Of all the forts in Jaipur, Jaigarh Fort is generally agreed to be the most intimidating of all, at least from a military perspective. The other forts in this area are imposing structures as well, to be sure, but Jaigarh has an almost frightful solidity and mass to it that hints at its original purpose of being not just the place of ordnance development and production for the Kachwaha maharajas but also their most secure retreat. The Kachwahas of Jaipur were considered to be among the most militarily powerful of the rulers in their region, and most of their strength derived from the intelligent choices they made regarding weaponry and the constant development of better artillery devices pushed by the maharajas themselves. Jaigarh Fort certainly serves to indicate how dedicated the kings of Jaipur were to those things, as a trip to it shall prove.
Jaigarh is on a rise in the land called the Hill of Eagles or the Cheel ka Teela. It is but a short distance from another of the famous forts in the area, the Amber Fort. Strictly speaking, according to scholars, the two are actually sister forts, or forts belonging to a single complex. This is because they were designed such that a tunnel connected one fort to the other, to facilitate rapid transfers of the royal family should it be needed. The tunnel exists until today, and many tourists love to visit that place to marvel at the foresight of the Kachwaha rulers in having such a passage built.
The fort has had a marvellous history. First of all, it was chosen as the centre of ordnance production during its time and for the most part of the 16th century because of the abundance of iron ore in the surrounding district. The only problem with the fort was that there were no immediate water bodies from which residents could draw their supplies, although this was immediately remedied by the creation of water collection structures such as tanks and reservoirs. The fort actually has a trio of enormous underground tanks, one of which was even claimed to have served as a repository of the royal treasures: the Indian government tried searching it for the wealth in the late 1970’s but ultimately failed, and it is said that the treasure had already been exhausted throughout the years for the purpose of Jaipur City’s development.
There are many things to see here. Besides the Charbagh Garden in the middle of the fort, you can find a museum displaying many of the weapons used by the Kachwahas to secure their power as well as an armoury attached to it. Furthermore, one may find the famous Jaivana cannon, said to be the largest wheeled cannon in its time, which 6.15-metre barrel and a weight of 50 tonnes. Many say this was more of a tactical piece of weaponry than anything else, however, for the cannon was only ever fired once. The goal in creating such an ordnance might well have been similar to the current concept of deterrence of one’s enemies, as a cannon of such size and power (the test shot apparently covered 35 kilometres and created an enormous crater) would offer a bit of a psychological obstacle to ideas of attacking the Jaigarh Fort.