When tourists refer to India as an exotic land ruled by the Maharajas, they are referring to grand monuments that witness the glorious era gone by, the forts and palaces. Their massive proportions and aesthetic finesse make them a fabulous sight. On their walls and behind it lie stories of generations, of war and bravery, love and chivalry, all waiting to be discovered.
If you have ever visited a fort or palace in India, you will know how exciting it can be. Exploring the corridors of a fort or admiring the opulence on display inside a palace can be two very thrilling experiences. As a tourist, you must be wondering about the most famous forts and palaces in India which you should visit. In this blog, we put all your worries to doubt and tell you the must-visit forts and palaces on tours to India.
Here are the 20 Best Forts And Palaces in India
- Red Fort, Delhi
- Mehrangarh Fort, Jodhpur
- Amber Fort, Jaipur
- Junagarh Fort, Bikaner
- Neemrana Fort Palace, Delhi-Jaipur highway
- Chittorgarh Fort, Chittorgarh
- Umaid Bhawan Palace, Jodhpur
- Nahargarh Fort, Jaipur
- Jaisalmer Fort, Jaisalmer
- Lake Palace, Udaipur
- City Palace, Udaipur
- Kumbhalgarh Fort, Mewar
- Mysore Palace, Mysore
- Jag Mandir, Udaipur
- Mattancherry Palace, Kochi
- Laxmi Vilas Palace, Vadodara
- Bangalore Palace, Karnataka
- Jai Vilas Palace, Gwalior
- Jaigarh Fort, Jaigarh
- Cooch Behar Palace, West Bengal
1. Red Fort, Delhi
The massive Red Fort is one of the famous attractions in Delhi. Its enormous walls, which rise almost 33m above the din and commotion of Old Delhi, is a reminder of the power and respect enjoyed by the Mughal emperors in their heyday. Built in 1638, it is indeed a magnificent sight. Its architecture is a mix of Islamic, Persian and Timurid styles. Inside the Red Fort, there are numerous buildings which once served various purposes under the Mughal Empire.
Some of these are the Drum House, the Hall of Public Audiences, the white marble Hall of Private Audiences, the Pearl Mosque, Royal Baths and Palace of Color. In addition, an evening sound and light show entertains the visitors to the fort immensely. Besides, Red Fort also holds a patriotic significance for Indians as it serves as the official venue of Republic Day celebrations.
2. Mehrangarh Fort, Jodhpur
Mehrangarh Fort in Jodhpur is counted among the most famous forts in India. Spread over an area of 5km and perched on a 125m high hill on the outskirts on Jodhpur city, it’s a colossus with extraordinary beauty. One can enter the fort through seven gates, each of which are built by seven different rulers in honor of victory over Bikaner and Jaipur armies. From atop the fort, one can see panoramic views of the Jodhpur city spread out below.
It’s quite fascinating to know that each of the rulers of Jodhpur has contributed in equal measure to the making of this fort. The fort is also home to several palaces including Moti Mahal, Phool Mahal, Sheesh Mahal, Zenana Mahal, Takht Vilas and Jhanki Mahal. The fort is also home to several temples like Chamundi Devi Mandir, Nagnechi Ji Mandir and the Kuldevi. Visitors can also explore the museum within the Mehrangarh Fort including a rich collection of palanquins, musical instruments, royal cradles, costumes, arms, paintings and furniture.
3. Amber Fort, Jaipur
Amber Fort, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is located at a distance of almost 11km from Jaipur, one of the cities covered in the India Golden Triangle Tour. Made of red sandstone and white marble, it is a spectacular monument whose beauty is embellished by the Maota Lake spread out in front of it. The construction of the Amber Fort began in 1952 under Raja Man Singh I and was completed by Mirza Raja Jai Singh.
Visitors to the fort are left completely fascinated by its magnificence which is reflected in its carvings, mirrors and precious stones. Even though this place is almost seven centuries old, its attraction has not dwindled in the slightest. One of the highlights of the visit to the fort is the elephant ride to its entrance. It’s an exciting and unique experience.
4. Junagarh Fort, Bikaner
Junagarh Fort is one of the most famous forts in Bikaner. It was also called the Chintamani Mahal because it was never conquered despite repeated invasions. Junagarh Fort was constructed by Raja Rai Singh in 1588 AD, one of Akbar’s most trusted generals.
