I wanted to condense everything about forts/rulers in Rajasthan that I can remember into one entry because it would get repetitive after the third city.

Rajasthan is to the west of Delhi - the farther west you go, the more desert-like it gets, but we didn’t go as far west as Jaisalmer, which is in the desert. The state of Rajasthan was originally ruled in sections by various Rajas (leaders) and Ranas (warriors). A Maharaja (and maharana) is like a king of a region (maha means something like “first”).

The Mughals made attempts to invade Rajasthan and merge rulers, but none worked until Akbar realized that he should just leave the maharajas in charge of their kingdoms and marry his blood line into theirs that there was success. Jaipur and Jodhpur were OK with this, and thus their mahaRAJAs co-existed mostly peacefully with the mughal rule. Udaipur was not cool with this, and its mahaRANA (get it, warrior king?) declared war with the Mughals, and made life harder for the Mughals until they eventually won anyway.

The time periods we saw forts built were mostly 14-1600’s. Keep in mind that modern day Rajas/Ranas still exist, but their post is ceremonial. Once India achieved statehood in 1948, the rulers lost their ruling powers, and settled into ceremonial rolls, setting up trusts to maintain their forts and other historical facilities in their city. That didn’t stop them from owning large hotel chains like the current Raja of Jodhpur, so they aren’t poor for it, just politically powerless.

Back to forts. A fort would generally project the king, not the kingdom. There were walls surrounding cities up to 40 ft. high, but the fort walls just protected the king (this is obviously an overgeneralization). In as generic a way as possible, a fort contains one or more palaces. A palace may be exactly what you imagine, or it may be smaller - the smaller a palace is, the more of them there are in the fort. For example, Jaipur’s Amber Fort contains a palace for each season (including monsoon) to handle various climates, but they are smaller than Jodhpur’s single massive palace.

More important than where the king stays is how many queens, or Ranis he has. There is again a Maharani, or “first” queen, but the numbers we heard went all the way to 16 queens for a king. The queens had a 16-or-so-step process for getting ready each day, for which they would have tens of women to assist them. Finally, the queens were protected by Eunichs, since they weren’t allowed to interact with men. In Jodhpur, they were so serious about this, that when a queen went to England in a covered Rolls Royce and a tabloid caught a picture of her bare ankle while she tried to get in the car from her covered human-carried carriage, the royal family bought every copy of the published tabloid to avoid it getting back to India.

The forts in their palaces have several features:

  1. The entertainment room, where music might play while the king/queen enjoy.

  2. A similarly-purposed entertainment courtyard, where dancers might come.

  3. A room that is not convincingly romantic that the king and queen would make babies in.

  4. A meeting room for royal family to meet (including lesser Rajas) to discuss all things ruler- and state-like, including war and taxes.

Details on individual forts will come later.