"At the break of dawn, Jaisalmer Fort shines like a golden tiara atop the lofty hill"
Jaisalmer fort is a monument worth visiting and worth retaining in your conscious mind. It is a world heritage site declared by UNESCO. It is situated in the city of Jaisalmer,Rajasthan(India). It is the second oldest of Rajasthan's major forts after Chittorgarh. It was built in 1156 AD by the Rajput ruler Rawal Jaiswal. The fort stands amidst the sandy expanse of the great Thar desert on Trikuta hill, and has been the scene of many battles. Its massive yellow sand stone walls are a tawny lion color during the day, fading to honey gold as the sun sets, thereby camouflaging the fort in the yellow desert. For this reason it is also known as Sonar Quila (Golden Fort). The fort is 1500 ft long and 750 ft wide and is built on a hill that raises above a height of 250 ft above the surrounding country side and about 5000 people still resides in its imposing walls.
The fort is on a site that legend says Maharaja chose on the advice of a wise hermit. The mystic tells the Jaiswal that the Hindu deity Lord Krishna had praised the spot and therefore, a fort built there would be almost invisible to the king's enemies. Indeed, from 30 miles away, visitors see only a sheer golden cliff. He built this fort as his capital, as the earlier fort Lodurva was too vulnerable to invasions.
The soft yellow Jurassic sandstone makes up every part of the Jaisalmer fort, from its outer walls to the palace, temples and houses within. The fort is 250 ft tall and from it, one can see almost every part of the town. It has as many as 99 bastions, 92 of which were built between 1633 and 1647 to be used as gun platforms. There are 4 huge getaways named as Ganesh Pol, Suraj Pol, Bhoot Pol and Hawa Pol. There was death well, where traitors and criminals were thrown into by the second gate. The road to the main chowk is by the fourth gateway where many acts of Johar (self-immolation) have taken place.
While the city was built, there exists many beautiful Havelis and group of Jain temples. There are thousands of carved deities and dancing figures housed here. Inside the temple there is a Gyan bhandar (library). It contains more than 1000 old manuscripts. It has also a collection of Jain, pre-mogul and Rajput paintings.
The fort also has a peculiar gadget hoisted on top of its ramparts, this was used to forecast the weather. Every year in April a flag would be placed in its center, and based on the direction in which it blew, the weather for the entire year was forecast. If it blew northwards it indicated famine and if it went westwards, it indicated fine monsoon. It may seem a bit primitive today but the system was probably just as accurate or inaccurate as the meteorological department office nowadays.
The famous Indian film director Satyajit Ray wrote the Sonar kella ( The golden fortress), a detective novel, based on the fort and he filmed it here.
- Shweta Modi