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Ranthmbore Fort

A very unique fort that is considered the most impregnable fort of the early-Medieval India, Rathambore Fort lies within the borders of the Ranthambore National Park near the town of Sawai Madhopur, in the Indian state of Rajasthan. The national park lies at the edge of a plateau and is bounded to the north by the Banas River and to the South by the Chambal River. Ranthambore is a formidable fort which serves as a focal point in the historical development of Rajasthan, built on a steep hilltop 700 feet high, close to the Banas River. It is guarded by dense forests and impregnable mountain passes through the upper Aravalli Hills. To this day, the fortress remains a symbol of patriotism and valour of the people of Rajasthan.

History of the Ranthambore Fort

A commonly believed legend says that the fort of Ranthambore was built during the reign of Sapaldaksha, around 944 AD. Another theory states that the fort was erected during the reign of Raja Jayanth in 1110 AD. According to the official statement of the Rajasthan government, it is likely that the construction works started in the mid-10th century under the rule of Sapaldaksha and continued for a couple of centuries. Ranthambore, also known as Ranasthamba or Ranasthambapura was associated with the Chauhan dynasty, and after Prithviraja III was defeated in 1192 in the second Battle of Tarain by Mohammad Ghori, the fort came under the control of Prithviraja’s son Govindaraja IV, who accepted Ghurid suzerainty and ruled Ranthambore as his vassal. His descendants kept making various attempts to become independent and finally in 1210, after the death of Sultan Qutbuddin Aibak of Delhi, Ranthambore asserted its independence from the suzerainty of the Delhi Sultanate. Sultan Iltutmish captured Ranthambore in 1226 but the Chauhans recaptured it after his death in 1236. The armies of Sultan Nasiruddin Mahmud led by the future Sultan Balban unsuccessfully besieged the fort in 1248 and 1253, but finally captured it from Jaitraj Singh Chauhan in 1259. Shaktidev succeeded Jaitraj Singh in 1283 and recaptured Ranthambore and enlarged the kingdom. Sultan Jalaluddin Firoz Khilji briefly besieged the fort in 1291 but failed to recapture it. (more in the History section)

The Fort as we see it Today

The Ranthambore Fort is built on a steep hill slope in the Ranthambore National Park. It covers an area of 0.39 square miles and is surrounded by a buffer zone of 1.44 square miles. There are still several palaces and temples preserved inside the fort, surrounded by strong fortifications and bastions that give an idea of the early Rajput fort construction methods. There are three prominent Hindu temples inside the fort, dedicated to Lord Ganesha, Lord Shiva and Ramlalaji, dated to the late 12th and early 13th century, constructed using red karauli stones. There is also a Jain Temple inside the fort. The use of red karauli stones is commonly seen in most of the constructions inside the fort. The fort houses a museum and several water reservoirs. The Ranthambore National Park, which was declared one of the Project Tiger reserves in 1973, covers a total area of 1334 square kilometres and is famous for its Bengal tigers. Other animals to be seen here include the leopard, the crocodile, the sloth bear, the sambar and the black buck deer. Together with the National Park, the fort of Ranthambore makes an exceptionally attractive spot for the tourists visiting Rajasthan.

Tourist Information

The closest railway stations are Sawai Madhopur and Kota, whereas a mega highway connects Kota with Ranthambore. The nearest airports are Jaipur and Udaipur. The entry to the fort is free for everyone. The opening hours are 6 AM to 6 PM. Visitors should try to catch the sunset here. The best time to visit the Ranthambore fort is from October to March.

Text by Sammik C Basuu