"Do you think you will be able to scale that wall, sir?" the guide asked with a smile. I knew the question was rhetorical. The wall was impregnable. A steep cliff and 50 feet of sheer rock face. It was awesome! Ranthambore is truly an amazing place. Steeped in history. The Ranthambore Fort was built in the 12th Century by the Chauhan rulers. It reached its peak in 1282 A.D. when a ruler named Hamir ascended the throne. He was dethroned in 1301 by one of his trusted lieutenants after several unsuccessful attempts. Several bloody battles later, in the 16th Century, the Mughals gained control of the Ranthambore Fort and plundered its priceless treasures. Towards the end of the Mughal regime, the Ranthambore Fort passed into the control of the rulers of Jaipur.
Even today, Ranthambore Fort offers a glimpse of the glory and grandeur that must have existed in the centuries gone by. It is evident that no expense was spared to make the Fort comfortable for its residents and inaccessible for its detractors. The roads within the Fort are broad, with resting places at regular intervals. The resting places also served as ammunition depots so that in the event of a sudden strike from the enemy, reinforcements could be rushed to protect strategic places in the Fort from damage. The walls were thick and made up of huge stone blocks. At some strategic and vulnerable places, especially near the resting place of the royalty, the walls were upto 15 feet thick (see image below). The Fort was obviously designed to thwart even the most determined of the invaders and it did succeed to a great extent.
However, the safety and security of the Ranthambore Fort was not the only thing on the minds of its rulers. Recreation and cultural activities also played an important role. Nothing exemplifies this better than the massive bathing ghat which was reserved for the royalty whilst they were visiting the Fort and open to the local populace at all other times. The vast area around the bathing ghat must have played host to many a dancing troupe or musical concert. It is easy to imagine the royals and their subjects, sitting on the vast lawns, in the cool evening breeze blowing from the lake, enjoying the music and the dance, performed by the visiting artistes. Ranthambore Fort was not lagging behind in religious matters either. In fact, the presence of a Hindu temple and a Mosque, within the precincts of the Fort speaks eloquently about the religious tolerances of its rulers. Interestingly, the temple, devoted to Lord Ganapati, is extremely popular amongst the local population even today and there is a steady stream of pliligrims who visit the temple everyday. The temple is believed to have been constructed in the 12th Century.
There is also an ancient temple devoted to Lord Shiva within the Fort. Among the many attractions of the Ranthambore Fort is Hamir’s Court, an imposing building which is renowned for its aucostics. Among the other must-see attractions are the 36 pillared building which has a unique design and represents a finest example of mughal architecture.