India triumphs in hard-fort UNESCO heritage contest

26th Jun 2013

Six magnificent hill forts from India's massive state of Rajasthan have been made a single UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The cultural sites honoured are Jaisalmer Fort, Chittorgarh Fort, Kumbhalgarh Fort, Ranthambore Fort, Gargon Fort and Amber Palace.

The UNESCO recognition not only acts as a quality beacon to tourists, it conserves sites of outstanding or natural importance to humanity.

The eclectic architecture of the forts, some up to an amazing 20 kilometres (12.4 miles) in circumference, give a clue to the power of the Rajput princely states that thrived in the area from the eighth to the 18th centuries.

Hidden behind their walls are major urban centres, palaces, trading centres and other buildings, including temples that often predate the fortifications within.

These developed an elaborate courtly culture where learning, music and the arts flourished.

Some of these urban centres within have survived, as have several of the sites' temples and other sacred buildings.

The forts use the natural defences afforded by the landscape: hills, deserts, rivers, and dense forests.

They also feature several water harvesting structures, which are still largely employed today.

Jaisalmer Fort is one of the world's largest forts, attracting holidaymakers on city breaks from around the planet.

This glowing fort was constructed in 1156 AD by the Bhati Rajput ruler Rao Jaisal, from whom it derives it name.

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