The Abandoned Mandore Gardens of Jodhpur

posted in: Asia, Heritage, India, Rajasthan | 93

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Mandore, the erstwhile capital of the Jodhpur Kings, is an amazing yet abandoned tourist destination in the city of Jodhpur. Though right in the middle of the city, this one is often ignored or skipped for varied reasons. I for one, am glad that we did not miss visiting this ancient capital of Mandore.  Of course, I have my friend Swati to thank, as it was she who suggested including it in our Jodhpur itinerary. Take a virtual tour right now and you will also, be adding this to your list of things to do in Jodhpur.

Mandore Gardens - a forgotten Jodhpur attraction
Mandore Gardens – a forgotten Jodhpur attraction

History of Mandore, Jodhpur

Mandore is the old capital of the Jodhpur Kings and finds a mention in history, as early as the Ramayana. They say that Ravana is considered as the “son-in-law” of the Brahmins here as he married Queen Mandodari from Mandavyapur – the old name of Mandore. It was established in the 6th century CE as the capital of the Rathore dynasty. Actually, the Mandore fort was given as dowry by the Pratiharas dynasty when the Princess married Maharaja Rao Chunda. Mandore grew in power and was primarily with the Rathore clan – except for that one time when Rana Kumbha of Mewar. This was in the late 1430s. However, Rao Jodha fought it back in the 1450s.

The capital went into ruins once the Maharajas of Jodhpur abandoned it and moved to Meherangarh Fort. The place has witnessed many invasions – some from famous names like Mohammed Tuglaq, Allaudin Khilji and Iltushmish and that is one of the main reasons for moving to Meherangarh as the latter offered better protection to the Royal Powerhouse.

Remains of the old Mandore Palace in the gardens
Remains of the old Mandore Palace in the gardens

Today, what greets its visitors are gorgeous green gardens with mischievous monkeys, cute birds, some street vendors and stunning pieces of architecture and craftsmanship from the eras bygone. There isn’t much information that I could find here – at Mandore as well as on the internet and which is why, this particular post is going to be more of a photo-journey, punctuated with my anecdotes.

The start of my tour of Mandore Gardens

Hawkers at Mandore Gardens, Jodhpur

My visit starts with the Cabbie in Jodhpur, who told us that it was not worth going to Mandore as no one goes there anymore. Instead, he insisted that he take us to other places like Umaid Bhawan or the emporiums. Having firmly declined the offer, we were unceremoniously dropped off at the main entrance of Mandore Gardens. The first impression that I got was that this was just a green garden with lots of vendors and maybe the cabbie was right. Probably, we should turn back and check out the other places in Jodhpur. However, being a street shopper, those little wares along the road, kept me going further into the gardens.

Having walked hardly a few meters, I was blown over with a sight that made me feel that I was in Angkor Wat.

The first glance of the ruins of Mandore Gardens
The first glance of the ruins of Mandore Gardens

I knew then, that coming to Mandore Gardens was definitely not a mistake. The lovely sites that you see in the pictures were the cenotaphs of the Jodhpur Maharajas. This cluster of red buildings surrounded by the green trees is bound to bring out the photographer in you. You will feel the urge to capture these stunning pieces of history from every possible angle.

The cluster of cenotaphs at Mandore Gardens
The cluster of cenotaphs at Mandore Gardens

Cenotaphs of Mandore Gardens, Jodhpur

Little did I know that the cenotaphs were just the first of the many wonders of Mandore Gardens Jodhpur. For those of you who do not really know what a cenotaph is – it is a tomb that is erected in the memory of a person. These paid respect to the Royal house of Jodhpur.

The Royal cenotaphs of Mandore
The Royal cenotaphs of Mandore

The lack of signage and information left us wandering on our own and resorting to some guesswork with respect to the architecture and the sculptures within the cenotaphs. The smaller ones belonged to the royal princes of Jodhpur. Some of them were dedicated to the Queens and princesses too. There were a few elaborate ones that we chose to step into and explore in detail. Check them out.

The Chatris of some of the princes of Jodhpur at Mandore Gardens
The Chatris of some of the princes of Jodhpur at Mandore Gardens

Maharaja Jaswant Singh’s Cenotaph

Against Maharaja Jaswant Singh's Cenotaph at Mandore Gardens, Jodhpur
Against Maharaja Jaswant Singh’s Cenotaph at Mandore Gardens, Jodhpur

The picture above has the cenotaph of Maharaja Jaswant Singh in the background. It almost resembles a mini palace with those intricate jharokhas (windows). With that tall spire at the back, you might even mistake it for a temple.

The cenotaph was simple from within but the view from the top of the stairs was quick stunning. They say that Mandore was a center of arts and craft and sure enough, these cenotaphs are testaments of the same.

