Madhya Pradesh is situated in the heart of India. Its landscape was once dotted with many important kingdoms. Some of its regions were very important because they offered a passage to the ‘Deccan’. Hence the kingdoms of this region were eagerly sought after by the powerful dynasties of North India. In this kind of situation one needs strong fortifications to defend their provinces. That’s the reason Madhya Pradesh has many impressive forts. Here you will find a list of the finest forts of Madhya Pradesh.
Gwalior Fort, situated in North Madhya Pradesh, is one of the largest forts in the country. As per the local lore, Suraj Sen – a local chieftain – built this fort in the 8th century AD. Thereafter the fort, which appears impregnable, fell in many hands, one after another. The citadel kept expanding under different dynasties. But it was under the rule of Maan Singh, a Tomar Rajput, that the fort received several magnificent buildings. Within the mighty fortifications of Gwalior, there are temples, palaces, sculptures, and a gurudwara. The art and architecture of the citadel are worth admiring. The most impressive building in the precincts is Man Singh Palace. The city of Gwalior has developed around the base of the hill on which fort is situated. Read More
The ruined town of Mandu is nestled in the Vindhya Range. Enclosed within massive fortifications, Mandu had witnessed rules of many different dynasties before going into oblivion. It became a part of the state of Madhya Pradesh after independence. In its era it was the largest city in Hindustan (India). Its protective walls enclosed numerous palaces, temples and mosques. Some of these structures have stood the test of time. Jahaz Mahal is the most admirable palace amongst all the remaining palaces in Mandu. Along with it there are many other monuments which represent the wonderful architecture of the medieval India. Though many clans have ruled here, the most remembered king is ‘Baz Bahadur’ due to his love affair with the beautiful ‘Roopmati’. Read More
Travel Tip: The heritage site of Mandu is quite huge. So, if you are a history or architecture buff, you should plan to stay here for at least two days.
Orchha Fort Complex
Orchha, a 16th century fortified town, was once the capital of Bundela kings. In 1738, when they shifted to Tikamgarh, they abandoned this beautiful town. Since then it lay unprotected until it came under the control of the department of archaelogy. This citadel comprised of elegant palaces, beautiful pavilions, temples, and cenotaphs. Many of these building still adorn the serene and picturesque landscape of Orchha. Jahangir Mahal and Raja Mahal are the most impressive buildings. Also don’t miss to visit the cenotaphs which are huge and impressive. Read More
Raisen town is 43 km west of Bhopal in Madhya Pradesh. The fort here is spread across a hill and town has developed around the base of the hill. To enter this massive fort, you need to be ready to do an exerting ascent. The fort has 9 gates and 3 watchtowers. Enclosed within are the remains of several palaces and waterbodies along with a ‘Shiva’ temple, and a mosque. There are impressive views of the surrounding countryside from atop the fort. Built in 1200 AD, Raisen displays an amalgamation of several architectural styles. Every clan that ruled here has tried to leave its imprint through art and architecture.
Dhar is a small town, 69 km east of Indore. To visit the fort here, you can take a detour while travelling to Mandu from Indore. Situated on a small hill, just outside the town, Dhar Fort was built in 1344. Its ramparts are 2 km long and the edifice is made of red sandstone. The remains of the buildings inside the fort exhibit a mix of Indian, Mughal, and Afghan styles. There was a time when the renowned king Raja Bhoj held sway over this fort. During the revolt of 1857 against the British, this citadel had become an important base for the freedom fighters.
Asirgarh Fort straddles majestically over a hill, 20 km north of Burhanpur in Madhya Pradesh. Situated in the Satpura Range, this fortress was considered to be the gateway to the Deccan. Asirgarh has received its name from Asa Ahir – a landlord – who built this fortress in the 15th century. Akbar seized it in the 17th century. And eventually it landed in the hands of the British. While the structures in the fort are in ruins, a mosque, and a Shiva temple are worth observing. The architecture of Asirgarh displays influences of Islamic, Indian, Persian, and Turkish styles.
Chanderi Fort is a huge fort straddling a hill. It overlooks the town of Chanderi, which is 128 km south of Orchha in Madhya Pradesh. The protective wall of this 11th century fort is 5 km long. Confined within the wall are the remains of several monuments. A palace, a mosque, and a tomb are worth checking out. A king named Kirti Pal had commissioned this fort. But just like many other citadels, Chanderi saw the reign of several dynasties. Before British took it over, it was in the control of ‘Bundela’ dynasty. In 1861, British handed it over to the ‘Scindias’ of Gwalior.
Madan Mahal, a bastion from the 11th century, is situated in Jabalpur city of Madhya Pradesh. Madan Singh – a king of ‘Gond’ clan – erected it in the 11th century. Almost every structure in the precincts is in a dilapidated state, but one building called Durgavati’s Palace is standing tall. This uniquely built palace has a boulder as its base and is a star attractions in Madan Mahal. To reach here, you need to do a short climb. En route you can stop to watch the popular ‘Balancing Rocks’. This place is a favourite haunt of the youngsters of Jabalpur, sometimes some miscreants are also found here. So, for solo women travellers, it is advisable to go accompanied by somebody.
Forts were generally designed to appear mighty, but the fort at Maheshwar exudes elegance. This beautiful edifice is situated along the bank of Narmada River. Ahilya Devi Holkar, after acceding to the throne following Malhar Rao’s death, built this fort. Today the descendants of the Holkar dynasty have converted it into a heritage hotel. However, a temple in the fort is open to the visitors.
Bandhavgarh Fort is situated on a hill, right in the middle of the Bandhavgarh National Park. Believed to be more than 2000 years old, this fort finds mention in the inscriptions. It is obvious that the fort would have changed many hands. The last dynasty that ruled here was of ‘Baghels’. Their rule began here in the 13th century and continued until 1617, when they abandoned Bandhavgarh to shift to Rewa. Today the forest has penetrated into the fort. The land inside and the buildings are covered with vegetation.
Important: Forest department has stopped offering permission to visit the fort since 2012. So, check with them if you want to visit.