This impressive fort is located about 125m above the city. From the walls of the fort there are some great views of the city below. The walls of the fort range from 6m (20 ft) to 38m (120 ft) high, and 6m (20 ft) to 22m (70 ft) thick. On the south end of the fort there is a sheer drop of 37m.
Construction on the fort was begun by Maharaja Rao Jodha in 1459. Construction was completed by Maharaja Jaswant Singh (1638-78), a contemporary of Shah Jahan. When Jaswant Singh died in 1678, Aurangzeb took control of the fort. After Aurangzeb’s death, the fort came back under the control of the Rajput Ajit Singh. The royal family lived here for 500 years, until the Umaid Bhavan Palace was built.
The fort originally had seven gates (pols). The first gate has spikes on it intended to deter elephants, and there are cannon ball marks on it, remnants of an attack on the fort. After passing the first gate, you walk up a ramp through the remaining gates. You first pass Gopal Gate and Bhairon Gate. Toati Gate, the fourth gate, no longer exists. At the fifth gate, Dodhkangra Gate, you make a sharp turn. Amarti Gate has a long passageway under it. The impressive Jayapol is the main gate. It commemorates Maharaja Man Singh’s war victories over the Jaipur and Bikaner armies. M
Maharaja Ajit Singh built Fatehpol (Victory Gate) in memorial to his victory over the Mughals. When you reach the last gate, the impressive Lohapol (Iron Gate), there are fifteen handprints on the left about 2m up on the wall marking the sati sacrifice of the widows of Maharaja Man Singh. They burned themselves in the funeral fire of their husband in 1843. The walk up to the fort is a fairly difficult climb, but there is also an elevator (lift) to the top.
You then come to the Fort Museum, which is the red sandstone palace directly to the right. The museum features a weapons collection, musical instruments, a beautiful handmade 250-year-old tent cover, paintings, a turban collection, elephant howdahs (saddles), and excellent ivory and wood antiques. The Jewel House has a good collection of jewelry. The upper floor of the courtyard is part of the zenana (women’s area), from where the women could look down at what was happening in the courtyard. It has intricate jali screens. On the left of Shringar Chowk is a good collection of palanquins and elephant saddles made of pure silver. The Mahadole palanquin was taken from Bahadur Shah, Begda of Malwa, and is made of wood decorated with gold leaf. Next you come to Moti Mahal Chowk, a small courtyard. The Moti Mahal (Pearl Palace) is a beautiful meeting room with a gold and glass ceiling. It is believed that this was Hall of Public Audience. The outside of the room has 19th century woodwork. There are niches around the walls for lamps and a mirror ceiling. In the Tent Room is the red silk and velvet gold thread embroidered tent of Shah Jahan (later Aurangzeb’s). At the southern end of the fort there are many old cannons on the fort ramparts. There is a great view of the city from here. The blue-painted buildings below mark the Brahmins’ houses. Nearby, at the end of the fort, is the Chamunda Temple, dedicated to a form of Durga.
You then go around the palace, starting on the far right and moving toward the left, sometimes going up and down stairs. You first come to the Sileh Khana (armory), which has an excellent collection of intricately decorated weapons. Above the weapons room is the Phool Mahal (Flower Palace), an ornate mirrored dining room. It was built by Abhai Singh (1724-49). On the ceiling is fabulous gold work and paintings of different incarnations of Vishnu, Krishna, and Siva. It has stone jali screens and portraits of former Jodhpur rulers. The Jodhpur coat of arms is above the couch. This is one of the most impressive rooms in the palace.
The fort is open daily 9 am to 1pm & 2 pm to 5 pm (closed for lunch 1pm to 2 pm). Admission foreigners/Indians Rs 250/20 camera Rs 50, video camera Rs 200; government tour Rs 100. There is an elevator (lift) for Rs 10 (waived for disabled persons). A steep winding road (a very difficult ride on a bicycle) leads up to the entrance of the fort, passing the white marble chhatri of Jaswant Singh II.