It is no secret that India is a land of dense history with bottomless roots. From the very beginning, India has been a witness to the rules of kings and the show of their riches, their lavishness, their enviable lifestyle and their unbelievable creations.
A part of such creations, a big part, were palaces. Huge, magnificent, beautiful, grand and extremely royal. The grandeur of these palaces got their names inked in golden letters in the scriptures of Indian architectural history, with the names of their creators. They were a matter of pride amongst the royalty then. These forts stood through the highs and lows of the empires and have seen many wars and rules. And with the passage of time, they have withered and nothing but their ruins are left to be marvelled upon.
Here are some places in India which are ruins of those once splendid examples of architecture and design, definitely worth a visit!
1. Daulatabad Fort, Aurangabad
|Photo by cool_spark, CC BY 2.0
Believed to have been built in 1857, by Yadav king Bhilan, Daulatabad Fort once stood tall in Daulatabad, the capital of Tughluq Dynasty since 1327. Muhammad Bin Tughluq, who shifted his capital here from Delhi because he was smitten by the beauty and the architecture, but later he shifted back to Delhi due to the scarcity of water. Tughluq was a far-sighted ruler, owner of the moniker "Mad King". He is known for shifting his capital from Daulatabad to Delhi and from Delhi to Daulatabad, quite a few times.
Rich in history, Daulatabad Fort is a sheer example of defensive, intelligent architecture, with just one gate for entry and exit, no parallel roads leading to the fort, spiked gates, curved walls and false doors which lead to crocodiles, etc. One has to pay a visit to the ruins of this once glorious fort in Maharashtra, to come up close with the war strategies which varied from flowing hot oil to pit full of crocodiles.
Daulatabad is a 6-hour ride away from Mumbai. Which you can reach via NH160 or NH61.
2. Kumbhalgarh Fort, Rajasthan
|Photo by Rahul Patnaik, CC BY-SA 3.0
A proud owner of the Great Wall of India, second largest in the world, after the Great Wall of China, Kumbhalgarh Fort is a pride of Rajasthan. It was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2013. Though due to the lack of evidence it is not certain who built the fort originally, but the current form of the fort was built by Rana Kumbha, who was Hindu Sisodiya Rajput. Rana Kumbha was a fierce warrior and held an expertise in architecture. He designed 32 out of the 84 forts in his dominion, stretched across Rajasthan to some parts of Madya Pradesh. Kumbhalgarh was one of his most elaborate creations. The fort sports more than 300 temples in and around the complex.
Its sumptuous architecture, makes it a must visit, if you wish to sneak a peek into the past. It is situated 82 kilometres from Udaipur and can be accessed by a 2-hour ride.
3. Leh Royal Palace, Leh
|Photo by Alex Hanoko, CC BY-ND 2.0
4 centuries old, this palace, popularly known in the locality as "Lhachen Palkhar", was built by the famous Namgyal dynasty. Built in only 3 years, this structure is an architectural wonder on such steep mountains and highest of altitudes. Following the medieval Tibetan architecture and an imprint of the Patola Palace of Lhasa, Tibet. The palace also includes mud as an ingredient of its construction materials and thus is, more often than not, referred to as "mud palace".
The higher stories of this Palace were used as residence by the royal family and the lower ones housed the stables and store rooms, till Ladakh was taken control of by the Dogra Forces and the royal family was forced to move to Stok Palace.
You must visit Leh Royal Palace to be mesmerised by the panoramic view of Leh from its roof, the most preferred mode of transport to reach here is by air.
The nearest airport is Leh Air Force Base Airport, from where the Palace is only 5 kilometres.
4. Palace of Kangla, Manipur
|Photo by Meghroddur, CC BY-SA 4.0
Believed to be almost 2 millennia old, this palace has been the traditional seat of the royals of Manipur, Meitei. Situated in the heart of Imphal, capital city of Manipur, Kangla Palace was built on either sides of the Imphal River. But due to the decay with the passage of time, only the western half of the palace remains in its former glory. The major destruction of the fort took place when Burmese ruled over the region for 7 long years, which is known as 'Chahi Taret Khuntakpa' meaning Seven Years Devastation. Religiously, it is believed to be the most sacred of places and the humble abode of God himself and houses more than 350 sacred spots alone.
The fort is a major reflaction of the much-ignored history of north-east India, hence, is a must visit for history enthusiasts. The fort is open for visitors and can be accessed via road, easily.
5. Bhangarh, Rajasthan
|Photo by A Frequent Traveller, CC BY 2.0
One of the most infamous sites of Indian history, Bhangarh is definitely the most haunted palace in the whole of India. 6 centuries old, this fort was a glorious monument back in the day. But no one knows what took place which made this fort crumble to ruins faster than a house of cards. The paranormal happenings in the palace have left it empty. The village near the palace has emptied and no one but the tourists visit the fort in order to seek some horror adventure.
Bhangarh can be reached from Jaipur via a 2-hour drive on NH21.
Summing up, even though they do not stand close to what they were before, they are still quite luring. One can only imagine what they were in all their glory!
Himanshu is a collector of books on History of various regions of India. He doesnot let go of an opportunity to visit any place of historical importance. His quest with India and its past can be read on his blog. He is an active contributor to PearlsIndiaTour and in his free time, likes to play chess and read books or travel magazines.