Ranthambore Fort is a UNESCO world heritage sire and the second largest fort after Chittorgarh in Rajasthan. Its location had a strategic advantage for trade between North India and Central India and despite several attempts; it remained unconquered throughout its history due to the particular angle at which the gates had been constructed to camouflage it as a part of the hill, making it impossible to spot from the adjoining forest.
How to Reach?
The Fort is located within the Ranthambore National Park but you are allowed to reach here on your own private vehicles. Alternately you can also reach here through taxis operating through the union and thus has fixed tariffs. There are 2 entrances to the fort now: one opposite zone 3 or 4 and the other from Ganesh Temple. The Fort is at a height of 481 m above sea level and one as to climb a number of steps to reach the fort or hire a palki ride.
Depends on one’s pace and how much time one wants to spend listening to the guide but at least 2-3 hours is recommended. Since I had covered it in between safaris, I had to hurriedly cover it in 2 hours with a guide.
Its name is derived from 2 adjoining hills- Rann and Bhore and the valley in between is Tham. The fort covers the entire Bhore hill and overlooks the valley and the Rann Hill at the Ganesh temple.
Ranthambhore Fort was constructed and ruled by Prithvi Raj Chouhan’s descendants, starting from the reign of the Chauhan Rajput King Sapaldaksha in 944 AD.
The most prominent ruler of the Fort was Rao Hammir, the last ruler of the Chauhan dynasty (1282 – 1301 AD). From 1299 to 1301 AD, Alauddin Khilji’s (the ruler of Delhi) army tried to siege the fort but was defeated and was finally able to capture it in 1301 by deceit. A traitor- Ranmal hung a black flag of defeat over the fort even though they had defeated Khilji’s army. All the married women committed jauhar and the unmarried women committed suicide by jumping in the pond. When Hammir returned to see this he killed the traitor and then himself. The traitor’s head is kept as a sculpture at the entrance of the fort with a sword mark running across the middle. Ranthambore was then ruled by Ulugh Khan on behalf of Khilji.
In the next three centuries the Ranthambore Fort changed hands a number of times, till Akbar, the Mughal emperor, finally took over the Fort and dissolved the State of Ranthambore in 1558. The fort stayed in the possession of the Mughal rulers till the mid 18th century when they handed it over to the Jaipur state.
The walls of the fort are about 7 kilometers in length and include an area of nearly 4 square kilometers. The Ranthambore fort is surrounded by massive stonewalls which are strengthened by towers and bastions. The stone for the masonry was mined from inside the Fort and the mines were later turned into ponds for water storage. There were 7 Main doors from start to end, of which few survive. The fort had many buildings inside but now only a few survive, mostly:
- Hammir’s Court
- Badal Mahal ,
- Dullah Mahal,
- 32 Pillared Chhatri (Cenotaph) of Hammir
- Jain temple,
- Mosque: Interesting to see mosque within the fort of a Hindu king but believed to be added later by Khilji
- Ganesh temple: Still active and attracts worshippers from all around. Loads of langur monkeys around the temple
- Barracks and step-well.
- The Fort offers some breathtaking views of the forest and the lake below around which several crocodiles and alligators can be spotted with a good lens.
- In the forest adjoining the fort, there are several mango trees which are believed to have grown from the mangoes eaten and thrown by Khilji’s soldiers as mango trees are not inherent to the area.