Construction of the Fort
An apt description of the Jaisalmer fort, one of the finest in the country but one which looks rather incongruous given the desolation around it. Located bang in the middle of the Thar desert (literal meaning abode of the dead), it rises like a mirage from the sands, with its huge turrets pointing skywards. Built in 1156, Jaisalmer is the second oldest of Rajasthan's major forts after Chittorgarh. Constructed by Raja Jaisal, who was searching for a new capital as the earlier one Lodurva was too vulnerable to invasions, he built the fort and the city surrounding it, thus fulfilling Lord Krishna's prophecy in the Mahabharata
Located on a Hilltop
Mounted atop Trikuta, the almost triangular triple-peaked hill, the fort rises like a sunbeam from the desert, 250 feet tall, and is reinforced by an imposing crenellated sandstone wall 30 feet high. It has as many as 99 bastions, 92 of which were built between 1633 and 1647 to be used as gun platforms. The view of the 99 bastions of the yellow sandstone fort, the desert citadel of Raja Jaisal, is spectacular to behold. The fortifications have grown exponentially over the centuries, and wells within the confines still provide a regular source of water to the fort.
Palaces of the Maharawals
Also, in front of the Chauhata Square lie the palaces of the Maharawals. Leading up to them is a flight of marble steps topped by the Maharawal's marble throne. Nearby lies the five-storeyed Tazia (metal) Tower, with ornate architecture and Bengali-style roofs. The five-tiered structure was constructed by Muslim craftsmen who worked on the building. The outer defences of the citadel are fortified by another high wall with a pathway running parallel to the first rampart. Beyond the entrance is the Ganesh Pol, leading up to the Rang Pol.
There was a time when everyone lived inside the fort itself, protected by its massive ramparts. As the population of Jaisalmer expanded, people started emigrating from within the fort's precincts from about the 17th century. However, even today the fort is a hive of activity, and you'll witness a cross-section of the populace living within it as you travel through its winding streets and alleys.
Installation of a unique device
The fort also has a peculiar gadget hoisted on top of its ramparts. Since Met departments were in short supply in those days, this was used to forecast the weather. Every year in April a flag would be placed in its centre and, based on the direction in which it blew, the weather for the entire year was forecast. If it blew northwards it indicated famine, and if it went westwards Ho the citizenry could rest assured that a fine monsoon was in the offing. May seem a bit primitive today but the system was probably just as accurate or inaccurate as the Met office nowadays.
Jaisalmer Fort -- A Marvel Built in Sandstone
Just as the Taj in Agra is worth visiting on a full moon night, Jaisalmer fort by nightfall is a sight to behold, it has all the romance and suspense of a Hitchcockian mystery. You half expect an invading army to march up to the castle, over its enormous paved flagstones, while those defending the fort shoot missiles at them from the ramparts. Suffice to say the Jaisalmer fort is one of the marvels of Rajasthani architecture, particularly of the stone-carver's art.