If you recall my post on Amer fort, I mentioned spotting another fort – the Jaigarh Fort, from the main palace. You may also, recall that one of the incomplete things of my tour of Amber Fort was the fact that I could not explore the secret passage that connected it to Jaigarh Fort. That however, does not mean that I did not see Jaigarh Fort. 🙂
My story starts with our exit of Amer Fort, from where we headed up to the Cheel ka Teela (Hill of Eagles) to visit the most strategic of Jaipur Forts – the Jaigarh Fort. This fort was made in the 1700s by Maharaja Jai Singh II – as a fort to protect the main Amer palace and the town below it. Later, during the times of Emperor Shah Jahan, this fort functioned as a cannon foundry. Compared to the Amer Fort, this fort is quite basic. It has none of the ostentatious buildings of Amer Fort but is more strategic. The Fort was closed to the public until a few years ago and hence, not much is explored.
It has its own share of interesting locations and tales – from narrow, winding passages to lost treasures, all waiting to be discovered. Almost every nook and corner of this fort felt like a secret and I am sharing these secrets through my 10 highlights of Jaigarh Fort.
1) The unending walls of Jaigarh Fort
The one thing that you can see from anywhere in Amer, are the huge red walls of Jaigarh Fort. Mind you, I had not yet seen Kumbhalgarh Fort and hence, with no comparison in mind, these walls seemed endless. We were told by the guard that they were just 3 kms long, but they sure seemed more. The bright red color distinguished them from what we saw at Amer fort. I personally, loved exploring the turrets, climbing up the small open stairs to see what was below and basically, just walking along the perimeter of the fort.
2) Jaivana – World’s largest cannon on wheels
The one thing that you read about Jaigarh Fort is that it is home to the World’s largest Cannon on Wheels. Known as Jaivana, this was built in the cannon foundry at the Fort itself. I don’t think my photos do any justice to the huge size of this cannon.
Now, here is the funny part – as huge as this thing was, it was never used in a battle! The only time it was fired was for a test, when the cannon ball traveled 35 kms. WOAH!
3) The Mysterious water tank at Jaigarh Fort
Please note the use of the adjective – Mysterious. At the first glimpse, this huge water tank seems quite ordinary. Ok – so it was huge, it has a rainwater harvesting facility, could store up to 6 million gallons of water, had three levels, but then, so what? I chose this particular adjective – Mysterious, for the story associated with it. This story is one of the main reasons why this fort was not opened to the public until a few years back.
The rumor was so strong that in 1977, during the emergency declared by the Former Prime Minister of India – Indira Gandhi, a raid was organized to find it. The Maharani at that time – Gayatri Devi had objected to it. However, the same were overruled by her arch rival Indira Gandhi and in fact, army troops were sent to the fort to recover the treasure. After days of search (some say 3 months), nothing was found and the search was called off. During the retreat of the troops, for three days, the Delhi – Jaipur Highway was closed.
Some say that there were military trucks plying between the fort and the PM’s residence in Delhi and a question was raised on whether the same carried the treasure straight to the PM’s house. However, there is no answer to that. Whether there was a treasure, or none or was it recovered – no one knows. The story of the water tank remains an unsolved mystery.
4) Laxmi Vilas
Once you are done with the water tank, you can head straight to the small palace area. The first thing that you encounter is a huge parade ground called Subhat Niwas. This is where the army used to gather. Here you can view these huge War drums.
From here, you move further to the royal drawing-room of the King or the Laxmi Vilas. The pleasant wall paintings and the nice flooring make it obvious that this was an area for important meetings and relaxation. You cannot really enter any of the rooms, but from the outside, they do seem royal enough.
5) Lalit Mandir
This was the summer palace of the King at Jaigarh Fort. Though it has one higher floor, you can only browse through the ground floor. They say that the royal bedrooms were on the higher floor.
