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15 Best Forts In India That You Must Visit

A subcontinent filled with riches and innumerable natural blessings, India has always been a desirable land for conquerors and invaders. From the ancient Aryan hordes, from Alexander the Great and the Turko-Afghans to the Mughals and modern European empires, India has seen a series of wars and conquests.

India’s towering forts and opulent palaces, which attract tens of millions of visitors every year, dot the landscape of this magnificent country.

Here is a list of the top 15 forts and palaces in India that you must visit.

Red Fort, Delhi

The magnificent fortified residence of the Mughal emperor of India, Delhi’s Lal Qila (Red Fort) is one of the capital’s proudest historical attractions.

This imposing red stone fortress, 76 feet tall, was built in the mid-17th century by Emperor Shahjahan (the man who also commissioned the Taj Mahal). UNESCO declared the Red Fort a World Heritage Site in 2007. The Red Fort in Delhi replaced the Red Fort in Agra as the headquarters of the empire in 1650.

Inside this magnificent fort are several palaces, entertainment halls, geometric gardens, a mosque, the Diwan-I-Am (Public Audience Hall) with its 60 pillars and the Diwan-e-Khaas (Audience Hall private).

Lal Qila in Delhi is a must visit place in India.

City Palace, Jaipur

The City Palace is to Jaipur what the Lal Qila (Red Fort) is to Delhi – the headquarters and residence of the Maharaja of the former Kingdom Jaipur.

Considered the finest example of a blend of Indo-Saracenic and Rajasthani architectural styles, the opulent palace was built in the 1720s by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II. It remained the administrative seat of the kingdom until India’s independence in 1947.

Today, the City Palace complex is one of the city’s main tourist attractions and houses the Sawai Man Singh II Museum, many other mini-palaces (Chandra Mahal, Pritam Niwas, Mubarak Mahal and Maharani Palace), several galleries and restaurants. The royal family still lives in part of the complex.

The City Palace is an absolute must in the “Pink City”.

Amber Fort, Jaipur

The small city of Amber (also Amer) was the capital of the Kachhwaha Rajput kingdom (later popularly known as the Jaipur kingdom). Located about 11 kilometers from Jaipur, Amer was abandoned by the Maharaja due to rapid population growth and water scarcity.

Amber Fort, located atop Amber Hill and overlooking Lake Maota, is a magnificent remnant of a once-glorious center of the kingdom. Unlike the City Palace, the Amber Fort is a spectacle of pristine Rajasthani architecture with grand courtyards, pavilions, mini-palaces, audience halls and ornate temples dotting the grounds.

Agra Fort, Agra

If you thought Agra was all about the Taj Mahal, you’re in for a pleasant surprise. The Lal Qila (Red Fort) in Agra dates back to the Lodhi dynasty (1504-1526), replaced in India by the Mughals.

The Red Fort was renovated and expanded by the MuTaj Falaknuma (“Like Heaven” or “Mirror of Heaven”) was built in 1890 by the ruling family, the Nizams of Hyderabad.ghal emperors Babur, Humayun and Akbar. Located a mile and a half from the Taj Mahal, the Red Fort is spread across 94 acres on the Yamuna River. It is 21 meters tall. UNESCO declared it a World Heritage Site in 1984.

The fort is a mix of Central Asian, Persian and Indian architectural influences. It houses the Sheesh Mahal (Palace of Mirrors), the Moti Masjid (Pearl Mosque) and the Diwan-i-Khas (private audience hall) and offers a magnificent vantage point for viewing the Taj Mahal.

Taj Falaknuma Palace, Hyderabad, Telangana

Taj Falaknuma (“Like the Sky” or “Mirror of Sky”) was built in the 1890s by the ruling family, the Nizams of Hyderabad.

Unlike other historic palaces in India, the Taj Falaknuma uses many architectural influences from the Tudor styles of Britain and Italy. The all-white Falaknuma was designed by British architect William Ward Marret and is made entirely of Italian marble. It is located on a hill and offers beautiful views of the city of Hyderabad.

Now operated by the Taj luxury hotel group, Taj Falaknuma offers a magnificent historic stay in a 5-star property with 60 rooms and suites. It also features paintings, antiques, manuscripts, furniture and Venetian chandeliers from Nizam’s personal collection.

Gwalior Fort, Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh

Gwalior Fort, originally built in the 10th century, is one of the largest forts in India. Situated on a hill in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh, the fort was renovated and given its present form by Rajput ruler Man Singh Tomar (1486-1516 AD).

The fort complex has several palaces built in different eras over the last 1,000 years – Man Mandir Palace, Karn Mahal and Hathi Pol and Vikram Mahal.

Other attractions inside the fort include the Siddhachal Jain Temple caves, the Gopachal Complex (with 1500 idols), the Teli Ka Mandir (temple) and the Gujari Mahal Museum.

Along with the ancient rock shelters of Bhimbetka and the Tiger Safari in Kanha and Panna National Parks, Gwalior Fort is one of the must-see attractions of Madhya Pradesh.

Mysore Palace, Karnataka

The city of Mysore (Mysuru) in Karnataka is known as the “City of Palaces” and is one of the most elegant places in South India. This palace is the most magnificent of the seven great palaces of the city.

Mysore Palace, also called Amba Vilas, was the seat of power of the Kingdom of Mysore (1799-1947 AD). The majestic Mysore Palace is located in the heart of the city, facing the Chamundi Hills.

