Jaisalmer fort is the second oldest in Rajasthan after Chittor and commands the desertscape from its 250 feet high perch on the hill. Three strong walls protect the citadel. The first buttress wall was constructed by the local Jain panchayat in the 15th century. Subsequent additions and fortifications were built by the Rawals. The steep cobblestone pathway leading to the royal palace passes through four gates-Akhai Pole (Ganesh Pole), Suraj Pole, Bhuta Pole and Hawa Pole. Sharp turns on the road topped by high defense gateways made it invincible. At the highest point of the place can be seen an umbrella-Meghadamber symbolic of Krishna.
Palaces Inside the Jaisalmer Fort
The fort has five palaces called Sarvottam Vilas, Akhai Vilas, Gaj Mahal, Rang Mahal and Moti Mahal-all interconnected behind the seven-storied façade. Small stairs take you from one court to another with superb jail screens shading interiors from the fierce heat and desert wind. The Rang Mahal built by Mool Raj II has some exquisite murals painted on arches and spandrels. Music and dances soirees were held here for royal ladies. From the balconies you get a terrific view of the mammoth ramparts below guarding the small city. Balconies at the Gaj Mahal are also breathtaking beautiful, if only the English Romantic poet John Keats had seen them. The fort contains one third of the city’s population within the small houses on the narrow lanes. Many houses provide budget accommodation to visitors and house curio shops.
Within the fort are the three most exquisitely sculptured Jain temples dedicated to Rishabhdevji, Sambhavanathji and the Ashthapadi temple. Their ornamentation done in the style of the Dilwara temples at Mt. Abu is simply marvelous. The emerald icon of Mahavira is an unparalleled gem.