Nagaur Fort, locally known as Ahhichatragarh (fort of the hooded cobra) is one of the finest examples of Rajput-Mughal architecture. It was one of the first Muslim strongholds in northern India. The fort was originally constructed by Nagavanshis in 2nd century and later renovated by Mohammed Bahlim, a governor of the Ghaznivids. The fort was rebuilt in the early 12th century and altered repeatedly over the centuries. It witnessed many battles. The fort underwent major renovations in 2007. The fort was shortlisted in the contender list for the “Aga Khan Award for Architecture 2013”. This award is bestowed in credit of architectural superiority in the area of historic safeguarding, reprocess, area maintenance and landscape design and enhancement of the surroundings.
The Nagaur fort has three entrance doors. First one was “Sireh Pole”, made of iron and wood spikes to guard against elephant charges and enemy attacks. The second gate is called “Beech ka Pole” and the last one is “Kacheri Pol”. The fort contains many palaces like Deepak Mahal, Hadi Rani Mahal, Akbari Mahal, Bakht Singh Palace, Rani Mahal and Amar Sing Mahal. The fort also contains many fountains, temples, reservoirs, open terraces and beautiful gardens that dates back to the ancient Mughal era. Several delicate portraits embellish numerous ceilings and walls of the places.
Hadi Rani Mahal is the most marvellously adorned palaces of the fort. It has brilliantly engraved designs throughout its ceilings and walls. The legendary character Hadi Rani was the the daughter of Hada Rajput Chundawat Chieftain of Salumbar Mewar who sacrificed herself to motivate her husband to go to the war. When Maharana Raj Singh I (1653-1680) of Mewar called his son to join the battle against Aurangzeb, the Sardar having married only a few days earlier hesitated about going into battle. He asked his wife Hadi Rani for some memento to take with him to the battlefield.
Thinking that she was an obstacle to his doing his duty for Mewar, she cut off her head and put it on a plate in her dying moments. A servant covered it with a cloth and presented it to her husband. The Sardar, devastated but nevertheless proud, tied the memento around his neck by its hair. He fought bravely, making the Aurangzeb forces flee, and after his victory, he got to his knees and cut his neck, having lost the desire to live.
Nagaur lies between Bikaner and Jodhpur. Jodhpur to Nagaur is 140 km and Bikaner to Nagaur is 114 km.
Bidar Fort is situated in Bidar city of the Indian state of Karnataka. Originally built in the 8th century, the old fort of Bidar was captured in 1321-22 AD by Prince Ulugh Khan of the Tughlaq dynasty, who later on became Sultan Muhammad bin Tughluq of Delhi. With the establishment of the Bahmani Sultanate in 1347, Bidar was occupied by Sultan Alauddin Bahman Shah. During the rule of Ahmad Shah I (1422-1486), Bidar was made the capital of Bahmani Kingdom. He rebuilt the old fort and erected beautiful madrasas, mosques and palaces inside it. Long and winding fort walls were constructed out of stone and mortar by Persian and Turkish architects.
Bidar fort was captured by the independent Bijapur Sultanate in 1619-20 but fell to the Mughal viceroy Aurangzeb in 1657, and was formally absorned by the Mughal Empire in 1686. In 1724 Bidar became part of the Asaf Jahi Kingdom of the Nizams. Nawab Mir Said Muhammad Khan, also known as Salabath Jung, who was the third son of Asaf Jah I ruled from Bidar fort from 1751 to 1762, till his brother Mir Nizam Ali Khan also known as Asaf Jah II, imprisoned him and later killed him in the fort on 16th September 1763. The old name of Bidar “Mohammedabad” refers to the rule of Salabath Jung. In 1956 when the state of Hyderabad was partitioned, Bidar fort became part of the newly formed Mysore state, now Karnataka.
The Bidar fort was constructed on the edge of a plateau and has a haphazard rhombus-shaped layout. The present day fortress was rebuilt using red laterite stone around the old fort in 1428 by Ahmed Shah Bahman. The fort is 1.21 km long and 0.80 km in breadth. The fort walls measure 2.5 km on the outside and include within numerous buildings, arches, pavilions, mosques, gateways and gardens. To the north and east, steep cliffs provide natural protection to the moat and the glacis elsewhere, the walls are protected by a unique tripe channeled moat. There were seven gates to the Fort.
There are 37 bastions on the fort walls, with cannon made of bars of metal welded together and held together by metal hoops were mounted on the bastions. The fort has number of monuments within the fortress complex. Prominent among them are the Rangin Mahal, Takht Mahal, the Jami masjid and the Sola Khamba Masjid (Sixteen pillar mosque). Most of these structures are in ruins now.
How to reach:
Bidar railway station is well connected with the rest of the country.
Bidar is well connected with the nearby cities by a network of buses by both Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation and private buses. Hyderabad is 147 kms from Bidar.
Kankaria lake, formerly known as Hauz-e-Qutub is situated in the south-eastern part of the Ahmedabad city in the Maninagar area. This polygonal lake was built in 1451 by Sultan Qutbuddin. At the centre of the lake is a garden called Nagina Wadi (which means beautiful garden in Urdu). In 2008 the lake front was revamped and developed around it with many public attractions like zoo, toy train, tethered balloon ride, water rides, food stalls etc.
Another important attraction around the lake is the Dutch and Armenian tombs. They are located on the One Tree Hill embankment, announcing the strong trade presence of the Dutch East India Company in the city of Ahmedabad. In the 17th and 18th centuries Dutch traders from Holland came to Gujarat. They used to trade cotton cloth, yarn and indigo. Surat was the main centre of their trade but a small number of them lived in Ahmedabad. These tombs were built in their memory. The tombs were built in Saracenic style with domes and pillars. The dates of the tombs are ranging from 1641 to 1699. The Armenian tombs belonged to the brokers in the Dutch factory. The inscriptions in some of the tombs are in Dutch and Latin.
