Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Mehrangarh Fort, Jodhpur

Jodhpur’s very famous Mehrangarh Fort stands as a testimony to the glorious past of the Rathore rulers. It is one of the largest forts of Rajasthan as well as India. It was built by Rao Jodha (founder of Jodhpur city) in 1460. The fort was named Mehrangarh- meaning ‘fort of the Sun’ as it was believed (mostly mythical) that the clan was descendents of Sun God- Surya. It is situated 400 ft above the city with imposing thick walls whose walls rise up to 120 ft height and 70 ft thickness. The mighty ‘fort’ was never beaten in its working tenure and provided a solid security to the vibrant city of Jodhpur.

View of the fort from outside

This is what we get to see as we enter!

Walls and cannons. Notice the thickness of walls!

There are several palaces inside the fort that are well- known for their intricate carvings and expansive courtyards. It is also famous for its meticulously maintained museums that feature wide range of royal collection. The museum houses a collection of palanquins, royal cradles, miniatures and costumes.

The peacock palanquin

The Royal Cradle

Maharaja Rao Jodha built this fort atop a hill called as the Bhaucheeria, the mountain of birds. A legend says that, ‘Rao Jodha’ had to displace the hill’s solitary resident- a hermit named Cheeria Nathji (Chidia Nathji), the lord of birds, in order to build his massive citadel atop the hillock. Agitated ‘Cheeria Nathji’ reluctantly evacuated his abode only to curse the king as- “Jodha, your citadel may always suffer the scarcity of water!” Although the curse of the hermit didn’t detour the king from his decision of building the fort, the king tried to pacify the furious hermit by building a spectacular house for him & a temple near the cave ‘Cheeria Nathji’ had used for his penance. Apparently the fort & the surrounding city still face draughts after every 3-4 years!

A peep into the 'Blue City'

Intricate work inside the palaces!

Although ‘Mehrangarh’ was founded by ‘Maharaja Rao Jodha’, today’s humongous appearance is credited to Maharaja Jaswant Singh (1638-78) who played a vital role in refurbishing the palaces & strengthening them. The fort and palaces were built over a period of 500 years. As a result each building has a different style representing different periods. 
View of Jaswant Thada, a memorial built in memory of Maharaja Jaswant Singh by his son

Moti Mahal takes its name from the quality of lime plaster used. Mixed with finely crushed shells, it gives a pearl- like luster to the surfaces. Oil- lamps glowed from every alcove of the room. Light bounced off the gold filigree ceilings and reflected the colours of the stained glass windows.

Moti Mahal

Sheesh Mahal was Maharaja Ajith Singh’s bed chamber decorated with mirror work.

Sheesh Mahal

Phool Mahal is one of fort’s grandest period rooms. It was built by Maharaja Abhay Singh and was exclusively used for entertainment and private gatherings.

Phool Mahal

Takhat Vilas was built by the last ruler to live in Mehrangarh fort i.e. Maharaja Takhat Singh. 

The Mehrangarh fort has several entry gates. But the main gates are- Jai Pol, Fateh Pol and Loha Pol. It is near this gate that one can find the hand prints of the Ranis who committed Sati.

The widowed women would come bedecked in their jewels and finery and pass through the palace doors and fort gates for the last time. As they left, they would leave a vermilion stained hand imprint on the wall for posterity.

A silent procession would follow the women to the temple where they would give away their jewels and then proceed to join their dead husbands on the funeral pyre. The women would not scream or cry as the flames burned them alive.

Touring this magnificent fort would take anywhere between three to four hours. If one intends to cover it early, they have the convenience of elevators which take you directly to the period rooms and they walk down enjoying other rooms. But there is nothing like viewing the fort by walking around, just to feel the magnanimity of the early rulers by gazing at the never- ending tall walls of the citadel.

View of Umaid Bhavan Palace from the fort

A shop inside the fort...selling colorful Bandani dupattas

During our visit, we chose to take the Audio guide so that we could walk around according to our convenience (Of course, do check the working condition of the headphones once you have bought them).

When one is done and exhausted, be sure to grab something to munch on from the cafeteria that is in the fort complex that serves very good snacks!

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