Witness to a glorious era of kings, queens, palace intrigues, wars and love stories unlike any other, Jaisalmer Fort, continues to enthrall visitors not only with its tales of unbridled heroism, but also with its own unique beauty — a place where time, even today, literally stands still.
The Golden History of Jaisalmer Fort
Its yellow sandstone walls appear tawny with the dappled light of the sun, but at sunset they turn a breathtaking hue of amber — a sight utterly unforgettable. In fact, Satyajit Ray, the noted Bengali film-maker, was deeply inspired by the romantic and enigmatic beauty of the fort: He went on to write and film his most famous detective story, ‘Sonar Kella’ (the golden fort) in and around this fort, in an effort to capture the hard but exquisite natural magic of this land and the proud history of its people.
A Lesson in History
Built in 1156 by the Indian King Rawal Jaisal, the fort is on a site that legend says was chosen on the advice of a wise local hermit. The mystic tells Jaisal that the Hindu deity Lord Krishna had mentioned the spot—and therefore, a fort built there would be almost invisible to the king’s enemies. Indeed, from 30 miles away, visitors see only an inscrutable golden cliff, rising nearly 25 stories from the desert floor. The walls, of rich yellow sandstone unique to Rajasthan’s quarries, shimmer like a mirage.
The Jaisalmer Fort, declared as an UNESCO heritage site, is one of the largest desert forts of the world and the second oldest fort in Rajasthan. The Raj Mahal or the Royal Palace, elaborate Jain Temples, the Laxminath Temple and the four gateways the Ganesh Pol, Suraj Pol, BhootPol, and the Hawa Pol are the main attractions inside the fort.
Locally known as Sonar Quila, rising from the sand, the super structure merges with the golden hues of the desert, where the last rays of the setting sun casts on the fort an ambience of fairy-tales, phantom presences and a magnetic charm.
Three concentric rings of sandstone walls open onto homes, stables and palaces that once housed Rajput kings. In contrast to the plain walls, these bear elaborate designs. Carvings of chariot wheels, fruit and flowers emerge from soft marble. Scalloped archways guard the walkways between buildings. Ornamented screens shade royal apartments.
Jaisalmer Fort or Sonar Quila bears testimony to the golden era of Indian history, even today captivating the imagination of artists and enthralling visitors with the magnificence of its history and the lives still echoing from each of its walls.