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nagaur fort overview

#1 of 32 Places To Visit in Nagaur
nagaur fort
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Nagaur, Jodhpur, Rajasthan, 341001, India
visit duration
1 to 2 hours

about nagaur fort

Before the Nagaur Fort should come the tale of the man who built it. Had it not been for Amar Singh Rathore’s hot temper, Nagaur would have never blipped on your map. Amar Singh is one of the most interesting men in Indian history. He was afflicted with “dangerous turbulence and ever boiling impetuosity...which despised all reigns,” wrote James Tod in his Annals & Antiquities of Rajasthan.

Amar Singh, or Umra as he was called, was the first-born prince of the House of Rathore, the Jodhpur clan. He was adored by his army because in a battle there was perhaps no one more inventive than him. But in times of peace, when there was no enemy against whom to work out his tempestuousness, Amar Singh was a troublemaker of epic proportions.

It’s not clear what he finally did to incur his own father Gaj Singh Rathore’s wrath,  but in 1634, Gaj Singh organised a ceremony called des-vatoh so that Umra would not succeed him. The ceremony was marked as a day of mourning.  That day Amar Singh lost his citizenship of Marwar and left the country with a band of faithful companions, making his way to the Mughal court at Agra. And though the Mughals respected Gaj Singh’s decision, they were smart enough to realise that Amar Singh could be very useful in war.

They were right. Umra’s high-spirited gallantry soon won him the title of Rao and he received Nagaur as his independent fief. But his irrepressible nature had him in trouble soon enough. He once kept away from the court for a fortnight without the emperor’s prior permission, to hunt boar and tiger — apparently a favourite hobby. 

This angered Shah Jahan, who promptly fined him. An official, Sallabat Khan, was sent to Amar Singh’s quarters to collect this fine. Singh refused and asked Khan to leave. Courtly etiquette-wise, this was a direct insult to the emperor and Amar Singh was asked to present himself. Then as Tod relates, he appeared, “with eyes red in anger,” and, ignoring all officials, went to Sallabat Khan and stabbed him with a concealed dagger.

He then drew his sword and tried to attack the emperor, hitting a pillar instead. The emperor picked up his skirts and fled into his apartments while Singh continued an impartial slaughter. Five Mughal chiefs fell before his brother-in-law Urjan Gore, another courtier, could control him. There are conflicting versions as to what followed. 

Today, a handsome yellow sandstone cenotaph honours him, his footsteps inscribed in the centre next to which incense sticks are lit.  There is some floral carving on the pillars and ceiling, and surrounding it are pink sandstone cenotaphs of his wives and other clan members. A caretaker looks after this ASI-protected monument though you might have to wait for him to unlock the gates in case he’s away on an errand. 

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