It was a sight to behold! The sky was painted red over the beautiful pink city. The sparkling lights of the city gradually lit up the whole ground. And I could spot the tourist places that I visited a day before. It was like getting a complete panoramic view of Jaipur from the Nahargarh fort before bidding the final adieu.
Standing on the edge of the fort during sunset, I couldn’t have asked for a more mesmerizing view.
I visited Jaipur for a short two-day trip. I covered most of the main city tourist attractions on day one. Then on day two, I covered the three forts in Jaipur- the Amer, Jaigarh and Nahargarh forts. Although not as grand as the Amer Fort, the Nahargarh fort has its own charm. So let us delve deeper and find out why you should definitely visit the Nahargarh fort while in Jaipur.
A Visit to the Past – brief history of the Nahargarh Fort
The magical thing about the forts of Jaipur is the history associated with them. And while listening to the history of the Nahargarh Fort I was immediately transported to the good old days.
Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II, the founder of Jaipur, built the Nahargarh Fort in 1734. The original name of the Fort was Sudarshangarh Fort. The fort connects to the Jaigarh fort by its tremendous walls. The Maharaja built the fort as part of the defence system for Jaipur. Since it sits atop the Aravallis and gives a clear view of the city, one could have spotted an intruder army coming into the city from this fort. Although there was never any attack on the fort, it did witness some important historical events. The Rulers of Jaipur and the Marathas signed their treaty in this fort in the 18th century. Also, during the Sepoy Mutiny of 1857, the Maharaja of Jaipur allowed many Europeans, including the wife of the British resident, to take refuge in this fort.
By 1868, the fort was in ruins, when Maharaja Sawai Ram Singh renovated and extended it. Later Maharaja Sawai Madho Singh decided to make a luxury fortress, known as Madhavendra Bhawan within the fort. It was like a luxury resort and a hunting lodge for the royals. I also learnt that up until 1944, a gunshot was fired from the fort as the time signal from the solar time reading in the Jantar Mantar Observatory.
Origin of the name ‘Nahargarh’: From tigers or a spirit?
There is a debate regarding the origin of the name ‘ Nahargarh’.
Some say that the name ‘ Nahargarh’ means the ‘abode of tigers’ since in the early days’ tigers used to roam the hills surrounding the fort. However, legend has it that the spirit of the Rathore Prince Nahar Singh Bhomia haunted the fort and obstructed its construction. To pacify the spirit, the Maharaja built a temple in his honour. And then the spirit allowed the construction to go on smoothly. Hence, some think that the fort takes its name after the Rathore Prince. Quite spooky, isn’t it?
The Nahargarh Fort- an architectural masterpiece
When you first enter the fort, you are bound to marvel at its architecture.
The Madhavendra Bhawan is the major architectural attraction of the fort and was the luxury resort for the Royals. You can easily see the Indo-European architectural style of the Bhawan, with its interiors superbly decorated with stucco patterns, frescos and enchanting murals. The Bhawan features one grand suite at the head for the king and twelve identical apartments for his Queens. A verandah, kitchen, courtyard and toilet was present in each apartment. A long corridor named ‘Raja ka Galiyara’ or the ‘King’s lane’ connected the king’s room to all the other rooms. Also, if the Maharaja visited one queen, the others would not come to know about it, due to the design of the apartments. Walking through the corridors, adoring the beautiful architecture and interior decorations, I wished that I was born in that era.
The fort also has an open enclosure called the Diwan-I-Am, where the King would meet with his subjects who had come to communicate their grievances.
What to see while in the Nahargarh Fort?
As mentioned earlier, the Madhavendra Bhawan is one of the main attractions of the fort. If you are into architecture, you will definitely marvel at the European-Rajput mix style, the corridors and the intricate minakari designs. It will feel like you are back in the grand old days of our royals and relish in its allure.
Other than the Madhavendra Bhawan, the fort also houses several other tourist attractions. The fort looks really beautiful after sunset with the floodlights on. Jaipur looks surreal from here and you can also get a great view of the Man Sagar Lake. For me, this was the best part. Also, it is relatively less crowded than the other two forts in Jaipur and offers a calm ambience while you enjoy the fort and the view.
The left of the fort has an entrance gate with temples dedicated to the Jaipur monarchs and also to the Rathore Prince Nahar Singh Bhomia, the ‘spirit’ of Nahargarh. Also, if you are a movie buff, then do not miss the ‘Bawdi’ at the back of the fort. A bawdi consists of a huge flight of stairs leading to a small lake at the bottom. This Bawdi is famous for the shooting of ‘Rang De Basanti’.
Inside the fort premises also lies a wax museum, glasshouse or Sheesh Mahal and a sculpture park. The wax museum has life-like statues of many eminent personalities from our freedom struggle, politics, sports, movies and the Jaipur royals. Next to the museum lies the Sheesh Mahal or glasshouse. It is built using around 25 million pieces of glass and looks magnificent. Even its floor is made of glass! Also, there is an exhibit of great sculptures from eminent artists in the sculpture park inside the Madhavendra Palace. Furthermore, there is a Nahargarh Biological Park nearby, which you can visit while visiting the fort.
Tidbits about the Nahargarh Fort
How to reach
The fort is approximately 20 km from the city railway station and bus stand. So you can hire a cab or take a private vehicle from Jaipur since they are allowed to come up to the ticket counter. You can also book an auto if the driver accepts to take you to the fort’s entrance. I and my friend took the option of booking a cab from Jaipur and visited the fort.
The fort is open on all days of the week from 10 am to 5:30 pm. The entry fees are Rs 50 for Indian nationals and Rs 200 for Foreign Nationals. The Wax museum and Sheesh Mahal has a separate entry fee, which you can enquire at the ticket counter.
Best time to visit
If you want to avoid the scorching heat as well as get a clear view of Jaipur from the top, I think that the best time to visit Nahargarh Fort, and Jaipur in general, is in the winter months of October to March. I visited in February, and although it was quite sunny, you can comfortably move around with a hat or an umbrella. You can visit during the monsoon as well when the heat is a bit less, but then you might miss the view of Jaipur city from up here.
The Nahargarh Fort is appealing not only because of its history and architecture but also because of the view and ambience. And the Fort is definitely a treat to all the shutterbugs out there. So, if you are travelling to Jaipur, do not give this beautiful fort a miss!