Rajasthan Forts >>
Mehrangarh Fort Jodhpur
Perched on a 150 m high hill its sprawl is the most formidable and magnificent fort in Rajasthan. Rao Jodha founded it in 1459 but subsequent rulers of Jodhpur have also added to it over the centuries. A meandering road leads to the from the city 5 kms below. Battle scars of canon ball hit by attacking armies of Jaipur can still be seen on the second gate.
To the left is chhatri of Kirat Singh Soda, a soldier who fell on the spot while defending the fort against the armies of Amber. There are seven gates, which include Jayapol meaning victory built by Maharaja Man Singh to commemorate his victories over Jaipur and Bikaner armies. Fattehpol also meaning victory gate was built by Maharaja Ajit Singh to mark the defeat of Mughals.
And Lohapol meaning iron gate has a moving memorabilia on palm print of the queens of Maharaja Man Singh who threw themselves on his funeral pyre in an act of sati [self-immolation]. The palm imprints still attract devotional attention and are covered by vermilion paste and paper-thin silver foil.
Mehrangarh fort is about 5km from Jodhpur Town. Guarding the city below, crowning a perpendicular cliff, the fort was founded by Rao Jodha in 1459 AD when he shifted his capital from Mandore.
Standing sentinel to the city below, it over looks the rugged and rocky terrain and houses a palace intricately adorned with long carved panels and latticed windows exquisitely wrought from red sandstone.
The apartments within, have their own magic -the Moti mahal (Pearl Palace), Phool Mahal (Flower Palace), Sheesh Mahal (Mirror Palace), Sileh Khana and Daulat Khana with a rich varied collection of palanquins, howdas, royal cradles, miniature paintings of various schools, folk music, instruments, costumes, furniture and an impressive armoury.
The display of cannons on the ramparts near Chamunda temple is among the rarest in India. As you climb up, folk musicians revive the grandeur of a bygone era.
This is one of the finest museums in Rajasthan and certainly the best layed out. In the palanquin section of the fort museum, you can see an interesting collection of old royal palanquins including the elaborate domed gilt Mahadol palanquin, which was won in a battle from the Governor of Gujarat in 1730. The museum exhibits the heritage of the Rathores in arms, costumes, paintings
and decorated period rooms.
The grandest of Mehrangarh's period rooms, the Phool Mahal was in all likely hood a private and exclusive chamber of pleasure dancing girls once swooned in exhaustion here under a ceiling rich in gold filigree. The Phool Mahal was created by Maharaja Abhaya Singh (1724-1749) and the gold came from Ahmedabad in Gujarat as war booty after his famous victory over the rebellious Mughal
governor, Sarbuland Khan. The paintings, royal portraits and the ever-popular raga mala, came much later, in the reign of Jaswant Singh II.
The Jhanki Mahal, from where the royal ladies watched the official proceedings, in the courtyard, today houses a rich collection of the royal cradles. The cradles are decorated with gilt mirrors and figures of fairies, elephant and birds
Entrance fees :
Rs 200/- (including camera, with audio guide)
Telephone No :
Video Camera Rs. 200/-
In 1458, secure in his dominion, Jodha became the fifteenth Rathore ruler. The Raj Tilak or formal anointment of the prince, necessary because it vests in the man divinity, was performed by his elder brother Akhairaj, Ranmal's rightful heir who renounced his claim in favor of his younger brother because the latter had reconquered every inch of Marwar himself..
Within a year of his accession Rao Jodha decided to build a new capital. The fort in Mandore, already over a thousand years old, was no longer considered strong and safe. In doing so he bequeathed to India one of her greatest forts and most beautiful cities.
The foundation of this fort was laid on 12th May,1459 by Jodha himself on a rocky hill six miles south of Mandore. The hill, a hundred and twenty meters high, was known as Bhakurcheeria, the Mountain of Birds, or Cheeriatunk, the Bird's Beak. Its lone human occupant at the time was an old hermit called Cheeria Nathji, the Lord of the Birds.( Even today the fort is Home to thousands
of birds, particularly the Cheel or Kite, the sacred bird of the Rathores.)
