There is enough said and written about Mehrangarh Fort in Jodhpur. It is recognised as one of the best maintained forts of India and now that I have seen it, I totally concur with it. Among all the forts that I have seen, this was one of the most stunning forts and is my current favorite. For me, Jodhpur was all about Meherangarh fort. I spent half a day here and still feel like getting there again. The fort is an absolute delight for a photography lover, and you will soon know why. For a heritage lover, it is a treasure trove.
For me, it was a mind-boggling experience. Throughout my journey of this fort, I felt so overwhelmed and frenzied. There was just so much to capture. Frankly, in my Rajasthan series, this was the first post that I wanted to write but every time I sat down to do so, I felt the same frenzy as I did at the fort. The frenzy is not in a bad way, but it always left me wanting to relive my moments at the fort. Finally, now that I have calmed myself down, I plan to share this journey of mine in a three-part series. Let’s start with the first part – with my first glimpse of this majestic fort.
First Glimpse of Mehrangarh Fort
Located on a hillock, this huge fort looks over the blue city of Jodhpur. I got my first glimpse of it as we started our ascent and as it grew closer and closer, I lowered the glass to quickly capture my first glimpse of Mehrangarh Fort. The huge brown colored walls surrounding the area made the entire fort look intimidating. It served the purpose for which it was built essentially to protect the city better.
As I had mentioned in one of my earliest posts, the capital of this region originally was Mandore. For several years, the Rathore clan ruled from here. However, the place had already witnessed quite a few invasions and tired of the same, Maharaja Rao Jodha, decided to move from Mandore to this hillock as it would give them better protection. Once this “citadel of Sun” (Mehrangarh) was built, Mandore was left abandoned. You can still visit Mandore in Jodhpur and in case, you are wondering how it looks. you should read this post of mine on Mandore.
A quick Trivia: Jodhpur incidentally, is called so after the Maharaja Rao Jodha.
I could not keep my eyes off this fort and as we drew closer, that I realized that all was not brown. In fact, it was a mix of brown and white. The journey to this structure requires you to pass through seven impressive gates, each with its unique story.
Entrance to Mehrangarh Fort – Jai Pol
The entrance to the fort is very impressive. I think we spent, around 5 minutes, trying to just grab pictures near the entrance. We had to literally prod each other to move on. The entrance itself had some interesting sights. – starting with this Chhatri of Kirat Singh Soda.
This was a memorial for a brave soldier called Kirat Singh Soda, who lost his life when defending Mehrangarh Fort against the Jaipur army. Just above that was this unusual small hook and pulley system high up on the walls . There was no explanation given for this but my guess is that it was possibly a way to lower things and get things into the fort – given its height.
And finally, the creamy gorgeous gate with its artistic carvings.This gate was an addition to the original fort by Maharaja Man Singh and is called the Victory Gate or the Jai Pol. It was done to commemorate his victory over the Jaipur army. Don’t miss the lovely paintings from the Hindu history and mythology near the gate.
Around the first bend
Typical of any strategic fort, there are a few winding bends from the entrance of the fort – basically to slow down the enemies. As we waited for our guide, I tried to absorb the small pavilions and the sloping roof of the abandoned offices and stunning arches of the various gates.
The sight of the towering palace – the white exteriors contrasting the reddish-brown walls was indeed a gorgeous sight. Here you also, pass through the second victory gate, this one made by Maharaja Ajit Singh, to celebrate his victory against the Mughal attack.
Through the Dedh Kambra Pol of Mehrangarh Fort
Our journey continued as we passed through a few smaller gates to approach a significant one – the Dedh Kambra gate. The significance of this gate lies on its wall. Note the round depression on the wall in the picture below. These were made by the cannon balls from an enemy attack. I was told that these were attacks from Jaipur. The guide told us that despite these attacks, the fort did not fall into the hands of the enemy and stood strong.
