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India, being an ancient country has lots of unique forts and many of them are classified as heritage sites by the UNESCO. Among the forts of India, the Jaisalmar fort is quite fascinating because it is located in the middle of a desert.
Jaisalmer Fort, situated in the city of Jaisalmer, in the Indian state of Rajasthan is one of the largest fortifications in the world. Classified as a a World Heritage Site, it was built in 1156 AD by the Bhatti Rajput ruler Rawal Jaisal, from whom it derives its name. Construction began in 1196 and it took 7 years to complete it, and subsequent rulers kept making additions and alterations to it. Unlike many forts of India, the unique fact about this ancient fort is it was built amidst the golden sandy expanse of the great Thar Desert, on Trikuta Hill. In 1276 King Jetsi strengthened the fort against the invading Sultan of Delhi. The fort was almost damaged by the army of invading sultan and later it was rebuilt strengthened by Dodoo. In 1570s Babur defeated the Rawals and the fort came under his control
With a length of over a kilometer, a circumference wall of 5 km, a 2–3 meter thick fortification wall, 99 bastions, a retaining wall at the base of the Trikuta Hill, and a stone barricade ringing the hilltop, the Jaisalmer Fort has an excellent defense system in place. Built on a 250 foot tall hill the massive fort stretches 1,500 ft (460 m) long and 750 ft (230 m) wide. The fort is well fortified and is made of three layers of walls so that crossing the massive fort for the enemy was not easy. The outer layer is made of solid blocks that add strength to the loose rubbles of Trikuta Hill. The second and third walls meander around the fort.“The main fort has two walls running parallel with a gap of 3–4 meters to enable movement of troops. The arrangement was such that between second and third wall if enemies would get trapped in between them, upon them the Rajput soldiers would hurl huge stones and boiling oil and water to put the trapped enemies out of action. The 99 bastions were built in 1633-47.
An unusual feature about this fort is roughly 3000 people are living within the confines of the fort. It is a self-contained living space characteristic of narrow, winding lanes, shop lined with houses and temples along with restaurants, etc. The Gopa Chowk, which is just beyond the first gate, is filled with tourists and locals, folk musicians and shopkeepers selling their wares. Once inside one will be enthralled by an explosion of colors. Dussera Chowk or the Central Square is an active, and important public space in the Fort. From here narrow lanes lead to various parts of the Fort. Rajmahal or the erstwhile royal residence is a 7-storey structure built over many generations. It is a residential complex consisting of many buildings, which are connected by low and narrow passages. There are Jain and Hindu temples inside the fort. This fort is worth a visit.This great monument in the world of sandy desert stands as a silent edifice of the by gone era of war and violence and festivals of light and colors.