Of Jaipur's three forts, Jaigarh Fort is perhaps the most interesting. Not if all you want to see are pretty palaces (for that Amer's perfect); but if you want a peek at a hard-core fortress, this is it. Jaigarh, once responsible for the security of both Jaipur and Amer, is a huge mutated fort and contains all the accoutrements of a full-fledged citadel.
Jaigarh (literally, `Victory Fort') was built between the 15th and the 18th century, and stands 15 km from Jaipur, amidst rock-strewn, thorn-scrub covered hills, its forbidding stone ramparts visible from Jaipur itself. A steep road goes up to the main gate, the Dungar Darwaza, from where the view is stupendous.
Begin with Jaigarh's biggest draw- the Jaivana, the world's largest antique cannon on wheels. Jaivana was constructed in Jaigarh's foundry in 1720, and its barrel alone weighs close to 50 tons.
According to popular belief, Jaivana's been fired only once (the ball falling 35 km away in a very unfortunate village!). Actual inspection of the cannon has revealed, however, that the number of times it's been fired has been considerably higher.
Wander around a bit- you can walk the ramparts and peer down the loopholes for guns and boiling oil, or check out the wide water channels. These were part of a very efficient system for rainwater harvesting, bringing in water from across the hills and into Jaigarh's 3 underground tanks. The largest of the tanks stored 60,00,000 gallons of water, and was, till not long back, supposed to house a treasure (that myth was shattered by the Indian government, which searched it).
Also part of the fort is the armoury and museum : both have a good collection of items pertaining to Jaigarh. The Armoury's treasures include a 50-kg cannonball, various swords, shields, muskets, war bugles, armour and guns (bullock-cart, wheel, and camel-mounted!). It also has photographs of two of Jaipur's maharajas, Sawai Bhawani Singh and Major General Man Singh II, both once senior military officers in the Indian Army.
The Museum has more of the same, though not all military. Here too there are photos- some delightful ones of old Jaipur, its maharajas (especially Madho Singh, Man Singh II and Bhawani Singh), palace guards, royal processions and the Jaipur State Cavalry. There's an interesting photograph of India's many rulers at the Conference of Ruling Princes and Chiefs (Delhi, 1917), along with other knick-knacks- maps of Jaigarh, spittoons, leather and metal oil containers, and 18th century circular playing cards.
Among Jaigarh's other structures are a series of open halls, of which the Shubhat Niwas (the Meeting Hall of Warriors) has a few weather-beaten odds and ends lying about- mostly ramshackle sedan chairs and drums.
Access to the fort is via a steep winding path. Once up in the fort premises, visitors can enjoy an excellent view of the city. Usually 1 ½ or 2 hours are enough to explore it- don't bother taking a guide, as the museum and armoury have good signage.