Mehrangarh Fort, Jodhpur – History, Architecture & Highlights!
Listed among one of the best preserved forts of India, Rajasthan’s Mehrangarh Fort, Jodhpur or Mehran Fort is a beast awaiting to unleash its magnificence. A fort unlike any other; its walls and ramparts still reverberate with tales of Jodhpur’s glorious past.
The Saga Of Mehrangarh Fort
The foundations of Mehrangarh Fort, Jodhpur were laid down by King Rao Jodha of the Rathore dynasty in the year 1459 who is also the founder of the city of Jodhpur. It was a troublesome time for Rao Jodha in the mid-15th century. After fighting tiresome battles against his foes for many years, he finally secured his ancestral fort of Mandore. Although, the 1000-year-old fort of Mandore could no longer provide the security needed for survival.
Rao Jodha then decided to move to a safer location; one that is ideal for a formidable and impregnable fort, where only the bravest of the brave could dream of trespassing. It is believed that Rao Jodha was advised by a holy man to relocate to a hilltop and as fate would have it, he found himself the perfect spot for the foundation of his dream fort, nine kilometers south of the fort of Mandore. This hilltop was known as Bhakurcheeria – mountain of birds.
The Legend Of Rao Jodha
After having found his ideal spot at Bhakurcheeria, Rao Jodha had to displace the hill’s sole occupant, a hermit named Cheeria Nathji – the lord of the birds. Despite repeated requests of the king, the hermit refused to move, and at last devoid of any options, Rao Jodha sought help from a more powerful saint, a female warrior sage, Shri Karni Mata. Upon his request Karni Mata met Cheeria Nathji, who sensing her superiority, vacated the place only after cursing Rao Jodha that the fort would suffer from water scarcity.
As a preventive measure and to ensure that the king’s hopes are not shattered by the hermit’s curse, a man named Raja Ram Meghwal volunteered to be buried alive in the foundations of the fort. Until this day the Meghwal’s lineage are looked after by the descendants of Rao Jodha, who stay in the Raj Bagh, Raja Ram Meghwal’s garden.
Another legend tells us that Rao Jodha, in an attempt to save his dream fort from being doomed, buried four people alive, one in each corner of the fort. Intrigued? Visit the fort on board a holiday on the Deccan Odyssey to uncover the legends while also interacting with the locals.
Timeless Work Of Angels & Titans
One of the most stupendous beauty of the Mehrangarh Fort is its build. Perched on a hilltop at a height of more than 400 feet above the city, Rao Jodha made no amends when it came to the security of the fort. Mehrangarh Fort, Jodhpur is spread over an area of 5km and the outer walls protecting it are no less than 36m in height and 21m in thickness.
A winding path going uphill on the north-east side of the fort leads from the city’s roads to the car parking. From here, you’ll have to ascend along a broad, paved pathway through seven gates or pols – all of which were constructed during different eras and for a different purposes.
Famous Gates At The Fort Of Mehrangarh
Jai Pol (Gate of Victory)
This gate was constructed by Raja Man Singh in 1806 to celebrate his victory over the Jaipur and Bikaner armies. As you approach the gate, you’ll find beautiful paintings adorning both the flanks of the gates. On the other side of the gate you can purchase tickets as well as get an audio guide with headphones from the ticket counter.
Dedh Kamgra Pol
One of the most significant attraction of this gate is the bastion wall which bears the dent marks of the enemy cannon balls. This gate leads you to an open section where there is a cannon stationed to your right overlooking the city and another gate on your left – Fateh Pol.
(Photo 57626809 © Marina Pissarova – Dreamstime.com: The pathway to the Mehrangarh Fort, Jodhpur wears a deserted look in the early morning awaiting visitors)
This gate was built as a mark to celebrate victory over the Mughal army in 1707. Right next to this gate is marked the exact spot with a red stone slab where Raja Ram Meghwal was buried to appease Cheeria Nathji’s curse. As you move towards the next gate you’ll be welcomed by local musicians giving you an authentic taste of Rajasthani culture.
Loha Pol (Iron Gate)
The final gate before you enter the main fort complex is the Loha Pol. Incidentally this is the first gate and part of the original fort complex; the other gates being a later addition. The gate has iron spikes on it to injure the heads of the attacking elephants. Furthermore a winding path leads up to the gate. Why? To slow down the soldiers and attacking elephants who could have easily rammed the gates had the path been straight. After entering through the gate, you’ll find hand imprints of the royal women, both on your left as well as right side who chose to be self-immolated – by following the Sati ritual – on kings’ pyre.