Inside the fort, visitors are impressed by the magnificent palaces constructed in red sandstone and marble, along with the courtyards, balconies, kiosks and windows. There are several historical paintings and other pieces of art which are displayed at the museum. There is also an armory section which houses an enormous variety of weapons from the medieval age. Of special attraction are the silver carriages and the carts that were once used by the royals of Rajasthan for travelling from one place to another. Visitors are also given the opportunity to pose in fabulous Rajasthani clothes at a modest charge.
5. Neemrana Fort Palace, Delhi-Jaipur highway
Neemrana Fort Palace, located on the Delhi-Jaipur highway, is considered to be among the best heritage hotels in India. A stay at the palace takes you back to days of royalty and lets you experience outstanding hospitality, relaxation and enjoyment. Built on the 2 billion year old Aravalli Hills, a stay here is both a ride back in history while enjoying the utmost comfort.
Neemrana Palace, a 15th century heritage hotel, boasts 74 rooms and suites and is ideal for an exciting getaway. It’s a perfect place for celebrations and conferences. There are hanging gardens, two swimming pools and an Ayurvedic spa. One of the major attractions is the zip-line, the first of its kind in India.
6. Chittorgarh Fort, Chittorgarh
Chittorgarh Fort literally towers above the other forts and palaces in India. Standing proudly above a 180m hill, the fort has occupied a special place in the hearts of the people here for centuries. It finds a mention in tales of pride and romance which have been sung by the bards for a long time.
According to legend, the construction of the Chittorgarh Fort was begun by Bhim, one of the Pandava brothers from the Mahabharata. The fort houses several magnificent monuments which stand as witnesses to several tragedies and conquests. There is also a 1km road which takes visitors through seven gates before arriving at Rampol (Gate of Ram). Between the second and third gate stand two chattris (cenotaphs) built in honor of Jaimal and Kalla, two brave hearts who achieved martyrdom in the 1568 siege by Emperor Akbar.
7. Umaid Bhawan Palace, Jodhpur
Umaid Bhawan Palace in Jodhpur, the sixth largest residence in the world, is always visited as part of luxury tour packages, simply because of its unparalleled opulence. It’s fascinating to know that the palace is still home to the erstwhile Jodhpur family. Another interesting fact is that the palm court marble used in its construction is the same as the one used in the Taj Mahal.
Umaid Bhawan Palace, a luxury five-star Taj heritage hotel, boasts 64 exquisite art deco-style rooms as well as suites. Visitors get a chance to taste authentic Rajasthani and Indian cuisine at Risala, the palace’s restaurant. There are also various European and Mediterranean delicacies to be enjoyed. A stay here is also about rejuvenating your mind, body and soul, thanks to the signature therapies and treatments at the Jiva Grande Spa. In other words, its about experiencing the luxurious lifestyle of the royals.
8. Nahargarh Fort , Jaipur
Jaipur is famous for its numerous forts and palaces. Located on a ride of the Aravalli Hills, Nahargarh Fort was constructed during the reign of Jai Singh in 1734 before being expanded in 1868. The word Nahargarh means “the abode of tigers”, and it is so called because it was famous for being a formidable barrier to enemies.
Inside the fort is the Madhavendra Bhawan, a summer palace which was once the summer destination for members of the royal family. The corridors of the palace are adorned with exquisite murals that are very pleasing to the eyes. When the fort is floodlit at night, its beauty is magnified several times over.
9. Jaisalmer Fort, Jaisalmer
Jaisalmer Fort, a UNESCO World Heritage Site under the group, Hill Forts of Rajasthan, is one of its kind, easily unparalleled in terms of its aesthetic beauty and marvelous architecture. Its also famously known as the Sonar Qila or the Golden Fort, as it seems to blend itself perfectly with the golden hues of the sand.
Jaisalmer Fort, built by the Rajput ruler Rawal Jaisal in 1156 AD, has witnessed a great many battles. It’s a fine mixture of Islamic and Rajput architectural styles. Inside the fort, visitors come across several temples, palaces and houses, exploring each of which is like taking a walk through history. There are several entrance gates to this fort including Ganesh Pol, Bhoota Pol and Hava Pol, which attract tourists’ attention both by their beauty and elaborate design.
