Forts in India are closely linked to the country’s ancient history and heritage. These exquisite, towering monuments have been sites of epic battles, served as shelters for armies and have contributed to shaping India as we know it today. These mammoth structures continue to stand tall as physical reminders of India’s colourful history.
Forts and palaces of India have caught the fascination of people. Visiting Indian forts and palaces is a sublime experience. Architecturally, the forts are absolute marvels. The intriguing myths and legends surrounding them are equally interesting. Here are some of the best forts in India.
Incredible Forts In India You Cannot Miss Visiting
1. Amber Or Amer Fort, Jaipur, Rajasthan
A stunning blend of Mughal and Hindu architecture, Amber Fort is also known as Amer Fort. It is one of the most popular forts of India and among the many found in the state of Rajasthan. Rajput ruler Maharaja Man Singh I began constructing Amer Fort in 1592. Sawai Jai Singh ii is credited to have fortified the city of Jaipur roughly a century later. It is made of red sandstone and white marble. Amer Fort gets its name from the small town Amer it is situated in. The main complex inside Amer Fort has a series of courtyards, palaces, halls and gardens. The Sheesh Mahal (Mirror Palace) is renowned for its intricate carvings and shimmering walls and ceilings. A sound and light show in the evenings trace the elaborate history of Amer Fort. It is one of Jaipur’s top tourist attractions and is one among the six hill forts of Rajasthan which are designated UNESCO world heritage sites. Nearby, you can also find the Jaigarh Fort, which overlooks the Amer Fort. Jaipur has several other such attractions worth visiting.
- Address: Devisinghpura, Amer, Jaipur, Rajasthan 302001
- Opened: 1592
- Constructed by: Man Singh I (Raja Man Singh)
- Materials: Sandstone, Marble
- Best time to visit: September – March
2. Golconda Fort, Hyderabad, Telangana
Built by the Kakatiya kings, the gorgeous Golconda Fort in Hyderabad is renowned for its military architecture. During the 17th century, it rose to prominence for its diamond market. Golconda Fort is considered to be one of the seven wonders of Hyderabad. Within the fort, there are numerous gateways, drawbridges, temples, mosques, royal apartments and halls, and stables. The fort’s eerie acoustics are also a delightful tourist attraction. A single clap can be heard at a distance of one kilometre! You can stroll around the well-maintained gardens and marvel at the fort’s colossal structure. There’s also an 800-year-old tree within the confines of the fort that you can check out.
- Address: Khair Complex, Ibrahim Bagh, Hyderabad, Telangana 500008
- Destruction date: 1687
- Best time to visit: All-year round
3. Agra Fort, Agra, Uttar Pradesh
Agra Fort was one of the first Mughal forts of India, from where four generations of influential Mughal emperors ruled. Agra Fort was also one of the first sites in India to get a UNESCO World Heritage Site listing, in 1983. The fort, made of red sandstone, was initially constructed by Mughal emperor Akbar in the 16th century when he decided to make Agra his capital but was completed by emperor Shah Jahan, who was his grandson. It was essentially a military installation. The British seized control of the fort in 1803. It became a site of a battle during the Sepoy Mutiny in 1857. After the British left India, the fort was handed over to the Indian government. The well-preserved fort is now a major tourist site.
- Address: Agra Fort, Rakabganj, Agra, Uttar Pradesh 282003
- Architectural style: Islamic architecture
- Built: 1565-1573
- Owners: Lodi dynasty (1504–1526)
- Best time to visit: October – March
4. Gwalior Fort, Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh
Gwalior Fort, Madhya Pradesh has had a long and turbulent history. It has been the site of several attacks and has seen many different rulers. Gwalior Fort is pretty huge and there’s a lot to see within the fort complex. There are historic monuments, palaces and temples to see within the compound of the fort. Gwalior fort was built to its current state of grandeur during the reign of the Rajput Tomar dynasty. Ruler Raja Man Singh Tomar was responsible for crafting one of the fort’s main highlights- Man Mandir Palace. The outer walls of the well-preserved Gwalior Fort are decorated with blue mosaic tiles and rows of yellow ducks.
