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UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Rajasthan


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UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Rajasthan

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization is a specialized agency of the United Nations (UNESCO) whose purpose is to contribute to peace and security by promoting international collaboration through education, science, and culture in order to further universal respect for justice, the rule of law and human rights along with fundamental freedom proclaimed in the UN Charter.

A UNESCO World Heritage site is a place listed by UNESCO of special cultural or physical significance. The place can be a forest, lake, mountain, island, monument, building, desert, complex or city. The list of World Heritage sites is maintained by the international World Heritage Programme administered by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee. As of 2014 there are 1007 sites listed out of which 32 are in India.

Rajasthan is a state with formidable forts and monuments that stand tall to narrate stories of heroism and patriotism of various Rajput rulers of ancient times. It is a culturally rich city with varied wildlife, historical buildings, desert saris, and folk music.

Hill Forts of Rajasthan

Six hill forts of Rajasthan have received the status of world heritage sites as per UNESCO in June 2013. Hill Forts are sites located on rocky tops of the Aravalli mountain range in the state of Rajasthan. These forts typically depict the style of Rajput military hill warfare. It is characterized by utilizing the defensive natural properties of the terrain like mountain peaks, dense forests, lakes, and deserts. Thus, the Rajputs are are known for their defensive architecture. They cover large territories and even he entire tvillages in walled compounds.The Hill  Forts are a fine example of the Rajput architecture and grandeur. They attract thousands of tourists, both domestic and international each year.

The following 6 hill forts have been declared as world heritage sites in Rajasthan.

Chittorgarh Fort

Hill Forts of Rajasthan
(Flickr Source: Soumitra2006)

Chittorgarh Fort is the largest fort of the country in terms of area. One of the most opulent and magnificent forts of the state of Rajasthan, Chittorgarh Fort talks about the colorful history and traditions of the area. It is believed that the fort was built by Mauryans in 7the century.

Chittorgarh Fort
(Source Flickr  ganuullu)

It is situated south of Bhilwara town. It sprawls over a hill 180 m (590.6 ft.) in height and is spread over an area of 280 hectares (691.9 acres) above the plains of the valley drained by the Berach River. The fort houses several palaces, temples, gates and two main memorial towers. It has a circumference of 13 km (8.1 mi) with a maximum width of 3 km (1.9 mi) and it covers an area of 700 acres. The fort has a total of seven gates (called pols in the local language) - Padan Pol, Bhairon Pol, Hanuman Pol, Ganesh Pol, Jodla Pol, Laxman Pol and the main gate named the Ram Pol (Lord Rama's Gate). Apart from the main fort there are various other significant structures – the Mira Bai Temple, the Kumbha Shyam Temple, the Shringar Chauri Temple, the Adi Varah Temple, Gaumukh reservoir, Padmini’s Palace and the Vijay Stambh memorial in the fort complex itself.

Vijay Stambh in Chittorgarh Fort
(Source: Flickr The.Rohit)

Nearest Railway Station – Chittorgarh junction
Nearest Airport – Udaipur at a distance of 70km 

Jaisalmer Fort

Hill Forts of Rajasthan
(Source Flickr Tito Perez)

One of the largest fortifications of the world is Jaisalmer Fort in Jaisalmer city. It was built by Rawal Jaiswal in 1156 AD. The mighty fort stands strong amidst the sand dunes of Thar desert and has witnessed many wars. Made from yellow sand stone, the fort depicts the magnificence of the Rajput kings. It camouflages with the yellow stretches of the desert and this is the reason that the fort is also referred to as Golden Fort or Sonar Quila. Located in the heart of Jaisalmer city, it has become the unique identity of the city. 

Each year many tourists visit this beautiful fort and witness the grandeur of past era. The major attractions of the fort include – 4 major gates, Raj Mahal (the royal palace), Lakshminath temple and various hawelis. 

Nearest Railway Station – Jaisalmer junction, just 1 km from the fort
Nearest Airport – Jodhpur airport, 285 Km

Kumbalgarh Fort

UNESCO World Heriage Sites in Rajasthan
(Source: Flickr Amit Rawat)

Kumbhalgarh Fort is a Mewar fortress in the Rajsamand district in Rajasthan. It is listed as a World Heritage Site as per UNESCO. One of the most beautiful forts of the state, the fort has the second largest wall after Great Wall of China. Kumbalgarh is situated 82 km northwest of Udaipur by road. It is the most important fort in Mewar after Chittorgarh. The fort was built in the 15th century by Maharana Kumbha. It is also the birthplace of the mighty warrior and great king of Mewar – Maharana Pratap. The main gate of the fortress, Hanuman Pol, contains a shrine and a temple too.

Hill Forts of Rajasthan
(Source: Flickr Tushar Dayal)

The fort is built on a hilltop at a height of 1100 meters above sea level. The perimeter wall of the for extends over 36 km. There are more than 360 temples out of which 300 are Jain temples and the rest are Hindu temples. Since the fort is situated on a hilltop, it overlooks the expansive Kumbalgarh Wildlife Sanctuary. Visiting the fort at dusk is a must. As the sun sets the entire boundary wall of the fort is lit up and it is a sight that you need to witness!

