Sunday, September 26, 2010

Purana Qila

When the second Mughal emperor Humayun decided to make a city of his own he decided on the site of the ancient city of Indraprastha. Humayun was quite a scholar with a fine grasp on such matters and so it is certain that the site was chosen deliberately. When his Sher Shah Suri overthrew him, he destroyed most of Dinpanah (refuge of the faithful) as the city of Humayun was called to make way for his own Dilli Sher Shahi or Shergarh. Incidentally, Humayun was probably the only emperor in history who built a city in Delhi and did not give it his own name – this was typical of Humayun's rather sophisticated and dreamy character.

In plan the Old fort, now simply called Purana Qila by Delhites, is irregularly orbital. The walls of the immense Qila tower down on the road that takes one to Pragati Maidan from the height of 18m, and run on for about 2km. It has three main gates – the Humayun darwaza, Talaqi darwaza and Bara darwaza (which one uses to enter the fort today). The double-storeyed gates are quite huge and are built with red sandstone. of all the gates entry was forbidden from Talaqi (forbidden) darwaza, the northern gate.
Golconda Fort

The Golconda Fort is located about 11 Kms away, on the Western outskirts of Hyderabad city. It is located on a granite hill having a height of 120m.
Before the advent of Hyderabad, Deccan was ruled from Golconda fort. It was earlier established by the Kakatiya's in the 13th century and the existing structure was constructed by the Qutub Shahi kings. It was renovated by the first three Qutub Shahi kings, over a span of 62 years.

Golconda is also known as Shepherd's Hill" or "Golla Konda", in Telugu. According to a legend, a shepherd boy found an idol on the rocky hill called 'Mangalavaram'. This news reached the Kakatiya king, who was then ruling Golconda. He ordered the construction of a mud fort around the holy spot. Later, the fort was expanded by the Qutub Shahi kings into a huge structure made of granite.

The fort of Golconda is known for its magical acoustic system. The highest point of the fort is the 'Bala Hissar', which is located a kilometer away. The palaces, factories, water supply system and the famous 'Rahban' cannon, within the fort are some of the major attractions.

Gwalior fort

Gwalior fort

Pearls in the necklace of the castles of Hind, this sprawling fort is the witness to glorious battles and the rule of the Maharajas of Gwalior.

The fort is located at Gopalchal and has earned the reputation of North and Central India's most impregnable fort. It is one of the most invincible forts of India and has an impressive citadel. It was constructed on the hill of sandstone and it towers 10 km from the plain. This fascinating fort is one of its kind and you should make sure that you view the best of Gwalior fort.

Junagarh Fort

Situated adjacent to the public park, its turrets pointing skywards, Junagarh fort is a magnificent sight to behold. It was constructed between 1589 and 1594 by Raja Rai Singh, a general in the army of the Mughal emperor Akbar. It was in 1585 that an old extant Mughal farman (decree) refers to Rai Singh of Bikaner, upon whom Akbar conferred the district of Bhatner. It was the next year that Rai Singh ordered work on the ‘great jewel of Bikaner’, the Junagarh fort. Work finally began in 1589 when the king sent instructions to that effect from his camp at Burhanpur to his minister Karam Chand. Finished five years later, its battlements jutted out proudly, although they were untested.

The fort is beautifully embellished with Rajput paintings, mirror-work, and lacquer-work. Lines of windows and balconies impart a harmonious domestic character to the austere strength of the structure. You need to take a recce of the fort and feel the atmosphere to get an idea of the indolent lifestyle of the Rajput royalty, in medieval times.The regalia and opulence of the palaces will take your breath away.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Chittorgarh Fort

In the pages of history Chittorgarh holds a proud place and regarded as the symbol of Rajput chivalry, resistance and bravery. The Chittorgarh fort is situated 175 km to the east of Udaipur and is named after Chitrangad Maurya. Chittorgarh covers an area seven mile covering 700 acres of land with its fortifications, palaces, temples and towers. The fortress of Chittorgarh epitomizes the romance and chivalry of the Rajput tradition.

The famous Chittorgarh fort is situated on a 180 m high hill that rises swiftly from the plains. The road leads through seven gates namely Padan Pol, Bhairon Pol, Hanuman Pol, Ganesh Pol, Jorla Pol, Lakshman Pol, to the main gate, Rampol. In between the second and the third gate there are two Chhatris or cenotaphs, built in honor of Jaimull and Patta, the heroes of 1568 AD siege by Emperor Akbar. The main gate of the fort is called the Surajpol (the Gate of Sun). Inside the Chittorgarh fort there are many palaces like the Rana Kumbha Palace, the Fateh Prakash Palace, the Tower of Victory and Rani Padmini's Palace. All these structures are significant for their Rajput architectural features.

