India has a magnificent history that dates right from the Indus Valley Civilization. Ever since, many great dynasties, empires, kingdoms have administered this noble land. Over the millennia, they have built forts and palaces as an epitome of pride, dominance, and majestic lifestyle of the emperors. Forts in India depict the outstanding defense mechanisms and the admirable craftsmanship of the era. Their building technology was so remarkable that some of these forts have remained solid and unscathed even after so many years. But some failed the test of time and are now broken into ruins. 

Many forts are reused and refurbished by being converted into luxury hotels and palaces. Reputed Hotel magnates have restored the lost significance of these forts and provided a royal treatment for the guests by combining the historic heritage and world-class hospitality.

Following the similar trend of adaptive reuse, given below are some forts in India that have great potential with their historical background and monumental architecture to be transformed into modern public spaces while retaining their old charm!

1. Vasai Fort

Location: Mumbai, Maharashtra.

Built in 1184, this fort was the commercial, political and military base of the Portuguese, Maratha Peshwas, and British on the North West coast of India for nearly 300 years. It has various other monuments within its precinct like a memorial to Chimaji Appa, Dominican Cathedral church, Vajreshwari Temple, Central bastion of the fort, Saint Joseph’s Cathedral, etc. There is a secret tunnel that runs under the Central Bastion. It is 530 feet long and has two entrances and two exits. The presence of this secret pathway explains how well the defense systems were designed during those eras. 

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Vasai Fort, Fort Corridor Ruins ©Trawell.in
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Vasai Fort, Ruins showing Portuguese Architecture ©Mumbai Tourism
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Vasai Fort, The Secret Tunnel ©Live History India

2. Golconda Fort

Location: Hyderabad, Telangana. 

Golconda fort is one of the most brilliant fortress complexes in India. The history of Golconda Fort goes back to the early 13th century when it was the principal capital of the Qutub Shahi kings. The inner fort houses ruins of palaces and mosques along with mounted cannons, drawbridges, and eight gateways, and majestic halls, magazines, stables, etc. It also has a hilltop pavilion called Bala Hissar Pavilion which is the fort’s highest point. Hence, the fort has its place carved out as a testimony to Hyderabad’s glorious past.

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Golconda Fort, Map of the Fort ©PBase.com
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Golconda Fort, Ruins of Rani Mahal ©Wikipedia
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Golconda Fort, Stone Arched Corridor in ruins ©Flickr

3. Jhansi Fort

Location: Jhansi, Uttar Pradesh

This fort displays an elegant mix of the Bundela and Maratha styles of architecture. The granite walls of the fort are between 16 and 20 feet thick and the walls meet on the south side of the city. There are 10 gates giving access to the fort. The memorial board reminds one of the courage shown by Rani Lakshmibai when she jumped on horseback from the fort. 

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Jhansi Fort, Aerial View ©Pinterest
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Jhansi Fort, Fort Hallway ©Wikipedia
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Jhansi Fort, Memorial Board at the location ©Wikipedia

4. Kangra Fort

Location: Kangra, Himachal Pradesh

This Himalayan beauty might be one of the most ancient forts to exist in India. According to the legends, the Kangra Fort was built by the royal Rajput family of Kangra State © the Katoch dynasty) as mentioned in the Mahabharata epic. Many dynasties ruled over this fort, but it withstood all the attacks over the years after which it was destroyed in an earthquake in 1905. It has massive seven doors with a cobbled and narrow path that leads to the fort. From inside, one can glance at the Banganga and Manjhi river streams meandering through the verdant hills.

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Kangra Fort, Ruins of the Fort ©Thrillophilia
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Kangra Fort, Ruins of the Temple ©Twitter
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Kangra Fort, View ©hpkangra.nic.in

5. Sindhudurg Fort

Location: Malvan, Maharashtra.

An architectural marvel constructed on an islet, this marine fort was built under the reign of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, the founder of the Maratha Empire in 1664. Its phenomenal construction technique can be seen through the massively thick walls, undoubted defense systems, and 3 km long rampart. The main entrance is concealed in such a way that no one can pinpoint it from outside. 

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Sindhudurg Fort, Aerial View ©ashokasays
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Sindhudurg Fort, Concealed Main Entrance ©Wikipedia
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Sindhudurg Fort, Thick walls of the Fort ©ResearchGate

6. Bekal Fort

Location: Bekal, Kerala. 