View from Maharaja Jaswant Singh's Cenotaph at Mandore Gardens, Jodhpur
View from Maharaja Jaswant Singh’s Cenotaph at Mandore Gardens, Jodhpur

I would have loved checking out each of these smaller chhatris or cenotaphs. However, a single day may not have been enough and well, I just had a few hours. Thus, I hopped onto the bigger and the more elaborate ones – of which, the one built for Maharaja Ajit Singh stole my heart.

Maharaja Ajit Singh’s Cenotaph

The Spire like roof of Maharaja Ajit Singh's cenotaph
The Spire like roof of Maharaja Ajit Singh’s cenotaph

Maharaja Ajit Singh’s cenotaph has this stunning roof that makes it look like a Jain temple. What made this cenotaph stand out was not just its size and its multiple stories but the artistic engravings all around it. From the floor to the ceiling and literally pillar to post, every inch had something to offer.

Inside Maharaja Ajit Singh's Cenotaph, Mandore Gardens, Jodhpur
Inside Maharaja Ajit Singh’s Cenotaph, Mandore Gardens, Jodhpur

Frankly, I could have spent my entire time at Mandore gardens just at this cenotaph. With every inch telling you a story, there is no other option. This one also, had a floor but the staircase seemed to be closed, leaving no chance for us to explore it any further.

The ceiling of Maharaja Ajit Singh’s Cenotaph

Ceiling of Maharaja Ajit Singh's Cenotaph, Mandore Gardens, Jodhpur
The ceiling of Maharaja Ajit Singh’s Cenotaph, Mandore Gardens, Jodhpur

The most magnificent thing about this cenotaph was its ceiling. High up there, you could see the lovely carvings of celestial damsels (apsaras) in various poses. Here are some pics that I managed of them.

Zooming into the details of the ceiling
Zooming into the details of the ceiling
Apsara holding an instrument carved onto the ceiling
Apsara holding an instrument carved onto the ceiling

Pillars and walls of Maharaja Ajit Singh’s Cenotaph

Adding on some more of those corners and niches that enthralled me. As you will see, they have not been maintained well as some of these sculptures had pieces falling off.

Carved Pillars of Maharaja Ajit Singh's Cenotaph, Mandore Gardens
Carved Pillars of Maharaja Ajit Singh’s Cenotaph, Mandore Gardens
Corners within the Cenotaphs, Mandore Gardens
Corners within the Cenotaphs, Mandore Gardens
Carvings on the walls
Carvings on the walls

The story behind the death of Maharaja Ajit Singh

The cenotaph is associated with a bit of a “bloody” history. It is said that when Maharaja Ajit Singh died, as was the custom, his six wives committed Sati – basically jumped into the funeral pyre. If that wasn’t enough, 25 of his concubines and some 30 odd female slaves also, jumped it. I wasn’t aware of this when I was busy clicking pictures and admiring his cenotaph and possibly, could have gone on to fill my entire memory card with pics but then, that one thing to stop me happened – which was Monkeys 😀 .

Meeting the Inhabitants of Mandore Gardens

Monkeys of Mandore
Monkeys of Mandore

As I bent over to do my laces, one of them took a flying leap right over my bent head to catch – not me, but another of his mates. My daughter had a fright of her life and burst into tears, while my wicked friend Swati laughed and cried for not having captured the moment in her camera. Me? I was just stunned and amused! They were not just restricted to the gardens but were all over the cenotaphs and were eyeing my camera and lens very longingly. The mere presence of them had my daughter whimpering and as they started chasing each other around the pillars, we hurried out of the Cenotaph.

Imagine, if I had decided to look up right then as the monkey flew over my head!!!

Parakeets at Mandore Gardens
Parakeets at Mandore Gardens

It took a few parrots to calm my daughter down. This place is full of them, especially this one dead-wood tree that had so many of these green beauties fluttering around, preening themselves up for me as I captured them on my camera.

Mandore Fort and Palace

Part of the Mandore Fort
Part of the Mandore Fort

As we moved further on, we saw the old Mandore Palace and Fort. Unfortunately, the visiting hours for the same seemed to be over and the place was shut down. All I could treat myself was with some photos of the exteriors but well, I guess, better than nothing! There is a government museum that is set up within these monuments, which I hope you have better luck checking out.

Hall of the Heroes, Mandore Gardens
Hall of the Heroes, Mandore Gardens

We turned around towards the exit at this point and glanced upon the Hall of Heroes and the Deities on the way. The Hall of Heroes has the statues of the erstwhile rulers and heroes of Mandore. They were built to honor them for their deeds.

Hall of Deities at Mandore Gardens
Hall of Deities at Mandore Gardens

The Hall of Deities is actually called the Temple of 33 crore Gods. This is where you will see some stunning craft of that era. The carvings and the details within make this an unmissable stop when visiting Mandore Gardens.

