When you stand in front of a fort, you’re not just looking at a structure but a home where generations of royals came, conquered, ruled, and passed away. The forts in India have weathered the tides of time and are now a jaded version of their glorious past. They’ve seen plenty and if you pay close attention, they will tell you a lot.
Touch the walls that have been standing for years and find a quiet place to visualize the heyday of that fort. Trust us, it can be fun. To help you get started, we have made a list of some must-see forts on your India tour.
Red Fort is a majestic structure that means “Lal Qila” in Hindi and it was constructed in 1648 by one of the most powerful figures in the Mughal empire, Emperor Shah Jahan. It was designed by Ustad Ahmad Lahori, the same architect behind the Taj Mahal. The fort is a fine result of interesting architectural choices which shows that Ustad Ahmad Lahori did not hold back. He took the best of Persian, Hindu and Timurid architecture and crafted a perfect blend that ended up inspiring future structures across the county for a long time.
A great way to know more about this fort and the of history India is by attending the entertaining light and sound show that’s presented on its grand walls in the evenings. The fort is located in Old Delhi. It is an area worth exploring for its narrow streets, magical old-world charm and how can we forget, the famous Chandni Chowk market and the holy Yamuna river.
Nearest Railway Station: Old Delhi Railway Station (Less than 5 km away)
Nearest Airport: Indira Gandhi International Airport (Around 19.5 km away)
Nearest Bus Station: Maharana Pratap Kashmiri Gate ISBT (Around 3.2 km away)
As per the legend, way back in the 8th century AD, there was a local chieftain named Suraj Sen who was cured of his leprosy by Gwalipa, a sage, with water from a holy pond. Sen showed him his gratitude by setting up a city and a fort and naming the two after him. We guess the words “thank you so much” was not invented back then! This fort features beautiful palaces and temples and it is a treasure trove of interesting historical monuments. For example, there are the Jain Temple Caves which are almost 500 to 700 years old and the Gujari Mahal which functions as a museum featuring items of the bygone era.
Thankfully, a lot of these are still in good condition and everything has an interesting bit of history behind it. Visitors are treated to an intriguing light and sound show at the fort’s very own Man Mandir palace which covers the fantastic past of the Gwalior Fort.
Nearest Railway Station: Gwalior railway station (Around 4.5 km away)
Nearest Airport: Rajmata Vijaya Raje Scindia Air Terminal (Around 10.5 km away)
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Mori king of the Rajput clan, Chitrangada Mori, built the largest fort in Asia and named it after himself. The city of Chittorgarh is named after the fort. Inside it is a proper society complex with multiple memorials, temples, huge water bodies and victory towers. Some of the must-visit places here are the Rani Padmini’s Palace, Meera Mandir and Vijay Stambh. The complex was designed to be a shining example of Rajput architecture with a dash of Sultanate architecture. During the fort’s prime, way before global warming was even a thing, it had 84 water bodies which equaled a total of 4 billion liters of water.
Here’s a fun fact for you. This fort was attacked in 1303, by the fierce Delhi ruler, Alauddin Khalji. It is believed that he attacked because he wanted to abduct queen Padmini. This legend was later made in the 2018 Bollywood movie, Padmaavat. There are more such interesting bits about this fort which are covered along with its extensive past in the spectacular sound and light shows which are held within the fort.
Nearest Railway Station: Chittorgarh Junction (7 km away)
Nearest Airport: Dabok Airport (Around 105 km away)
Nearest Bus Station: RSRTC Bus Stand, Chittorgarh (Around 4.7 km away)
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It was the year 1459 when Rao Jodha, a leader of the Rajputs, wanted to move his kingdom to a more secure location and his search brought him to what is now called the city of Jodhpur. He commenced the construction of Mehrangarh Fort in the same year. The fort sits on a hill at a height that is 122 meters above the surrounding land and it overlooks the beautiful blue city of Jodhpur. The fort is home to Sheesha Mahal and Phool Mahal, kudos to those who did the interior decoration for them, as these two are some of the most attractive palaces in the country.
The fort also has a museum that lets visitors witness the breathtaking items of the past such as musical instruments, miniatures, royal cradles and more. Rao’s decision of shifting his base for more security was right, thanks to it much of the fort is in a good condition and attracts visitors in huge numbers. One of the visitors was Christopher Nolan who was here to shoot a scene for The Dark Knight Rises.
Those of you who want to add some thrill and action to your visit can explore the beauty of this fort and neighboring areas with a zip line. The fort features a number of different zip lines that operate from 13th June to 31st May.
