Ranthambore Fort, a mighty monument that is guarded by the surrounding mountains, back in the day it was also called Bakhtar Band Durgh (armoured fort). Apparently is the second largest Fort of Rajasthan.
Ranthambore fort is situated near Sawai Madhopur town in Ranthambore National Park. Surrounding jungle served as the hunting ground for kings of Jaipur.
The current condition of this monument is pretty bad, most of the Ranthambore fort is in ruins. But history associated with the fort is absolutely amazing.
The centuries old structure lying in ruins tells us a story. A very unfortunate story where treachery, greed, and dishonesty, made the king who won the battle lose everything.
This fort have with stood many attacks, seen many sieges and bloodshed. Even today all the stories related to this place echo from the silence of the complex.
Chauhan dynasty held this for until 13th century after that it went into the hands of Delhi Sultanate. Due to its historical importance this monument is considered one the special monuments. It was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2013.
Although we know this fort as Ranthmbore but some believe that the fort was built by King Raja Rantham Man Dev hence it was named after him as Ranthambore. According others the fort’s original was Garh Ranat Bhawar Or Ranstambhore.
History of Ranthambore Fort
Built by a Chauhan dynasty ruler, history does not give us clear information on name of the name of ruler who built it. Some believe it was in 944 AD by Sapaldaksha as per other this ort was built by a King named Jayant in 1110 AD. The Management Authority and Government of Rajasthan believe that the construction of this fort probably began during period of Sapaldaksha in the mid 10th century. The work probably was completed during reign of some other king.
After death of Prithvi Raj Chauhan the Rathambore Fort was under control of Mahmud Ghori. Prithvi Raj’s son accepted to run emprire under Ghurid however later generation did attempt for independence.
In the year 1226 Salve dynasty Sultan Illtutmish capture the fort in the year 1226 but Chauhans got the fort back in 1236. This process of trying to gain the fort continued, many rulers made many attempts to win the fort but the then King Hammir Dev did not let them win.
In 1290 Jalal uddin Khilji made attempt to take over the fort but he could not succeed. Later the attack on the Ranthambore fort was done by next Khilji ruler Ala uddin Khilji.
The reason behind war between Raja Hammir Deva and Ala uddin Khilji was that Khilji has exiled a rebel called Muhammad Shah (It is said that Muhammad Shah had affair with Ala uddin Khilji’s wife hence he exiled him) from his Kingdom. He announced whoever accepted this rebel in their kingdom shall be assumed to be enemy of the Khilji and he would keep fighting with them unless he wins.
It was the year 1299, Muhammad Shah reached Ranthambore and asked he king for help. Hammir Dev believed in helping others so he allowed him to stay.
As soon as Khilji came to know about this he initiated a battle against the King Hammirdeva and attacked the fort of Ranthambore.
He tried but could not win, so he thought of thought other way to win this battle. While trying to trap the King Hammirdeva Alla uddin sent him a letter saying he accepts hs defeat and would like meet the king. Hammirdeva understood that this was some evil plot of Khilji so he sent three of his ministers namely Ran Mal, Ranti Pal, and Samant Bhojraj to meet Khilji.
Khilji bribed the minister by saying if you help me win this battle Ranthambore will be yours. Greed of power and money corrupted the three ministers and they agreed to betray their king Hammirdeva.
Battle was fought between Hammirdeva and Khilji, HammirDev won but the three corrupt minister waved the Khilji’s flag signalling the victory of Alla Uddin to the ladies of the palace. The ladies took the signal of Khilji flag waved for death of Hammirdev so all the ladies of the fort committed Jauhar.
Hammirdev saw this treacherous act of his minister he rushed to his fort to stop his women from committing Jauhar while he was on his way one his corrupt minister Ran Mal was in this way he cut his head of then and there. The other two corrupt minster went through Ganesh Pol locked the doors. This led to king not being able to reach his ladies in time to save them.
There is famous legend related to this part of the story. It is said that when the other 2 trechorous ministers locked the doors of Ganesh Pol from inside the King Hammirdeva prayed to the lord Shiva for help and his horse walk vertically on the hill and ultimately crossed the hill. But by the time he reached there the ladies had committed Jauhar.
The disappointed King went to the Shiva temple and beheaded himself and presented his head to the Lord. People say that lord Shiva offered to give the king his life and family back but Hammirdev refused to accept it.
Whether the legend holds any truth or not, we do not know. But after the death of the king Hammir Deva Ala uddin Khilji finally got the fort.
Ranthambore Fort Architecture:
The fort of Ranthambore overlook theRanthambore National Park. There are four gates in the fort. The gates of the fort are called Hathi Pol meaning NohLakha Pol, Elephant gate, Ganesh Pol, Andheri Pol.
Andheri pol is primary entrance of the fort
All the gates of the forts were designed very strategically. Especially the initial two gates were made narrower. It was done so that the attacking elephants of the enemy would not have room to moved much attack and break the walls
A lot of the structures of the fort are ruined but some of the main structures of the fort include:
Badal Mahal or Cloud Palace: This was the dancing hall where king used to sit and enjoy dance performances of the royal dancers. It is called Badal Mahal because it is the highest point of the fort and the rains used to look beautiful from this point. At times the clouds also appeared closer from this spot.
Batis Khamba Chatri (32 pillared Kiosks): This structure is built on a total of 32 pillar. It is 32 pillared Kiosk structure. It is said that this building was built by Raja Hammirdeva and it was dedicated to his father Jaitra Singh who rule this region for 32 years. As a tribute to his father and his tenor as king he built this structure. Raja Hammirdeva used this building as meeting hall.
Raj Mahal or Rayal Palace: Close to 32 Khamba Chatri is Raj Mahal or Rayal Palace this was where the used to reside.
Ganesh Temple: There is highly revered temple in the fort complex which is dedicated to Lord Ganesha. Every year a three day festival dedicated to Lord Ganesh is organised here, lakhs of devotees come here during this festival.
The fort had five ponds inside its complex
(i) Rani Talab or Rani Hauz – This was the pond made for king’s wives.
(ii) Padmala Talab: This pond was made for the daughters of the King Hammir dev. This pond was named after his eldest daughter Padmala Bai. One fact about this pond is that when wives of the king immolated (committed agni jauhar) themselves, the daughters of the King Hammirdeva committed Jal Jauhar i.e. drowned themselves to death.
(iii) Sukh sagar: this pond of the fort contained water only in rainy seasons other time of the year itb remained dry
(iv) Jungali Sagar: Since the area around this pond look like forest hence it is called Jungali sagar meaning the first pond
(v) Kala Sagar: The surrounding of this pond is pretty dark hence is called Kala sagar meaning the black pond.
The utility of these pond is that these help storing rainwater and recharging ground water that leads to water in the well. Water gets filtered through underground sand and hence drinkable water was sourced in the well.
It is said that when the recovered from digging of these ponds were used in construction of the fort
Best things about these still structures is that they last longer than humans. People come and go but some of these manage to stay longer.
Like this historic marvel, it has been standing strange at this very site from such a long time. It has seen all the stories we talk about. It knows the truth. If only these walls could talk i wonder how much we would learn.
Never the less we still learnt a lot and we are thankful to Ranthambore for great stories and great experience.
Lastly I would say Go explore Ranthambore it is historic, mysterious, beautiful, ruined yet grand and a lot more. Experience it you won’t regret it.
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Also read about the other amazing places of Rajasthan Jal Mahal , Amer Fort, Mehrangarh Fort , Jaislmer Fort