and shrines of Sitala and Ambika Devi. To the north between the two last mentioned buildings is a staircase led up to the palace, known as Shish Mahal and further beyond to the south-west is the polygonal watch tower overlooking the valley. The other path leads to the portion containing the mihrab of a mosque built in Jahangir's time, the Kapoor Sagar tank and other structures.

The most valuable monuments in the Kangra Fort are the so-called temples of Laxminarayan and Sitala, two square chambers profusely decorated with carvings. The ceilings of the Laxminarayan temple is remarkable for its elaborate decoration: The destruction of these two temples is due to earthquake and is perhaps great loss of an irreparable nature. The temple of Ambika Devi, still used for worship is much plainer structure evidently of no great age. The only ancient portion seams to be the pillars and architraves of the mandapa covered by a flat dome. To the south of the Ambika Devi temple are two small Jaina shrines facing west, one of them contains a plain pedestal and in the other is placed a seated image of Adinath, with partly obliterated inscription dated Samvat 1523 i.e.AD 1466 in the reign of Katoch Raja, Sansar Chand I.

The clearance and conservation work brought to light number of loose sculptures and architectural members of the monument which have been kept in a sculpture shed. The important ones, six in numbers have been exhibited in the Himachal State Museum, Shimla. There is a proposal to exhibit the remaining loose sculptures and architectural members by renovating and reconditioning the' existing portions of the monument.

Red Fort : Agra

The majestic Agra fort was built by the great Mughal emperor, Akbar in 1565-75. The Agra fort contains numerous impressive structures like the Jahangir Mahal, Khas Mahal, Diwan-i-Khass, Diwan-i-Am, Machchhi Bhawan and Moti Masjid. The Agra fort is enclosed by a double battlemented massive wall of red sandstone. This wall is about 2 km in perimeter and is interrupted by graceful curves and lofty bastions. Many of the buildings inside the Taj Mahal were pulled down by Shah Jahan, who erected some new ones. The Agra fort has four gates, of which the Delhi Gate is the most impressive.

The fort of Agra stands about 2 km from the Taj Mahal on the same bank of River Yamuna. The Agra fort stretches for almost 2.5 km. At present the visitors are allowed to enter the Agra fort from the Amar Singh Gate. The Amar Singh Gate leads to the courtyard. The magnificent Diwan-I-Am (Hall of Public Audience) is on the right side. A little further lay the royal pavilions (containing Nagina Masjid and Mina Masjid), palaces (Macchi Bhavan, Khas Mahal, Shish Mahal, Shah Jahani Mahal) and the Zenana Mina Bazaar. It is interesting to note that to rooms cool, the walls were made hollow and filled with running water. A very nice view of the Taj Mahal can be had from the balconies in the pavilions.

Shah Jahan was imprisoned in the Agra fort by his son Aurangzeb. Shah Jahan spent his last days in the Musamman Burj of the Agra fort. The Musamman Burj is located on the left of the Khaas Mahal. It is a beautiful octagonal tower with an open pavilion. With its openness, elevation and the benefit of cool evening breezes flowing in off the Yamuna River. From the Musamman Burj one has the best view of the Taj Mahal.

Jaisalmer Fort : Jaisalmer

One of the oldest and massive forts of Rajasthan, Jaisalmer fort is located in the remote Thar Desert. In the medieval times, the location of Jaisalmer on the trade route made it a prosperous town. Jaisalmer came to be celebrated for the chivalry and bravery of its rulers and also for the aesthetic sense represented by its palaces and Havelis. The rulers and merchants of Jaisalmer engaged craftsmen to work on the sandstone mansions, buildings and palaces, filling up the front with sculptural filigree, screen windows, delicate pavilions and beautiful balconies. The Jaisalmer fort is two hundred and fifty feet tall and reinforced by an imposing crenellated sandstone wall of 30 feet height. The fort has 99 bastions.

Jaisalmer fort crowns the Trikuta Hill. Within the walls of Jaisalmer fort lays the old city, which is nearly a quarter of modern Jaisalmer. Jaisalmer fort stands almost 30 meters over the Jaisalmer city and houses an entire living area within massive battlements. Jaisalmer fort is approached through many gates. The Akshya Pol is the entrance gate of the fort. Across the road is the Suraj-Pol. The Suraj Pol is embellished with a figure of Sun. The Hawa Pol (Wind Pol) is an enormous Gateway, girdled by palaces and courtyard and was constructed during the 17th century AD.

