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Gagaron Fort of Rajasthan also listed by UNESCO

In India, there are many forts and temples present all over the country. They have many historical roots which connect Indians to their ancestors and with the history of their birth place. In many states there are many large forts which were constructed by the kings earlier to get protected from enemies and fight from them.

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Gagron Fort, Jhalawar in Rajasthan

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Gagron Fort (Image by William Warren on Flickr)

Forts are the specialty of Rajasthan and it is very famous for this worldwide. A majority of forts of India is situated in Rajasthan. Among many forts, the fort of Gagaron is very famous. The beautiful fort of Gagaron is a very good epitome of a fort surrounded by water and thus is popularly known as “Water Fort” and “Jal Durg” in Hindi. This fort is among the famous 9 forts which have been mentioned in the mythological books of India.  This fort was started to build in the 7th century and was completed in the 14th century. A Dargah of sufi saint ‘Mittheshah’ is situated outside the fort where Moharram is celebrated and a fair is organized every year.   Gagaron fort has the name of one another famous saint associated with it. He is Saint Pipa Ji who was “Guru Ramanand’s” follower. He was among the main disciples as well as the contemporary of Kabir Saint too.

Dargah of Sufi Saint Mitteshah, Jhalawar

Dargah of Sufi Saint Mitteshah, Jhalawar in Rajasthan (Image by Pavan Gupta on Flickr)

This fort of Garagon has recently been recognized internationally as the World Heritage Site with other five forts of Rajasthan by UNESCO. These forts are unique in the fact that they are surrounded by defending natural landscapes like forests, water bodies, etc.

Location and surroundings of the fort

Gagaron fort is one of the famous forts of Rajasthan in the city of Jhalawar and is 12 kms away from the Jhalawar. The 2 water bodies namely the river Kali Sindh and the river Ahu surrounds Gagaron from its three sides.  The fourth side of this fort was a deep ditch for protection against the enemies but is not present today.  Apart from its rivers this fort has also a dense forest situated behind it. It has the known hill range of “Mukundarrah” due to which this fort is also known as forest fort or ‘vana durg’.  The presence of forests and water bodies made the fort very protected.

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Bridge of Gagron Fort

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Image by William Warren on Flickr

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Image by William Warren on Flickr

Historical Significance

Gagaron fort was built under the rule of the king “Achaldas Khinchi” who got this fort built to protect its army and citizens from the Malwa ruler “Hoshang Shah”. He was the Mandu ruler and proved to be stronger over Raja Khinchi. The king sensing the defeat, with his army and all other Rajputs rushed to fight against the ruler Hoshang but ultimately faced death fighting and protecting their region. The queens and the ladies opted for Johar which was a historical practice done by ladies to surrender themselves to fire. This fort is known for this story of sacrifice, heroism and bravery of the Khinchi rulers and queens.

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Gagron Fort Entrance

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Ruins of Gagron Fort

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Image by Pavan Gupta on Flickr

In medieval India, before the formation of cities like Kota, Bundi, Jhalawar, Gagaron city was very known and superior in Malwa.

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Ranthambore Fort, Rajasthan

Ranthambore fort is a part of world heritage site which is situated near Sawai Madhopur town in Rajasthan. Swai Madhopur is a small town which lies in the north Indian state of rajasthan. Ranthambore fort is surrounded by Vindhays and aravallies hill ranges. The name ‘Ranthambore’ is derived from two hills-rann and thambhore . It lies on Thambhore hill which is 481 metres above the sea level. Rann is the adjoining hill to Thambhore hill. From the top of the hill some breathtaking views around the fort can be captured.

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Ranthambore Fort (Image by TuAnh Nguyen on Flickr)

HISTORY

This fort was built during the 8th century by the Chauhan ruler. This fort gain popularity when the ruler of chauhan dynasty, Raja Hammir Dev was crowned in 1283 A.D. This fort is also the symbol of glory and bravery of Raja Hammir Dev. When rulers attacked this fort at different point of time during 12th to 15th century in 16th century ,the fort was captured by Mughals. In 19th century the fort was possessed by Maharaja of Jaipur.

