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Shubhyatra >> Rajasthan Yatra >> Jaisalmer Fort


Location : Jaisalmer in Rajasthan, India.
Built In : 12th Century AD
Popular As : The Golden Fortress (Sonar Kila)
When To Visit : October-March

Sonar Kila - The Golden Fortress

If the beckoning myths and the Utopian world of the Arabian Nights have ever bewitched you and you want to see a replica in India, visit Jaisalmer. No matter what have you heard about this golden city, nothing can quite prepare you for the sheer magic and poetry of this brilliant city. A visit to Jaisalmer will make you realize just how different a desert city can be. The glorious fort of Jaisalmer seems to rise out of the desert haze, its yellow sandstone walls and bastions taking on a golden hue in the afternoon sun. In fact, at whatever time of the day you look at the 'Sonar Kila' (golden fortress), it looks like a fairy tale creation dominating the amber tinted city.

Jaisalmer Fort
Golden Fortress

The Golden Mirage

The Famous Jaisalmer Fort in India is steeping out of the vast spread of barren sandy tract looks like a tower of survival in the land of in-existence with its golden crenelated walls outlined against a sapphire blue sky. The fort atop the Trikuta (triangular) Hill along with its spartan domain and aureate walls, still calls for the caravan of traders who used to cruise across the mighty desert centuries ago. It is fascinating to wander around this living fort, packed with houses, temples, handicraft shops, beauty parlors and honeycombed with narrow, winding lanes, all of them paved in stone. Trek through these slender lanes where vehicles are not allowed and even building materials have to be carried up by camel cart. The streets of Jaisalmer holds many secrets in their sleeves, try to cognize their silence who orate a lot about the golden era.

Armed with pulchritudinous gateways, the fort with its 99 bastions undeniably promulgates the regalia it savored during the reign of Rawal Jaisal, a Bhatti Rajput king. As you enter through the main gate, tall men with piercing light eyes and luxuriant parted beard, and wearing colorful attire cluster around you . Their facade not only makes one nostalgic about the past glory but also adds to a memorable vacation. Solitary gushes of wind still maneuvers through the corridors of the palace, trailing the relics of the stoles, once carried by imperial maharajas and ambrosial maharanis. Even the sun flirts with the yellow color of the fort, redressing it in honey yellow at dawn, camel yellow in the morning and adding a tint of sand yellow during dusk.

Everywhere is stone, in all the incarnations of the palace: huge slabs piled on one another with not much more than gravity to hold them there; rounded bolsters resting heavily atop the parapets, jaalis as delicate as lace, the tortile vegetation and apocryphal animals of temple ornamentation and wherever you look, offal, already turning to sand.

Atop this golden fort in Jaisalmer, Raja ka Mahal is a seven storey palace with beautifully carved balconies and crowns of pagoda-shaped cupolas. Looking down, you see a vertiginous drop to the triangular chowk (courtyard) beneath, formerly used to review troops, hear petitions and show flamboyant gaiety to visitors, now the empty space punctuated by shimmer of pigeons. Looking up, you can encounter a "chhatri" or umbrella shaped gadget, against a red and yellow background, aloft the fort, a true Jaisalmer placard.

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Jain Temples

The August Architecture
Built in the 15th and 16th centuries, this golden fort is also a haven for 7 Jain temples and are open daily from 7 am till noon. These architectural treasures, all well connected by a series of corridors and walkways where each step brings a new intersection of angles, with layers of carving that measured out distances, reshaping empty space into many dimensions.

The temple attraction o fthe famous fort cannot be missed. The first temple you come to, is dedicated to Chandraprabhuji, the 8th Tirthankara (Jain Prophet). Built in 1509 and embellished with fine sculptures in sandstone, the hallway is supported by intricately sculpted pillars which form a series of toranas, a chef d'oeuvre of geometry indeed. Unbelievably, the temple does not cherish the use of mortar, but still holds sharp masonry which are held by iron staples worked into a gauzy froth, with radial beams arching down all around.

