India, the mystic land of magnificent traditions and rich heritage is famous for its diversity in cultural, vitality and for its historical background. India owes its architectural brilliance to those numerous dynasties who had ruled India over the years. Foreign invasions of famous dynasties like the Mughal, the Mamluk, and the Turkish resulted in some famous architectural styles like Indo-Islamic, Sultanate, Arabic and Persian.
Some features of these historical forts are the extensive use of sandstones, splendid domes and arches, liberal uses of wonderful floral, geometric or Arabic patterns. This land of Kings, Sultans and emperors is bestowed with some of the best architectural forts and each one of them tells us a fascinating story of its own.
Famous Forts to Visit in India
1. Red Fort in Delhi
Red Fort in Delhi is famously known as ‘Laal Qila’ and attracts thousands of tourists from around the world every year. This remarkable piece of architectural excellence was built on the banks of River Yamuna by the famous emperor Shah Jahan of Mughal Dynasty when he shifted his capital from Agra to Delhi.
This fort was named as Red Fort due to its well-defended wall made of red sandstone. This is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The fort was built following Islamic, Indian and Persian architectural styles.
Major Attractions inside the Fort : Indian war memorial museum, Diwan-i-Aam, Archaeological museum, Lahori Gate, Moti Masjid, Ajmeri Gate, Kashmiri Gate, Turkman Gate
This is a famous Fort of the Mughal Dynasty which is located by the River Yamuna in Agra. The present structure was built by the Mughal emperor Akbar to make it a primary hub for defence of the country.
Another famous Mughal emperor Shah Jahan was captured in a prison in this fort by his son Aurangzeb. This fort holds a number of palaces, mosques and halls. The whole fort reflects various Mughal styles and patterns of art. The famous Taj Mahal can be seen from this fort.
Major Attractions inside the Fort: Amar Singh Gate, Jehangiri Mahal, Delhi Gate
This fort which is famously known as ‘Sonar Qila' survived several battles of Indian history. The fort has an interesting historical background which says that the fort was built by a king named Krishna Jaisul as instructed by a prophet called Eesul who made the king believe that he was Lord Krisha and thus was capable of restablishing a Yaduvanshi descendant on Trikuta Hills.
The three layers of wall. This Golden Fort made of yellow sandstones is more than just a fort as it houses residences, temples, restaurants and handicraft shops. One can get an amazing panoramic view of golden desert from this fort.
Major Attractions inside the Fort: Royal Palace, Jain temples, Lakshmi Temple, Hawa Pol, Jawahar Pol, Maharawal Palace, Tazia Tower, Jawahar Palace
4. Mehrangarh Fort in Rajasthan
This impressive fort which stands on a cliff named Bahuchiriya was constructed by Rathore King Rao Jodha as a protection from invasions and went through many reformations by various other Maharajas or kings of Jodhpur over time. The royal seven gates at the entrance of this fort are very famous.
Shootings of many famous Hollywood and Bollywood movies such as Thugs of Hindustan, The Dark Knight Rises and many more have taken place in this famous fort.
Major Attractions inside the Fort: Dedh Kamgra Gate, Bhairon Gate, Phool Mahal, Sheesh Mahal, Moti Mahal , Loha Gate, Victory Gate , Fateh Gate, World Sacred Spirit Festival(held in October), Rajasthan International Folk Festival( held in February)
5. Chittorgarh Fort in Rajasthan
This is also another famous UNESCO's World Heritage Site is believed to be constructed by Maurya rulers of Chittorgarh . This grand fort attracts people all around the world due to its interesting historical background and impressive architectural works. This fort tells stories about sacrifices, bravery and battles.
The most famous incident associated with this fort is the story of the beautiful queen Rani Padmini of Chittor who chose self-immolation along with other Rajput women over the surrender to Allauddin Khilji who attacked Chittor with an intention to possess the queen.
