About Junagarh Fort
The mighty impressive Junagarh Fort in Bikaner is one of those forts in Rajasthan that stand proudly to tell the tale of its invincibility. Turn a page in the Rajasthan History book to know that barring a brief period of around 24 hours when Kamaran managed to usurp the throne, the Junagarh Fort remained practically unconquered throughout. This laurel is definitely no mean feat considering the fact that it was built in an era when the Rajput rulers frequently got entangled in a bloody battle either amongst themselves or with an outsider.
As for the construction of the fort, it was built between 1588 and 1593 by the Rajput ruler of Bikaner, Rai Singh. Rai Singh also happened to be one of the close confidante and most competent Generals of the great Mughal king, Akbar. As the General of a huge army, Raja Rai Singh represented Akbar in many wars at different places. Apart from this, Rai Singh travelled for various other purposes as well. This gave him a comprehensive idea of the outer world and its varying exisiting art & architecture. All these learnings and ideas were utilised to the maximum when Rai Singh ordered the construction of the Junagarh Fort.
Also, the fact that the fort was never ever conquered by an invading army guaranteed that the ownership constantly remained with the Rajput rulers. This enabled the subsequent rulers of the clan to carry out renovation and restructuring work as and when required. Further additions to the fort were also made continuously.
Today, the fort is one of the most prominent attractions of the state of Rajasthan and its city Bikaner. For visitors, the fort presents the skills of the Rajputs in art and architecture as well as their story of courage and sacrifice. There is also a museum in the fort that reposits the antiques dating back to the Rajput and the Mughal era.
Inside the Fort
Protected by a high wall and deep moat, the fort has 37 bastion guard and two entrances, the Suraj Pol or the Sun Gate and the Karan Pol . The Karan Pol is crossed first to reach the second gate. Inside the fort, plenitude of palaces, temples and pavilions command an appreciative glance from the visitors. The palaces built of red sandstone and white marble, specially, are the highlight of the fort. One of the most prominent palace in the fort premises is the Chandra Mahal or the Moon Palace. It is spectacular with its carved marble panels, mirrors and paintings. The Phool Mahal or the Flower Palace too is adorned with glasses and mirrors.
The Anup Mahal is another worthwhile attraction in the Junagarh Fort. It is a multi storeyed building that once served as a governance chamber for the rulers. Today, the palace displays the treasures of the royal family. The walls of the rooms are beautifully decorated with lacquer work of red and gold as well as inlay work in glass. White plaster pillars ornated with gold leaf are instant eye catcher in the Anup Mahal.
Badal Mahal or the Palace on Clouds, through its fresco paintings, narrate the story of Krishna and Radha during rains.
Other palaces in the fort complex include the Karan Mahal, Ganga Niwas, Dungar Niwas, Vijai Mahal , and the Rang Mahal . All these palaces are not only a visual treat for the visitors, rather they have a historical significance attached to them individually as well. For instance, the Karan Mahal is the same palace which was built to commemorate the victory of Rajputs over Aurangzeb.
Amongst the temples, Har Mandir is the most important and beautiful. The royal family worshipped their gods and goddesses here for long.
The fort museum has a wide assortment of illuminated manuscripts, jewellery, jars and carpets, arms and weapons, treaties, decorations and the 'Farmans'.