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Jaipur Heritage Monuments : Jaigarh Fort
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Jaigarh Fort Jaipur
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Jaigarh fort was built by Mirza Raja Jai Singh and Sawai Jai Singh II in 1726 at the height of 500 feet on a hill for defense purpose. It is one the great strategic buildings of medieval India. One can reach to the Jaigarh fort via Jaigarh-Nahargarh road during Jaipur Tour.
This fort is mainly famous for a huge cannon “Jai Ban”. Jai Ban is the world’s largest cannon on wheels. It has a 20 feet long barrel while the diameter of the wheels is 9 feet.
Along with the cannon, other tourist attractions in Jaigarh fort of Jaipur are historically significant palaces, gardens, old water harvesting system and the reservoirs, an armory, unique gun foundry, museum and several temples.
Jai Ban also spells as Jaivana is the world famous cannon. It was cast in year 1720 during the reign of Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II (1699-1743) at the foundry at Jaigarh Fort, Jaipur. Its 20 feet 2 inches long barrel weighs 50 tons with a diameter of 11 inches. The circumference near the tip of the barrel is 7 feet 4 inches and that of the rear is 9 feet 4 inches. The barrel has floral design. An elephant rests on the tip of the barrel and a pair of peacocks is carved in the centre. A pair of ducks also decorates the rear of the barrel. The diameter of the bore of the barrel is 11 inches and the thickness of the barrel at the tip is 8-1/2 inches. The thickness gradually increases as one move towards the rear of the barrel. The two thick rings on the barrel were used for lifting it with the help of a crane which though incomplete, is still lying in Jaigarh Fort, Jaipur. Its range is 22 miles (1 mile = 1.6 km approx) and 100 kilogram gun powder was used for one fire. Shot ball used for firing was weighed about 50 kg. Various legends are popular in Jaipur about its firing range, but 22 miles range mentioned by tourism department of Government of Rajasthan on the information boards at Jaigarh fort, Pink City, Jaipur. There are some myths about Jai Ban. Many of the tourist guides, travel books, and elderly people say that Jai Ban cannon was fired only once by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II as a test-fire in 1720. On the other hand, some experts of guns and cannon say that it was fired many times, indicated by the fire marks visible inside the barrel. What was the direction of firing of the test-fire is also a myth, but most sources agree that it was fired in the direction of Chaksu (Chaksu is now a city of Jaipur district located at 35 km distance from Jaipur), where a pound was formed because of the depression formed by the shot ball of Jai Ban cannon. The work of putting the barrel on carriage was completed during the reign of Maharaja Sawai Ram Singh II (1835-1880). The diameter of big wheel is 9 feet and the shaft is 1 feet thick. With the help of rolling pin near it, the cannon can be rotate in any direction. Undoubtedly, Jai Ban cannon is a unique heritage of Pink City-Jaipur and hence one must see Jai Ban Cannon during Jaipur Tour.
There are three large water tanks in the courtyard of Jaigarh fort. This courtyard is called Jaleb Chowk. Those tanks were used for store the rain water. Pucca canals on the surrounded hills brought rain water to those tanks. The inmates of Jaigarh Fort used water from the tank below the hill on Amber side. Water tank in the front was made for emergency requirements. The largest tank is 158 feet long, 138 feet wide and 40 feet deep. The tank is fully covered. Its roof rests on arches for which eighty one pillars constructed inside the tank. Sixty lakh gallons (1 US gallon = 3.77 liters, hence 60 lakh gallon = approx 22,620,000 liters) water can be store in this tank. It’s a popular saying that the kings of Jaipur used to hide the legendry treasure in this tank. The government of India made a search for the legendry treasure after emptying it in 1975-76. Crew of approximately 500 people assigned the task to search the treasure.
Rao kriparam was in the good-books of Sawai Jai Singh and very close to him. His successors gave a map of the legendry treasure to the royal family of Jaipur and to the government on 28th February, 1975. According to that map, there was a room inside this water tank in which 1 billion, 18 crore, 18 lakh, 83 thousand, seven hundred and thirty five gold coins were hidden.