Major Attractions inside the Fort: Rana Kumbha Mahal, Ratan Singh Palace, Fateh Prakash, Vijay Stambha, Padmini's Palace, Meera Temple, Shringar Chauri Temple, Kirti Stambha, Light and sound show, Saat Pols(seven gates), Jauhar Mela procession(held in February)
6. Kumbhalgarh Fort in Rajasthan
This is one of the most famous forts in Rajasthan. The great Maharana Pratap was born inside this fort. The fort was named after Rana Kumbha who constructed the fort on hilltop to prevent the attacks of his enemies. Nestled in the Aravalli Hills, the fort offers mesmerising panoramic view of Thar Desert and its surroundings.
Kumbhalgarh fort wall made of stone bricks is considered to be the world’s second highest wall. This wall is popularly known as ‘The Great Wall of India’.
Major Attractions inside the Fort: Kumbha Palace, Badal Mahal, water reservoirs, Jhalia ka Malia, Jain Temples. giant Shivalinga, Ram Gate, Lakhola Tank, Bad Shahi Bavdi, Parsvanatha Temple, Bawan Devi Temple,
7. Junagarh Fort in Rajasthan
This magnificent fort made of red sandstone and marble was initially built by Rao Bika in Bikaner but later on was constructed fully by Maharaja Rai Singh. A number of palaces, courtyards, balconies, kiosks and temples inside the fort reflect the breath-taking architectural excellence of Rajasthani style.
However, the influence of Mughal and British styles can be clearly seen as the fort had gone through reformation over the years.
Major Attractions inside the Fort: Bikaneri havelis , Buddhist monuments, temples, Karan Mahal, Chandra Mahal, Ganga Mahal Museum, Phool Mahal, the Karan pole, the Suraj pole, Daulat pol, Har Narayan temple.
8. Amer Fort in Rajasthan
This glorious fort which is situated in the Pink City of Jaipur holds a great significance in Indian history due to its interesting background and unique architectural construction. This fort is believed to be built by Maharaja Man Singh I who was a general during the kingdom of the Mughal emperor Akbar. This is also known as Amber Fort.
This fort built with marble and red sandstone reflects Rajputana style of architecture. Several gates, courtyards, palaces, temples can be found here. The fort is adorned with beautiful motifs of flowers, mosaic glass works and glass paintings.
Major Attractions inside the Fort: Diwan-e-Aam, Sukh Mahal, Sheesh Mahal, Magic Flower, the Ganesh Pol, Jaleb Chowk courtyard, Siladevi Temple, the Suraj Pol, Light and sound show, Elephant ride
Jaigarh Fort is another famous fort in Pink City of Jaipur. This remarkable fort which is known as 'Fort of Victory' is perched on a cliff on Cheel ka Teela hilltop. Sawai Jai Singh II built this fort to protect Amer fort with the help of the famous architecture named Vidhyadhar.
Major Attractions inside the Fort: Kal Bhairav temple, Vilas Mandir, Jaivana Cannon, armory, Aram Mandir, Awani Darwaza.
This famous hill fort which was built by Rao Deva had survived many battles over the years. Miran Syed Hussain Asghar Khangswar who was the governor of Ajmer during the reign of Sultan Shahabuddin Ghori was killed in this fort by the Rajput and Chauhan rulers.
Major Attractions inside the Fort: Lakshmi Pol, Bhim Burj, Garbh Gunjan canon, Chauhan bastion, Rani Mahal, Miran Saheb ki Dargah, Phuta Darwaza, Gagudi ki Phatak
11. Murud Janjira Fort in Maharashtra
This fort is one of the most sought-after destinations for the tourists. This mighty piece of ancient architectural work is located in an island off the coastal village called Murud. According to history, some fishermen first built a fort with wood to protect themselves from pirate attacks and later on this fort was captured by Piram Khan who was a general of Nizam Shahi Sultan to fully construct the fort. It was then named Jazeere Mahroob Jazeera and later on Jazeera, which is a Arabic word which means island.