The steep cobbled pathways leading to the royal palace pass through four gates. The fort was made invincible by pathways having sharp and twisting turns. Jaisalmer Fort is a five story architectural monument embroidered with balconies and windows, exhibiting fine craftsmanship of Rajput style. Jaisalmer fort has five interconnected palaces. All the palaces have amazing "Jali" and 'jharokha' work.

Outside the Jaisalmer fort is the main market place called Manek Chowk. From the walls of the Jaisalmer fort one can have a marvelous view of the Old City and the adjoining desert.

Golconda fort Hyderabad

A majestic fortress on the outskirts of Hyderabad, Golconda Fort is one of the grandest forts of India. Built around 12th and 16th Century by various Qutub Shahi rulers, this fort has a rich history that is almost 400 years old. It is definitely a place worth visiting in case you are traveling to the south of India. One can see the elegance and grandeur of the Nawabi culture on visiting the famous Golkunda Fort of Andhra Pradesh. A tour around the fort would leave you absolutely mesmerized and you would be completely bowled over by the sheer magnitude of the fort.

The Golconda fort is a fine example of magnificent architecture. The fort was renowned for its diamond trade and it is said that the world famous "Kohinoor" diamond was found here. The architecture of the fort is such that a mere clap at the entrance could be used as a distress signal thus alerting others of any unseen dangers. The technique that was used was of advanced acoustics. The clever architectural plan also allowed uninterrupted supply of water throughout the year. The fort had sprawling gardens and dancing fountains, which are now in ruins.

The fort is built on a granite hill at a height of around 120 meters and is bordered by thick walls. The stone blocks used for constructing these massive walls weigh several tons. The structure is such that though closed, it allows much space for all over ventilation, thus allowing circulation of cool breeze that provides respite from the summer heat.

The entrance gates of the fort are colossal and are fitted with iron spikes to thwart elephants from damaging them. The entire township of Golconda is surrounded by an outer wall, which is about 11 kilometers long. This long road used to be a busy market in the by gone where one could get stuff like jewellery, diamonds, pearls and other gems.

Gwalior Fort: Gwalior

The Gwalior fort spreads out over an area of 3 square km, surrounded by concrete walls of sandstone. The Gwalior fort encloses three temples, six palaces and numerous water tanks. At a point of time Gwalior fort was regarded as North and Central India's most invincible fortress. The fort was built by Raja Man Singh Tomar in the 15th century. The fort of Gwalior has seen many ups and downs of history. In the course of almost five hundred years, the Gwalior fort went from one ruler to another.

From the Tomars it passed to the Mughals, Marathas and the British. The Gwalior fort finally went to the Scindias from the British. The Teli-ka-Mandir is the most famous of all the temples of the Gwalior fort. This temple was built in the Dravidian style shrine and is notable for its generously sculpted exterior. The Saas-Bahu Temples (two pillared temples which stand next to each other, one larger than the other) are also fascinating. 

The Man Singh Palace is one of the most amazing palaces of the Gwalior fort. It was built by Man Singh in the 15th century. It was in the same palace the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb imprisoned and later murdered his brother Murad. Then there is gruesome Jauhar Kund, where the women of the harem burnt themselves to death after the defeat of the king of Gwalior in 1232. Other significant palaces within the Gwalior Fort include the Karan Palace, the Jahangir Mahal, the Shah Jahan Mahal and the Gujri Mahal (built by Man Singh for his favorite queen, Mrignayani).

Red Fort : Delhi

Mughal ruler Shah Jahan, when in 1639, shifted the capital of his empire from Agra to Delhi in order to heighten the esteem of his regime and fulfill his motivated building plans, a new city named Shahjahanabad was founded which we today see as Delhi or more specifically Old Delhi. Along came the foundation of a fort called Red Fort in the northern side of the town. It took about nine years to complete the construction of the fort from 1639 to 1648 for the Mughal ruler. Red Fort was utilized as the residential purpose by the Mughal ruler but was also capital of Mughal rulers till the regime of Bahadur Shah Zafar. In 2007, UNESCO included the Red Fort in the list of World Heritage Site.

The feature of the fort that it was made up of large sand stone of red color gave it the name Red Fort. The fort was previously also known as ‘Qila-e- Mubarak’ or the Blessed Fort due to the fort being residence to the royal family. Spreading over an area of more than 250 acres of land, Red Fort was constructed with superior architecture than that of the Agra Fort by Shah Jahan. Red Fort held a significant focus in the time of Mughal Rule and is one of the best examples of apex of Mughal architecture and zeal for precision, grandeur and finesse reflected especially during the era of Shah Jahan. Red Fort witnessed many additions and alterations under the rule of coming Mughal rulers, mainly during the rule of Aurangzeb. After the ouster of Bahadur Shah Zafar in 1857, Red Fort saw further changes to its construction as were witnessed after the Independence of India. British used the Fort as Army Cantonment and even liberated India used it for the Army till early years of the 21st century, when Archaeological Survey of India was designated the task of restoration work of the Fort.

