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Junagarh Fort, India
In Bikaner city, Rajasthan, India
Year of Construction
1589 – 1594
Supervised by Raja Rai Singh’s Prime Minster, Karan Chand
It depicts the blend of three types of architecture, Rajput style, semi western and the British style
Junagarh Fort is in the Bikaner city in Rajasthan, India. Initially this fort was named as Chintamani and later on it was renamed as Junagarh or the ‘Old Fort’ in early centuries of 20. Being one of the few among the big forts of Rajasthan which were not on hilltop. The city Bikaner has got developed come up around this fort. The fort being built under Karan Singh’ supervision who was Raja Rai Singh’s (Bikaner’s sixth ruler) Prime Minister. Raja Rai Singh ruled Bikaner from the year 1571 AD to 1611 AD. This is just about 1.5 kms from the center of the city and few of the old fort’s remains can be seen near the temple of Lakshmi Narayan.
There is a history of this fort being attacked repeatedly by the enemies to conquer the fort but in vain except for that the fort was being occupied by Kamran Mirza only for one day. He was Mughal Emperor Babur’s son and in the year 1534, Babur had attacked Bikaner whose king then was Rao Jait Singh. Mughals lost to Rathors in the battle hence resulting in the returning of Kamran Mirza to Lahore.
Spread over an area of 5.28 hectares this place has many pavilions, temples and palaces. The buildings are built with a blend of many architectural styles and reflect upon the culture.
There are many fairs and festivals that take place in Bikaner like the Karni Mata fair, Kapil Muni fair, Kolayat Mela, camel festival, Paryushan is considered as Jain’s biggest festival and is celebrated in the month of Bhadrapad.
Construction – Junagarh Fort
The huge fort of Bikaner is rectangle in shape and the height of the fort walls is 40 feet in height and 14.5 feet in width. Spread over and area of 63,119 sq yards with moat earlier of 20 to 25 feet deep but, now the moat does not exist. It has 7 gates and many palaces, temples, pavilions. The interiors being painted and decorated in Rajasthani style. This fort was built after a century of the old fort being demolished and was built very strongly. Junagarh palaces have many huge rooms and was at par with that of Imperial Russia or the Louis France. This fort is built with different kinds of architectural styles and hence depicts composite culture. The earlier style was of the Rajput architecture, the second style was the architecture of semi western culture depicting the influence of the British and lastly the revivalists Rajput architecture.
The Great History
Before the construction of Junagarh Fort, there existed an old fort which was made of stones. This fort was built by Rao Bika the Rathore clans’ Maharaja named Rao Jodha’s second son, in the year 1478. In order to set his rule he conquered Rajasthan’s Northern regions huge lands. As he was Jodha’s second son his chance of inheriting the Maharaja’s title of the territory of his father was nil so he took up the decision to come up with his own Empire at this palace which was called as ‘Jungladesh’ at that time. Thought Bikaner was a part of Thar Desert & served as the purpose of oasis for the traders who passed from Central Asia and coast of Gujarat due to sufficient spring water resources. And so Bikaner city was tagged by the name Bika to the city which was established by him. And hence the Bikaner’s history and the fort is associated with Bika. After 100 year under the leadership of the sixth ruler Raja Rai Singhji who was the King of this place from 1571 to 1611 did Bikaner flourish. During the reign of the of the Mughal Empire in the country he was on a very high position in the army general in Emperor Akbar and Jahangir’s court. The Mughal Emperors bestowed him with rewards and accolades for winning over half of the Mewar Kingdom. He got the lands of Burhanpur and Gujarat as gifts. With the revenue that he earned from these lands he built on the plain land the Junagarh fort. On the 17th of February in the year 1589 the fort’s formal foundation ceremony was held and the construction got completed in the year 1594 on the 17th of January. He was an expert in architecture and arts and during his visits to several countries he acquired a lot of knowledge and this reflects upon the many monuments that he built in the Junagarh fort. This fort went on to be a perfect icon of architecture & unique art’s center in the Thar desert.