According to one more map disclosed by Khawas Balabaksh, Diwan of Maharaja Madhosingh II, the treasure of 128 crore rupees value was there in year 1784 in the water tank of Jaigarh Fort of Pink City Jaipur. Brijbhushan Purushottam Das handed over this treasure to Sawai Jai Singh in year 1608 which was included in the treasure of Jaigarh Fort of Pink City Jaipur by Sawai Jai Singh in year 1727.
A small water tank of 69 feet length, 52 feet width, and 52 feet depth is situated just behind the large tank there. There is one room under each hole of the tank. The treasury was stored in these rooms until the reign of Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh. It is a popular saying that he took out this treasure & founded the city of Jaipur in 1727-28. The search party emptied this tank also.
Beside this tank is a small open tank measuring 61 feet length, 52 feet width, and 27 feet depth. Inmates of the fort used to bathe in this tank.
Shri Ram Hari Har Temple
In this temple there are two big idols of lord Shri Ram and Hari-Har. The idol of lord Shri Ram also contains four other incarnations of Vishnu- Lion, Boar, Tortoise and Fish. The half part of other idol gives the image of lord Vishnu (Hari) and the other half of lord Shiva (Har). This temple was set-up about 1225 A.D. The marble work and brass door of this temple were accomplished by Maharaja Sawai Man Singh II in 1940 A.D. Shri Ram Hari-Har temple is always one of the major attractions for tourists during their Jaigarh fort-Jaipur tour because of the described unique features.
Shri Kal Bhairava Temple
This temple was set up by Kankal Dev in 1036 A.D. Kal Bhairav is considered the guardian deity of the fort.
Laxmi Vilas is the most beautiful building in Jaigarh fort. The royal palace hall of Lakshmi Vilas reflects the architectural taste of the then rulers of amber. The palace hall with a dimension of 68 feet by 25 feet supported by 12 twin marble pillars with araish work on the floor makes it delicately graceful. The walls facing the hall have floral designs in araish. The hall has seven carved doors leading to inner apartments. This palace hall of Laxmi Vilas was used as a royal drawing room and for ceremonial occasions. The two doors on either side of the main hall lead to an elevated balcony which was used as a bedroom. The ventilation to this room was provided by stained glass panes. The two side doors in the room lead to the retiring room in the interior. Lakshmi Vilas has a provision of putting cotton stuffed curtains to make the hall air tight to keep it warm. The hall allows a free access to the breeze during summer when the windows are opened and the curtain lifted up. Lakshmi Vilas was built by Mirza Raja Jai Singh (1621-1667) with certain addition and alterations taking place during the reigns of Sawai Jai Singh II (1700-1743) and Sawai Ram Singh II (1835-1880). Architect Vidhyadhar Bhatt was awarded a “Siropao” (robe of honor) for the additions done in the palace complex. Maharaja Ram Singh II added the tin shed in front of the hall.
The dining area was originally built by Mirza Raja Jai Singh (1621-1667) renovated from time to time by his successors. The gallery shows Mirza Raja having dinner with a group of his Sardars-Courtiers. The usual dinner in those days consisted of vegetarian, non-vegetarian dishes along with rice, chapatti, papad and sweets. Dress and ornaments worn by the king and courtiers also display the traditional costume and jewelry of that period. Angarkhi- the upper garment and Dhoti- the material worn in the lower part of the body was popular dress of the 17th century. Pagdi (turban) worn on head was an integral part of formal dress and every body was supposed to wear it. It is shown here in many different styles of that period. The scene presents an idea of our traditional life style of yester years and forms part of culture. Photograph displayed here Maharaj Kumar Bhawani singh ji of Jaipur having dinner with his Sardars shows continuity of that life style in the 20th century.
Dining Hall of Royal Ladies
Display in this dining hall of 17th century providing the glimpses of life style and dining system of that period. The displayed dining scene depicts Maharani Chandrawat ji, wife of Mirza Raja Jai Singh (1621-1667) dining with the wives of Jagirdars. Maharani Chandrawat- a great patron of art and literature composed the famous work “Rasik Priya”, an illustrated copy of which is well preserved in special seal collection (Khas Mohar Sangrah) of the city palace. In the dining scene the Maharani is dining with her invited guests in which vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes of then taste has been served.
