Of all the forts in Jaipur, legends surrounding Nahargarh Fort are far too many. There are stories of Nahargarh Fort being haunted. And the interest surrounding the ghosts of Nahargarh Fort got rekindled a year or two ago when a man was found hanging from one of the bastions of the fort. The police never reached the conclusion whether it was a suicide or a murder due to situations surrounding the event. It kind of adds to the mystery surrounding haunted stories of Nahargarh Fort. More about the claims of Nahargarh Fort being haunted later in this blog.
Nahargarh Fort is one of the three prominent forts of Jaipur. I can recall from my childhood days, this fort was not very popular among the locals and tourists, back then. While Amer Fort grabbed the attention of all travelers being the most popular tourist attraction in Jaipur. Jaigarh Fort has the largest cast iron canon in the world. One of the major reasons for Nahargarh Fort not being so popular was its lack of maintenance. It wasn’t promoted well, either.
The situation today is different. The fort enjoys huge popularity among locals and travelers alike. So what makes it so popular? The recent renovations over the last few years have enhanced the beauty of the fort.
The authorities have started promoting it too. You cannot find a better place for the kaleidoscopic views of Jaipur. In not too distant past, the wax museum and sculptor park were also added.
This fort sits on the southern end of a hill on which Jaigarh Fort is situated. While Jaigarh Fort provided a defense to Amer, Nahargarh Fort did the same to Jaipur.
The History of Nahargarh Fort
The fort was built by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II as a part of a defense system for Jaipur. He was a visionary who founded Jaipur in 1727 AD as a promising alternative to Amer, the previous capital of the region. Most records mention 1734 AD as the year when the fort was built. Initially, it was called Sudarshangarh. Later, it was renamed to Nahargarh to quell the spirit of Nahar Singh Bhomia. More on that, later in this post.
However, the fort didn’t have many of the current structures during the initial years. Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II built the fort with barracks for the soldiers, two Baoris, and a few rooms. Later, some additions were also made by Sawai Ram Singh II. The precise details are not available. Some records mention that the fort was used for the safe custody of the treasure.
The Palace section was built by the second last ruler of Jaipur, Sawai Madho Singh II in the later part of the 19th century, between 1883-1892 AD. Sawai Madho Singh II is known for having a large number of concubines and queens.
One of the most interesting events associated with the fort is that of imprisoning of a dancer- Ras Kapoor in the fort. Legends related to the same can be found later in this post.
Fort of Tigers? Many blogs and websites call this as Tiger Fort. Some even went on to claim “this is where tigers used to roam free.” While the literal translation is fine, it has no connection with tigers. The word Nahar does mean tiger but it was named so to quell the spirit of Nahar Singh.
The fort is built in a typical Rajput pattern that one finds across hill forts of Rajasthan. The palace section of the fort, Madhvendra Bhawan does have a European flavor.
There are a total of three entry gates in the fort. While two of these are outer gates, a single gate provides access to the Madhvendra Bhawan. Except for this palace, there are no striking architectural elements associated with this fort. In the palace, the walls are adorned with traditional motifs & designs.
The fort was built as a defense system and therefore it has 2 step wells or water storage systems.
This water reservoir provided an army enough water to outlast a long siege by the enemy forces. The water system in the Nahargarh Fort forms an important part of its architecture. The entire process of water collection is an eye-opener. It is surprising to learn how such a sophisticated water collection system could be built 300 years ago. I strongly recommend the Nahargarh Fort Heritage Water Walk for architecture enthusiasts. This walking tour can be pre-booked and you can find out more about it in this post.
Is Nahargarh Fort haunted?
The most interesting legend associated with the fort is that of a strange happening during the building of the fort. Laborers would return the following morning to find parts of the fort built by them damaged.
Apparently, someone would knock over the walls during the night. This continued for many days until Ponderik JI, a royal brahmin carried out a few Tantric rites. It was claimed that in the past this place was owned by Nahar Singh Bhomia. Some claim he was a Rathore Rajput others mention him to be the guardian of the place. The spirit did not like the construction activity leading to these strange events. The Ponderik Ji promised to the spirit that a temple will be built after which he performed tantric rituals to transfer the spirit to a temple in the Amagarh hill. One can visit Nahar Singh Temple in Ghat Ki Guni. Additionally, a small temple has also been built in the fort. Here is a picture of Nahar Singh Temple.
