Let’s start off from the same place that I left you with in my part One of the Mesmerizing Mehrangarh Fort Series. If you have missed it, you can click here and read it. I started with my journey to the Mehrangarh Fort, took you along the 7 gates of the fort, revealed two of its dark secrets and landed at its first courtyard – the Shringar Chowk. This courtyard, if you remember was quite ornate and had a marble throne that was used for coronation. I mentioned that there were several doorways here and I stood confused, wondering which one to take. And that is where I concluded the earlier part.
Well, the next part of the journey in fact, did not start with this doorway but with the one opposite it. This is where I entered a section that housed the various treasures of Mehrangarh Fort.
The Palanquins & Howdahs
I have often seen pictures of palanquins and howdahs used by the royalty but never really paid attention to how ornate or unusual they can be. The exhibits at the museum made me realize how short-sighted I was. In those days, even the most mundane of things were so artistic, never mind the howdahs and palanquins. Here are some of the unique howdahs used by the Kings.
P.S : One of which has been presented by Emperor Shahjahan of the Taj Mahal fame.
The Hookah Bar at Mehrangarh Fort
When I heard the story of Sati at Mehrangarh fort, one thought that I constantly kept having was – how did these women even have the courage to throw themselves in a live fire? The answer to some extent was given by this hookah system.
Opium smoking was considered to be fashionable by the royalty and there were elaborate parties and ceremonies for the same. Especially for women who were going to be Sati. The opium made them lose fear and made the entire ordeal a lot easier. Funny – how one vice was used to ease a dark ritual.
Daulat Khana of Mehrangarh Fort
The galleries that we currently are in, are called the Daulat Khana, which literally translates into “treasure room“. A befitting name for the treasures it houses.. Capturing all these treasures into a single post is impossible and hence, I am leaving you with the highlights. Palanquins, howdahs and hookahs, I have already shared. Take a look at the elaborate war tent that were used back then.
Aside from this, a collection of really “artistic” weapons are on display. The hilts of the swords and the guns were just so amazing that was hard to believe they were even used in warfare.Take this shield as an example. If someone were to thrust this on my face, I would have stopped attacking. Who would want to damage such a piece of art?
And of course, some girlie things that appealed to the feminine side of me. My favorite – this jewelry case. I loved the cute little key that it had. It reminded me of all those fairy tales. Don’t you think it is adorable?
From here, I continued on through the same door that you saw in the beginning of this post – all to enter the “World of Men” or the Mardana section of the Mehrangarh Fort.
Sheesh Mahal at Mehrangarh Fort
The Sheesh Mahal was the bed chamber of Maharaja Ajit Singh (the same Maharaja for whom so many women become Satis). The elaborate glass and mirror work is what gave it the name of “Glass palace” or the Sheesh Mahal. You can only see this chamber through a small enclosure. The same is perpetually crowded and owing to the rush, we could not really spend too much time here. However, those few minutes that we managed, were enough for us to realize how stunning this chamber was – with its colorful floral motifs interspersed by the mirror work and colorful paintings from Indian mythology.
The original mirror roof is what you see on the floor in the center of this room. Since the same had collapsed, a new one was built by the museum authorities. The original mirror work was so amazing that one candle lit here was enough to light up the entire chamber.
Phool Mahal at Mehrangarh Fort
From here, we continued our journey to the Men’s private party room. The Palace of flowers or Phool Mahal. 🙂 A collective silence is what we got as soon as we entered this room and you can see why.
All kinds of colors filled up the room – from the ornate gold to the vibrant reds and blues. Built by Maharaja Abhay Singh, this room was used only by the menfolk of the Royal family for their private celebrations – birthdays, ceremonies or even strategic and private meetings. If you notice the paintings on the walls here – they are of the members of the royal family. Everything about this room was just royal – from the gilted ceiling to the elaborately carpeted floors and stained glass windows.
I personally, felt a little too overwhelmed by the glitz of this room. I am surprised that it was not named as “Sonar Mahal” or the Golden palace. It was a little too ostentatious for my tastes, but then, who am I to complain. After so much of bling, I really need to rest my eyes and we escaped into a small balcony, ready to move to the next section. This spiral staircase gave my eyes a much needed relief – almost akin to smelling coffee beans after testing several fragrances. 😛
Escaping to the terrace of Jhanki Mahal
After so many treasures and elaborate rooms, I really needed to rest. The terrace of Jhanki Mahal provided me that escape. A small corridor with lattice work walls, this was a section that was meant for the women to observe the royal proceedings in the Shringar courtyard. Remember – women were not allowed in public.
Jhanki literally mean a glimpse. And these lattice windows offered only that.
Even the Queen mother of the prince could not attend her son’s coronation ceremony and could only watch it behind these screens. I took a peep from these screens and realised that it was literally a “key hole view” of what was happening below. I thought of how I make it a point to be there for all my daughter’s events and how it was important for me to have a full view of all that she was doing,Given that, it made me feel sad for these royal ladies for they could never be fully involved at the palace. Their life was just behind these screens. Not exactly what I would bargain for. Maybe I would have been a rebel in those times. 🙂
With these thoughts, we took a few more pictures around the small pillars and screens of terrace. We took a break to drink some water and refuel ourselves. I leave you here in this part to do exactly that. My tour of Mehrangarh is far from being over – with one of my favorite rooms yet to come. The concluding part will follow soon – I promise. Till then, here is a pin for Part Two of my Mesmerizing Mehrangarh Fort series. Remember to comment in on what you feel so far 🙂
On how to get here and travel tips, check out part one of this post.