Mehrangarh Fort India’s Best Preserved Fortress
An imposing Mehrangarh Fort, which stands atop a rocky hill dominating the skyline of Jodhpur City, stands among the most celebrated & the most visited fortresses in India. The magnificent fort that conceals behind impenetrable massive ramparts boasts the glorious past of the Rathore rulers who founded the fort in the 15th century. The mighty ‘Mehrangarh Fort’ was never beaten throughout its working tenure & provided a solid security to the vibrant city of ‘Jodhpur’ that thrived around its foothill.
The hefty walls of the ‘Mehrangarh Fort’ enclose several lavish palaces which depict the opulence of the ‘Rathore’ rulers & the brilliance of the ‘Indian architecture’. The winding path that leads to the top of the fort is secured by seven sturdy gates, which leave the visitors spellbound by their colossal appearance. Each of the gates has its own tale & had different reasons for their constructions.
The ‘Mehrangarh Fort’ is also famous for its meticulously maintained museums that feature a wide range of royal collections, including the Rathore’s weapons, costumes, armors, paintings & other objects. Decorated period rooms & magnificent palaces, which flaunt intricate work of art & exceptionally beautiful, delicate stone carvings, play a crucial role in taking the fort’s aesthetic charm beyond the verbal explanations.
How To Get There?
The incredible fort of Mehrangarh is located right in the heart of the Indian state of Rajasthan, which makes it more convenient to access from any part of the state. ‘Rajasthan’ is one of the premium tourist destinations in the country, having known all around the world for its rich culture & exquisite architecture. The ‘Jodhpur city’ being one of the most favorite tourist getaways, receives a heavy load of tourists throughout the year. The city is very well connected with the rest of the country by the means of road, aerial & rail transfer.
By Air: ‘Jodhpur’ shares good aerial connectivity with India’s major cities like ‘New Delhi’, ‘Mumbai’, ‘Kolkata’ & ‘Jaipur’- the capital city of ‘Rajasthan’.
By Rail: The broad-gauge railway routes connect ‘Jodhpur’ with metro cities like ‘Mumbai’, ‘Kolkata’ & ‘Delhi’. Daily trains from ‘Jaipur’ are also available from the city’s two railway stations- ‘City’ & ‘Rai ka Bagh’, both located outside the walled city.
By Road: A comfortable journey by Rajasthan Roadways’ air conditioned buses from ‘Delhi’ takes you to Jodhpur within 8 to 9 hours. The city also has very good road connectivity with ‘Jaipur’ & other major cities in Rajasthan like ‘Bikaner’, ‘Udaipur’, ‘Ajmer’ & ‘Jaisalmer’.
A Peep in History:
The magnificent ‘Mehrangarh Fort’ was founded on May 12, 1459 by the fifteenth Ratore ruler, Maharaja Rao Jodha who was the founder of the city of ‘Jodhpur’. ‘Maharaja Rao Jodha’ had his capital moved from the one thousand years old Mandore Fort, which was then no longer safe to house the Rathore royalties due to its heavy wear & tear, to the safer location of ‘Jodhpur’. The massive fort was built atop a 400 foot tall hill known as Bhaucheeria, the mountain of birds.
A legend says that, ‘Rao Jodha’ had to displace the hill’s solitary resident- a hermit named Cheeria 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 apologetic measures taken by the King some five-hundred years back haven’t served the purpose till today, as the fort & the surrounding city still face draughts after every 3-4 years!
Although the ‘Mehrangarh’ was founded by ‘Maharaja Rao Jodha’, it’s today’s humongous appearance is credited to Maharaja Jaswant Singh (1638-78) who played a vital role in refurbishing the palaces & strengthening its lofty ramparts.
The fort is still in possession of the Rathore royalties who have meticulously maintained this silent spectator of the valor & the glory of their ancestors!
A Walk Through the Fort Complex:
A winding road that stretches to some 5km takes you to the first gate of the ‘Mehrangarh Fort’. An auto rickshaw ride from the base makes an enjoyable ride till the fort complex. The gargantuan fortifications which arise within the range of 6m to 36m were constructed from the stone quarried from the same hill, upon which, the fort stands today, which help the fort in getting merged seamlessly with the base.