ARCHITECTURE

The fort has many splended architectural and historical sites. The fort spreads over an area of 7kms. It is surrounded by huge walls made up of stone which are about 7kms in length. These walls are strengthened by towers .Inside the fort, there are many palaces, temples, Step well and houses . Some of them have been destructed like Hammir’s Fort, Badal Mahal and Phansi Ghar . This fort consisted four gateways, out of these four gateways only one gate is still standing named as MISRADHARA.

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Interior of Ranthambore fort (Image by thesetter on Flickr)

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Ranthambore Fort Badal Mahal (Image by J on Flickr)

Cenotaph of Hammir dev Chauhan

Cenotaph of Hammir dev Chauhan (Image by Marissa Bronfman on Flickr)

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Ranthambore Fort Mosque (Image by Jay Seedy on Flickr)

TEMPLES

There are three Hindu temples inside the fort constructed in 12th and 13th century. The three temples are dedicated to Lord Ganesha , Shiva and Ramlalaji . Main attraction of the fort is ‘The Ganesh Temple’ which is near to the main entry gate. In this temple thousands of pilgrims visit throughout the year from variour parts of the country. There is also a Jain Temple dedicated to Lord SumatiNath and Lord Sambhavanath .

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Lord Ganesha Temple(Image by Marissa Bronfman on Flickr)

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Shiva Temple Ranthambore Fort

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Jain Temple of Ranthambore fort

RANTHAMBORE WILD LIFE CENTURY

In the western part of the fort visitors and tourists usually stay. In eastern part a wild life century is situated which is known for its tiger. This park is the main attraction for the tourists. This is one of the largest Wild life centuries in India. This park is situated within an area of 393 sq.kms. and is popular for its Tiger population. The park was established by the Indian government in 1980 as wild life century to protect the tigers from being extinct. Other wild animals are found here are Leopard, Nilgai , Hyena , Langoors , Fishing cat . This park is also rich in flora, As many species of trees and plants are found here. A large number of banyan trees are grown here .

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Tiger In Ranthambore National Park (Image by Modest Janicki on Flickr)

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Leopard in Ranthambore (Image bySaran Vaid on Flickr)

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Deers in Ranthambore National Park (Image by Rebecca Yale on Flickr)

A visit to Ranthambore is extremely interesting as is provides the tourists with a glimpse and blend of nature, history and religion. Rajasthan is very popular for its fort and Ranthanbore is one of them and visit to this place is more interesting.

 

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A Mausoleum Dedicated to Love – Taj Mahal

Taj Mahal is such a popular monument that almost everyone in the world knows about it. It is located in the Agra city of Uttar Pradesh, India and is a major tourist destination. It is one of the Seven Wonders of the World and an iconic structure of India. Due to its beautiful architecture, it is listed in the UNESCO World Heritage Site. Its beauty is unmatched and has never been surpassed by any other building. This timeless monument was built by the Mughal ruler Shah Jahan in the memory of his beloved life Mumtaz Mahal. It is made-up entirely of white marble. Its dazzling architectural beauty is beyond adequate description, particularly at dawn and dusk. It glows more in the light of the full moon and in the foggy morning, it looks pure white structure, which is placed among the clouds.

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The timeless beauty – Taj Mahal

This monument is referred as “elegy in marble”. It is a mausoleum that houses the grave of his beloved queen Mumtaz Mahal. Later, the grave of Shah Jahan was added up to it. This marvel of India took twenty-two years to complete its construction with the help of twenty thousand workers. More than 1,000 elephants were employed in transportation of the construction material. In 1648 C.E. the whole structure completed perfectly. Total cost of 32 Million rupees was used for the construction purpose. The master architect of the mausoleum was Ustad Isa. He was the renowned architect of his time. Expert craftsmen from several places of India like Delhi, Qannauj, Lahore and Multan were employed. Also, renowned Muslim craftsmen from Baghdad, Shiraz and Bukhara worked on specialized tasks to build it perfectly.