The three-story gray granite structure of the palace is a mix of Islamic, Rajput and Gothic styles. Completed in 1913, the palace was designed by British architect Henry Irwin.

Jaisalmer Fort, Rajasthan

Jaisalmer is known as the “golden city” of Rajasthan. The nickname comes from the gold-colored stones of the legendary Jaisalmer fort. During the day, when the sun shines brightly, the fortress walls are lion-colored. In the light of the setting sun the color fades to a dark honey gold.

What makes this fortress so extraordinary is the fact that a quarter of the city still lives on its territory and it is one of the few “living fortresses” in the world.

The construction of Jaisalmer is attributed to the Rajput rule of Jaisal in 1156 AD.

Umaid Bhawan Palace, Jodhpur

Considered one of the largest private residences in the world, Umaid Bhawan Palace was built by Maharaja Umaid Singh, the ruler of Jodhpur. The Umaid Bhawan is now a traditional luxury hotel and has 347 rooms and suites. Construction began in 1929 and the palace was completed in 1943. The complex also houses a museum.

The architecture of the palace is a mix of Indo-Saracenic, Classical Revival and Western Art Deco styles. Umaid Bhawan Palace is one of the best luxury accommodations for a stay in India.

Junagarh Fort, Bikaner

Located in the heart of Bikaner city, the ‘Old Fort’ of Junagarh was originally built in 1590 AD. Over the centuries the city of Bikaner has expanded around it.

Junagarh Fort is a beautiful mix of Rajput and Mughal architectural styles with ornate balconies, huge courtyards and intricate carvings. Surprisingly, this fortress was never conquered.

Inside the complex there are several palaces such as Chandra Mahal, Ganga Mahal and Anup Mahal. It also houses an excellent museum that illustrates the history of the fort and the Bikaner region.

Rambagh Palace, Jaipur

Rambagh Palace is located 8 km outside the walled city of Jaipur. The building was originally built in 1835 AD. as the home of the Queen’s favorite maid and later as a royal residence and hunting lodge. Maharaja Sawai Man Singh used it as a residential complex in 1931 and made it his official residence.

Now transformed into a luxury hotel operated by the Taj Group, Rambagh Palace has been rated the best luxury accommodation in the world on TripAdvisor. Comprised of 78 luxurious rooms and suites, this palace also features numerous specialty restaurants, a world-class spa, bars, cafes, a fitness center, an outdoor pool and a host of other 5-star amenities.

Rambagh has had the honor of hosting Prince Charles, Viceroy Lord Louis Mountbatten and Jacqueline Kennedy.

Chittorgarh Fort, Chittorgarh

The city of Chittorgarh was the capital of the Kingdom of Mewar before being replaced by the “City of Lakes” Udaipur. The Chittorgarh Fort, considered the largest in India and Asia, was the headquarters of the kingdom and the residence of the Maharaja.

This iconic fort (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) is spread over a vast area of 690 hectares and stands 180 meters above the ground on Chittor Hill. It overlooks the plain and the Berach River below. The first constructions on the site date back to the 7th century of the Maurya Empire.

Within the complex are the Kalika Mata Temple (built in the 8th century), the nine-storey Vijay Stambha (Victory Tower) built by Maharana Kumbha in the 15th century, the Kirti Stambh (built in the 12th century) and the Palace of Rana Kumbha (the birthplace of Maharana Udai Singh – founder of the city of Udaipur).

Golconda Fort, Telangana

Golconda Fort in Hyderabad was originally built in the 11th century by the Kakatiya dynasty and is the oldest fort in South India. The region prospered in the 17th century thanks to the nearby diamond mines.

It is believed that the Koh-i-Noor diamond (the world’s largest diamond) and the Hope diamond (mined from the nearby Kollur mines) were kept in a wall inside the fort.

The Golconda Fort complex consists of a palace, mosques, temples, tombs and residential areas. From the walls you can enjoy a magnificent view of the city of Hyderabad.

Mehrangarh Fort, Jodhpur

Mehrangarh Fort is the main tourist attraction of the Blue City of Jaipur. The word “Mehran” means sun and “Garh” means strong.

Situated on a hill overlooking the city from a height of 122 metres, this famous ‘Sun Fort’ was built in the 15th century by the famous Rajput ruler Rao Jodha. The fort also has two lakes, Ranisar and Padamsar.

The revered Chamunda Mataji Temple is also located inside the temple. It honors Goddess Kuldevi (protector goddess) of the Rathore Rajputs. The Rajasthan International Folk Festival and the World Sacred Spirit Festival are also held here.

Lake Palace, Udaipur

The Lake Palace is located on a small man-made island in the middle of beautiful Lake Pichola in Udaipur. Originally known as Jag Niwas, this palace was built in 1746 as a summer residence for the royal family of the Kingdom of Mewar. Its bright white color and Indo-Saracenic architecture often draw parallels with the Taj Mahal, as it is built of the same white marble as the Taj Mahal. The hit James Bond film “Octopussy” was filmed here in 1983. Today Lake Palace is a luxury hotel where you can enjoy a 5-star hospitality experience.

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Daniyal is an accomplished travel blogger boasting two years of extensive experience. Proficient in captivating narratives, Daniyal unveils the allure of undiscovered destinations and divulges insights into everything regarding traveling. Beyond the prose, he serves as the editorial architect, seamlessly incorporating editing finesse, SEO mastery, and strategic content deployment to ensure a sophisticated and enriching online travel experience.
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