Karan Singh under the Mughals suzerainty built palace Karan Mahal and ruled from the year 1631 to the year 1639, later on more floors got added by the later rulers and this Mahal was also decorated. Remarkable additions were made to this Mahal, like the Zenana quarter which used to be the females royal dwelling & many new Palaces, under the leadership of Anup Singh who ruled from the year 1669 till the year 1698. The Karan Mahal was renovated by him as he added the public audience hall called the Diwan-i-Am and named it as Anup Mahal. From the year 1746 till the year 1787 Gaj Singh renovated the Moon palace called Chandra Mahal. Immediately after him from the year 1787 till the year 1828 Surat Singh ruled and the audience hall was very nicely decorated by him using lovely colors of paints and glass. Badal Mahal (weather palace) was built by Dungar Singh under his rulership form the year 1872 till the year 1887 and he named it so keeping on mind the cloud and falling rain’s painting. Ganga Singh built the Ganga Niwas Palace and he ruled from the year 1887 till the year 1943 and at the entrance it had the towers and Sir Samuel Swinton Jacob had designed the palace. Sadul Singh succeeded his father in the year 1943 and died in the year 1950.
Bikaner came under the British Raj’s suzerainty under a treaty which was signed in the year 1818. Before signing of the treaty in the 18the century there were deadly among the Thakurs, rulers of Jodhpur and Bikaner which the British troops had put down. It is said that the southern and eastern entrance were damaged when the Jodhpur army had attacked and on the fort’s southern façade one can see the canon balls fire marks.
Among all of the Rajasthan Princes the popular and the best known king was said to be Ganga Singh. He was bestowed with the title of Star of India and also the Knight Commander and was the British Raj’s favorite. He not only served as Imperial War Cabinet’s member but also represented country at Imperial First World War Conference & British Empire at Versailles Peace Conference.
Rules and Regulations
- Tourists are supposed to be in a group of 10 – 15 members compulsory and have to be accompanied by a guide.
- Spitting is not allowed.
- Smoking is prohibited.
- A person under the influence of alcohol is not allowed.
How to Reach Junagarh Fort
The domestic airport is under construction and is at a distance of just 14 kms from the city and the flights are scheduled to start for Jaipur and Delhi from the later year of 2012 hence giving close proximity and making commuting easier for people.
Bikaner has trains connected to few of the major cities via broad guage and has direct trains to Mumbai, Delhi, Ahmedabad, Jodhpur, Jammu, Kota, Chandigarh, Thiruvananthapuram, Puricoimbatore, Jalandhar, Surat, Jaipur, Guwahati, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Baroda, Jalandhar, Agra and Kanpur.
The city of Bikaner is well connected to cities like Indore, Jodhpur, Haridwar, Ahmedabad, Ambala, Bhatinda, Ludhiana, Agra, Jaipur, Delhi etc hence making commuting easier for people.
One can commute with ease within the city as there are convenient modes of transport.
Best Time to Visit - October to March
The ideal time to visit this place is from October to March as the months from April till June are very hot and hence can lead to dehydration and the months from July till September are months of shower hence it is better to avoid this period and plan the trip to visit this place between October to March so as to enjoy your trip.
Tourist Places Near Junagarh Fort
Camel Research & Breeding Farm
This is the only one kind in the whole of Asia and is just 8 kms from the city of Bikaner and is managed by the government. This farm is into training and breeding of camels. You will just enjoy the sight of the camels which are considered as the ship of the desert. All the kind of information that you ever wanted to know about the camels can be got here, you can also have a tour of the 200 camels or can have a camel ride or can also see the museum. At the camel fairs they put up the camels for sale and during this time the camels are dressed in the best of the ornaments which are very colorful.
Laxmi Niwas Palace
The Laxmi Niwas Palace was the residence of the former king Maharaja Ganga Singh and was designed by Sir Samuel Swinton Jacob in the British style of architecture and was built in the year 1902. Now this is being converted into a luxurious hotel owned by the Golden Triangle Fort & Palace P.Ltd.