Nearest Railway Station: Raikabag Palace Junction (4.2 km away)
Nearest Airport: Jodhpur Airport (Around 9.6 km)
Nearest Bus Station: Jodhpur Bus Stand (Around 3.7 km)
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Rajasthan is blessed with some of the best forts in the entire world and each of them are great examples of the architecture, power, history and culture of that era. The Amber fort is no exception. Also known as the Amer fort, it was built in 1592 by the Rajput king, Raja Man Singh and it is a sight to behold. It is tastefully designed to showcase the splendor of Rajput architecture with some influences from the Mughal style of design.
The entire complex is spread across 4 square kilometers and the multi-story fort is crafted using marble and red sandstone. All of its four floors have individual courtyards of their own. Making things even better is the beautiful Maota Lake situated next to the fort. The fort even has underground tunnels which leads to the Jaigarh fort, another gem that is situated a short drive from Amber fort. Majority of these tunnels are close, but some areas of these tunnels can be accessed by visitors.
Nearest Railway Station: Jaipur Junction Railway Station (12.2 km away)
Nearest Airport: Jaipur International Airport (19.6 km away)
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Golconda’s name translates to Shepherd's Hill in Telugu and it was originally created as a mud fort. It wasn’t until the arrival of a Kakatiya king, named Ganapatideva, that changed its fate. His reign lasted from 1199 to 1262 and during this period, he repurposed and modified this mud fort as an army outpost and the resulting structure became the Golconda Fort. It stood gloriously until Aurangzeb’s siege. This Mughal emperor persisted in his efforts for almost eight months and in 1687, he took over the fort which was damaged thanks to his own attacks.
The ruins of the fort are spread over 3 square kilometers and include several gateways, halls, stables, mounted cannons and more which offer a glimpse into the fort's glorious past.
To know more about its past, be sure to check out the sound and light show organized here at Golconda. Here is a fun thing to do: If you clap at a certain spot under the fort’s dome, it will be heard almost 1 km away in the Bala Hisar pavilion. This was very beneficial in the past when this trick was used to send warning signals.
Nearest Railway Station: Hyderabad Deccan railway station (9.5 km away)
Nearest Airport: Rajiv Gandhi International Airport (Around 26.3 km away)
Nearest Bus Station: Golconda Bus Station (160 meters away)
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Whoever decided the placement of this fort was a genius and this was probably their masterstroke. Sinhagad is constructed on a super steep hill and sits all the up at 760 meters from the ground height in the Bhuleswar range of the Sahyadri Mountains. This gives it a natural layer of defense and makes it very difficult to be attacked. But this didn’t stop people from trying as history shows that the fort has been a witness to many wars, one in particular which reminds us all that sometimes to win something, you have to lose something.
It was originally known as "Kondhana" and was named after a sage of the same name. It is hard to put an exact date on its construction, but there is some evidence that suggests it might have been constructed 2000 years ago. It received its current name in 1670 after Tanaji Malusare, one of the best in the army of Maratha king Shivaji, gave his life while conquering the fort from the Mughals. Shivaji's words after finding out about Tanaji’s death were "The Fort is conquered, but the Lion was lost." Shivaji's words after finding out about Tanaji’s death were "The Fort is conquered, but the Lion was lost." Sinhagad in Marathi language means Lion's Fort.
The Kalyan Darwaja, Pune Darwaja and Samadhi of Tanaji Malusare are some of the most important parts of this fort. One of the attractions here is the authentic Maharashtrian delicacies that are served on the fort. If time is a luxury you can afford then after Sinhagad Fort make your way to the Khadakwasla Dam which is a great place to enjoy and unwind.
Nearest Railway Station: Pune Railway Station (34 Km away)
Nearest Airport: Pune International Airport (40 km away)
Nearest Bus Station: Swargate bus stand (29.4 km away)
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Looking like a majestic golden mirage, it sits on top of the Trikuta hill in the mighty Thar desert. This is why Trikutgarh is one of its many names (“Garh” means Fort in Hindi.) It was constructed in 1156 by the Rajput king, Rawal Jaisal, which explains the name of this fort and the city. We don’t know who decided on the material for this, but that person would have been on the front page of Architectural Digest. The walls of this fort are made of yellow sandstones, which look like gold as the sun begins to tame and this is an unbelievable sight. This is why the fort is also known as Golden Fort or Sonar Quila (It means Golden Fort in Bengali).
A lot of people still reside within the fort which is why it is popularly known as the living fort of India. The museum present here is a great way to know more about the fort’s past. One more interesting nugget about it is that the ace Bengali filmmaker Satyajit Ray shot his film, Sonar Kella (1974) here. If your hunger for exploring historical places is not satisfied even after visiting this fort, you can make your way to the Kuldhara village which is around 35 km away from Jaisalmer Fort. It once used to be a booming village but was later abandoned and now it is an eerie ruin with some interesting tales.
