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A Tryst with Royalty - Bikaner & Jaisalmer - Day 4 - Sonar Kila -The Living Fort


Fort Jisalmet
Fort Jaisalmer


A Tryst with Royalty - Bikaner & Jaisalmer - Day 3 -  Sonar Kila - The Living fort

         Jaisalmer Fort   

                           Have you ever imagined living in a Real fort, with huge walls and three-tier defence system, passing through the stupendous gates daily? Walk a little up to any of the 99 watch towers and be able to have the 360-degree view of the entire city around you. Did I fire up your imagination? But five thousand people in Jaisalmer do not have to imagine this. They actually live in a Fort. YES, the only living fort in India, where 5000 people still live inside the fort as their forefathers had been living for hundreds of years and conduct their daily chores as usual.

History of Fort Jaisal

               The History of Fort Jaisal I have already covered in one of my earlier posts and can be read here. Just to brush up briefly, Fort Jaisal was built by Maharawal Jaisal of Bhati clan on the advice of a hermit named Eesul, when he was looking to relocate his capital from Loudrva after he grabbed power from his nephew to whom he was appointed the regent.

                                  This fort is made up of yellow Sandstone of Jaisalmer which glows like gold in Sun and also changes colour with the angle of fall of sunlight. It acquired the name Sonar Kila when, the famous film director Satyajit Ray featured this fort very prominently in his Bangla Film Sonar Kella.


Architecture

                The Fort is 1500 feet long and 750 feet wide. The fort had three-tier defence structure. The outer wall is 15 feet high. The fort has 92 watchtowers from which the soldiers kept a watch on the area around. The Fort has 04 Massive gates, each of which had its own defence system. If the enemy attacked, it had to cross the defence system of all the four gates to conquer it. 

  

The Tour

                 Today was our fourth day of journey and our first stop was The Jaisalmer Fort. Our Hotel stay included the breakfast. It was a simple breakfast on the rooftop. I do not remember the breakfast, but do remember the awesome view of the fort we had while having our breakfast. The fort felt so massive and so close as if I can extend my hand and touch it. 

                  After breakfast, we started towards the Fort. As we were walking towards the fort, a little before the entrance of the fort, there was one street vendor selling Poha. I had read somewhere a traveller appreciating Poha near Fort entrance. Though we just had breakfast, I tried one plate. It was a small portion for 10Rs. But it was the tastiest Poha I ever have eaten. Bought one more plate and we all shared it.

                       The guide met us near the gate and we set out to start exploring the fort. The fort has following attractions.

1. Watch the bustling life of people living inside the only living fort of India.
2. Jain Mandir
3. Raja Rani Ka Mahal
4. Life Around Dasahra Chauraha
5. Lakshmi Nath ji ka Mandir.

                         
                 I will cover Jain Temples in next post.  For reaching the Main Chowk of the Fort. we have to cross massive gates of the fort. Each Gate had its unique name, architecture and qualities.

Suraj Pole
Suraj Pole

                      The first gate or Suraj Pole or Prol as the gates are called in Rajasthan. It has a beautifully carved pattern on the top of the gate. The top is so designed that it protects the soldiers inside but allows them to attack the enemy.

Ganesh Pole
Ganesh Pole
              The next gate was Ganesh Pole. This gate was not as ornate as the Suraj Pole but served well in the line of resistance to the attackers.

Drainage system at Jaisalmer Fort
Drainage system at Jaisalmer Fort

                         After crossing Ganesh pole, a cobblestoned way led to the next gate. The stones jutting out of the wall in above pic are the drains to drain out and avoid the accumulation of water on the rooftops as the rooftops were covered with a very thick layer of mud to keep the rooms cold. A stagnant water on a mud rooftop can cause the roof to fall. The Fort had an ingenious drainage system called ghut nali.

Hawa Pole
Hawa Pole
                            The next gate was Hawa Pole. The covered pathway was longer and gave the wind tunnel effect. We could feel a strong cool refreshing breeze under this gate. The guide explained that such breeze can be felt round the clock under this gate and thus the name Hawa Pole.

                After crossing Hawa Pole, we reached the main square of the Forth, the Dussehra chowk. Maybe  Dussehra celebrations used to take place here that is why it is so named.
Dussehra Chowk
Dussehra Chowk
          The chowk is the heart of the Fort. A lot of shops all around selling all kinds of handicrafts and other stuff. 

                The Raja Ka Mahal ( King's Palace) is also situated in this chowk. In this palace, the king and the queen used to live. now it has been converted into a museum. This is a beautiful building and is intricately carved as all the buildings in Jaisalmer.