The Red Fort Delhi is a mesmerizing piece of architecture, lying on the banks of Yamuna River, whose water was used for the moat that surround the wall. The wall on north-eastern side is bordered by the Salimgarh Fort, built in 1546.

After the 1752 treaty, Marathas were the guardians of the Mughal regime in and around Delhi. However, after the loss of Marathas in the third battle of Panipat, Ahmad Shah Abdali raided Delhi in 1761. Marathas were conquered by the British forces in 1803, at Delhi in the second war between them, thus concluding the Mughal dynasty in the city and the power on the fort.

Bahadur Shah Zafar was the last ruler from Mughal to inhabit the Red Fort Delhi till 1857, when the uprising gave way for the British to occupy the fort. After the debacle of the rebellion of 1857, Bahadur Shah Zafar left the Red Fort in September but was forced to return for the trial in the fort in January 1858, which resulted in him getting exiled in the autumn 1858 from the fort.

Mehrangarh Fort: Jodhpur

Mehrangarh Fort, located in Jodhpur, Rajasthan, is one of the largest forts in India.

The fort is situated 120 metres (400 ft) above the city and is enclosed by imposing thick walls. Inside its boundaries there are several palaces known for their intricate carvings and expansive courtyards. A winding road leads to and from the city below. The imprints of cannonball hits by attacking armies of Jaipur can still be seen on the second gate. To the left of the fort is thechhatri of Kirat Singh Soda, a soldier who fell on the spot defending the Mehrangarh fort.

There are seven gates, which include Jayapol, built by Maharaja Man Singh to commemorate his victories over Jaipur and Bikaner armies. Fattehpol gate was built by Maharaja Ajit Singh to mark the defeat of the Mughals. The palm imprints upon these still attract much attention.

The museum in the Mehrangarh fort is one of the most well-stocked museums in Rajasthan. In one section of the fort museum there is a selection of old royal palanquins, including the elaborate domed gilt Mahadol palanquin which was won in a battle from the Governor of Gujarat in 1730. The museum exhibits the heritage of the Rathores in arms, costumes, paintings and decorated period rooms.


Rao Jodha one of Ranmal's 24 sons became the fifteenth Rathore ruler. One year after his accession to the throne, Jodha decided to move his capital to the safer location of Jodhpur, as the one thousand years old Mandore fort was no longer considered to provide sufficient security.

With the trusted aid of Rao Nara (son of Rao Samra), the Mewar forces were subdued at Mandore. With that, Rao Jodha gave Rao Nara the title of Diwan. With the help of Rao Nara, the foundation of the fort was laid on 1st May 1459 by Jodha on a rocky hill 9 kilometres (5.6 mi) to the south of Mandore. This hill was known as Bhaurcheeria, the mountain of birds. According to legend to build the fort he had to displace the hill's sole human occupant, a hermit called Cheeria Nathji, the lord of birds. Upset at being forced to move Cheeria Nathji cursed Rao Jodha with "Jodha! May your citadel ever suffer a scarcity of water!". Rao Jodha managed to appease the hermit by building a house and a temple in the fort very near the cave the hermit had used for meditation, though only to the extent that even today the area is plagued by a drought every 3 to 4 years. Jodha then took an extreme measure to ensure that the new site proved propitious; he buried a man called "Raja Ram Meghwal" alive in the foundations. "Raja Ram Meghwal" was promised that in return his family would be looked after by the Rathores. To this day his descendants still live in Raj Bagh, "Raja Ram Meghwal's" Garden, an estate bequeathed them by Jodha.

Mehrangarh according to Rajasthani language pronunciation conventions,'Mihirgarh' has changed to 'Mehrangarh'; the Sun-deity has been the chief deity of the Rathore dynasty. Though the fortress was originally started in 1459 by Rao Jodha, founder of Jodhpur, most of the fort which stands today dates from the period of Jaswant Singh (1638–78). The fort is located at the centre of the city spreading over 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) on top of a high hill. Its walls, which are up to 36 metres (118 ft) high and 21 metres (69 ft) wide, protect some of the most beautiful and historic palaces in Rajasthan.