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Rissala Fort (Virat nagar, Sariska)

Viratnagar is the new name for Bairat which has a remarkably rich past, boasting of monuments and legends of very old. In fact, this forgotten little town in Jaipur district boasts of having the oldest freestanding Buddhist structure in the world – the ruins of a 3rd century BC Chaitya (chapel) – perched on a low hill. Among rocks are the remains of a monastery too. Archaeological excavations from a hill in Bairat have revealed more from the 3rd century BC, this time belonging to the great Maurya rule. An archaeological site preserving its legacy of age-old monuments, monastery and ruins.

The lodge in Bairat was where Emperor Akbar is said to have hunted and stayed overnight en route on his pilgrimage to Ajmer. The Temple of Parasvanath, Bhimji-ki- Dungari and Bijak-ki- Pahari are worth seeing too.

The Glorious past The history of Bairat goes even further to the times of the Mahabharata, some 3500 years back. It is said that it was in the kingdom of King Virat that the Pandavas and their wife Draupadi spent their thirteen years of exile in incognito.

Today nothing remains of this ancient city, though archaeological findings like coins and pottery do indicate its antiquity. The Mughals, too, left their stamp in this amazing city of Bairat.

The 16th century chhatri (cenotaph) bears some interesting murals. They are among the oldest in Rajasthan, and had probably served as a model for the tradition of painting murals. The Shekhawati region, which is famous for its astonishingly large number of frescoed havelis (mansions), probably took the cue from Amber's wall paintings which in turn were influenced by those of the Mughal court.



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