It is said that the city of Troy rose from the ashes several times that it was destroyed, and each time, the fort would be built on top of the previous and now declined fort. Claimed to be build by the Gods, Apollo and Poseidon, this fort is a legendary example of divine craftsmanship and impenetrable structure. But did you know that our country boasts of such fort too? Though not having any divine connection or origin, this fort in the Indian state of Rajasthan seems to have sprung up from the sandy expanse of the Thar Desert. Jaisalmer fort, built of yellow sandstone and surrounded by impassable walls emits a tawny lion color during the day and fades to honey gold as the sun sets, thus camouflaged in the yellow desert. For this reason, it is also known as the Sonar Quila or Golden Fort. It gained worldwide recognition and fame when the Bengali film-maker honored this site by including it in his detective novel, later directed into a movie, Sonar Kella.
Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site under the group Hill Forts of Rajasthan in 2013, the Jaisalmer fort was built by Rawal Jaisal in 1156 AD and is one of the oldest forts in Rajasthan, still standing proud as a witness to bygone days of glory and honour of its rulers. In 1276, King Jetsi strengthened the fort against the invading Sultan of Delhi. The 56 bastions were manned by 3,700 soldiers. After eight years of invasion, the powerful ruler, Ala-ud-din Khilji, assaulted and captured Jaisalmer fort. He had the fort under his control for about 9 years. The brave Rajput women committed “Jauhar” at some stage in the blockade of Jaisalmer fort. The 2nd skirmish at the fort occurred in the year 1541, when Humayun, the Mughal monarch, assaulted the fort. The Rawals could not stand the invasion of Mughal emperor, Babur either and subsequently seeded to Akbar in 1570 and also got a daughter married to him. The fort was under the control of Mughals until 1762 when Maharawal Mulraj took control of the fort. Due to its isolated location, the fort escaped the ravages of the Marathas. The treaty between the East India Company and Mulraj on 12 December 1818 allowed the king to have succession of the fort and provided protection from invasion.
Talking of invasion, the Jaisalmer fort encloses 3 layers of walls, making it a most difficult task for the invaders to break through it into the interiors. The exterior walls are built with solid stone blocks and it strengthens the movable debris of Trikuta Hill. The 2nd wall twists around the fort. Once, from the innermost or third wall, the Rajput soldiers threw hot water and oil together with massive chunks of rock at the invaders, who got trapped between the 2nd and 3rd walls. Also military protections of the fort consist of 99 bastions. 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.
Throughout the medieval periods, Jaisalmer played a key role in business with Arabia, Persia, Africa and Egypt. Placed strategically on the trade route, ancient caravans passed Jaisalmer fort en-route, passing all the riches for the prosperity to an otherwise non-resourceful kingdom. During the arrival of British Empire, the materialization of marine business and the development of the Bombay port led to slow but sure economic turn down of Jaisalmer city. After India got independence and got separated, the hitherto primeval business pathway was completely blocked. As a consequence, the destiny of the city got shut. Now, as an ideal and beautiful tourist spot, the city has begun to gain back its lost glory.
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.