10. Lake Palace, Udaipur
At first sight, Lake Palace in Udaipur appears like a vision come to life, not quite real, but not wholly unreal either. Lake Palace was built by Maharana Jagat Singh as his pleasure palace on Lake Pichola. At that time, he decided to call it Jag Niwas. It was also the site for the shooting of the famous James Bond film, Octupussy.
Lake Palace, which is now a heritage hotel, consists of 66 luxurious rooms and 17 grand suites. Occupying the center of the lake, it provides commanding views of the neighboring City Palace, Aravalli Hills, Machla Magra Hills and Jag Mandir. A stay at this palace-cum-heritage hotel is all about experiencing royalty at its finest. Be it the signature dishes, Jiva Spa, grand soirees or the other grand experiences, its royalty at its best.
11. City Palace, Udaipur
Udaipur is often considered to be one of the best winter destinations in India, because this is when one can explore the various forts, monuments and other attractions at one’s own leisure. Udaipur City Palace, an architectural marvel located on the banks of Lake Pichola, is also one of the most visited tourist attractions of Rajasthan. Built by Maharana Udai Singh, it’s a wonderful combination of medieval, European and Chinese architecture.
The City Palace enchants onlookers with its courtyards, terraces, pavilions, rooms, corridors and hanging gardens. City Palace is actually home to almost 11 palaces whose interiors are decorated with unique paintings, antique furniture, glass mirror and ornamental tiles work. While the Krishna Vilas is renowned for its miniature paintings depicting royal processions, Bada Mahal is the exotic garden palace perched on a 90ft high natural rock formation. City Palace is also home to the Jagdish Temple, the biggest and most beautiful temple in Udaipur. It’s said that this is the oldest part of the palace, and it was here that a sage passed his life in meditation.
12. Kumbhalgarh Fort, Mewar
Kumbhalgarh Fort is counted among the mightiest forts in India, and in the Mewar region, it is as famous as the Chittorgarh Fort. Built by the mighty and powerful Rana Kumbha in the 15th century AD, it holds deep emotional appeal and cultural significance for the people of Mewar as the birthplace of the legendary king, Maharana Pratap.
The fort, located high on a ridge, gives an aura of invincibility. The fort was self-contained in case of an attack. Kumbhalgarh Fort is home to numerous temples built by the Mauryas, the most picturesque of which is the Badal Mahal, or the “palace of the clouds”. One can also get superb views of the surroundings from the fort. There are several ruins inside the fort and a walk around it can prove to be a very educative and exciting experience.
13. Mysore Palace, Mysore
Mysore Palace, also known as Amba Vilas Palace, is located at the heart of Mysore city and is one of the main attraction in the city of Mysore. The palace was once the official residence of the Wadiyar dynasty who ruled the kingdom from 1399 to 1950. The original palace existed in the form of a wooden building, which was destroyed by fire in the late 19th century.
The palace is built on an Indo-Saracenic style of architecture, and comprises of two durbar halls, a number of colossal courtyards, several buildings and perfectly manicured gardens which reflect the splendor and glory of the Wadiyar rulers. Mysore Palace is renowned for hosting the renowned Mysore Dasara Festival during the course of which, the entire palace is illuminated over a period of 10 days. Various kinds of cultural and religious programs are performed during the course of this festival. It’s hardly surprising that the palace attracts around 1 million visitors throughout the year.
14. Jag Mandir, Udaipur
Jag Mandir sits on an island on the pristine waters of Lake Pichola. Also known as the Lake Garden Palace, construction for this palace began in 1620 and was completed around 1652. It served as the summer resort for hosting parties for the royal family.
Jag Mandir is another architectural marvel, exquisite from the exteriors and marvelous from the interiors. An interesting fact associated with this palace is that it sheltered Prince Khurram, famously known as Shah Jahan. Jag Mandir’s beauty had such a profound effect on Emperor Shah Jahan that it served as an inspiration for the construction of the Taj Mahal.
