Standing majestically on the Aravalli ranges, the forts of Jaipur have attracted admiration from far and wide. They are best known for their remarkable architecture which combines Rajput and Mughal elements. The fortresses reflect the glory of Rajput rulers and the expertise of Indian craftsmen.
Before his beloved Jaipur was established in 1727, Sawai Jai Singh II had ruled his kingdom from the honey-hued Amer Fort located nine kilometers north of the city. The imposing structure leans on a rocky hill slope with views over a peaceful lake and a sprawling town. Though the royal family has moved out since the 18th century, Amber Fort remains one of Jaipur’s principal attractions. It’s also among the few Rajasthan forts that were inscribed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
To enhance security, another citadel – the Jaigarh Fort – was built directly above Amer Fort in 1726. It was named after the Maharaja and features a massive rampart of red sandstone that stretches nearly three kilometers. Meanwhile, Naharghar Fort was a beautiful royal retreat constructed at the summit of a ridge overlooking the city. The walls of this fort extend over verdant hills and connect with Jagarh Fort, forming a defensive ring that embraces today’s Pink City.
1. Amber Fort
With grand entrances, large ramparts, and maze-like passages, Jaipur forts have never failed to impress visitors. But if you only have time to visit one, make it the Amber Fort. Being the former home of the Maharaja of Jaipur, this place displays excellent artistic taste and craftsmanship. Pale yellow and pink sandstone are the main construction material here. White marble has also been used in some places to give the fort a pristine, polished touch.
Amber Fort displays excellent artistic taste and craftmanship.
Like the City Palace, Amber Fort is an outstanding example of Rajput-Mughal architecture. The opulent fortress is laid out in four courtyards, gates, and mind-captivating pavilions. The first two sections are communal areas where victory parades and public audiences are held. Meanwhile, the third and fourth courtyards are the living quarter of the Maharaja, his harem, and the attendants. These areas are accessible only through the Ganesh Gate, which is embellished with a magnificent mosaic of floral designs.
Yet Amber Fort’s most stunning part is the Sheesh Mahal, or Mirror Palace. True to its name, every inch of this former reception hall is inlaid with multiple tiny glass panels. Some are colored, while others are arranged in abstract patterns or flower bouquets. The mirrors have a convex shape, allowing the room to glitter under the candlelight. Here, one can keenly aware of the royal presence. You can easily imagine Maharaja and his consort dining in the marble-floored parlor which brightly glowed like a starry sky.
2. Jaigahr Fort
Translated as the Fort of Victory, Jaigahr Fort is a formidable structure located on a peak of the Aravalli ranges. It was constructed in 1726 to protect Amber Fort and served as the royal treasury for the erstwhile royals of Jaipur. The fort features massive walls of red sandstone which run to about three kilometers. Dotted along them are watch towers with stunning views of the palaces below and the surrounding sylvan valleys.
Jaigahr Fort is also known for its structural design. There are granaries, water reserves, storage systems, and even a foundry within the compound, reflecting the self-sufficiency of this place. The fort also houses the Jaivana which was thought to be the world’s biggest cannon on wheels at the time. Though its effectiveness is questionable, the huge gun is a sight to be held.
3. Nahargarh Fort
Perching on the edge of verdant hills, Nahargarh Fort is another layer of defense built by Sawai Jai Singh II in 1734. At the impressive height of 700 meters, it undisputedly provides the best view of the Pink City. During the course of its history, the fort never came under attack. Yet it witnessed a few historical events, notably, the treaties with the Maratha forces who invaded Jaipur in the 18th century.
Nahargarh Fort also served as a summer retreat for the regal women. It contains twelve identical two-story suites that are arranged around a rectangular courtyard. Each is furnished with gorgeous frescoes and linked to the chamber of the Maharaja located directly opposite the main entrance. Though the architecture clearly displays Rajput heritage, several elements are borrowed from the West, including fireplaces, casements, and European-styled lavatories.
Tips for visiting Jaipur Forts
- Being the most famous fort in Jaipur, Amber Fort should be visited as early as possible. It’s recommended to go straight to the Ganesh Gate and the Sheesh Mahal because these places get really crowded as the day goes on. Other sections can be explored at a more leisurely pace.
- It’s possible to reach the Amber Fort by golf carts, taxis, or jeeps. Another alternative is walking uphill if you are fit and the weather is pleasant. I strongly advise against elephant riding because this causes permanent injuries to the animal.
- Admission to Amber Fort and Nahargarh Fort is included in the Composite Ticket (1000₹) which is purchasable at most major attractions. Jaigarh Fort, on the other hand, requires another ticket that cost an extra 100₹. If you intend to visit the City Palace, a Composite Ticket (700₹) is a more convenient option.
- Jaigarh Fort and Nahargarh Fort stand on the same hill range. Therefore, it would be wise to visit these two on the same day.
- An official guide is recommended as there is little information on the sites. Please be aware that security staff occasionally “morph” into a guide and ask for tips at the end of the unexpected tour.