Probably, the episode of imprisonment of Ras Kapoor in the fort and her death in mysterious conditions fuelled the haunted stories of Nahargarh Fort. One of the rulers of Jaipur, Sawai Jagat Singh (1786-1818 AD) was enamored by this dancer of the royal court. The story spread like a wildfire among the locals. This development led to his slow disinterest in local affairs. He wanted to marry Ras Kapoor and gifted her half the empire and wealth. The royal court and public didn’t like this idea of Ras Kapoor’s growing interference in local administration and stature. There was a tremendous influence of the feudal lords in Jaipur court. Some of these feudal lords of Samode, Chomu, Diggi, and others started opposing Ras Kapoor openly. Unwantedly, Sawai Jagat Singh had to imprison Ras Kapoor in Nahargarh Fort fearing public opposition. There are many different variations in this story. Some mentioned that hearing the news of the death of Jagat Singh, Ras Kapoor fled from the fort and jumped into the pyre of the king. Other claims she dies under the mysterious circumstances in the fort. Yet another version claims Ras Kapoor was imprisoned in Jaigarh and not Nahargarh Fort. Do note the Madhvendra Bhawan was not in existence when Ras Kapoor was imprisoned in the fort.
Today there is little evidence about the fort being haunted. Many people visit this place during the night to have a haunted experience, unfortunately, they are disappointed. The accidents on Nahargarh Fort road during the night are a common occurrence. Some attribute these accidents to ghosts. In my opinion, drink and drive is a major cause of accidents.
Things To See
Madhvendra Bhawan, a palace as mentioned above was built by Sawai Madho Singh II consisting of nine chambers for the concubines or as the records put it, queens.
There is a section for the king too. It is astoundingly beautiful with painted chambers. Here is a picture from one such room.
The palace consists of a maze of courtyards, passageways, and terraces. Each female section is connected with two passageways. The first one was meant only for the king with a design that facilitated the discreet movement of the king. This was to rule out a feeling of jealousy among concubines. The second passage was meant to facilitate the socializing between concubines.
Each dwelling unit is complete in itself. It consisted of rooms for winter and summer, kitchen, toilet, and also sections to accommodate maids. The design of Madhvendra Bhawan looks like a typical Rajput architecture of this region but in its execution and detailing depict it to modern and European.
Evidently, the design speaks a lot about the influence of Samuel Swinton Jacob. The rooms inside the palace have undergone extensive renovation and painted floral frescoes on the walls and ceilings are beautiful.
It would be worth mentioning about the callous attitude of people when it comes to our heritage. A couple of years ago before the current round of renovations completed, I was appalled to see this in Nahargarh Fort palace and this prompted me to write a blog on saving our heritage, a national treasure. Have you checked it out? Stop doing this to our heritage
The Sculpture Park
A couple of years ago, during the previous government’s rule, Madhvendra Bhawan was turned into a display center for modern art and named Sculpture Park.
Even though the authorities claim that it has given impetus to tourism, there were many incongruencies. First of all, in many places, installing modern art pieces took away the essence of the place.
The rooms of the palace feature beautiful floral fresco painting. Installing art pieces reduced these rooms into merely a storage space. The visitor’s focus shifts. In my opinion, architecture and paintings is an art in itself, where is a need for modern art?
Another sad aspect of this park is that all open niche and storage space in the rooms were sealed with glass and irrelevant items were put in the display. How can one justify a used modern iron, old black and white picture of Mysore, old dolls as a display piece?
A couple of installation on the terrace finds no relevance. How are they connected with the Nahargarh Fort? In my opinion, the idea of opening a sculpture park in the palace is ill-conceived. The palace is beautiful enough to attract visitors without a need for creating a museum consisting of modern art.
Wax Museum & Sheesh Mahal
Wax museum is also being touted as a big revenue garnering activity. People who have never visited a wax museum might find something novel here. However, if you have already visited the wax museum elsewhere like Madame Tussaud’s, you might find it a rip-off.
Baoris/ Step-wells of Nahargarh Fort
There are two Baori or stepwell at Nahargarh Fort which is water storage systems. Both these Baoris are the most famous step-wells of Jaipur. While the smaller of the two is near the Madhvendra Bhawan, the most popular one is near the Nahargarh entrance from the city.
The latter is also called Rang De Basanti movie Baori as a popular song from this movie was filmed here. Possibly, this is the most visited point of Nahargarh Fort among the locals. The Baori was meant to store the water for more than a year and also survive a long siege by enemy forces. The best way to understand how the water system works is by undertaking the Nahargarh Fort Heritage Water walk.
Nahargarh Heritage Water Walk
The Heritage Water Walk is one of the most unique ways to experience the entire culture of water in this region. Almost all ancient empires and cities were built in and around water. In a similar manner, all ancient forts had a water storage system. This walk uncovers the system of water collection and storage which extends beyond the walls of the fort. Read an in-depth blog on Nahargarh heritage water walk
Offbeat Things At Nahargarh Fort
Sunset point was recently developed by the Dept. of Archaeology looking at growing popularity among visitors. For years, Padao used to be a place for witnessing the sunset.