15. Mattancherry Palace, Kochi
Mattancherry Palace in Kochi, famously known as Dutch Palace, is one of the best examples of the Kerala style of architecture. The palace, which is located around 12km from Ernakulam, was built by the Portuguese around 1545 C.E. as a present to King Veerakerala Varma of Kochi dynasty. Its quite interesting to know that the Mattancherry Palace came to be known as Dutch Palace because it underwent extensive repairs at the hands of the Dutch.
The palace attracts visitors with its long and special halls, along with a central courtyard. There is also an amazing collection of murals inside the palace which depict the great Indian epics like Ramayana and Mahabharata. The works of the great Sanskrit poet Kalidasa has also been depicted. The mural paintings cover a distance of almost 300sq. km. Tourists can also get a glimpse of the royal lifestyle by going through the various exhibits associated with the royals.
16. Laxmi Vilas Palace, Vadodara
Laxmi Vilas Palace in Vadodara, Gujarat, is built in the Indo-Saracenic school of architecture. Not only is it the largest private dwelling till date, but it’s also four times the size of Buckingham Palace. The palace is still the residence of the royal family who are still revered by the locals.
Everything about the palace reflects unrestrained opulence. from the ornate Durbar Hall with its Venetian mosaic floor to the Italianate courtyard with the water fountains. The palace compound, spread over 500 acres, houses a number of marvelous buildings including LVP Banquets & Conventions, Moti Baug Palace and the Maharaja Fateh Singh Museum. The palace is also home to a small zoo which houses a few crocodiles.
17. Bangalore Palace, Karnataka
To experience the royal charm of Bangalore, tourists should head to Bangalore Palace. It was built in the year 1887 by King Chamaraja Wadiyar and today, enchants the onlookers with its European-style architecture.
The interiors of the palace are mostly wooden and is surrounded by gardens. The architectural style of the palace is a mix of Tudor and Scottish Gothic, with various elements incorporated from Britain. According to the popular belief, Chamaraja Wadiyar found inspiration for the style of his palace from Windsor Castle and other structures in Normandy and England. The traditional Hindu style of décor is clearly represented in the living quarters of the palace while pillars and arches are an essential component of the interiors. A special attraction are the 19th and 20th century paintings by Raja Ravi Varma.
18. Jai Vilas Palace, Gwalior
Jai Vilas Palace in Gwalior is one of the famous forts and palaces in India and is a wonderful mix of several architectural styles. Constructed by Maharaja Jayaji Rao Scindia in 1874 at a cost of Rs. 1 crore, it combines the Tuscan, Italian-Doric and Corinthian architectural styles. It is, unarguably, one of the most splendid and outstanding buildings of Gwalior.
Jai Vilas Palace in Gwalior consists of 400 rooms, out of which 40 have been transformed into Jiwaji Rao Scindia Museum. The museum houses a wide variety of collections including furniture, carriages, paintings, prints, decorative art, sculptures and textile.
19. Jaigarh Fort, Jaigarh
Surrounded by huge battlements and connected to the Amer Fort, the Jaigarh Fort looks almost impenetrable. Built by Sawai Jai Singh II, it bears a stark resemblance to the Amer Fort and offers magnificent views of the city of Jaipur.
The fort is home to the world’s largest cannon on wheels, a palatial complex, the assembly hall of warriors known as “Shubhat Niwas” and a museum, along with an armory. It’s widely believed that there is an enormous treasure buried inside the fort. Its thick walls, which are built with red sandstone, extend to almost 3km in length with a width of almost 1km. It’s interesting to know that the fort was never captured while the world’s largest cannon was fired just once.
20. Cooch Behar Palace, West Bengal
One of the prime attractions of Cooch Behar is the Cooch Behar Palace in the northern part of West Bengal. It was once the palace of the Koch king Maharaja Nripendra Narayan, and is built in the classical European style of Italian architecture.
The front portion of the palace consists of a series of arches which lend it its distinctive style of architecture. The entrance to the palace lies through the Durbar Hall, in the center of which lies the royal insignia. The building consists of more than 50 rooms with varied dimensions which include bedrooms, dressing rooms, kitchen, dining hall, library, Toshakhana and ladies gallery. The ceilings and interiors wall surface of certain rooms of the palace are adorned with beautiful paintings which a visitor would find extremely attractive.
Visit these incredible historical monuments with forts and palaces holiday packages in India and explore royalty and history on a magnificent scale.