Nearest Railway Station – Kankroli Junction at a distance of 34 km
Nearest Airport – Udaipur at a distance of 66km

Amber Fort

UNESCO World Heritage Sites
(Source: Flickr Rajesh)

Think about Rajasthan and you are bound to talk about Amber Fort or Amer Fort as it is locally called. It can be rightly said that Amber Fort has become a unique identity of the state and the capital city, Jaipur. Situated in a small town called Amer, just 11 km from Jaipur, Amber Fort is one of the most popular tourist destinations of Jaipur. Located high on a hill, it was built by Raja Man Singh I in 1592. It is hult in marble and red sandstone. Although the fort was built centuries ago and has a rugged exterior, but the interiors are still very beautiful. The intricate carvings and detailing talk about the fine architecture and grandeur of Rajput kings.

Since the fort was home to Rajputs for a large number of years, it has strong elements of their culture and traditions. In addition to that, it was also has a prevalent Muslim influence.  The fort overlooks the Maotal Lake. A large number of both domestic as well as foreign tourists visit the fort each year. Considering the steep climb from the entrance to the main fort, a lot of travelers prefer riding on an elephant which is one of the most popular mode of transport within the fort.

Amer Fort
(Source: Flickr  Daniel Mennerich)

The Palace is divided into four main sections each with a separate gate and courtyard. 'Diwan-i-Aam', the 'Sheesh Mahal' and  the 'Sukh Mahal' are the most beautiful parts of the fort. The other important attractions of the fort are the 'Shila Devi' Temple and the 'Ganesh Pol' which is a gate leading to the private palaces of the kings. Another famous attraction of the fort is the 'Magic Flower', a fresco carved out of marble.

Visiting hours – 9:00 am to 4:30 pm daily (except on Holi festival)
Nearest Railway Station – Jaipur
Nearest Airport – Jaipur

Ranthambore Fort

Ranthambore Fort situated near Swai Madhopur town near Ranthambore National Park is one of the six Hill Forts of Rajasthan designated as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

UNESCO world heritage sites

The fort is a representation of the strong history of the bye-gone era. This architectural marvel tells a tale of its own. The fort has three Hindu temples dedicated to Lord Shiva, Lord Ganesha, and Lord Ramlalji. It is believed that they were built way back in 12th and 13th century. The fort also has a Jain temple dedicated to Lord Sumatinath (5th Jain Tirthankar) and Lord Sambhavanath.

UNESCO world heritage sites

It is one of most visited places in the Ranthambore National Park. The fort stands on top of a hill and overlooks the entire park.

Nearest Railway Station – Sawai Madhopur at a distance of 11 km from Ranthambore National Park
Nearest Airport – Jaipur at a distance of about 145 km

Gagron Fort

Last but certainly not the least, Gagron Fort is the sixth hill fort that has been enlisted in the UNESCO world heritage list.

UNESCO world heritage sites

The fort is situated in Jhalawar District of Rajasthan which is a part of the Hadoti circuit. It is a fine example of hill and water fort and is known for its magnificent architecture. It is surrounded by forests and the Mukundara mountain ranges are present at the rear end of Gagron fort. A Dargah or mosque of Sufi Saint Mittheshah can be also be found outside the fort. Each year a major fair is held in the vicinity on the occasion of Moharram.

Nearest Railway Station – Jhalawar City Junction at a distance of 2 km

Keoladeo National Park

Keoladeo National Park which was formerly known as Bharatpur Wildlife Sanctuary is one of the most famous national parks of the country. It is a man made and man managed national park. The park is located 2 km south east of Bharatpur and is famous for various species of birds and reptiles. Extending over 2783 hectares the National Park has woodlands, dry grasslands, swamps and wetlands. The park is home to 50 species of fish, 379 floral species, 366 bird species, 13 species of snakes, 7 amphibian  and turtle species, 5 species of lizards, and a variety of other invertebrates.

UNESCO world heritage sites

The Sanctuary which is one of the richest bird areas of the world receives thousands of waterfowl  every year during winters who migrate for breeding. It was declared a national park in 1982 and was inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage.

Nearest Railway Station – Bharatpur Junction at just 5 km
Nearest Airport – Jaipur (176 km) and Delhi (184 km)

Jantar Mantar - Jaipur

Jantar Mantar
(Source: Flickr McKay Savage)

Popularly known as the ‘Pink City’, Jaipur has its own unique charm. Be it the architectural opulence or the mouthwatering delicacies, Jaipur is one of the most famous tourist destinations of the state of Rajasthan. The Jantar Mantar in Jaipur is a collection of architectural astronomical instruments. It was built by Maharaja Jai Singh II between the year 1727 and 1734. The name is derived from ‘jantar’ which means instrument and ‘mantar’ which means formula. Therefore Jantar Mantra means ‘calculation instrument’.

Experts say that the Jantar Mantar of Jaipur is modeled after the one that he had built in Delhi (the Mughal capital at that time). It is said that similar structures were built at five different locations. But the Jaipur observatory is the largest and best preserved out of these. It has a set of about 20 main fixed instruments built in masonry.

Jnatar Mantar
(Source: Flickr  Kirk Kittell)

Built from stone and marble that were locally bought, each instrument has an astronomical scale, marked on the inner lining of the marble. It has been inscribed as cultural property on the UNESCO World Heritage List as "an expression of the astronomical skills and cosmological concepts of the court of a scholarly prince at the end of the Mughal period."

Visiting Hours – 9:00 am to 4:30 pm, everyday

Have you visited any of these UNESCO World Heritage sites in Rajasthan? Have you clicked a picture of any of the forts or your camera lenses caught the sight of a rare bird in Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary? Share your experiences and photos with us right here!

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