Somewhere behind all these, are caves of Mandore. These caves are believed to date back to the time of Ravana. I even heard that they lead all the way back to Lanka. However, owing to the hazard of people missing and found dead within, they are out of bounds for the visitors. Guess, that is one more mystery for me left unsolved. Sigh!

While we exited, we saw some more of those Langurs hanging on the trees. I just had my daughter calmed down when one of them fell down like ripe fruit from a tree. Plonk! Right in front of her. That marked the end of my exploration as I had to rush my bawling child out of the park 🙂

The last glimpse of my the cenotaph area that I would love to explore again
The last glimpse of my the cenotaph area that I would love to explore again

I would have liked to have one of those pesky guides here to explain things here. Just when you need them, they weren’t around, The lack of information made my visit seem incomplete. Somewhere with its history of being abandoned by rulers, we, the present generation, too seem to have abandoned this amazing bit of heritage. The sad fact is that there isn’t much documented on the web either and my quest to know more about Mandore remains incomplete.

Despite its poor maintenance, this place has its own charm and appeal – something that any visitor to Jodhpur should not miss.  I would definitely recommend Mandore Gardens as one of the key places to visit in Jodhpur. Leaving you with a picture of the Gardens  – you might just want to pin that one!

How to reach Mandore Gardens?

  • Jodhpur has an airport of its own. It is connected to the key airports in India, however, the flight frequencies are low.
  • Jodhpur is well connected by rail and road to all the major cities in Rajasthan.
  • Mandore Gardens is quite central to Jodhpur and can be accessed by the local transport in Jodhpur.

Booking resources for Jodhpur

If you are heading to Jodhpur, you will find these website links useful. Booking through these links will not cost you anything additional but will definitely help me earn a few bucks to keep this website going.

  • Get a tour of the Mandore Gardens along with the famous Mehrangarh Fort and other Jodhpur attractions through GetyourGuide. You get an English speaking guide and a pick up from your hotel in Jodhpur. The same link will allow you to browse through the other interesting Jodhpur tours.
  • Klook Tours for booking private cars, airport transfers and tours in the blue city of Jodhpur.  Most of these are instant confirmations. 
  • Booking.com to book your stay in Jodhpur. 
  • Check out the reviews of the various Jodhpur hotels and book through Tripadvisor.com

Klook.com

Travel Tips:

  • The entry to Mandore gardens is free. However, the museum has a minimum charge for it. The gardens are open from 8 am to 8 pm, but the museum closes by 5pm.
  • Wear comfortable clothing and flat shoes as there is lots of walking to be done. Also, when entering the cenotaphs, you are required to remove your shoes.
  • When street shopping here, remember to bargain well.
  • There are no guides here and hence, be prepared to explore on your own.
  • Beware of monkeys. Avoid carrying food in your bag. Remove your shoes near the guard stations within the cenotaphs.
Disclaimer: This article includes affiliate links. This means that at no cost to you, I will receive a small commission if you purchase through my link. Thank you for supporting me with this.
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93 Responses

  1. Jessica

    I can't believe the cabbie didn't think this was worth visiting! That just proves that there are so many beautiful things in India, they can be taken for granted. 🙂

  2. Bushra Muzaffar

    This is one of the most popular picnic spots for Jodhpurites. Although a little far away from the city it is worth a visit….and ya monkeys there are really scary. It was advised to walk in groups by the locals 🙂 Thanks for making me relive old memories through your beautiful clicks.

  3. Alexa Williams Meisler

    Wow! I'm so excited to do some research on Jodhpur. I hadn't read about it until I found this post. What time of year did you visit? Would July or August be a good month or too hot?

  4. Ami Bhat

    Hey Alexa. Jodhpur is an amazing place. Visiting it in September or later would be more advisable as the weather will be a little more pleasant then.

  5. Sri Kri

    Great post with nice shots Ami.We had been to this Mandore.Lovely architecture.We too spot something like a staircase but it was closed.The garden and pond are not well maintained.Many langoors were roaming here and there.Very sad to see that in the neglected condition.

    Cheers,
    Sriram & Krithiga

  6. Ami Bhat

    I feel it is because the locals have forgotten it over time, given the better sights in the city and it isn't promoted any more. That has in turn led to the fact that there is no tourism development here.

  7. Mridula

    So this would be firmly on my next visit to Jodhpur. Other than a mention in the audio guide no one else actually mentioned Mandore.

  8. melody pittman

    How stunning! I love the statues, monkeys, birds, but most of all the intricate carvings of the architecture. I would love to have you as a tour guide there. 😉

    • Ami

      Thank you Melody. I would love to be your guide. Would love to explore it again with you.

      • Ej Requina

        The Hall of Deities is the area I would be very intrested to visit if I were in the Mandore gardens because of its rich history and architecture. Having caves in the area which are now restricted has with it an air of mystery which ignited my curiosity. Lastly, knowing that this place has no entrance fee is wonderful as anyone can enjoy this breathtaking scenery.

