Forts and Palaces in Rajasthan – Pictures from the 19th century Part II

By Somali K Chakrabarti

“And here, over the portals of my fort,
I shall cut in stone the word
which is to be my beacon and my banner.
The word which will not die should we all perish in battle..”

–  Ayn Rand, The sacred word

Taking on from my last post on Forts and Palaces in Rajasthan – Pictures from the 19th century  Part I, here I continue further with the imaginary leap back in time, and present pictures and photographs from the 19th century of the historic forts and palaces of ChittorgarhUdaipur, Bundi, Jodhpur, Bikaner  and Jaisalmer


Palace of Bheem and Padmini, Chittorgarh, ca 1885

Palace of Rana Bhim and Padmini, Chittaurgarh,1829

Engraving of Padmini’s Palace in Chittorgarh, by Edward Francis Finden and Patrick Young Waugh, ca 1829

Chittorgarh was the capital of the Mewar kingdom from the 8th to the mid-16th century. The target of successive invaders throughout the medieval period, it was sacked by both Ala-u’d-din Khalji in 1303 and Bahadur Shah of Gujarat in 1535, and was finally taken over by the Mughal emperor Akbar in 1567.

Chittor Fort, built on the the hilltop of Chittorgarh, has structures that dating from ca. 1300.  Padmini’s palace is located within the fort at Chittor. Queen Padmini, the wife of Rana Ratan Singh I (r.1302-3) was a victim of the first siege of Chittorgarh in 1303 by Ala-ud-Din Khalji.


Gate of City Palace, Udaipur, ca. 1879

'Gate of City Palace. Udaipur, 1879'

Oil painting on paper depicting Palace gate of Udaipur by Marianne North, dated January 1879

Udaipur was founded by Maharana Udai Singh (ruled 1567-72) in the mid-16th century as the fourth and last capital of the Mewar state after Chittorgarh, the previous capital, was taken over by the Mughals. Situated in a valley containing three lakes: Lake Pichola, the Fateh Sagar and the Umaid Sagar and surrounded by hills, Udaipur makes a picturesque site.

Built on the east shore of Lake Pichola is The City Palace, the main royal residence in Udaipur.


King’s Porch, City Palace, Udaipur, ca. 1882

King's Porch, City Palace, Udaipur

Photograph of the Rai Angan or King’s Porch, City Palace at Udaipur, taken by O.S. Baudesson in ca. 1882

The colossal complex of the City Palace, was begun by Udai Singh and the construction extended until the 18th Century. The impressive series of buildings are made of granite and marble in the Rajput and Mughal style of architecture. Inside the palace is a maze of reception halls, residential suites and internal courts.

Many palaces, built on small islands on the lake, were used as summer retreats and pleasure pavilions.


Jagmandir, Water Palace, Udaipur, ca 1884

Jagmandir, Water Palace, Udaipur, 1885Photograph of the Jagmandir Palace at Udaipur in Rajasthan, taken by Raja Deen Dayal in ca. 1884


Arcades with cusped arches, Jagmandir, Water Palace, Udaipur, ca 1900

Jagmandir, Water Palace, Udaipur, 1900

Jagmandir at Udaipur, photograph taken by unknown photographer in ca.1900.

Jag Mandir, built in 1551, is a floating palace on the southern part of Lake Pichola. Arcades with cusped arches, and a line of stone elephants above the water-level marks the perimeter of the island.

Gul Mahal, the main palace on the island, is a small sandstone pavilion. The palace was built in a Mughal style and completed under Maharana Jagat Singh I in the middle of the 17th century.


Citadel of the Hill, Kumbhalgarh Fort, ca.1829

Kumbhalgarh Fort, 1829

Engraving of the Kumbhalgarh Fort, by Edward Francis Finden and Patrick Young Waugh in ca. 1829

The spectacular Rajput hill fort of Kumbhalgarh is perched on top of the Aravalli Hills and reaches a height of over 3000 feet. Built in the 15th century by Maharana Kumbha (1419-63), the complex extends over 12 km and includes many palaces, gardens and temples.