- Address: Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh 474008
- Built: the 8th century
- Battles/wars: Numerous
- Materials: Sandstone, Lime mortar
- Burials: Chhatar Singh
- Best time to visit: October-March
5. Red Fort, Delhi
The Red Fort is symbolic in two different ways. While it is a reminder of the Mughal rule in India it is also an icon of independent India. Red Fort was constructed in 1648 by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan. The British destroyed much of the fort’s palatial buildings after the failed Indian Rebellion of 1857. They then set up an army base inside the Red Fort. The Red Fort was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2007.
The fort’s well-preserved buildings have marble and floral decorations, a trademark of Mughal style architecture. Mumtaz Mahal, Diwan-i-Khas and Hira Mahal are some of the famous structures within it. At specific periods in history, the Red Fort has also been taken over by the Sikhs, Marathas and the British. Every year on Independence Day the Prime Minister of India hoists the national flag at the Red Fort gate and delivers a speech from its ramparts.
- Address: Netaji Subhash Marg, Lal Qila, Chandni Chowk, New Delhi, Delhi 110006
- Built: 12 May 1639 – 6 April 1648; (8 years, 10 months and 25 days)
- Architectural style(s): Indo-Islamic, Mughal
- Architect: Ustad Ahmad Lahouri
- Best time to visit: October – February
6. Chittorgarh Fort, Chittorgarh, Rajasthan
Another among the hill forts of Rajasthan, Chittorgarh Fort or Chittor Fort is one of the largest forts in India, covering almost 700 acres of land. You’ll need to explore the fort in a vehicle owing to how expansive it is. Mewar kings ruled from the fort for almost eight centuries before Mughal Emperor Akbar took over. Some parts of the fort are in ruins, but a majority of it is still intact. Inside the fort complex, you will find old palaces, temples, towers, and a reservoir where it’s possible to feed fish. Vijay Stambha (Tower of Victory) offers a stunning view of the city around. Chittorgarh fort was also used as a royal cremation ground.
- Address: Chittor Fort Road, Chittorgarh, Rajasthan 312001
- Battles/wars: Siege of Chittorgarh (1303); Siege of Chittorgarh (1535); Siege of Chittorgarh (1567–1568)
- Occupants: Bappa Rawal, Kumbha of Mewar, Udai Singh II
- Best time to visit: October-March
Also Read: Why Is Rajasthani Culture So Fascinating?
7. Jaisalmer Fort, Jaisalmer, Rajasthan
Jaisalmer Fort is unlike any other fort in India. It is a ‘living’ fort that is home to thousands of people who have been residing in it for several decades. The fort’s trademark yellow sandstone makes it an unmissable sight. One of the largest forts in India, there are a host of shops, hotels and restaurants within the premises of the fort. Jaisalmer Fort also has a palace complex, old haveli mansions, and several Jain temples for you to visit. There are seven Jain temples within the complex all dedicated to a Tirthankara (Jain sage). Rajput ruler Rawal Jaisal began building Jaisalmer Fort in 1156, which makes it one of the oldest forts in Rajasthan. Jaisalmer Fort is one among the six hill forts of Rajasthan and a UNESCO world heritage site.
- Address: near Gopa CHOCK, Khejer Para, Manak Chowk, Amar Sagar Pol, Jaisalmer, Rajasthan 345001
- Built by: Rawal Jaisal
- Built: 1155 AD
- Architect: Rawal Jaisal
- Best time to visit: November – March
Also Read: 11 Reasons To Visit Rajasthan This Year
8. Chitradurga Fort, Chitradurga, Karnataka
Chitradurga Fort is on the way to Hampi from either Bangalore or Mysore. It’s famous for all the legends that are associated with it. If you’re visiting the fort make sure you wear the right kind of footwear because there’s a lot of climbing and walking involved. Spread over 1,500 acres on a cluster of rocky hills, the fort was constructed in stages by rulers of various dynasties. Its ramparts are made from huge blocks of granite. Apparently, the fort also has 35 secret pathways and four invisible passages. Other attractions include ancient temples, artillery units, stone carvings and sculptures and grinding stones. It is one of the major attractions in the lesser-known town of Chitradurga.