Raja Ka Mahal -- Jaisalmer Fort Jaisalmer
Raja Ka Mahal -- Jaisalmer Fort Jaisalmer

             
Rani Ka Mahal -- Jaisalmer Fort Jaisalmer
Rani Ka Mahal -- Jaisalmer Fort Jaisalmer

                     The side portion of the Raja Ka Mahal, also known as Rani Ka Mahal. Both the palaces are interconnected. The lower portion of it had been encroached upon by shopkeepers and were selling bed sheets.

Door of the Raja Ka Mahal Jaisalmer Fort with imprints of the hands of Satis
The door of the Raja Ka Mahal Jaisalmer Fort with imprints of the hands of Satis

                            The entrance to the Raja Ka Mahal. On both the sides of the entrance, there were hand prints of the Satis, who Performed Jauhar, when Allaudin Khilji laid siege to the fort for the very long period.

Beautiful Balcony at Raja Ka Mahal - Jaisalmer Fort Jaisalmer
Beautiful Balcony at Raja Ka Mahal - Jaisalmer Fort Jaisalmer
The Royal Palace - Raja Ka Mahal
The Royal Palace - Raja Ka Mahal

                           The inside of the Palace had various artefacts but nothing which will linger in your memory for long, except for the Silver throne and the Lineage chart of The Bhati Rajputs.

Silver throne and the Sword
Silver throne and the Sword
              In one room was kept a silver throne, a sword and a Parasol, which were used for the coronation of the new king. The Parasol is said to be Five thousand years old, as told by the guide, but there was no proof for this.



Lineage of Jaisalmer state starting from Rawal Jaisal
Lineage of Jaisalmer state starting from Rawal Jaisal 
                  Another interesting display was the lineage tree of Bhati Rajputs. Bhati Rajputs link their lineage to Lord Krishna. Two family trees one of Lord Krishna and another of Bhati Rajputs were displayed. The pics did not come out proper due to the glare of the glass door in front of the displays. In the centre, where the glare is maximum is the picture of  Rawal Jaisal.

Lineage of Lord Krishna
The lineage of Lord Krishna


Rawal Jaisal
Rawal Jaisal


view of Jaisalmer City from the top of Fort
View of Jaisalmer City from the top of Fort

                 After seeing the museum, we were led to the top of the Palace, This is the highest point in Jaisalmer City. The views of the city were awesome. The above view is towards the entrance of the Fort.

Another view of the City
Another view of the City
                         Another view of the city. Here we could easily spot Salim Singh Ki Haveli, because of its beautiful domes.

Another view which coming down
Another view while climbing down
                While climbing down from the rooftop, we get an excellent view of the balconies and the flag of Jaisalmer state on the top of the Fort adds another dimension to the view.

A beautifully carved Hanging Balcony
A beautifully carved Hanging Balcony
                    The beautifully carved hanging balconies looked great.

Map of Jaisalmer Fort
Map of Jaisalmer Fort

                            There was also a map of Jaisalmer fort carved in stone depicting the colonies inside the fort.
Pillar comemorating 850 years of jaisalmer
Pillar commemorating 850 years of Jaisalmer

                  Then there was this pillar commemorating 850 years of Jaisalmer.

             After completing the tour of The Palaces, we started towards Lakshmi Nath ji ka Mandir inside the fort only. This is one of the oldest temples of Jaisalmer and is dedicated to Lord Vishnu and Goddess Lakshmi.

Laxmi Nath JI Mandir
Laxmi Nath Ji Mandir

idols of Lord Vishnu and Goddess Lakshmi inside sanctum sanctorum of  Laxmi Nath Ji Temple
Idols of Lord Vishnu and Goddess Lakshmi inside sanctum sanctorum of Laxmi Nath Ji Temple
                The Idols of Lod Vishnu and Goddess Lakshmi. Here Lakshmi ji is looking at Lord Vishnu.  Guide also told us the story behind it, but I have forgotten it. If anybody knows it please tell it in comments section and it will be added to the post with proper credits.
     
Beautiful carving at Laxmi Nath ji temple
Beautifully carved Jharokhas and latticework at Laxmi Nath ji temple
                       
             After paying obeisance at the temple, we came out. We had already covered Jain temples, which I will cover in next post.

Handicraft seller at Jaisalmer Fort
Handicraft seller at Jaisalmer Fort


Another view of Jaisalmer fort Entrance
Another view of Jaisalmer fort Entrance
contd..........

      

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