It was a hot, sultry March afternoon in 2014 and I had just returned from my life changing 55 day escape in the Himalayas. Many years had passed since I had seen the sights of Jaipur, that too in a day bus and the memories were calling for a revisit. I had not visited Nahargarh fort, lying on top of a hill overlooking Jaipur. It was a perfect recipe for some old style city adventure. Me and my 12 year old cousin set off and were told to reach Chaupar in the walled city area. A local bus crammed with lots of people dropped us at Badi Chaupar for ten rupees per head.
There the locals told us ‘There are two ways to reach Nahargarh Fort. Going by this route means you will have to walk.’ We were quite pleased to hear that. There was also an alternate way of going straight to Nahargarh Fort by road, but we had chosen the way that most Jaipurites preferred. I was quite delighted to see the sights and architecture in the old part of the original pink city. A rickshaw wallah offered to drop us to the starting point of the climb for ‘only ten rupees’. What followed was even better, he rode like a maniac, we cheered him for being India’s James Bond.
The Nahargarh Fort was visible towering on a hilltop with huge fortifications. The harsh afternoon sun had made the proceedings very sweltering and I immediately started perspiring, even before the walk began. It was a cobblestone winding path for a length of 2 kilometres, all of it uphill. Occasionally a bike or scooter would be driven to the fort by the locals on the zigzagging way. The views of Jaipur became more and more prominent as we made our way to the top.
Nahargarh Fort in the Aravalli range was originally built in 1724 as a royal retreat and additional protection for Amber Fort by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II of Jaipur. It literally translates to ‘tiger fort’, perhaps due to the incidence of leopards and other wild animals that are still spotted sometimes in the night. As compared to Amber Fort, there are lesser tourists at Nahargarh Fort; and that fact alone makes me happy. I peruse every nook and corner of the fort. Dark clouds gather making the top of the Fort look even more prettier.
The architecture is regal and luxurious once inside and Madhavendra Bhawan or Madhavendra Palace is the highlight of Nahargarh Fort. The beautiful arched entrance has stunning floral designs. Inside the long courtyard of the palace, there are three suites each on the three sides, making a total of nine identical suites (meant for the queens). These suites all have unique names and are two storied with a lobby, bedroom, kitchen, etc. The suites on each side are interconnected. Inside the fort, the head palace is the king’s suite (How apt!). Beautifully huge, the doors are a sight to behold, and so are the gorgeous frescoes.
Interesting Facts about Nahargarh Fort:
There is no better place to see Jaipur city than gazing at it from the Nahargarh Fort. All the colours of the sprawling pink city, the Man Sagar Lake with Jal Mahal sitting prettily in the centre and the entire city of Jaipur with Aravalli Mountains in the far distance.
Building the Nahargarh Fort is said to have cost a princely sum of three and a half lakh rupees at that time!!!
The scenes get even more magical at the time of sunset, when the orange palace makes it golden. Bollywood enthusiasts scramble to see the points where Rang De Basanti, Jodha Akbar and other movies of note were shot.
Padao restaurant, run by the Rajasthan Tourism Development Corporation is a favourite with the youth and is a great place to unwind after the Fort closes at 5 p.m. Grab a beer and watch the sunset for an unforgettable high!
There was still some time and energy left in us to go to Royal Gaitor, to see the cenotaphs of the maharanis of Jaipur. We hitched a ride with an old man on a dangling scooter. That is a story for another day though!