However, this required paying entrance charges. The new sunset point is a reasonably large area and one needs not to pay a separate charge for the same. The Kali Burj is where the sunset point in Nahargarh Fort can be reached. Read an in-depth blog on Nahargarh Fort Sunset
Nahargarh Fort is one of the most popular sunrise points of Jaipur. It does offer a great sunrise experience. Read the best sunrise places in Jaipur
Sunrise Point in Nahargarh Fort is at the forking of the road soon after the entrance. The left one leads to the biggest stepwell, while the right one leads to the palace. A large number of visitors do not visit this point and rather choose to witness a sunrise from the ramparts near the Baori overlooking the city. Also relevant here would be my sunrise experience at Nahargarh Fort
Jaipur City View Point
Nahargarh Fort is a perfect place to enjoy the views of Jaipur from these locations:
- The terrace of Madhvendra Bhawan
- Padao Restaurant
- Sunset Point
All these excellent places for enjoying the expansive views of the Pink City.
Tourist climbing & walking on the fort Ramparts- A growing nuisance
Over the last few years, there is a growing trend of visitors climbing on ramparts and posting pictures on social media. This is more so in the case of foreign social media influencers and bloggers. Just search up on Instagram with a query for Nahargarh Fort and these images show up in huge numbers.
Walking on rampart is not permitted by the authorities. During many of my visits, I came across many instances where the guards instructed visitors to step down. The guards find it a growing menace. It is a risky activity that can result in losing a life with a fall of 400-500 feet. There have been many instances of such accidents. Luckily, most end up with a fracture. Travelers should note most travel insurances do not cover accidents of this nature. Is climbing on the ramparts for a few likes and comments worth the risk? I don’t think so!
Restaurant and Cafe- Where to eat in Nahargarh Fort?
These are a few options for travelers at the fort.
- Street Vendors near the fort parking
Padao bar cum restaurant is run by RTDC. It has been a popular hangout place for locals for many years. Many find food served here passable but the views are awesome.
- Once Upon A Time
Once upon a time replaced a restaurant operated by Rajasthan Tourism Dept. It used to generate a decent revenue but going with the trend the RTDC decided to pull a plug. The food at Once upon a time is nothing to write home about.
- Food Court in the Fort
How to visit Nahargarh
There are two ways to reach the Nahargarh Fort:
- Walking to Nahargarh Fort The walking Path To Nahargarh via a cobbled pathway that starts from the Purani Basti area in the walled city area of Jaipur. For a reasonably fit person, it takes 20-30 minutes to hike up the inclined pathway. It was designed for the horse carriages and elephants. These days one can only find pedestrians and bikes.
- The Nahargarh Hills road winds through the hilly terrain & allows one the easier access. The road branches off on Amer Road near Kanak Vrindavan garden. It takes 30-45 minutes to reach the fort from the heart of the city.
Jaigarh Fort is not far from Nahargarh Fort as it is on the farther end of the same hill. It takes around 15 minutes to reach Nahargarh Fort from Jaigarh Fort.
Amer Fort Even though Amer Fort is not far from Nahargarh, it still involves approximately 20-30 minutes of drive owing to the hilly road. In one of my Jaipur City guides, I have suggested travelers visit Nahargarh and Amer Fort on the same day because to save time. One can easily hire a tuk-tuk or taxi from Amer Fort.
The Madhvendra Bhawan can be accessed with an entry ticket. This section is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. The entrance ticket is 50 rupees for Indians and 200 rupees for foreigners. Alternatively, it is also covered under the composite entry ticket which allows entry to Amber Fort, Albert Hall Museum, Hawa Mahal, Isar Lat, and Jantar Mantar. This price of the ticket is Rs 300 for Indians and 1,000 rupees for foreigners.
Nahargarh Fort is open from 8 AM to 5.30 PM on all days of the week.
Nahargarh Fort At Night – Unlike other tourist attractions like Amer Fort which are open to the tourist under the night tourism program, the palace section is not open during the night, However, you can visit Padao and Once Upon A Time in the fort after 5.30 PM.
Availability of Ola and Uber
The service of Ola and Uber services is not available for the return leg of your trip. It is best to book your taxi under the fixed hour system. The only mode of transport available from the fort is Tuk-tuk.
Tuk-Tuk ride from Nahargarh Fort
One can take a Tuk-Tuk from the fort to the city for the return journey but it comes at a hefty price.
I’m sure this travel blog guide on Nahargarh Fort will help you uncover the most happening forts of Jaipur-Nahargarh Fort.
Have you ever been to Nahargarh Fort? If yes, what aspects did you like or didn’t like about this fort in Jaipur?