One of the largest forts of India, Bekal Fort is a 300-year-old marine fort. This keyhole-shaped structure was built for defense purposes by Shivappa Nayaka in 1650. The fort’s zigzag entrance and surrounding trenches reveal its defensive strategy. Another important feature of the fort is the observation tower built by Tipu Sultan which gives an unobstructed view of the complete coastline. 

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Bekal Fort, Aerial View ©Onmanorama
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Bekal Fort, Interior ©Goibibo
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Bekal Fort Observation Tower built by Tipu Sultan ©Reddit

7. Raigad Fort

Location: Raigad District, Maharashtra.

Another gem of the Marathas, this fort was seized by Shivaji Maharaj in1674 and served as the capital of the kingdom for a very long time. Built amidst the breathtaking Sahyadri ranges, the main fort ruins consist of the queen’s quarters, six chambers, three watchtowers, and market area. Along with the ruins, there are many other points of attraction dedicated to Shivaji Maharaj and Jijabai displaying their colossal courage.  

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Raigad Fort, Interiors ©DNA India
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Raigad Fort, Maha Darwaja ©Twitter
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Raigad Fort, Temple Complex ©Pinterest

8. Bidar Fort

Location: Bidar, Karnataka.

The Bidar Fort was originally constructed in the 8th century and later reconstructed in 1428. This fort is of great historical and architectural significance as it highlights the extravagant past of the southern dynasty. It has hints of Islamic and Persian architecture in the nooks and corners of the monument. It houses various structures like Rangeen Mahal, Solah Khamba Mosque, Takht Mahal, Gagan Mahal, etc. which are still intact and worth visiting. 

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Bidar Fort, Aerial View ©Ministry of Tourism
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Bidar Fort, Garden near the Solah Khamba Mosque ©lbb.in
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Bidar Fort, Fort Ruins ©lbb.in

9. Kumbhalgarh Fort

Location: Kumbhalgarh, Rajasthan.

Built in the 15th century by Maharana Kumbha, this magnificent fort stands on the majestic Aravalli hills and exemplifies the valor and royalty of the Rajputs. The Kumbhalgarh fort wall is India’s very own Great Wall, being the second longest wall in the world with a length of 36 kilometers around the periphery of the fort with a thickness that ranges from 15-25 feet.A perfect defensive arrangement and architectural grandeur are the main reasons that this fort has been tagged as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

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Kumbhalgarh Fort, Temple Complex in the Fort ©Fun Alive
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Kumbhalgarh Fort, The Great Wall of India  ©TripSavvy
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Kumbhalgarh Fort, View of the fort ©Travel Triangle

10. Ranthambore Fort

Location: Sawai Madhopur, Rajasthan. 

Another UNESCO World Heritage site, this fort is nestled deep inside the Ranthambore National Park. The National Park consists of an area that used to be hunting grounds of the erstwhile kings of Jaipur. It displays beautiful elements of typical Rajasthani architecture – towering gates, domes, stone pathways, thick walls, water tanks, and temples.

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Ranthambore Fort, Battees Khamba Mahal ©Swan Tours
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Ranthambore Fort, Exterior of the Fort ©Trawell
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Ranthambore Fort, Rani Mahal ©Wikipedia

REFERENCES

  1. https://traveltriangle.com/blog/forts-in-india/
  2. https://swadesee.com/destinations/vasai-fort/
  3. https://telanganatourism.gov.in/partials/destinations/heritage-spots/hyderabad/golconda-fort.html
  4. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jhansi_Fort
  5. https://hpkangra.nic.in/tourist-place/khandagir-udayagiri/
  6. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sindhudurg_Fort
  7. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bekal_Fort
  8. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raigad_Fort
  9. https://www.oyorooms.com/travel-guide/bidar-fort-travel-guide/
  10. https://traveltriangle.com/blog/kumbhalgarh-fort/
  11. https://www.ranthamborenationalpark.com/ranthambore-fort.html
Author

Richa Shah is a young architect who loves to explore various stories in architecture. She is very much engrossed in researching about different topics and thinks that architecture can be evolved through writing and communicating. She is a trained classical dancer, an experimental cook, and is obsessed with history, ruins, and civilizations and wishes to explore the countless tales that lie buried beneath them.

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