The traditional costumes of the ladies used to be skirts and blouses along with multi color scarf.
At the time of dining of royal ladies, servants used to be present there. In this dining hall three servants has been shown providing services to royal ladies.
A summer palace, Lalit Manidr is a 17th century’s double storied building. It was built on the pattern of traditional Rajput style of architecture. The complex consists of a large courtyard which is 69 feet from north to south and 68 feet from east to west. The central hall has 8 twin pillars of sandstone in traditional Rajput style. The upper storey in the Lalit Mandir has bedrooms, verandahas with attached balconies. The bedrooms have stone screen (Jharokha or oriel) with jail work to allow the cool breeze to come in.
Babur - the founder of the Mughal dynasty in India brought gun powder with him in year 1526 and hence a revolutionary change in warfare. Although Raja Bharmal, Bhagwantdas and Man Singh - the rulers of Amber held high and honorable position in Akbar’s army but they were kept away from the topkhana because Mughals did not want to part with the knowledge of gun powder. Fortunately Man Singh was ordered to attack Kabul in 1580, where he won the battle, and remained the governor of Kabul for six years, where he acquired the knowledge of making cannons. Not only that, he passed on this knowledge to Amber in the late 16th century. Since then until the 19th century, cannons were manufactured at this foundry. Of course changes took place time to time due to the technical development and the demand of time. The cannon foundry situated at Jaigarh Fort of Pink City Jaipur is the place where the skilled craftsmen of Amber and Jaipur used to make cannon of different sizes. The products of this foundry are on view in the armory, the most outstanding of which is “Jaivana Cannon”. Main functions of this foundry were as follows:-
1. to melt alloy
2. to make clay moulds and cut solid barrel.
3. to make hole in the solid barrel with the help of the lathe machine.
4. to prepare the barrel for battle field by adding side parts to the barrel and make it stand on wheels. Visitors can see places marked for all these activities and also instruments on view in this area.
The drilling complex of the cannon foundry at Jaigarh Fort is a mechanical device. It provides an insight into the technical advancement of cannon making and science of military warfare. It was used for drilling bores into solid caste-barrels. The complex consists of an octagonal room having height of 31 feet which has four wooden bars revolved by four pairs of oxen.
The gear system lying below this room consists of two vertical and one horizontal wheel. When the cross bars were rotated by oxen, this made the giant horizontal wheel to rotate, the size of which is as big as the octagonal room. The giant wheel rotates the two inside vertical wheels which is connected through wooden shaft. The fourth wheel which is visible and which opens into the drilling complex is rotated by third vertical wheel. It has socket in which different sizes of cutters were fitted and this way holes were drilled into solid cast barrel.
A room like structure with a dimension of 24 x 12 x 10 feet, the furnace is a refractory enclosure which can bear as high as a temperature of 1200oc. There are two charging windows on either side used for putting solid metals inside. The charging windows were opened through pulled down hand pump system fitted at the roof of the furnace. There are three chimneys at the top. The bath or the hearth of the furnace is oval in shape. It is connected through the chimney.
The bath has a small converging shape window of 2 x 2 feet which opens the main pit outside. The molten metal thus settles down in the mould put in the pit which gets solidified and thus solid barrel was cast. The moulds made of coarse sand, silica, mica, clay, and fodder etc. were prepared into two halves i.e. split pattern and joined together. It is a layered structure. Iron sleeves or bracings were used for gripping the moulds tightly so that it can withstand the pressure of molten metal. In the lower portion there is a long tunnel of 72 feet which provides winds for burning coal etc. used as fuel.
Bajrang Ban Cannon
The prestigious cannon “Bajrang Vana” (A.d. 1691), decorated with two dolphins, was stored in the Jaigarh topkhana. It was driven to the battlefield by thirty two oxen during war time.
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