Once you have entered the main fort, you’ll be amazed to witness an entirely different world of complex designs and beauty in every nook and corner.
Many Shades Of Mehrangarh Fort
Daulat Khana meaning the “Treasure House”, was built by Maharaja Ajit Singh in the early 18th century. It houses a priceless collection of fine arts from the Mughal Period and also houses the remains of the most celebrated Mughal Emperor – Akbar the Great.
This room has a collection of elephant howdahs – a two seaster wooden compartment that used to be fastened onto the back of elephants. The front compartment with more leg space and a raised metal sheet in the front was meant for kings while the rear and the small compartment was for the kings’ bodyguard who was disguised as a fly-whisk attendant. Amongst the many howdahs, you’d find a silver howdah that was gifted by Mughal Emperor Shahjahan to the then King, Maharaja Jaswant Singh I.
Palki Khana houses some of the most impressive collection of royal palanquins in Rajasthan that was meant to be used by the queens and royal ladies.
Marwar Painting Gallery
This gallery has a large collection of fine paintings depicting the Marwar Art distinctly. One discrete feature of these paintings is the amalgamation of the Mughal as well as the Rajasthani School of Art which increased heavily by the close association of Mughal and Jodhpur rulers.
The Royal Armory
Apart from the impressive weaponry from every period in Jodhpur that includes precious stone studded swords and daggers and, rifles, the armory has on display the Khaanda of Rao Jodha, including the swords of Akbar the Great and Timur.
This gallery has a rather unique concept to it – of preserving and documenting the different types of turbans once worn throughout Rajasthan by different communities during festivals irrespective of geographical boundaries.
Striking Interiors Of Mehrangarh Fort, Jodhpur
Within the fort are many large decorated palaces, the interiors of which are second to none. Here are few of the most significant structures:
Sheesh Mahal or the Hall of Mirrors was Maharaja Ajit Singh’s bedchamber. The hall heavily decorated with mirror work features painted panels of Shiva, Parvati and Ganesha and, Rama, Sita and Hanuman along with Brahma and Krishna – who is seen playing the flute and lifting the Govardhan mountain.
Also known as the flower palace this heavily ornamented hall shimmering with golden hues and shining mirrors was built by Maharaja Abhay Singh in the 18th-century as a reception room.
Moti Mahal or Pearl Palace adorned with gold leafs, sea shells, mirrors and decorative windows is the largest room in the Mehrangarh Palace within the fort premises and was used for private audience. The room has five alcoves which leads to hidden balconies from where queens could listen to court proceedings without being noticed by anyone. Impressive, isn’t it.
Other Attractions Near The Fort Of Mehrangarh
- The fort offers zip-lining activity also known as the Flying Fox above the skyline of Mehrangarh Fort, Jodhpur which is sure to get your heart pumping. If you are in for some adventure make sure to wear comfortable clothes. Even if you’re not much of an adventure person it is recommended to wear light cotton clothes along with a hat and goggle as the temperature can be hurting.
- You can even visit the Chamunda Mata Temple — favorite goddess of Rao Jodha — located within the fort premises.
- Every day between 3:30 and 4 pm more than 200 eagles gather only to be fed by a young boy employed by the fort management from atop a tower across the Chokelao Gardens. We are sure that you’d definitely not want to miss this royal treat aboard the Deccan Odyssey.
- You can even visit the Rao Jodha Desert Rock Park which is situated nearby the Mehrangarh Fort, Jodhpur. The park only opened to the public in 2011, and contains ecologically restored desert and arid land vegetation along with distinctive hard, volcanic, pinkish rhyolite and sandstone formations found only in one other location in Asia – China.
The Mehrangarh Fort, unlike others, is the unification of elegance and chivalry. The magnanimity of the fort from the outside is in stark contrast to the minutiae detailing of the fort from the inside. This sheer distinction is what makes Mehrangarh Fort, Jodhpur an interesting journey of Deccan Odyssey – Indian Sojourn: Mumbai to Delhi.
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About The Author
Sumit Roy is an Editor, Writer, Researcher, Translator and Proofreader at Aatman Innvoations Pvt. Ltd. When not working, he likes to read, write, watch movies or series, play computer games or even better – procrastinate. He believes in free basic education for all and thinks that capitalism first and socialism next can change this world for better.