Fort Bathinda,  Punjab, India

Of all the ruined forts in Punjab, Bathinda’s Govindgarh is the mightiest and most impressive. It’s also one of the oldest, dating way back to the 7th century, although rebuilt in its current red-brick form during the 12th century. It’s an enormous structure, located smack bang in the middle of the city, and an unexpected highlight of a visit to this region. The fort’s 36m-tall, 6m-thick walls tower over the old city bazaars and, best of all, it can be explored.

The fort contains two gurdwaras so, unlike other ancient forts in the region, it is open to the public; as well as visiting the gurdwaras themselves, you can wander the lawned gardens within the walls and even climb up on top in one spot for magnificent views of the city. Don’t miss walking around the outside of the fort to the western face, where the immense walls are at their most impressive, towering above dhobi-wallahs (clothes washers) and cotton-loomers working on the dusty streets below.

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