Major Attractions inside the Fort: Kalal Bangadi canon, Chavri canon, Landa Kasam canon, Durbar Hall, 'Darya Darwaz
12. Panhala Fort in Maharashtra
This famous fort in the famous city Kolhapur is one of the largest forts in southern India. Raja Bhoja constructed this fort initially and later on it was restructured by the Maratha rulers. This fort was once a residence of the famous Maratha warrior Shivaji. Many historical tales of Shivaji are associated with this grand fort of Indo-Islamic style. Various patterns and motifs of a number of dynasties adorn various areas of the fort.
Major Attractions inside the Fort: Rajdindi Bastion, Andhar Bavadi, Ambarkhana, Ambabai temple, Sambhaji temple, Someshwar tank, Nayakini Sajja, Kalavanticha Mahal, The Teen Darwaza, Char Darwaza, Wagh Darwaza
13. Gwalior Fort in Madhya Pradesh
This famous fort in Gwalior is believed to be built by a king named Suraj Sen and named after a sage called Gwalipa who cured the king of Leprosy with some holy water. This fort has a history of being handed over to many famous dynasties like the Mughals, Tomars, and Marathas etc.
One of the most important features of this fort is its three layers of walls each one of them built for a particular purpose. First wall was built to strengthen the foundation, the second to act as a protective barrier and the third one to throw boulders and pour boiling oils on the intruders stuck in the second or third wall.
This glorious piece of history has several temples, palaces and water tanks inside it which give the glimpse of the life of the people in different historical periods. Some amazing architectural styles like North Indian moti, Dravidian style and South Indian temple architecture are prominent in this fort.
Major Attractions inside the Fort: The Man Singh Palace, Gujari Mahal Museum, Man Mandir, Sas-Bahu temple, Elephant Gate, Urvai Gate, the Jahangir, Show of Light and Sound in the amphitheatre
14. Golconda Fort in Hyderabad
This is one of the most famous forts in India which is believed to have preserved the famous Koh- I- Noor diamond once upon a time. This holds a large number of temples, stables, magazines, halls, and gates. This majestic piece of architecture has an incredible historical background.
It was initially built by a Kakatiyan king in order to protect an idol discovered by a shepherd in that region and was named as Golla Konda. Later on, this fort was restructured and expanded during the period of Qutub Shahi and the Mughal Dynasty.
Major Attractions inside the Fort: Fateh Darwaza, Bala Hissar Gate, Light and sound show, the ruins of Rani Mahal,
15. Chitradurga Fort in Karnataka
Chitradurga Fort is one of the most famous forts in South India. This fort which was popularly known as Chitaldoorg is a major tourist destination. It is said that several dynasties like the Chalukyas, Nayakas, Vijaynagars, Hoysalas etc. have done some constructions works to get it to the current form. The history of famous Tipu Sultan and his troops were defeted by the British in this fort.
Major Attractions inside the Fort: Hidimbeshwara temple, water tanks, artillery units.
Famous Palaces to Visit in India
1. City Palace, Udaipur
Rajasthan, largest state of India; is also known for its Rajwadi history. Udaipur City is also famous for Maharana Pratap Singh and his kingdom. City palace located in Udaipur, was Maharana Pratap Singh Ji's birthplace. This City Palace was built around 400 years ago and it was constructed by rulers of mewar dynasty.
The construction of this palace was started by Maharana Udai Singh Ji. This palace is probably the largest palace in Rajasthan. The ambience here stands as the unique feature. It is uniquely built at the top of a hill in Mughal and Rajasthan architectural style.
This palace was also used in Hollywood Movie James Bond film Octopussy. Apart from that,it was also seen in documentary films. And this palace was also filmed during the shoot of bollywood movie, 'Goliyo ki Raas leela-RamLeela' a film by Sanjay Leela Bhansali.