Auspicious though the day, it was not a smooth beginning for Jodha because the disturbed hermit left his cave cursing the invaders of his solitary world. His curse, impossible to forget even today, "Jodha! May your citadel ever suffer a scarcity of water!" A terrible curse anywhere, in Marwar heralding doom itself. Undeterred Jodha continued with his construction but he did take some measures to appease the gods. Besides building a house for Cheeria Nathji in his new city he also constructed a temple in the fort very near the cave the hermit used for meditation. The cave and temple together with a pond in front form an enchanting spot today. And over five hundred years later fresh flowers are still placed every morning in the temple to placate the irate hermit...
Jodha then took the extreme step to ensure the new site proved propitious; he buried a man alive in the foundations. The man was Rajiya Bambi (Meghwal) and he was promised that in return his family would forever more be looked after by the Rathores. It was a promise that has been honored and Rajiya's descendants continue to enjoy a special relationship with the Maharaja. A proud family they still live in Raj Bagh, Rajiya's Garden, the estate bequeathed by Jodha.
Rajiya's fate is an established fact of history but there are sources, albeit less reliable, which record three other human sacrifices in the foundations of Jodha's fort. Four in all, one for each corner if these sources are to be believed. Of the three one is held to be Rajiya's son and another a Brahmin named Mehran, both improbable choices. It seems unlikely that Jodha would pick two men from the same family and a Hidu king sacrificing a Brahmin or priest does not ring quite true.
The controversy remains alive because these sources claim that Jodha named his new fort after Mehran. Today the fort is indeed called Mehrangarh, Mehran's Fort, and it has been for some time, but the origin of this name remains a mystery. Did Mehran really exist and was he offered to the gods? For the present these are secrets trapped in the depths of Bhakurcheeria. On the other hand the answer may, in fact, be quite simple; Mehr is a Rajasthani word for the Sun and it is not at all unlikely that the Rathores, who claim descent from the Sun, would name their first citadel in His honor.
Whatever Jodha named his fort, a citadel on which he spent all of rupees nine hundred thousand, it was very different from what the present Maharaja of Jodhpur, Gaj Singh II, inherited four hundred and ninety three years later. To begin with, it was much, much smaller; the extremities of the original fortress fall within the second gate today. As the Rathores grew more powerful Mehrangarh, at once a symbol of their glory and the basis of their strength, expanded. Every ruler left his mark and therein lies Mehrangarh's beauty, for it is today a magnificent blend of different reigns and ages, styles and influences, compulsions and dreams...
Its towering battlements, a hundred and twenty feet high, and stern walls, in places six meters thick, testify to the strength of Rao Maldev (1532-1562) in whose reign the Rathores reached the zenith of their power. The palaces, extravagant and exquisite edifices of peace and prosperity, whisper a thousand secrets; of machiavellian intrigues, dazzling riches and decadent pleasures under the imperial Mughal umbrella (1582-1739). The main gates, Fateh Pol and Jai Pol, sing of great victories, against the Mughals in 1707 and the Jaipur forces a hundred years later; while the lofty ramparts, fiercely brandishing Maharaja Abhaya Singh's (1724-1749) war trophies, proclaim them to the world...
Mehrangarh has never, not even once, been taken in a siege. Invincible and mighty, inspiring awe, admiration, envy and fear in friend and foe alike, Mehrangarh is the very spirit of the Rathores. Indeed, no historian, no white-whiskered royal retainer, no chronicle, no ballad, no poem can rival the Citadel of the Sun in bringing alive the story of the Rathores of Jodhpur. Every mile-stone in their adventure, every triumph, every act of courage is immortalized here in stone and mortar, marble and metal. The palaces, lavished with delicate friezes, record successful campaigns; cart-loads of war booty and caravans laden with imperial favor. The cenotaphs recount stirring tales of valor and sacrifice; cannon-ball marks on the walls speak of repulsed enemies; the hand-prints, tiny and graceful on the portals, weep in remembrance of faithful queens lost to the flames of Sati...