The forts in Rajasthan defined royalty and power in the yesteryears, today the shine must have lost, and the embellishments must have faded away, but the ruins of the fort still create a colossal impact in the minds of the visitors. The Ranthambore fort like the others stands out for its distinctive history and architecture standing tall amongst the wildlife.
The Ranthambore fort with 5 other forts was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2013, as part of a group of six hill forts in Rajasthan.
Though the exact origin of the fort lies undiscovered, it is widely believed that the construction started under the reign of Chauhan Rajput King Sapaldaksha however the name remains disputed. Nevertheless locals confirm that the construction began in the middle of the 10th century. Illtumish had captured the fort in 1226 but the Chauhans successfully took it back after his death. The fort saw its golden years under the reign of the Raja Hammir Singh (1282-1301). In 1300 Alauddin Khilji tried to conquer the fort but conquered it on the third time after remaining unsuccessful twice.
The fort changed hands many times with powerful rulers taking it under control. In 1568, Akbar lead a massive attack and after a month-long siege conquered the fort which remained with the Mughals as a residence and then as a prison till the 18th century. The fort finally rested with Kachwahas of Jaipur a few centuries later.
The Ranthambore national park once was the hunting ground for the kings and boasts abundant flora and fauna. The fort stands atop on a 700-foot high hill, spread across 7 km in circumference and is enclosed by walls and bastions acting as a primary defense for this strategically planned fort. Ranthambore fort also promises some of the best views that grow majestically green and breathtaking as the elevation rises.
The ruins of the fort include palaces like Dullah Mahal, Hammir Court, 32 Pillared Chhattri along with many other architectural marvels like war memorials and various other monuments. The Ranthambore fort is a fine example of a forest fort and also has many gateways like Navlakha pol, Hathia pol, Ganesh pol, Andheri pol, Sat pol, Suraj pol with variations in architecture in each gateway.
There are three Hindu temples dedicated to Ganesh, Shiva and Rama and there is also a Jain temple of Lord Sumatinath and Lord Sambhavanath constructed in 12th and 13th centuries from red Karauli stone which was also a pilgrimage for many devotees. Out of these the Trinetra Ganesh Temple is the most prominent and is believed to be the oldest Ganesh temple in Rajasthan.
Though one has to climb up 600 odd steps, the Ranthambore fort lives upto its glory and charm making it worth every step.
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