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Graves inside Taj Mahal

Interior of Taj Mahal

Interior of Taj Mahal

The monument stands on a raised and a square platform with its four corners truncated that forms an unequal octagon. The architectural design uses the interlocking arabesque concept in which the each element erects on its own and integrates perfectly with the main structure. Its central dome is 58 feet in diameter and 213 feet in height. It is encompassed by four subsidiary domed chambers. The four graceful, slender minarets outside the main chamber are about 162.5 feet high. The entire mausoleum is decorated with veneer design of flowers and calligraphy using precious gems namely agate and jasper. Main archways are chiseled with passages from the holy Quran and the engrossing work of flowery pattern that captivate charm to its beauty.

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Reflection of Taj Mahal in Yamuna River

The Taj Mahal complex is vast and full of several other palatial buildings like mosques, garden, gateway, reflecting pool, etc. Behind the complex, there is the Yamuna River that reflects the beauty of this marvelous wonder throughout the day. Many replicas are modeled on the Taj Mahal like the Taj Mahal of Bangladesh, Bibi Ka Maqbara in Maharashtra, Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City and the Tripoli Shrine Temple in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. But, none of them were able to get even close to the beauty of Taj Mahal.

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Bibi ka Maqbara in Maharashtra
It was created by Azam Shah, son of Aurangzeb and grandson of Shah Jahan, to rival the beauty of Taj Mahal

Thus, the Taj Mahal is the jewel of mixed Indian and Muslim art and architecture as it combines the elements of both Persian and Indian architectural elements. A large number of visitors choose the Taj Mahal tour only to see this white marvel. Some tourists across the globe come to India only to visit this elegy in marble. So, a curiosity to visit this marvel of India only makes the Golden Triangle tour popular in India.

 

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Observe the beauty through Darjeeling Himalayan Railways

Darjeeling Himalayan Railway (DHR) or popularly known as Toy Train is a 2 ft, narrow gauge railway runs between New Jalpaiguri and Darjeeling in West Bengal, India. It is the first and the most outstanding example of a hill railway. It opens in 1881 and displays the engineering skills. Due to this, residents of hill terrain can travel from one place to another through the steep hills. It is about 86 kms long and the elevation varies from about 100 meters at Jalpaiguri to about 2,200 meters at Darjeeling. The headquarters of the railway is located in the town of Kurseong.

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Darjeeling Himalayan Railway Locomotive
Image by Mark Herriott on flickr.com

DHR was listed in the World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1999. It is only the second railway that gets this honor after the Semmering Railway of Austria in 1998. The main problem that faced by DHR was the steep slopes of the mountain. Those loops and Z-Reverses were designed as an integral part of the system at different points along the route to achieve a comfortable gradient for the stretches in between them. While climbing a slope, the train moves forwards, reverses and then moves forward again, by doing so, it gains height along the side of the hill.

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Image source – wikipedia.org

The railway line that crisscross the mountain peaks stops at several locations to deliver the passengers. The climb is through reverse and loops, so, 5 reverses and 3 loops are there. The most popular among the loops is the Batasia Loop located between Ghum and Darjeeling. Besides this, it has 5 major, 498 minor bridges and 177 unmanned level crossings. Total 14 stations are there including New Jalpaiguri and Darjeeling.

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Locomotive going through a curve
Image by bhaswaran on flickr.com

Stations on which the DHR stops are New Jalpaiguri Junction, Siliguri Town Station, Siliguri Junction, Sukna Station, Rangtong Station, Tindharia station, Mahanadi Station, Kurseong Station, Tung Station, Sonada Station, Ghum Station, Batasia Loop, etc. Main locomotives that used currently are the steam ones and designed by Sharp Stewart company and later by the North British Locomotive Company. Four diesel locomotives are also in use.

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DHR Locomotive on Batasia Loop
Image source – wikipedia.org

A number of films have illustrated this railway like the film Aradhana, Barfi, Parineeta, Raju Ban Gaya Gentleman, Darjeeling Limited, etc. BBC news made a series of three documentaries which deals with Indian Hill Railways. The first film covers the Darjeeling-Himalayan Railway, the second is the Nilgiri Mountain Railway and the third one is the Kalka-Shimla Railway. So, Darjeeling Himalayan Railway is a wondrous thing and the visitors of West Bengal & Darjeeling must enjoy this journey to make the trip unforgettable.

 

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