On the ground floor, there is a small theatre area which served as a royal entertainment area for music and drama. This is where you are now treated to a puppet show. You can even buy some of these puppets as a memorabilia.
You will also, find some recreated scenes of how the dining and kitchen areas looked back then. There are separate ones for men and women. You cannot unfortunately, walk through these rooms and have to make do by viewing them through the holes of a grill and glass windows.
6) Vilas Mandir
This is the Zenana or the ladies area with lattice windows and jharokas. I have to say, this was literally – the coolest area of the fort. There was so much wind blowing through these windows that made the passages and the halls here so pleasant. Through these windows, you could see the entire Amer Fort. Though this area was not as well lit as the the rest of the fort, the place was just unusually beautiful. I guess, it was the artistic presence of the lattice windows.
7) Aaram Bagh
The beautiful green gardens of the Jaigarh Fort were a perfect place for Aaram or rest. I was captivated with the lovely garden and their low walls, high arch gateways and spectacular views. I can quite imagine how the Royal family strolled around this garden in the evenings. Maybe the Queen even sat on those high arched gateways to view the world below.
8) Labyrinth of passages at Jaigarh Fort
Jaigarh Fort is full of subterranean and ground level passages. Some like my incomplete quest leading from Amer Fort to Jaigarh Fort. The others are within the Jaigarh Fort itself. The passages from one palace section to another itself, are winding and narrow. I am guessing this was to slow down the enemy. For me, it appealed to my Indiana Jones’ side. 😀
9) The Museum and Foundry
There is a small museum of war instruments and weapons. I personally, do not have a thing for armaments and hence, breezed through the same. However, there were a few unusual ones that did capture the attention of a non-arms enthusiast like me. Photography is not permitted here and hence, I have none to show you.
The foundry is another story all together. Here you can see the unfinished cannons and cannon balls. They say that the foundry was such that it sucked in the mountain air to help reach high temperatures that would melt the metal for the cannons. Goes to show the advancement in technology back in those days.
10) The stunning views from Jaigarh fort
This maybe the last highlight, but the most important one for me. This is the one I will always remember Jaigarh Fort fort. No matter where you look from, you get some spectacular views of the valley below. Like this one, where you see the Sagar lake.
Or this one from the Aram Bagh where you can see the rest of Amer town, along with their various temples. Can you spot the spires of a Jain temple?
Or of the Amer Fort from the Vilas Mandir side.
These views make you realize how perfectly positioned was the Jaigarh fort – a name that literally translates to “Victory Fort”. I think Jai Singh II was indeed a smart one to have built this.
I personally, loved getting lost in the narrow passages and then finding my way out to some spectacular views of the world around. For me, this fort is all about secrets – be it the passages, the spectacular views, the strategic focus or the mysterious water tank. More so, as I did not know much about the fort till I visited it. I sure would include it under one of the things to do in Jaipur. What do you think? Do you concur? Or do you have a different view?
- On how to reach Jaipur, you can check up my earlier post. Jaigarh Fort is around 15kms from Jaipur.
- Jaigarh Fort is around 7 kms from Amer Fort. However, to reach here, you need to hire a private vehicle or take one of the local buses.
- Jaigarh Fort is open between 9am to 5 pm. The ticket prices for the same are INR 35 for an Indian and INR 85 for a foreigner.
- Camera charges are separate. The guards are quite strict about these charges and keep checking on the camera tags.
- There is loads of walking to be done. Hence, flat shoes and comfortable cotton clothes are recommended.
- The fort has a museum shop as well as a cafeteria. There are rest rooms too, at the entrance of the fort.
- Be careful when walking along the walls. Some of those steps are falling away and hence, exercise caution when around them.
- The passages within the palace are quite winding and confusing. The place is not as crowded as the Amer Fort and you will find quite a few secluded spots. Hence, try to not get lost and remember to keep to the main areas. If you have kids with you, remember to keep a hold on them.
- It is a good idea to combine this with your visit to Amer fort.