Lalgarh Palace was a blend of the Mughal, European and Rajput architectural style built in the year 1902 to 1926. In the year 1889 to 1925 the Lalagarh Palace was commissioned by the Maharaja Ganga Singh in his father’s memory Maharaja Lall singh and Sir Swinton Jacob a British architect had designed it. Made of red sandstone this building has many pavilions, cupolas, lounges and grand halls. The building also has Italian colonnades, elaborate fireplaces, huge pillars and delicate filigree and latticework. The palace also has important and large collection of the Sanskrit manuscript, Shri Sadul Museum and also the Anup Sanskrit Library. Part of this palace is used by the Royal Family of Bikaner and a part is converted into Heritage hotel which is being operated by Royal family Bikaner.
Laxmi Nath Temple
Laxmi Nath Temple is considered to be one of Bikaner’s oldest temples with the foundation being laid by Rao Bikaji in the year 1488 and was constructed under the rulership of Rao Lunkaran and later modified by Maharaja Ganga Singh.
Maru Nayak Ji
Maru Nayak Ji was constructed in the year 1486 and was said to be Bikaner’s first Vaishnav Temple. The deity who is presiding is said to be Lord Moolnayak Krishna.
Bhandeswari Jain Temple
This temple was built in the 15th century and is the oldest shrine in Bikaner and is decorated with gold leaf paintings, mirrorwork.
There are many beautiful havelis which you get to see here and the Jain Haveli is just awesome and too beautiful. These havelis which are in Gogagate, Daddhon ka Chowk etc had belonged to the Dagas, Vaids, Rampurias and Kotharis.
Gaj Mandir was Maharaja Gaj Singh and his two queens private chamber. The chambers had doors made of rich ivory door, wooden walls of lacquer paint and many gold paintings.
Phool Mahal ki Sal
This is said to be one of the Junagarh Forts oldest part with sparking lovely flowers, rose water sprinkle and vases. The interior walls are made up mirror and glass work.
There is an access from Karan Mahal to the Dungar Niwas and is very beautifully painted Ganga Niwas is another similar kind of courtyard which is huge and has an entrance of red sandstone.
This is a very sacred spot and is dedicated to the Kapil Muni. In the Karthik month i.e., from October to November a fair takes place in this temple and many pilgrims come here in many numbers. This is also considered as a picnic spot as well.
Timing to see this is from 4:30 to 6:30 and is near Jassusar near Maruti Vyamshala near Bikaner.
Badal Mahal & Chandra Mahal
Badal Mahal as the name suggests has the clouds painted in blue and has a wonderful portrait of the Maharaja Sardar Singh along with the instruments Garud Veena and Mayur Veena. Chandra Mahal has many small rooms and has paintings as well.
Karni Mata Temple
This temple is about 600 years old and is the royal family’s god Karni Mata. The rats are also said to be worshipped her along with the Godess. It is believed that the rats need to be protected here as they are the Goddess soul. These rats are named kaba and are said to be harmless and never cross the temple boundaries. This temple has marble carvings and large silver gates.
This temple is open from 6 am to 9.30 pm
The Shivbari temple is of Lord Shiva and the idol of Lord Shiva has four faces which is in black color and had an idol of the bull Nandi in bronze. Baoris are the two huge reservoirs which are present here.
Year of Construction: 1589
Completed In: 1594
Time Taken: 5 years
Built By: Under the Supervision of Raja Rai Singh’s Prime Minster, Karan Chand
Location: Bikaner city, Rajasthan, India
Building Type: Fort
Architecture: blend of many architectural styles like the Rajput’s, Rajasthani & British type
The museum at the Fort which was established by Maharaja Dr Karni Singhji in the year 1961 has Persian and Sanskrit manuscripts, headgear, costumes, portrait galleries, farmans, royal costumes, jewels, miniature paintings etc.
The time to visit the fort is from 10 am to 5 pm.
In case you want to see the complete museum and have a guide as well then the cost per head is Rs.50/. In case of seeing the part of the museum it is Rs.10/, if you want to carry your camera then for ordinary camera it is Rs.10/ and for a movie camera it is Rs. 50/. For foreigners the entry fee is Rs. 200/.
Interesting Facts of Junagarh Fort
- This place is rich in art and culture.
- This is the only place in the whole of Asia which has got the camel breeding & research center.
- The Bikaner Bhujia is very famous and very tasty also.
- PATA culture, it is also famous for wool production, sweets, leather articles, handicrafts etc.
- It is also popular for a blend of architectural styles like Rajput, semi western and British.