- Address: Chitradurga, Karnataka 577501
- Built: the 16th century
- Built by: Chalukya dynasty
- Battles/wars: Nayakas against Hyder Ali in 1760s, 1770s and 1799
- Best time to visit: October- March
Also Read: Top 15 Reasons You Must Visit Karnataka
9. Mehrangarh Fort, Jodhpur, Rajasthan
Located in Jodhpur city of Rajasthan, Mehrangarh Fort is more than 500 years old and is one of the biggest forts in India. The fort, which is a majestic structure, was founded by Rao Jodha and has seven gates built by several Maharajas for their victory. Mehrangarh Fort is situated 410 feet above the city. Inside the fort, Mehrangarh has gorgeous palaces like the Moti Mahal and the Sheesha Mahal. There’s also a Chamunda Devi temple and museum with a breathtaking collection of artefacts at Mehrangarh Fort. Intricate carvings and expansive courtyards are defining features of Mehrangarh Fort. Mehrangarh Fort, Jodhpur is definitely worth a visit.
- Built by: Jodhpur State
- Function: Museum
- Architect: Jodha of Mandore
- Best time to visit: October – March
10. Kangra Fort, Kangra, Himachal Pradesh
The Kangra Fort is built by the Royal family of Kangra and is situated at the confluence of the Banganga and Manjhi rivers in the Kangra valley of Himachal Pradesh. This fort is located in Old Kangra and is believed to be one of the oldest forts in the world and is the largest fort in the Himalayas. The road journey to the fort offers breathtaking views of the landscape around and the fort is close to Dharamsala. The Vajreshwari temple is the highlight within Kangra Fort, attracting tourists from all over.
- Address: Old Kangra, Kangra, Himachal Pradesh 176001
- Built by: Rajput family of Kangra State (the Katoch dynasty)
- Materials: Granite, Lime mortar
- Best time to visit: September-June
Also Read: 10 Best Places To Visit In Himachal Pradesh
11. Panhala Fort, Kolhapur, Maharashtra
One of the most famous forts in Maharashtra, Panhala fort is located over a pass in the Sahyadri mountain range near Kolhapur. The structure of the fort represents the great Maratha Empire and is associated with Shivaji Maharaj, the great Maratha warrior. Panhala is the only fort where Shivaji Maharaj spent more than 500 days. It was Maratha State capital until 1782 and in 1827 it went to the British. Sights within the temple include the Sambhaji temple, the Someshwar temple, Teen Darwaza, and Raj Dindi.
- Address: Panhala Fort, Panhala, Maharashtra 416201
- Battles/wars: Battle of Pavan Khind
- Built: 1178, 1489 (major expansion)
- Built by: Bhoja II, Adel Shah
- Best time to visit: October – December
Also Read: 9 Reasons Why I Loved Visiting Maharashtra
12. Srirangapatnam Fort, Srirangapatna, Karnataka
Situated near the river Kaveri, among the most prominent monuments in Karnataka is the Srirangapatna Fort. Karnataka has several heritage monuments but this is one heritage destination has seen many changes since it was built in 1454. It was a prime defence centre for many decades. It was first built as a mud fort during the reign of the Vijayanagara Empire by a local chieftain named Timmanna Hebbar.
