By LB THAPA, lately in Alwar, Rajasthan, FOR ONTOTHEROAD.COM

After seeing Alwar fort in Rajasthan, I was mesmerized by the aesthetic beauty of the fort. This is one of the best forts, I had ever seen in my life.  

Below is the story how I made my visit to Alwar fort in Rajasthan, India

My recent foray into traveling to a historical place took me to Alwar, Rajasthan. I chose to visit Alwar for one obvious reason and it was because my younger brother Lt. Colonel Sudhir Thapa was posted to Alwar, Rajastan. He was the command in charge of the Alwar army cantonment. How I could miss such an opportunity!  

Alwar has successfully preserved its rich history, culture and tradition that is now very rare in the world. Literally speaking I was much excited to visit Alwar and see those fabulous places of historical significance.

A view of Bala Quila as seen from Vinay Vilas Mahal. Photo: LB Thapa
The front view of Vijay Mandir Palace. Photo: LB Thapa
The hunting resort palace built by king Jey Singh. Photo: LB Thapa

I boarded Spicejet’s afternoon flight and landed at the Indira Gandhi International Airport at about 2pm. I saw an army man stood at the lounge with a placard of my name. I waved my hands towards him and he reciprocated with the sense of satisfaction.

I walked out of the main gate with two heavy bags, but one of the jawans took the bags from me and kept inside the jeep. The other jawan opened the door of the vehicle and asked me to get in with much reverence. I was inflated and began to feel a VIP…I am not used to such courteousness.

Those jawans were very nice men. I really liked their mannerism and discipline. All the way from the airport to the army guesthouse, they did not ask me anything, but they replied to my queries rather politely.

After about one hour and half drive, we reached Alwar, where my brother and his family were waiting to receive me. I was meeting with my brother for the first time since he was promoted to the rank of Lt. Colonel. I became nostalgic as soon as I saw him. I started remembering our early days of struggle in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh where we were born and raised. 

Alwar bears a grandeur history. But interestingly there has always been much controversy about the origin of its name ‘Alwar’. Different scholars and historians hold different opinions. It is believed that the name was derived from Salva tribe, who were from Salwapur.

In the course of time, it became Salwar and eventually Alwar. Yet another belief is that the name was taken from a hill Aravali. More convincing theory of its name goes to a research conducted during the reign of Maharaja Jey Singh of Alwar. Maharaja Alaghraj ruled the area in the 11th century. He founded the city of Alpur in 1049 A.D. Later its name became Alwar.

Later, Rao Pratap Singh extended his territory, constructing the Alwar Fort on 25th November 1775. The next ruler Maharao Raja Bakhtawar Singh (1791-1815) was a successful king of Alwar. He extended the territory of Alwar by annexing several neighboring kingdoms. It was his military skills that eventually weakened the mighty Maratha and Jat power to a great deal.   

In 1803, the Alwar king had made a treaty with the East India Company. During this time economic condition of Alwar had reached to its lowest rung. But Maharao Raja Viney Singh (1815-1857) ruled over Alwar with much success and greater authority.

He improved the economic status of Alwar to a respectable level. The development of Alwar was taken further by Jey Singh, who was made king in 1892. He was a prudential king with much stronger willpower and determination.  It was during his rule that Alwar eventually became one of the well-managed states.

Alwar is considered the most beautiful place in whole Rajasthan. The city is surrounded by Aravalli ranges from all sides. The highest peak of the Aravalli ranges has a magnificent fort, which has witnessed many wars and battles. Although many fierce battles were fought from this fort, the fort has been successful to preserve all its physical and aesthetical beauty intact.

Besides, Alwar is also famous for wildlife sanctuary, dense woods, mesmerized lakes, and dazzling hills. Only at the distance of 37km from downtown Alwar is Sariska Tiger Reserve and National Park. This National Park is maintained by Project Tiger.

The reserve has rich population of wildlife, including nilgai (blue bulls), sambar (large deer), spotted deer, wild boar, common langur, rhesus monkeys, leopards, hyenas, wild dogs, peafowl and tigers. Unfortunately, over the years, due to poaching, the number of tigers has been on rapid decline.

Poaching can’t be stopped until we stop buying goods made of animal hides. Rich people, across the world, are directly responsible to encourage poaching. If they show respect to wildlife and stop buying anything made of animals hide, the act of poaching will be stopped immediately.  