Nearest Railway Station: Railway station Jaisalmer (2.1 km way)
Nearest Airport: Jaisalmer Airport (14 km away)
Nearest Bus Station: Jaisalmer Bus Station (1 km away)
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Mughal Emperor Akbar commenced the rebuilding of this fort sometime during the period of 1565 to 1573 and that is how it got its current appearance. This fort is also known as “Lal-Qila” (Hindi for Red Fort) as its walls were built using striking red sandstone. Some of the most powerful forces in India had controlled this fort during various periods of history- the Mughal Empire, Maratha Empire, and British Empire.
Occupying a space of 0.38 square kilometer, the fort is home to beautiful architectural marvels like Jahangir’s Palace, Moti Masjid, which is a mosque made of white marble, Mumtaz Mahal and the fort’s four grand gates. All of these are major tourist attractions, not just because of their looks, but also because of the significance each of them holds. The location of Agra Fort is perfect for anyone who wants to explore the gems of this city as it is located close to the Yamuna River, Jama Masjid and Taj Mahal.
Nearest Railway Station: Agra Fort railway station (130 m away)
Nearest Airport: Agra Airport (8.1 km)
Nearest Bus Station: Agra Fort Railway Station (800 m away)
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Another fort from Rajasthan. Goes to show that every other king in Rajasthan wanted their own grand fort, lucky for them because homeownership in this economy ain’t a pretty picture.
Speaking of the Kumbhalgarh fort. It was named after Rana Kumbha of Mewar from the Sisodia Rajput clan who built it in the 15th century and it is one of the biggest fort complexes. If this was not impressive enough, then know that this fort’s perimeter walls go on for 36 km. Again, one of the longest walls in the world. This is why it is also called the ‘Great Wall of India’.
It is perched on a hilltop in the Aravalli mountains that’s 1,100 meters high above sea level. The fort is almost like a holy site as it has over 70 temples inside it. Ganesh Temple, Vedi Temple and Bawan Devi Temple are just a few examples. Badal Mahal here is one of the go-to spots for instagrammers as it offers a superb view of Kumbhalgarh Wildlife Sanctuary and Aravali Hills. Just like several other forts, Kumbhalgarh also treats its visitors with a light and sound show that acts as a window into the glorious past of this fort.
Nearest Railway Station: Falna railway station (67.4 km away)
Nearest Airport: Maharana Pratap Airport Udaipur (97 km away)
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All of the forts on this list have a lot of character and immense history behind them. We really urge you to find out more about your favorite forts from here because you will be in for a fascinating read. Then your next step would be to plan a visit to that fort and witness its grandness yourself.
Which Is The Most Popular Fort In India?
Delhi’s prestigious Red Fort is considered to be the most popular fort in India. It was built in 1638 by Emperor Shah Jahan. It is a monument of national pride, this is why it is printed on the 500 rupee note and it is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Which Fort Is The Oldest In India?
Qila Mubarak, in the city of Bathinda, Punjab is the oldest fort in India. It is believed to have been built between 90-110 AD.
Which City Is Known As The City Of Forts?
Jaipur is considered to be the city of forts. It is home to Amer Fort, Nahargarh Fort, and Jaigarh Fort.
Which Is Asia's Largest Fort?
The Chittorgarh Fort in Rajasthan is Asia’s largest fort and it is spread over a whopping 691.9 acres of land. To get a better idea of its size, know that it is home to 65 huge historic structures. This number includes temples, memorials, water bodies some victory towers and palaces well!
Which Is The Smallest Fort In India?
Madan Mahal Fort in Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh is considered to be the smallest fort in India.
Where Are The Most Of Forts In India?
While many might think that the answer is Rajasthan, it is Maharashtra. This state has several small and large forts and the number goes beyond 200! Some of the most famous ones are Sindhudurg, Sinhgadh, Lohagad, Raigad, Shaniwarwada, Pratapgad and Rajmachi Fort.
Which State Is Famous For Forts?
Rajasthan takes the crown for being the state with the most famous forts. Chittorgarh, Kumbhalgarh, Amer, Jaisalmer and Mehrangarh and so many more are situated in this state. These gems have made Rajasthan a major tourist hub that attracts visitors from all over the country and the world too.
How Many Forts Are In India?
It is hard to figure out the exact figure, but India has around 800 forts. This number includes famous forts like Chittorgarh, Golconda Fort and Agra Fort and also forts which are not that popular like Munger Fort of Bihar, Feroz Shah Kotla of Delhi and Songadh Fort of Gujarat.