Once the Vijayanagar Rule ended and the region came under the control of Mysore Wodeyar King this fort was rebuilt in 1654. In 1782, Tipu Sultan, son of Hyder Ali took control of the fort. When you first enter the fort you will notice a Persian inscription mentioning the date of construction at the gateway. Within, there is a Rocket Court from where Tipu Sultan used to launch missiles. It is only 23 km away from Mysore and can be easily accessed via road.
- Address: Srirangapatna Fort, Karnataka 571438
- Best time to visit: October-March
13. Kumbhalgarh Fort, Kumbhalgarh, Rajasthan
Kumbhalgarh Fort of Rajasthan is home to the second-largest wall complex in the world. It also hosts the biggest Rajput festival called the “Jauhar Mela”. It is 3600 ft tall and 38km long and is believed to have been built by Rana Kumbha in the 15th century. Located on the western Aravalli Hills Kumbhalgarh Fort has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Other famous forts around Rajasthan include the Jaigarh Fort and Taragarh Fort.
- Address: Kumbhalgarh, Rajasthan 313325
- Opened: 1500
- Built by: Kumbha of Mewar
- Built: 15th century
- Best time to visit: October – March
14. Junagarh Fort, Bikaner, Rajasthan
Junagarh Fort, Bikaner is one of Rajasthan’s lesser-known forts. While forts are usually found on hilltops, this fort stands right in the middle of Bikaner city. In fact, after the fort was built, the city slowly formed around it. Raja Rai Singh, the sixth ruler of Bikaner, built the fort during his reign from 1571 to 1612. After Rai Singh, rulers added elaborate palaces, ladies quarters, audience halls, temples, and pavilions, adding to the grandeur of Junagarh Fort.
Junagarh Fort was originally named Chintamani and was later renamed to Junagarh (Old Fort) in the 20th century when the royal family relocated to Lalgarh Palace outside the fort limits. The fort has two impressive museums in it that have compelling royal artefacts and memorabilia. Guided tours are available for all visitors.
- Address: Bikaner Fort, Bikaner, Rajasthan 334001
- Built: 1589-1594
- Built by: Karan Chand under Raja Rai Singh of Bikaner
- Controlled by: Government of Rajasthan
- Materials: Marble, red sandstone
- Best time to visit: All-year-round
15. Bhangarh Fort, Alwar, Rajasthan
Bhangarh fort is most famous for its ghost stories and is also one of the largest forts. This infamous ruin has been regarded as the most haunted place in the country. Located between Jaipur and Delhi, the fort was built in the 17th century by one of the Navratans of Akbar’s court, Man Singh I for his grandson Madho Singh I. Within the fort you will find temples and palaces that now lay in ruins which add to the eerie atmosphere. If you enjoy visiting haunted places for the thrills, Bhangarh fort is the palace to be.
- Address: Tehsil, Gola ka baas, Rajgarh, Bhangarh, Rajasthan 301410
- Owner: Government of India
- Materials: Stones and Bricks
- Best time to visit: September – February
The Forts Of India Remain An Integral Part Of Its Culture And Heritage
There are several more forts in India, such as Murud Janjira, the island fort, Raigad Fort and Visapur Fort. All three, Raigad Fort, Visapur Fort and Murud Janjira are located in Maharashtra. The myriad forts in India are reminders of our vibrant history. The forts in India are renowned all over the world for their style and design. Forts can be classified into different categories: Jala-durga (water fort), Dhanvana- or Maru-durga (desert fort), Giri-durga (hill fort) and Vana-durga (forest fort). Let us know in the comments below what your favourite forts in India are!
Also Read: Where To See The Best Mughal Buildings
There are approximately 1000 forts in India.
Some of the most popular forts in India include Red Fort, Agra Fort, Amber Fort, Jaigarh Fort, Mehrangarh Fort, Jaisalmer Fort, and Gwalior Fort.
Rajasthan is home to the maximum number of forts in India.
The Chittor Fort or Chittorgarh is the largest fort in India.
Jaipur, among other cities in Rajasthan, is fondly called the city of forts because of the huge number of forts.