Another significant thing here was this memorial – an ode to the human sacrifice made when building this fort. History has it that when Maharaja Rao Jodha decided to build a fort on this hillock – Bhaurcheeria (mountain of birds), he upset a hermit staying here. The hermit known as Cheeria Nathji (Lord of birds) was angry that he was losing his home and cursed the king that his land would always suffer from a drought. The Maharaja managed to calm the saint down by getting him a house near the same cave that he used. However, since the curse could not be revoked, a human sacrifice was used to alter the effects of the curse.
This is where Raja Ram Meghwal, a resident of Jodhpur willing offered his life in exchange for a favor that his wife and sons would be taken care of by the King. He was buried alive and the king build this fort. Pretty gruesome, if you ask me – but well, it is the dark secret of this fort.
The wall opposite this place was the original place where the Mehrangarh Fort ended. So far, all that we had seen, were extensions of the original palace – all done by the generations that followed Maharaja Rao Jodha. Here is where you discover another color to the mix of what I had already noted the fort for – white, brown and now red.
Through the Loha Gate
The climb to the next gate is a steep one and a colorful one. You will pass by tons of musicians, puppeteer and dancers along the way till you reach a huge iron gate – aptly named Loha gate. Loha means iron and the gate with its sharp spikes totally justifies this name. This gate is a sharp turn, intended to slow the army further. It is here you will unravel another dark tale of this fort. Check the picture below first.
These are not ordinary hand prints but the last memories of women who left the Mehrangarh fort to commit Sati. The wall above is that of the concubines while the wall opposite this has just 5 hand prints and these belong to the Queens of Maharaja Ajit Singh. A tragic practice indeed!
Walking to the Shringar Chowk
Once you have passed through the Loha gate, you will fully appreciate the contrasting play gorgeous colors of Mehrangarh Fort. Red against whites, with the intricate work on the exteriors – mesmerizing indeed. Hopefully my pictures will bring what I saw and felt to life.
A short climb up and you come to a center courtyard called the Shringar Chowk. This is where you see a white marble throne – one that was used for shringar of the new King. Essentially, the coronation ceremony.
This white throne sits against the backdrop of delicately carved windows. An effect that is unique and trademarked to Mehrangarh Fort. Various stunning doorways beckoned me and I was actually lost and confused as to where to continue my journey. Here is one of those doorways.
Curious to know where I went next? You will have to hold on to your curiosity for a while longer for this is where I will leave you here for this part. Just to give your some time to take in and absorb what you saw of the exteriors and the entrance to this amazing fort.
Imagine if the exteriors were so amazing, what would it be from inside. I know that you are waiting for more. Just stay tuned to my next blog post where I continue this virtual tour. In my real journey, I was already falling in love with Mehrangarh fort and I hope that you are too.
Remember to comment in and let me know. Till then, here is your first pin 😀
- Mehrangarh Fort is the pride of Jodhpur. To reach Jodhpur, refer to the “Getting here” section of this blog post.
- To reach Mehrangarh fort, you will need to either take a tourist bus or a private cab. Hiring these or getting information on these is not difficult at all. Every hotel or home in Jodhpur can assist you with getting the transport.
- Here is the official website to Mehrangarh Fort. The fort opens at 9am and closes at 5:00pm. It is open on all days of the week.
- The ticket prices are as listed on the website. On 12th May every year, entry to the fort is free.
- Jodhpur is best visited between October and February, when the weather is cooler.
- Keep aside at least half a day for Mehrangarh Fort. There is just lots to see.
- The fort is well curated and you can either avail services of regular guides or take an audio tour of this fort. The prices of these services are fixed and displayed at the entrance. The guided tours are available in 11 languages. Here are those –
- Flat shoes are recommended. There is a lot of walking and climbing to be done. For the convenience of the old and disabled, there is an elevator available at a cost.
- The Fort is well equipped with several restaurants and well-maintained rest-rooms.
- There is a museum shop where you can buy some authentic Jodhpur artifacts. The pricing is on a slightly higher side but not in an objectionable range.
- There are a few temples within the fort and they are still active. Hence, please remember that you will need to maintain some decorum when visiting these. Here are the tips that can help you be better prepared for the same.