Lake Palace, which was earlier known as Jag Niwas also seeks tourist's attention. This Palace is unique as it is located on an Island of Jag Niwas between Lake Pichola. This palace was constructed around 200 years ago by successor of mewar dynasty. This palace was beautifully built and designed by black and white marbles. The gardens, fountains and pillared terraces in the courtyard are admired by the tourists more. This palace was also seen in number of movies. One of these movies includes James Bond film Octupussy.
3. Jag Mandir Palace, Udaipur
Jag Mandir Palace, another palace located on the same island in between Lake Pichola is also a fascinating and mesmerizing sightseeing and tourist destination. This palace is also known as 'Lake Garden Palace'. This palace carries a long history about the construction and establishment. It was built by successors of mewar dynasty and the credit is shared between 3 successors.
The construction was completed around 300 years ago. This palace was also ruled by Mughals under reign of Emperor shahjahan and Emperor Aurangzeb. The story of Emperor Shahjahan gradually began here. Taj Mahal, one of the world's marvellous monuments and seven wonders was built by getting inspired by this palace.
This palace also stood as symbol of unity between mughals and mewar kingdom. This palace witnessed number of wars throughout between number of kings and emperors in the wake of throne. To Visit Jag Mandir palace and Jag Niwas Palace, tourists are required to take boats.
Jaipur, another prosperous city of Rajasthan and the city palace of Jaipur was built at the time wehn Jaipur was established. The palace was used for ceremonies and administrative purposes since the time of kings and emperors. Number of religious and cultural events took place in this palace. This palace was established by Maharaja Sawai jai singhji around 150 years ago. The way this palace was constructed is unique in its own way. It was constructed in a combination of Rajput and mughal architectural work. This palace have number of places like Chandra mahal, Mubarak Mahal, Shri GovindDev temple and City Palace Museum.
Hawa Mahal of Jaipur, is also a marvellous creation. Hawa mahal was made of red and pink sandstone and is located at the edge of city palace of Jaipur. This palace was constructed built by Maharaja Sawai Pratapsingh in 1799. The structure of this palace is a pyramid shaped monument. Currently the palace is being maintained by archaeological department.
Ram Niwas bagh palace, built by Maharaja Sawai Ram singh in Jaipur is around 150 years old. This historical palace is located in the heart of the city. The most attracting place of this Ram Niwas Bagh is a museum known as Central Museum. This Museum was earlier known as Albert Hall Museum and was constructed in early 20th century.
7. Umaid Bhavan Palace, Jodhpur
Another city of Rajasthan; Jodhpur is known for its Umaid Bhavan Palace. It is known as one of the largest private residencies of world. A part of this palace is managed by group of Taj Hotels. This palace also have a Museum in its complex. This palace was constructed under the rule of Rathore dynasty. The construction of this palace took place with beautiful golden and yellow sandstones, Makrana Marbles and burmese teak wood. This palace is one of the recently constructed palaces of India.
8. Laxmi Vilas Palace, Vadodra
Laxmi Vilas palace is one of the beautiful palace which is located in Vadodra City of Gujarat. This palace was constructed around a century ago. It was built under the reign of Gaekwad family, a maratha family who had their rule in that era. This palace consists of number of houses and buildings, Moti Bagh palace and Maharaja Fateh Singh Museum building.
9. Mysore Palace, Mysore
Mysore a city of Karnataka is well known for its historical palace, Mysore Palace. This palace is one of the famous tourist destinations of India. This city is also known as 'City of Palaces' with 7 palaces in its region. Out of which Mysore palace being the number one and the oldest palaces.
This palace was constructed by Wadiyar dynasty and is located in inner mysore. The construction of this palace was done around 100 years ago. Mysore fort is the second largest tourist destination of India followed by Taj Mahal being the first. The unique feature of this palace is, it was constructed in Hindu, Mughal, Rajput and Gothic architectural combination. The way this palace is consructed fascinates tourists alot.