The most imposing structures inside the Chittorgarh fort are the "Kirti Stambh" and the "Vijay Stambh". The "Kirti Stambh" was built by Maharana Kumbha in 1440 AD to celebrate his victory over Mohammad Khalji. The pedestal of the tower is 10 ft high and the tower stands at a height of 122 ft and is 30 ft wide at the base. The tower is nine storeyed and is adorned with sculptures of Hindu deities and stories from the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. The tower provides a breathtaking view of the city. There is a huge complex of Jain temples within the fort.

Indian forts

Of all the Indian monuments, forts and palaces are most fascinating. Most of the Indian forts were built as a defense mechanism to keep the enemy away. The state of Rajasthan is home to numerous forts and palaces. Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh are also not far behind. In fact, whole India is dotted with forts of varied sizes. The magnificent forts and palaces of Rajasthan were built during the medieval period. The notable feature about each of the forts and palaces is the exquisite carving work that has survived till date and still receives appreciation from people worldwide.

These magnificent forts can not be described in words as they will look too small in front of splendor of forts that beautify India. Some prominent forts of Rajasthan are Amber fort, Chittorgarh fort, Jaisalmer fort, Lohagarh fort, Bikaner fort and Jaigarh fort. Delhi, the capital of India also boasts of some great forts. Some of the notable forts of Delhi are the Red fort, Purana Quila and the Tughlaqabad fort. These grand forts clearly depict the glory of Indian majestic past. There are many other forts of importance in India. Some of the most notable are the Red fort, Agra, the Gwalior fort and the Junagarh fort

Agra Fort

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.
Vivekananda Rock

Located in the midst of the ocean, just 400 meters from Kanyakumari, is the magnificent Vivekananda Rock Memorial. This colossal structure was built in the year 1970, under the guidance of Shri Eknath Ranade. The Vivekananda rock temple is dedicated to one of the greatest spiritual philosophers of India, Swami Vivekananda. It is said that Swami Vivekananda meditated here before setting out on one of the most crucial religious campaigns in India in 1892. The idea of building Vivekananda Memorial Rock temple was conceptualized on his birth centenary in the year 1962.

Vivekananda Rock Memorial was built with a blend of traditional as well as contemporary architectural styles of India. A life size statue of Swami Vivekananda has been set up inside the memorial. The rock has always been considered as holy and according to Hindu mythology, Goddess Devi Kumari has blessed the rock with the touch of her sacred feet. It is thus known as 'Sripada Parai'. In fact, there is a projection on the rock that resembles a human foot and is brownish in color, which is regarded as Sri Padam.

The memorial has two main structures known as the Shripada Mandapam and the Vivekananda Mandapam. The Shripada Mandapam has the main sanctum sanctorum surrounded by an outer platform. The Vivekananda Mandapam has a meditation hall known as Dhyana Mandapam. Visitors can sit, relax and meditate over here. The atmosphere here is very calm and serene. A statue of Swami Vivekananda can be seen here. From the rock, one can check out the breath taking view of the merging of the three major water bodies namely Bay of Bengal, Arabian Sea and Indian Ocean.
Victoria Memorial Hall

The Victoria Memorial was built to commemorate the peak of the British Empire in India. The Victoria Memorial, conceived by Lord Curzon, represents the architectural climax of Kolkata city. Lord Curzon, the then Viceroy specified its classical style but the actual plan of Victoria Memorial was laid down by the well-known architect, Sir William Emerson. The Victoria Memorial blends the best of the British and Mughal architecture. The Victoria Memorial hall was built with white Makrana marbles. The Prince of Wales laid the foundation stone of Victoria Memorial in 1906 and it was inaugurated in 1921 in memory of Queen Victoria. The Victoria Memorial is 338 by 228 feet and a height of 184 feet.

Today the Victoria Memorial Hall is a museum having an assortment of Victoria memorabilia, British Raj paintings and other displays. As night descends on Calcutta, the Victoria Memorial Hall is illuminated, giving it a fairy tale look. It is interesting to note that the Victoria Memorial was built without British government funds. The money required for the construction of the stately building, surrounded by beautiful gardens over 64 acres and costing more than 10 million was contributed by British Indian states and individuals who wanted favors with the British government. At the top of the Victoria Memorial is a sixteen foot tall bronze statue of victory, mounted on ball bearings. It rotates with wind.

At present the Victoria Memorial has notable collection of weapons, sculptors, paintings, maps, coins, stamps, artifacts, textiles etc. The Royal gallery in Victoria Memorial has portraits of the Queen and Prince Albert. There are numerous paintings, illustrating events from Victoria's life. Another remarkable peace in Victoria Memorial is a painting by the Russian artist Vasseli Verestchagin, portraying the state entry of the Prince of Wales in Jaipur in the year 1876. In the post independence period a new addition was made to the Victoria Memorial. It was the addition of the National leaders' gallery with the portraits and relics of the freedom fighters.