Perched on a 125 meter high hillock at the centre of Jodhpur, the immense Mehrangarh Fort is a fabulous example of the fort building prowess of the medieval architects of Rajasthan. it is undoubtedly one of the most famous monuments of Rajasthan and is also among the best known tourist attractions in Jodhpur. The Mehrangarh fort is must watch spot for those with an interest in the forts and palaces of Rajasthan.
The Mehrangarh Fort was started under the reign of Rao Jodha, the founder of the city of Jodhpur, in 1459. He was the 15th ruler of the Rathore clan and he shifted his capital to Jodhpur from Mandore, located about 9 kilometers from Jodhpur. The name seems to be a local variation of Mihir Garh, which translates to – Sun Fort. The rulers of Rajasthan, collectively called Rajputs have been the worshippers of Sun for a long time. The fort seems to have been built with reverence to him. An interesting story about the fort states that a hermit had to be relocated from the hillock for the construction of the fort. He cursed the king that his fort will forever face shortage of water. Indeed, there is shortage of water in the city even today. It is also said that to ensure good luck or the fort, a man was buried alive with the promise that his family will forever be looked after by the rulers of Jodhpur. A chilling reminder of the practice of sati ( self immolation by the women of a deceased man ) can be seen in the pane
The fort has massive proportions. Its battlements are 125 feet high and its walls are 6 meters wide at places. The total length of the walls covers a distance of about 5 kilometers. There are seven gates that provide entry to the interiors of the fort. Of these, the two most important ones are the Jai Pol, and the Fateh Pol. These have been erected to commemorate famous victories over the Mughuls in 1707 and the forces of Jaipur about a hundred years later. The second gate still bears the marks left by the cannon balls from previous wars.
The interiors of the fort are reminiscent of the glory of the Rajput rulers. The palaces and galleries of the fort have been converted into museums and galleries showcasing the artifacts related one of the history of the fort. These are discussed in brief below.
The galleries of Mehrangarh fort exhibit a vast and extremely interesting collection of artifacts that are linked to the history of the fort and the culture of the region. There are separate galleries for howdahs, or elaborate elephant saddles, which are unique to Jodhpur and its royalty. The special attraction is the silver howdah used by Mughul emperor Shahjahan. The Daulat Khana housing a fine assorted collection of art work, textiles, paintings, manuscripts, and headgears is one of the finest galleries in the fort. The other galleries include the palanquin gallery, the turban gallery, the armory, the gallery on folk musical instruments and the paintings gallery.
The museum is a repository of excellent and well preserved artifacts used by the erstwhile royalty. The collection includes clothes, articles of daily use, paintings, coins, and weapons.
The exquisitely decorated palaces inside the Mehrangarh Fort are among its most popular attractions. The largest of these is the Moti Mahal, or pearl palace. It was the venue of court proceedings where the king would meet his subjects. Five alcoves with sheltered balconies were meant for the queens. The sheesh Mahal or the palace of mirrors is a typical feature of the palaces of Rajasthan. Its intricate mirror work is one of the finest to be seen in Rajasthan. The Phool Mahal is said to have been the private quarters of the king, and the venue of grand celebrations and dances. One of the last palaces to be built was the Takhat Vilas, which reflects modern European décor, which probably arrived with the British.
The ramparts, cannons, and temples of the fort are also among the attractions of Mehrangarh. The Chamunda Mataji Temple is where the Royal Family’s revered deity is worshipped. Its history is as old as the fort itself.
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