A few steps behind this temple is the one dedicated to Parshvanath, the 22nd Tirthankara. Entry is via an enormous and beautifully carved torana culminating in an image of the Jain Tirthankara at the apex. There is a voluptuous carving of a sinuous dancing women balancing sets of balls on her raised forearm. The voluminous mandapa is supported by fine pillars, and in the drum of the dome, mesmerizing sculptures showing dancing figures and musicians are carved. The temple represents an interesting chapter of labyrinthine sculptures, dotted all over the complex, each defining a new paradigm of its own.

The Structural Enigma

Each of the temples is devoted to one main tirthankara, with a number and symbol to locate his place in the Jain pantheon. In the Shantinathji temple, for example, the idol is identified by his symbol,a deer. Light falls through the courtyard onto the opulent carvings, casting a chiaroscuro effect on the balcony and the Kunthanathji temple below, rendering a harmony between enlightenment and oblivion.

Once inside, don't forget to throw a glance at the ceiling of the sabha mandapa at Chandraprabhuji temple, which supports a demonic-looking head surrounded by five bodies. A spine chilling scape of the mythology would only remind you of the famous lines of Curt Kobain (Nirvana).....

......." His soul was found on a driven wheel but his body was nowhere found"

As one walks around the mandapa, the person is captivated to see that the head seems to connect, in turn with each of these bodies. These are some of the famous attractions of the Jaisalmer fort in Rajasthan.

To the right of the Chandraprabhu temple is the shrine of Rikhabdev, the first Jain tirthankara. Breath the lovely, tranquil atmosphere of this sanctorum and hear the equity of the silence with the euphony of the sparrows, while gazing at the fine sculptures atop the majestic pillars; like the mother embracing a child who is desperately trying to hold a fruit, just out of reach.

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Move Your Way

Travel to see the Jaisalmer Golden Fort (Sonar Kila) which is a one of most the famous attractions in Rajasthan India. The airport, earlier a military base with a recent civil terminal, is about 5 km from downtown. Jagson Airlines (office is at Gandhi Chowk) has recently started its services, linking this sand city with Delhi, Jaipur and Jodhpur, on a tri-weekly basis. Travellers can avail taxis or private cabs to come to the city centre.

Tourists can also catch a train from Sarai Rohilla in Delhi, the railway junction at Jaisalmer being 2 km from the city centre. The Rajasthan Sampark Kranti Express (2463) leaves Sarai Rohilla at 8:50 am in the morning and reaches Bikaner Junction at 9 pm in the evening. One can also avail the Delhi Jaisalmer Express (4059), which departs from Delhi Junction at 5:25 pm and reaches straight to Jaisalmer at 1:30 pm in the afternoon, providing ample time to the tourists to check into respective hotels and sight seeing.

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Top 5 Reasons To Visit Jaisalmer Fort

Jasalmer Fort

The Golden Chapter of Glory
Plan a holiday trip to Jaisalmer and you will be amazed to see the genesis of gold in stone. Made up of yellow sandstone, the Jaisalmer Golden fort of Rajasthan radiates a golden hue in the evening which surely enthralls every traveller.

A Walk In The Fort
Wander around the slender streets of this living fort also called as Sonar Kila, which is packed with houses, temples, handicraft shops, beauty parlors and honeycombed with narrow, winding lanes, all of them paved in stone. You can also stop and shop for a few interesting items over here.

The Temples of Geometry
Visit the 7 Jain Temples, built between 15-16th centuries popular for intricately sculpted pillars which form a series of toranas in the compound. Breath the lovely, tranquil atmosphere of this sanctorum and hear the equity of the silence with the euphony of the sparrows, until you realise that your weary soul have been elevated to a higher consciousness while in the Sonar Kila or Jaisalmer fort.

Shop Till You Drop
While in famous Jaisalmer Fort in India, during your holiday vacations, don't forget to get a few pieces of the golden artifacts - bowls, glasses and other decorative items - made from the same material as the fort itself. Look for exquisite fabrics, adorned with embroidery and mirror work, but at an unimaginably low price.

The Pleasure of Being Inside
Stand under the beautifully carved balconies and crowns of pagoda-shaped cupolas of Raja ka Mahal, Jaisalmer's highest point atop. Throw a handful of seeds towards the numerous pigeons that surf through the bygone corridors of history.

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