Upperkot Fort, Gujarat, India
This ancient fort is believed to have been built in 319 BC by the Mauryan emperor Chandragupta, though it has been extended many times. In places the ramparts reach 20m high. It’s been besieged 16 times, and legend has it that the fort once withstood a 12-year siege. The views over the city and east to Girnar Hill are superb, and there are a number of interesting sights within its walls.
The Jumma Masjid, the mosque inside the fort, was converted from a palace in the 15th century by Gujarat Sultan Mahmud Begada and has a rare roofed courtyard with three octagonal openings which may once have been covered by domes.
Close to the mosque is a set of Buddhist caves, not actually caves but monastic quarters carved out of the rock about 2000 years ago. The three-storey complex is quite eerie and the main hall contains pillars with weathered carvings.
The fort has two fine step-wells both cut from solid rock. Adi Kadi Vav, named after two slave girls who used to fetch water from it, is 41m deep and was cut in the 15th century. Navghan Kuvo, 52m deep and designed to help withstand sieges, is almost 1000 years old and its magnificent staircase spirals around the well shaft.
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