Monday, 20 Jan 2020

More than 800 years, thousands of families live in historical fortress in India for free


IllustrationIllustration - For more than 800 years, thousands of families have been living in the magnificent desert fortress in the Indian state of Rajasthan. Located in a remote area on the western edge of the Indian state of Rajasthan, surrounded by the Thar desert, medieval fortress Jaisalmer stands 20 storeys high above a sandy landscape like a golden sand castle.

Built in 1156, the sandstone fortress stands on a triangular hill, complete with three layers of walls, four magnificent gates and 99 towers. Together with five other magnificent forts in Rajasthan, Jaisalmer is an Unesco World Heritage site, where the striking colours of honey from the yellow sandstone used to build it have inspired its name, the Golden City.

However, the fort is more than just a historical landmark or important architectural work: more than 800 years after it was built, around 2,000 to 4,000 descendants of the original inhabitants of the castle still live behind the fort walls without any rental fees, because their ancestors were given the land by local kings in return for their services to the kingdom.

Today, Jaisalmer is not only the last ancient fort that is still inhabited in India, but also functions as a living monument, where life takes place between narrow streets and crowded yards, similar to what happened in the 12th century.

Historically, the environment had only been home to members of the Brahmin leading caste, who used to work as teachers and advisers to the local kings who ruled Jaisalmer from the 12th century until around the mid-1900s, then were given a place to live inside the fort.

Now, seven centuries and 23 generations later, the great family of Brahmana Gopa has 42 houses behind these ancient walls. Inside the fort, people who have the same surname usually come from one family and live in the same neighbourhood" said Gopa.


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