A massive wall, with numerous towers and pierced battlements…encloses a space of some miles extent below, while the pinnacle or sikra rises…tier above tier of battlements, to the summit, which is crowned with the Badul Mahl or ‘cloud-palace’ of the Ranas.

– Colonel James Tod’s description of Kumbhalgrah Fort


Chattar Mahal Palace, Bundi, ca.1900

Chattar Mahal Palace, Bundi

  View of the Chhattar Mahal Palace at Bundi in Rajasthan by Gunpatrao Abajee Kale, ca.1900.
The Chattar Mahal Palacesituated on the hillside at Bundi, was built in the 1660s by Maharao Chattar Sal. It was built out of green serpentine rock in the Rajput style and displays characteristic design elements such as lotus flower spandrels and elephant symbols.

Meherangarh Fort, Jodhpur ca.1890 

View of Jodhpur Fort, ca. 1890

Water-colour drawing by G.F. Lamb of the east view of the Jodhpur Fort in Rajasthan, dated c.1890.

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The city of Jodhpur has been the capital of Marwar (Land of death) in western India since the 15th century. It lies on the Delhi-Gujarat trading route on the edge of the Thar Desert and sprawls across a plain surrounding an isolated rock.

The formidable Meherangarh Fort stands on a rock which rises abruptly from the surrounding plain. The high sheer walls and massive bastions dominate the city and can be seen for miles around.


Meherangarh Fort Palace, Jodhpur ca.1895 

Fort Palace, Jodhpur

Palace buildings in the Meherangarh Fort at Jodhpur in Rajasthan. Photograph taken by Lala Deen Dayal in the 1880s

This is a close-up view of palace buildings, showing the filigree effect of the screens set against shallow balconies with curved bangaldar eaves. The  facades are distinguished by the extensive use of jalis, perforated stone screens carved with intricate patterns.



The Palace at Bikaner, ca.1896

Palace at Bikaner, 1896Photograph of the Palace at Bikaner taken by an unknown photographer in ca. 1896

Bikaner was founded in 1488 by Bhika, the son of Rao Jodha, the founder of Jodhpur.
Junargarh fort in Bikaner is an impressive fort constructed between 1588 and 1593. The fort has a series of palaces and is surrounded by a crenellated wall of pink sandstone.

Fort Palace, Jaisalmer

Jaisalmer Palace

 Image Credit:  Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd (BCCL)


Founded in the 12th century, Jaisalmer experiened its share of sieges in the 13rth, 14rth and the 16th century that led to the inevitable Rajput to jauhars, wherein womenfolk of the palace preferred to commit en-mass suicide on the funeral pyre to being brutalized by the enemies. The city saw a revival and another golden age in the 17th century, as it came into good terms with the Mughal rulers in Delhi.
Jaisalmer Fort is a majestic fort that crowns the Trikuta hill. Inside the fort can be found a palace, temples, hundreds of havelis and narrow twisting streets paved with sandstone. The havelis, fort and the palace are all carved from the same golden honey sandstone that render a Golden hue to the city. The main attraction of Jaisalmer’s architecture lies in the decorative latticework covering the huge palaces.
These architectural marvels are a part of the rich and colourful heritage of Rajasthan. Like a mirage of the bygone era, these living museums have mesmerized many a travelers from all over the world since centuries, and till date continue to capture the interest of those who visit Rajasthan.

 Pictures and Information Source : The British Library,


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21 thoughts on “Forts and Palaces in Rajasthan – Pictures from the 19th century Part II

  1. A nice journey through the history of Rajasthan and its majestic forts and palaces. These forts reminds us of the valour of kings and their armies.
    The stories of these huge forts and palaces silently echo cries of poor peasants and labours whose blood and sweat cemented those stones and pillars.

    Liked by 1 person

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