Within the fort complex, several decorated palaces featuring wide courtyards can be seen. ‘Moti Mahal’, ‘Phool Mahal’, ‘Sheesha Mahal’ & ‘Daulat Khana’ are especially famous for their brilliant decorations & amazing artworks that demonstrate the legendary skills of the Rajput architects. Apart from the palaces, the fort is also famous for its stupendous collection of the antiques of the Rathore royalties. Some of the most notable tourist attractions of the fort are as follows-
Seven gigantic gates, which protect the fort like imperial guards are hugely popular among the tourists. The most notable gates are as follows:
Jai Pol– Literally means as the ‘Victory gate’ is the first gate that impedes your way towards the fort. The ‘Jai Pol’ was constructed in 1806 in order to commemorate ‘Maharaja Man Singh’s victory over the kingdom of ‘Jaipur & Bikaner’.
Fateh Pol– The ‘Fateh Pol’ which also means the ‘Victory gate’, was erected to celebrate the Rathore’s triumph over the legions of the mighty Mughals.
Dedh Kamgra Pol– Also known as the ‘Lakhna Pol’ is hugely popular for a proud dent of cannonball that it received during the attack of Jaipur army.
Loha Pol– The final gate into the fort complex, the ‘Loha Pol’ is famous for featuring fearsome metal spikes to deter the charging elements. The gate is also famous for the handprints of 15 queens who threw themselves on the funeral pyre of their husband, Maharaja Man Singh.
Gigantic gates certainly make you drop your jaws by their imposing appearance, but exquisitely designed palaces of the Mehrangarh will be a sure show stopper! The beauty of the architectures & the detailing of the carvings demonstrate the class of the Rajput architectures. The Sheesh Mahal (Palace of Mirrors), adorned with intricate mosaics of mirrors all over the walls, leaves you spellbound whereas, the beautiful paintings in the Phool Mahal (Palace of Flower) depict the distant influence of European artwork. The Takhat Palace, residence of the ‘Maharaja Takhat Singh’ boasts the elegant frescoes showing the scenes from the Hindu mythology while the Moti Mahal (Palace of Pearl), the most beautiful & the largest of the Mehrangrh Museum’s period room, is an epitome of the Rajput architecture. It hosts extensive stone carvings, rich coronation seats, magnificent glass paintings & high-grade artwork.
Apart from these highly decorated palaces, the ‘Mehrangrh Fort’ houses other palaces like Khabka Mahal (Sleeping Palace), Jhanki Mahal (Palace of Glimpse), Moti Vilas, Sardar Vilas & Umaid Vilas all of which, bear equally grandeur & elegant appearance.
Galleries in Mehrangarh Museum:
Galleries are the most prominent tourist attractions of the ‘Mehrangarh Fort’. Some of the most remarkable galleries are as follows:
Elephant Howdahs: Two compartment wooden seats used for making the seating arrangement onto the elephant’s back are termed as Howdahs. The Howdahs feature gilded sheets.
Palanquins: Palanquins were the most popular means of traveling for the ladies of the royal families until the 19th century. The Mehrangarh has exquisite collection of highly decorated palanquins, out of which, the palanquin named as Mahadol is the most phenomenal one.
Daulat Khana: Daulat Khana features some of the best collection of artworks from the Mughal era. A 17th century silk tent made of red & gold brocade, which was crafted for the ‘Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb’, is the most important collection of Daulat Khana.
Sileh Khana (Armory): A rich collection of all the weapons & armors used by the Rathores in different periods is displayed in ‘Sileh Khana’. The swords are studded with invaluable gems while pistols & guns are adorned with the gilded artwork. ‘Sileh Khana’ also houses sword of the great Mughal emperor- Akbar & the Khanda (Giant Sword) of ‘Rao Jodha’.
Paintings: The finest of the Marwar paintings are displayed in the paintings gallery. Most of the paintings depict the scenes from the Hindu mythology & traditions in Jodhpur.
The Turban Gallery: Turban is the most important part of the Rajasthani ethnic wear. The gallery displays every type of the turbans used by every community in Rajasthan along with its detailed documentation.