Often called simply as collared doves, they breed close to human habitation wherever food resources are abundant and there are trees for nesting. It is a medium sized dove, distinctly smaller than the wood pigeon, similar in length to rock pigeon but slimmer and longer-tailed. The eye is surrounded by a small area of bare skin, which is either white or yellow. The two sexes are virtually indistinguishable and juveniles differ in having a poorly developed collar and a brown iris.
Indian giant squirrel or Malabar giant squirrel (Ratufa Indica). The Indian giant squirrel is an upper-canopy dwelling species, which rarely leave the trees, and construct their nests on tall, profusely branched trees. It travels from tree to tree with jumps of up to 6 meters. When in danger it often freezes or flattens itself against the tree trunk, instead of fleeing. Its main predators are the birds of prey and the leopards. They are active in the early hours of the morning and in the evening and rest during midday. These pictures were taken at Nagarhole National Park, Karnataka.
The Golconda fort is undoubtedly one of the most magnificent fortress complexes in India. The fortress rests on a granite hill 120 meters high surrounded with huge crenellated ramparts. Golconda also known as Gol konda (Round shaped hill) or Golla Konda (Shepherd’s hill) is a citadel cum fort. It is located 11 km from the city of Hyderabad in the Indian state of Telangana. The region is famous for the mines that have produced some of the world’s most famous gems like Koh-i-noor and Hope Diamond. The fort used to have a vault where once these diamonds were stored.
Golconda Fort was first built by the Kakatiya dynasty as part of their western defenses. The fort was rebuilt and strengthened by Rani Rudrama Devi and her successor Prataparudra. Later the fort came under the control of the Musunuri Nayaks, who defeated the Tughlaqi army occupying Warangal. It was ceded by Musunuri Kapaya Nayak to the Bahmini Sultante as part of the treaty in 1364. Under Bahmini rule, Golconda slowly rose to prominence and Sultan Quli Qutub-ul-Mulk was sent to Golconda as the governor in 1501 AD. Bahmini rule gradually weakened during this period and Sultan Quli formally became independent in 1538 AD, establishing the Qutub Shahi dynasty based in Golconda. Over a period of 62 years, the mud fort was expanded by the first three Qutub Shahi sultans into the present structure, a massive fortification of granite extending around 5 km in circumference. It remained the capital of the Qutub Shahi dynasty until 1590 when the capital was shifted to Hyderabad, but the fort remained to be the stronghold of the dynasty.
In January 1687 AD, Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb led his force to besiege the Qutub Shahi dynasty at Golconda Fort. He surrounded the fort with 100 canons in order to breach the granite walls of the fort but with no success. The siege of Golconda lasted 8 months and on various occasions it had pushed the massive Mughal army to its limits, in fact the Golconda fort was probably the most impregnable fort in South Asia. After a siege of 8 months, the Mughals entered the fort through a decisive victory but through the secret treachery of Sarandaz Khan, a military official in the army of the Qutub Shahi dynasty, who was bribed to open one gate and let the Mughals enter the fort. Aurangzeb left the fort intentionally in ruins.
The Golconda consists of four distinct forts with a 10 km long outer wall with 87 semicircular bastions (some still mounted with cannons), eight gateways and four drawbridges, with a number of royal apartments and halls, temples, mosques, magazines, stables etc. The lowest of these is the outermost enclosure into which we enter by “Fateh Darwaza” or Victory Gate (so called after Aurangzeb’s triumphant army marched in through this gate), studded with giant iron spikes (to prevent elephants from battering them down) near the southern corner. At Gateh Darwaza one can experience the fantastic acoustic effect. A hand clap at certain point below the dome at the entrance reverberates and can be heard clearly at the main hall, almost a kilometer away, a warning note to the royals in case of attacks.
It is an arduous task to discover every nook and corner of the Golconda fort which spreads across an area of 11 kms. A visit to the fort reveals the architectural beauty of the various buildings in the complex.
This is without doubt the most adventurous road trip in India, the highway which connects the Manali town in the state of Himachal Pradesh and Leh the erstwhile capital of the Himalayan kingdom of Ladakh, now the Leh district of the state of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K). This highway was designed, built and maintained entirely by the Boarder Roads Organisation (BRO) of Indian Army. This highway plays a major role in reaching the supplies to the Indian army units which are stationed in the international border with China in the north and east and the Line of Control along the Pakistani- administered territories of Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan in the west and north- west.
The highway is open for only about four and a half months in a year during summer between end of May when the snow is cleared and to Mid-October when the snow fall again blocks the passes. The highway has an average elevation of more than 13,000 feet and its highest elevation is 17,480 feet. It is flanked by mountain ranges on both sides featuring some stunning sand and rock natural formations and breath taking sceneries.
This 500 km highway crosses many small streams of ice-cold water from snow-caped mountains without any bridges which demands driving skill to negotiate fast-flowing streams. After passing the Rohtang Pass, the landscape changes as this region lies in a rain-shadow and the slopes become brown and arid. The highway is generally two lanes wide without a road divider but has only one or one and a half lanes at some stretches. This highway is very tricky due to many damaged stretches and under maintenance portions, where little rainfall can cause landslide making it very dangerous to cross that stretch of the road.
Travellers may experience acute mountain sickness due to high altitude on this highway and is advised to stay at Manali one night and minimum one night at either Keylong or Darcha to get acclimated to lower oxygen levels. Travel time on this highway is unpredictable though minimum three days are advised for ordinary tourists because the real fun and pleasure is in the journey itself and not reaching the destination.