Junagarh fort in Bikaner, Rajasthan is one of the most impressive forts in the Northern region of India. Till date, Junagarh Fort has remained strong and unconquered. Junagarh fort was initially called as ‘Chintamani’. However, in the first half of 20th century, the fort was renamed as Junagarh or “Old Fort” when the ruling folks moved to Lalgarh Palace that is placed outside the fort boundaries. Junagarh fort is one of the few most important forts in Rajasthan which is not constructed on the top of a hill. The contemporary conurbation of Bikaner has grown around the fort later on. Basically, there are 37 strongholds secluding the fort with only 2 main gates as the entrance trail to the fort in which the main one being the “Suraj Pol or Sun Gate”. The Junagarh Fort still remains unconquered with the exception of the short conquest of Kamaran. However, he was not able to keep hold of his victory more than a day. Within Junagarh fort, one can find an abundance of 37 palaces, shrines and pavilions that are spectacles built in red sandstone edifice. The wonderful palaces of the fort possess gracefully engraved balconies, windows, kiosks and towers.
History of Junagarh fort:
Prior to the construction of the existing Junagarh Fort, there existed an old stone fort that was established by Rao Bika in 1478. He previously found the Bikaner city in 1472. Rao Bika was the 2nd son of Maharaja Rao Jodha, the founder of Jodhpur city. He occupied the huge barren regions to the northern area of Rajasthan to establish his province. Later, he resigned and decided to construct his own realm at Bikaner in a place that was later known as “Jungladesh”. Bikaner, even though a part of the Thar Desert to a certain extent was well thought-out to be a refuge on the business trail between the Gujarat coast and Central Asia since it had sufficient spring water sources. Thus, Bikaner was named after Rao Bika and was consequently tagged to the state of Bikaner (“the resolution of Bika”) that he found. The account of Bikaner and Junagarh fort within Bikaner thus began with Bika. After 100 years, the wealth of Bikaner thrived under the rule of Raja Rai Singhji, the 6th emperor of Bikaner who ruled the state from 1571-1611.
At the time of Mughal monarch’s decree in India, Raja Rai Singhji established the suzerainty of Mughals and conducted a superior arrangement of an army general in the courtyard of King Akbar and his son Jahangir. His victorious war won half of the Mewar sovereignty and acquired honor and rewards from mighty Mughal rulers. Raja Rai Singhji obtained the lands (jagirs) of Gujarat and Burhanpur as gifts. Using the huge incomes that he got from these lnads, he was able to constuct the Junagarh fort on a basic land, which has a standard altitude of 760 feet (230 m). The official foundation ritual for Junagarh fort was conducted on 17the of February, 1589. The construction of the fort was completed on 17 January 1594. In spite of being a skilled person in arts & architecture, Raja Rai Singhji also used the knowledge that he obtained during a number of sojourns to reflect in the plentiful monuments he constructed within the Junagarh fort. As a result, the Junagarh fort, a complex edifice turned out to be a stupendous illustration of architecture and an exceptional hub of art, in the midst of the great Thar Desert.
Edifice of Junagarh Fort
The Junagarh Fort is one of the optimum and sturdy forts in the desert area. Out of the nonexistence of other likely brawny forts, Junagarh fort was established in the sandy plains with appropriate self-protective blockades and walls. The Junagarh fort mirrors the architectural design both Rajput style of the sixteenth century along with the impact of the Gujarati & Mughal structural designs. The vital appearance and splendid post medieval edifice, the Junagarh Fort has the supreme polished work of uncommonness, dazzling to splendid history.
The Junagarh Fort has a quadrangular boundary of 1078 yards equipped by 14.50 broad and 40 feet tall well-built wall. It also possesses 37 bastions (Burj) and 2 entrances, the Chand Parole in west and the Karan Parole in east. The Karan Parole is guraded by 4 gates and Chand Parole by 2 gates. These gates are fixed firmly with iron gratings that are thorny and sharp pointed, which, traditionally, were intended as a faltering obstruction for the powerful rival elephants. The overall fort area is about 1,63,119 sq. yards. The fort has 20-25 feet profound moat which is 15 feet broad at the bottom & 30 feet wide at the crown.
Since Junagarh Fort is an effect of construction activities of 16 successive generations of the Bikaner emperors, it has traditional monuments and admirable objects of art, for instance the emblematic hand prints of ‘sati', the 7 momentous Parole (gates), 9 eye-catching temples, small temples of different deities, 4 strong wells, 3 stunning gardens, post medieval garrisons, an ancient Jail, and weapon store stones in the lower floor. The noteworthy are the ancient palaces, with their pillars and porches, terraces and corridors, gates and doors that were included from time to time. Even though they are completely festooned, the palaces mirror an ideal taste of consecutive emperors who constructed them. The palaces that belong to various periods, related to olden times, the ancient palaces give the kiss of life to the occasions and magnificence of Bikaner city.
- Karan Mahal (the community Audience chamber) : This palace was estbalished by Karan Singh in the year 1680 to celebrate his triumph over the Mughal ruler Aurangzeb. This palace is well thought-out to be one of the most beautiful palaces constructed with gardens, which exemplifies the artistic sensibilities of the crowned heads of Rajasthan. The palace also possesses tainted glass windows and complexly engraved galleries that were consturcted in wood fluted columns and stones.
- Chandra Mahal : Chandra Mahal has a most well-appointed room in the fortress. This room dwells gold plated divinities and portraits created by using precious stones.
- Phool Mahal (Flower Palace) : Phool Mahal is the flower palace that was established by Raja Rai Singh of Bikaner. He ruled somewhere between 1571 and 1668.
- Anup Mahal : Anup Mahal is a multi-storey construction, which served once as the governmental center of operations of the realm. This palace has over-elaborated wooden ceilings along with Italian tiles, superb lattice windows & galleries and inlaid mirrors. In addition, it has a few gold leaf paintings as well and is measured as one of the “splendid edifice”.
- Badal Mahal (The weather palace) : Badal Mahal is a fraction of the Anup Mahal additions. This palace has images of “Shekhawati Dundlod” heads in various types of turbans honoring the Bianer Maharaja. The walls of this palace portray mural paintings of the Hindu deity Krishna and his companion Radha in the middle of rain clouds.
- Ganga Mahal : Ganga Mahal, built in the 20th century by Ganga Singh has a huge durbar hall referred as the Ganga Singh Hall that dwells the Museum. The museum has showcases war armaments along with a well-preserved World War I biplane.
- Havelis of Bikaneri : The Havelis of Bikaner placed both inside and outside the fort in the side streets of Bikaner city are also constructed with exclusive architectural design. These Havelis are considered as the Wealth of Bikaner city