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Jaisalmer Fort information
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Jaisalmer Fort

Jaisalmer Fort is one of the largest fortifications in the world. It is situated in the city of Jaisalmer, in the Indian state of Rajasthan. It is a World Heritage Site. It was built in 1156 AD by the Rajput ruler Rawal Jaisal, from whom it derives its name. (Rawal Jaisal's son was Shalivahan II; Manj and Bhati Rajputs are descended from him.) The fort stands amidst the sandy expanse of the great Thar Desert, on Trikuta Hill, and has been the scene of many battles. Its massive yellow sandstone walls are a tawny lion colour during the day, fading to honey-gold as the sun sets, thereby camouflaging the fort in the yellow desert. For this reason, it is also known as the Sonar Quila or Golden Fort. The fort is located in the very heart of the city, and is one of the most notable monuments in the locality. In 2013, at the 37th session of the World Heritage Committee held in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Jaisalmer Fort, along with 5 other forts of Rajasthan, was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site under the group Hill Forts of Rajasthan. The fort was built by Rawal Jaisal in 1156 CE. Jaisal conspired with the Sultan of Gaur to dispose his nephew Bhojdev from his territory. The other important event of the fort was during 1276 when King Jetsi strengthened the fort against the invading Sultan of Delhi. The 56 bastions were manned by 3,700 soldiers. After eight years of invasion and siege, the Sultan's army finally breached and destroyed the castle. Bhatis took control of the fort, but had no means to repair it. In 1306, Dodoo was elected the Rawal for his bravery for ejecting the Rathors. He subsequently took up the work of repairing and strenghening the fort. During the medieval period, the city's location along the Silk Road enabled it to serve as a major center of international trade, and as a warehousing facility for such trade. As such, it facilitated trade and commerce between Persia, Arabia, Egypt, Africa and China. The offering of such services for such commerce required a dependable means of security, and thus the fort came into being. The fort contains 3 layers of walls. The outer or the lower layer is made out of solid stone blocks and it reinforces the loose rubble of Trikuta Hill. The second, or middle, wall snakes around the fort. From the innermost, or third, wall, the Rajput warriors once hurled boiling oil and water as well as massive blocks of rock at their enemies, who would become entrapped between the second and third walls. The defences of the fort include 99 bastions, of which 92 were built between the period of 1633-47. Ala-ud-din Khilji attacked and captured the fort in the 13th century and managed to hold it for 9 years. During the siege of the fort the Rajput women committed Jauhar. The second battle at the fort began in 1541, when Mughal emperor Humayun first attacked the fort city. The Rawal was eventually overwhelmed by the repeated assaults of the Mughal emperors and finally agreed to parly with Akbar, Humayan's successor, in 1570, offering his daughter in marriage to the emperor in the process. The fort remained under the control of Mughals until 1762 when Maharawal Mulraj took control of the fort. Due to its isolated location, the fort escaped the ravages of the Marathas. The treaty between the East India Company and Mulraj on 12 December 1818 allowed the Mulraj to retain control of the fort and provided for protection from invasion. After the death of Mulraj in 1820, his grandson Gaj Singh assumed the reins of the fort. With the advent of British rule, the emergence of maritime trade and the growth of the port of Bombay led to the gradual economic decline of Jaisalmer. After independence and the Partition of India, the ancient trade route was totally closed, thus sealing the fate of the city. Nonetheless, the continued strategic importance of Jaisalmer was demonstrated during the 1965 and 1971 wars between India and Pakistan Although at one point the entire population of Jaisalmer lived within the fort, it today has a resident population of about 4,000 people who are largely from the Brahmin and Daroga communities. They are mostly descendants of the workforce of the Bhati rulers of Jaisalmer which was permitted to reside within the fort's premises. With an increase in population, people gradually relocated to the foot of the Trikuta Hill and the town of Jaisalmer spread out from the fort. The fort has numerous eateries, including Italian, French and native cuisines. The famous Indian film director Satyajit Ray wrote the Sonar Kella (The Golden Fortress), a detective novel, based on the fort and he later filmed it here. The film became a classic and a large number of tourists from Bengal and around the world visit the fort annually to experience for themselves the world that Ray portrayed in the movie. Six forts of Rajasthan, namely, Amber Fort, Chittorgarh Fort, Gagron Fort, Jaisalmer Fort, Kumbhalgarh and Ranthambore Fort were included in the UNESCO World Heritage Site list during the 37th meeting of the World Heritage Committee in Phnom Penh during June 2013. They were recognized as a serial cultural property and examples of Rajput military hill architecture.


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