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Ahhichatragarh Fort literally translates into 'fort of the hooded cobra' and dates bank to the 4th century when the city was ruled by the Naga (snake) kings. Located in Nagaur, it's a large and expensive Fort which is currently under the Maharaja of Jodhpur, yet is largely unknown to the travellers to the region. I am writing this blog post simply to bring awareness to the town and help put it on the tourist map.
Do join me to spread the word :)
It's rather odd to start your morning exploring a place which about a week back wasn't even known to you. About a week back when we drove from Jodhpur to Bikaner for a stay at Narendra Bhawan, we crossed a town called Nagaur and I ended up asking the cab driver if there was anything interesting to see here. He told me there was an old and ruined fort that no one really visited.
This fired my imagination and I asked him to drive through the city and stop by the fort for a while. The sun was almost down when we reached there and the guards refused to let me in with the camera. I scaled the fort wall and that was it. The fort looked huge and really beautiful, and my disappointment was visible even to my driver.
Taking the same road another morning, I decided to stop by the fort and explore the place. But this time we were way too early! By now I knew that there was a five star hotel inside the fort, and told the guards I was here to eat breakfast with them. A few phone calls later, I was on my way to the hotel which is called Ranvas. After a simple breakfast and a long chat with an elderly British couple who have been coming to India every year for decades, I was taken on a special walk through the ruins of the fort by the hotel staff. Being a travel writer certainly comes with it's own perks :)
As we walked through the ruins, an era of India was revealed which I didn't even know existed. The names were new to me, and their layered history took me to another era. I won't go into details as I am yet to understand it well, but here's a quick overview.
The history of Nagaur dates back to the 4th century much before Jodhpur and Bikaner were even founded. It was ruled by the Naga rulers which also gave the city it's name - Naga + pur = Nagaur. Though it remained largely independent, it was often under indirect allegiance with the kings of Chittorgarh and Jodhpur. Later Muslim rulers also came and left their influence on the town. It's been with the Maharajas of Jodhpur since the 17th century.
In the 18th century, Maharaja Bakhat Singh of Jodhpur developed a pleasure Palace which housed his 16 wives. However, one of the darkest era in the history of the Fort and the Palace came into post-independent India when the fort complex was transferred to the army. Ignoring the beautiful history of the complex, the frescos of the wall were covered by a thick lime layer and all the windows were covered and walls built to close them. A few years back the fort was came back to the royal family of Jodhpur and a long process of restoration started. It's slowing coming back to life and it was great to see the fruits of the hard work over the past few years.
There is much to see within the fort and you can spend quite sometime exploring it all. Some of the areas are inaccessible to general public, but if you are a guest of the hotel you can see most of it, and through the day as well.
Here are some of the highlights of the fort complex:
Nagaur is well connected by trains as well as roads. There are daily trains from all major cities in North India, especially Delhi and other cities in Rajasthan.
Nearest airport: Jodhpur
Jodhpur also has an airport with daily flights from Delhi. Nagaur is a about three hours away in a cab.