The next day early morning, we set out for Bala Quila or Alwar Fort. The fort is perched on about 595 meters above the sea level. It is located at such a great height that it can be seen from any part of Alwar. In those days forts would invariably be built on the highest peak of a mountain.

Height would give them an edge over the enemies…they could see them and also attack them from a height. Though Bala Quila is very famous and bears great historical importance, there is no concrete evidence that who had constructed this fort. Many historians and scholars believe that the fort was constructed before the rise of the Mughals.  

The massive fort has extended from north to south and from east to west by 5km and 2km respectively. The fort has 15 large towers and 51 small towers with 446 positions for firing at the enemy. Brilliant masonry works can leave one mesmerized. Every pillar, walls, balcony, surface, ceiling, dome has been beautified with brilliant skilled works of artists.

The fort has many fine-looking structures inside it such as the Nikumbha Mahal Palace. This part of the palace has been built with Bengal caned marble bearing lattice designs.  There are six gates named after famous personalities. All six gates look extremely stunning. The visitors never fail to get photographed at all these gates.

Collection of old light arms. Photo: LB Thapa
Old rifles displayed in the museums. Photo: LB Thapa
A leopard displayed in the museum. Photo: LB Thapa
A tiger displayed in the museum. Photo: LB Thapa

Vinay Vilas Mahal does also bear immense historic value. This palace was built in 18th century. The interesting thing about this palace is the combination of Rajput and Mughal architecture. The top floor of this palace has been devoted to a museum.

The museum has incredibly a large collection of ancient paintings of Rajput and Mughal time.  There are many handwritten books in Arabic, Persian and Sanskrit languages. A hand written biography of Babar in Arabic language has been kept for the public show…this is a very rare book indeed.

A huge collection of ancient guns, shields, swords, arrows, daggers and rare clothes used by kings and queens have also been kept in the museum. An illustrated Mahabharata on a 200-foot long scroll must not miss by any visitors to this museum. There are some historic swords belonging to the Sultan Muhammad Ghori, Emperor Akbar and Aurangzeb.

The photography was banned inside the museum, but I was not aware of this notice. No sooner had I clicked a photo than a security guard, looked very furious, ran towards me. He looked committed to delete the picture I had taken, but when he saw I was along with the two soldiers, he calmed down much faster than he got angry.

Anyway, I apologized to the man and kept my camera in the bag. From the museum we came to home. Upon reaching the home, I expressed my disappointment to being not able to get the photographs of the museum. But to my amazement, Virat, my youngest nephew, had taken some photos secretly, because he knew that I had planned to write a feature article about Alwar.

Coming down from the Bala Quila, on the way we visited to Vijay Mandir Palace. It was a huge palace. A large pond in the middle of the palace is the cynosure of all eyes. This palace was built by Maharaja Jey Singh. The whole palace is decorated with unique carvings on stone, which is simply awesome indeed. Plenty of white marbles have been used for the inner part of the palace, which has enhanced its beauty by many folds.

My weeklong visit to Alwar came to an end. It was time to make a return journey to Nepal. I made final notes and kept it in the bag. The places I visited in Alwar were simply awe-inspiring. They are so marvelous and unique that their preservation is very important. Such historic places are as important to us as to our posterity.

However, I found almost all of the historic places I visited in Alwar were poorly managed, dirty and filth scattered everywhere. When I visited Vijay Mandir Palace, I had to wait for half an hour to take a photograph of the palace only because there were too many donkeys roaming around. I did not want any donkeys to be seen in the photographs. Although some renovation task was going on over Bala Quila, many places of the fort were ignored…left in oblivion.

The only palace I found neat and clean was a Hunting Resort Palacebuilt by King Jey Singh.  King Jey Sigh would stay in this palace during the hunting trips. This palace was under the control of the army. I agree with the idea of my brother, who opined that all the historic places of Alwar and elsewhere must come under the command and control of the army.

The scribe poses for a photograph in front of Vijay Mandir Palace. Photo: LB Thapa

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I am a travel blogger.

1 Comment

  1. Alex Platini, Italy Reply

    I had also been to Alwar in 2014. My original plan was to stay in Alwar for two days but I ended up staying in Alwar for a week.

    By the way I am also a blogger and I am planning to visit to Nepal. I hope I will meet you on my visit.

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