High in the Aravalli hills of Rajasthan is the city of Alwar: a city full of architectural wonders that date from when it was centre for one of the oldest Rajput kingdoms.
The city grew around a Rajput fort balanced at the top of a conical hill built to protect against the surrounding Jats, Marathas and Mughals; a wall and moat subsequently surrounded the city.
Alwar became one of the first Rajput states to ally itself with the British in the 18th century, and became the capital of the princely state of Alwar until independence in 1947; princely states were nominally sovereign regions indirectly ruled by the British Raj.
Today, Alwar is a popular tourist destination due to its central location in the heart of the ‘Golden Triangle’; almost equidistant from the popular sites of Delhi, Agra and Jaipur, as well as being the closest city to the famous Sariska Tiger Reserve.
However, Alwar is an attraction in itself; enclosed by the lush green Aravalli Mountains, the city’s forts, palaces and mosques appear to have been hewn from the hillside.
Dominating the skyline of Alwar is the city’s fort, Bala Quila; elevated 300 metres high on a hilltop, the imposing fort’s elaborate silhouette comprises of 15 large and 51 small towers.
Thought to have built by the Rajputs around 1550AD, it is one of the few forts in Rajasthan constructed before the rise of the Mughals, and its unique architectural style stands out from the other Mughal-influenced buildings in the city.
The City Palace, or Vinay Vilas Mahal, gracefully fuses the Rajput and Mughal styles; built in 1793, the palace is built around a central courtyard and is adorned with decorative marble pillars and was made famous for a drinking cup carved out of a single emerald, which was housed in its treasury.