Weather :

Timings : 10:00 AM - 4:30 PM

Time Required : 2-3 hrs

Entry Fee : Indians: INR 50,
Foreigner: INR 300,
Audio Tour: INR 350,
Phool Mahal and Chander Mahal: INR 100

Junagarh Fort, Bikaner Overview

The Junagarh Fort of Bikaner is a magnificent structure around which the city of Bikaner grew up. The fort was initially called Chintamani and was then renamed as the Junagarh or Old fort in the 20th century. The foundations of the Junagarh fort was built in 1478 by Rao Bika. However, it existed just as a stone fort then. The present grand structure was inaugurated on 17th February 1589. Besides having a rich history, the Junagarh Fort is a feat of architecture. The palaces inside the fort, the gardens, balconies, kiosks, etc. depict a composite architectural style which is influenced by the cultural differences of the different rulers and also foreign inspirations. The impressive Junagarh Fort stands with all its regal glory as an epitome of architectural brilliance. The dazzling and exquisite structures of this fort attract thousands of tourists from all over every year. 

The earliest smear of the architecture of the Junagarh Fort is that of the traditional Rajput style influenced by the alliance of the Gujarati association with the Mughals. Next, the architecture reflected semi-western influence and lastly the revivalist Rajput structures built mainly during the rule of Maharaja Ganga Singh. The unique monuments which are on display in the fort represent 16 generations of rulers in Bikaner starting from the late 16th century. Junagadh is an ancient fortified city with a chequered past and has an eclectic mix of mosques, Hindu temples, Buddhist monuments, Gothic archways, and beautiful mansions.

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History of Junagarh Fort

The foundation of the Junagarh fort was laid by Rao Bika in 1478. Earlier it was just a stone fort. The present Junagarh fort was built to protect the stone fort built by Bika. The city of Bikaner was established in 1472 and grew up around the mighty fortress. There were many attempts to capture it by foreign enemies. However, all except one failed. Kamran Mirza, the son of Babur, captured the striking fort just for one day in 1534 during the rule of Rao Jait Singh.

The city of Bikaner flourished under the rule of its sixth ruler Raja Rai Singh who ruled from 1571-1611. Raja Rai Singh accepted the Mughal rule and held high position under the rule of Akbar and Jehangir. His victories in various wars won him many accolades and jagirs. After gaining position under the Mughal rule, Raja Rai Singh started building the Junagarh fort. The foundation ceremony of this impressive fortress was held on 17th February 1589, and the work was completed on 17th January 1594. Raja Rai Singh, who was an artistic person and had knowledge of architecture, designed the fort to be a grand structure amidst the Thar Desert.

Architecture of Junagarh Fort

The Junagarh fort is an epitome of architectural excellence. The architecture is a mix of various cultures, the earliest being the Rajput style. The earliest smear of design is that of the traditional Rajput style influenced by the alliance of the Gujarati association with the Mughals. Next, the architecture reflected semi-western influence and lastly the revivalist Rajput structures built mainly during the rule of Maharaja Ganga Singh.

The Junagarh fort has a rectangular layout with a length of about 1078 yards. It encloses an area of 63119 square yards. The fort was initially built as a safeguard to the old stone fort built by Rao Bika. It used to have a moat earlier for security purposes, but it is now non-existent. The magnificent fortress encloses many palaces with exquisite designs. All the balconies, gates, kiosks and other structures have been influenced by the heritage and culture of the ruler who built them.

One of the main features of Junagarh Fort is the stone carvings done in red and gold sandstone. All the structures are made of red sandstone. The interiors are decorated as per ancient Rajasthani style. The palatial fort has seven gates with many palaces as well as Hindu and Jain temples. It also has two main gates made of Golden sandstones. Earlier the Karan Pol was used for entry while the Suraj pol is used now. The Karan pol is east facing which allows the first rays of the sun to fall on it. The golden rays on the yellow sandstone is a beautiful vision and are also considered a good omen.

The lavish structures of this fort and the exquisite beauty of each structure stand witness to the regal lifestyle that had been led here centuries ago. The Junagarh fort is called "a paradox between medieval military architecture and beautiful interior decoration."

Structures Inside Junagarh Fort

The Junagarh fort is filled with beautifully designed palaces, building and kiosks. The architectural wonders are enough to spellbind the visitors.

Gates- The fort consists of seven gates. Out of these, there are two main gates - the Karan pole, the former main gate of entry and the Suraj pole, the current min gate. The Suraj pol is made of yellow sandstone. The Suraj pol faces eastwards, and when it receives the first rays of the sun, the golden visage is a sight to see. At the mouth of this gate, there are two red stone statues of elephants accompanied by mahouts.
The other gates of the fort are Daulat pol (double gate), Chand pol and Fateh pol. The Daulat pol has several imprints of the hands of all those women who committed Sati on the funeral pyres of their husbands who died in battlefields. All the gates are worthy of the gorgeous palace that they lead to.

Temples- The royal temple of the fort is the Har Narayan temple which is dedicated to Lord Lakshmi Narayan and his wife, Lakshmi.The Ratan Behari temple is also located near Junagarh fort. It is dedicated to the Hindu God Krishna.

Palaces- As mentioned before, the palaces in this fort are marvellous pieces of art and architecture.

1. The Karan Mahal was built by Karan Singh in 1680 to commemorate his victory over Aurangzeb.
2. The Phool Mahal is the oldest palace in the fort which was built by Raja Rai Singh.
3. Anup Mahal was used as the administrative headquarters of the kingdom. It is a multi-storeyed building with sophisticated designs.
4. Chandra Mahal is the most luxurious and aesthetically pleasing palace in the fort.
5. Ganga Mahal was built in the 20th century by Raja Ganga Singh. It houses a museum now.
6. Badal Mahal is an extension of the Anup Mahal and consists of many brilliant paintings.
7. Bikaneri havelis are located both inside and outside the fort and have a unique architectural style.

Museum- The museum in the fort was built by Maharaja Dr Karni Singhji in 1961. The museum consists of various paintings, jewels and other commemorations depicting the royal life the fort had once witnessed.

Student discounts on ticket prices at Junagarh Fort

Indian (Student Concession): INR 30,
Foreigner (Student Concession): INR 150,
Audio Tour (Student Concession): INR 200

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How To Reach Junagarh Fort

The Junagarh Fort is around 1.5 Kms away from Bikaner.

By Road- There are frequent RSRTC buses that commute between Bikaner and Jaisalmer, Udaipur, Ajmer as well as Delhi.

By Rail- Bikaner is connected well to other major cities such as Delhi, Kolkata, Jodhpur and Allahabad. The “Palace on Wheels” luxury train also reaches Bikaner. From Bikaner station, one can reach the Junagarh fort by local buses or hire a taxi.

By Air- The nearest airport to Bikaner is Jodhpur. There are daily flights from Mumbai and Delhi to Jodhpur.

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