  9. wanderingwagarschristina

    What an excellent looking site. I am hard pressed to understand why people would skip it. Of course, there are many things to see with limited time so from that point of view, I can see why. However, it makes for a great sight to visit as there are not that man tourists as well. I will definitely try to make time for the Mandore gardens if I am ever in Jodphur.

    • Ami

      And I am sure you will love it. I seriously think it is one of the must visit destinations of Jodhpur

  10. everyfootstepanadventure

    This is such a beautiful garden! And so many monkeys around haha! They were quite mischievous and stole a friend’s phone the other day in Bali…

  11. Christina

    I’ve been to Mandore and thought it was definitely worth visiting, especially during wedding seasons. And the monkeys are indeed cheeky and fun to interact with.

    • Ami

      The monkeys are quite funny 😀 Glad you managed to get here and more importantly, liked it too.

  12. Cori Carl

    Thanks for sharing this hidden gem! It makes me think of some of the museums that, even in Manhattan, are forgotten and nearly always empty. Even historic attractions go through trends.

    • Ami

      I guess so, most of them do go through trends. Though this one was abandoned as they found a newer capital. It is long forgotten by people of the city as well as the authorities. Wish they would revive it.

  13. Joella (RovingJo)

    I think you are right the photographer in me would have a blast here. What a stunning place and even better that it seems like such a great bargain to visit. with entry fees being so high at many attractions around the world it is nice to see something that is free or relatively so. Thanks for sharing this amazing wonder. Happy Roving!!!

  14. Sally E

    Amazing photos! I’m a huge fan of unique architecture and this is no exception! I’d love to visit one day.

  15. PaigeBrown

    This is incredibly beautiful! I get why you had the feeling that it looked like Angkor Wat – it has that look for sure! It looks like it was maybe less crowded? I’ll have to add this to my India list! Thanks for sharing

  16. Stella the Travelerette

    I’ve never heard of the Mandore Gardens! I wonder why they aren’t more popular. Your photos are beautiful. I love the carvings of the women on the ceilings. I’m sorry your daughter was scared by the monkeys, but I would love to see them in person.

    • Ami

      Thanks Stella. Mandore Gardens is just a forgotten place. I hope that with this people rediscover it.

  17. Janna

    Oh wow the architecture and details are just amazing! I’ve never heard of this place before so thank you for introducing me to this beauty! I’d love to take photos of beautiful buildings like this!

  18. The Thought Card

    The cenotaph ceiling is my favorite! I love the details of the carvings and especially how festive they look playing all different kinds of instruments.

  19. Mihaela Lica Butler

    What a fascinating place! You are right, there’s a certain charm and beauty here that would definitely make me snap 1000 pictures if I ever visit the gardens,

  20. travelwithtarah

    I have never heard of this place until now, but am sure happy I found it. You really documented and narrated your trip well and have made me want to visit the gardens of jodhpur myself!

    • Ami

      It is a fascinating garden, which definitely will delight you. Hope you can manage a trip again.

  21. ashlynsargent

    Looks like it would be worth a visit to me! The intricacies of the sculptures are just so impressive too! Beautiful place!

  22. Katharine O'Malley

    Can’t quite understand why people don’t take better care of the Mandore. It’s a grand place with a rich, fascinating history. Although one is a bit chilling for my taste, picturing all of those wives, concubines and slaves piled on top of one another and burning. Oh well, still it’s an impressive place. Those cenotaph’s details are very immaculately done. The government should find the time to restore and promote it more.

    • Ami

      Thanks Kathrine. It gets lost in the many things that Jodhpur has to offer . I hope people rediscover the same soon.

  23. Blair Villanueva

    Do they also allow pre-wedding pictorials here? It seems to solemn and beautiful, romantic too! As long as the guest would not vandalize this place.

    • Ami

      Now that is a lovely idea. I don’t see any restrictions here and it sure would brighten up someone’s memories. Though I must say that given that it symbolizes the dead, not many people would opt to have a shoot here.

  24. Alina Popescu

    The cenotaphs look amazing! I’d love to visit a place with so much history, and such incredible views. To be honest, this is the first time I even heard of Mandore Gardens, but I am completely smitten!

    • Ami

      It does get lost in the things to do in Jodhpur. But I personally think it should be one of the top things to do here. It is just gorgeous.

  25. Veronica

    The architecture is amazing! How is it possible that there are no tourists in your photos?

    • Ami

      The place is often skipped by the tourists and when we went, we enjoyed being the only ones around. The rest of the crowd was all locals.

  26. Judson L Moore

    Jodhpur is amazing! I was there but had no idea about Mandore! And this is such a treasure! The structures and the statues look like they were made yesterday.. perfect condition! I did have quite a lot of experience as well with the monkeys, which are also amazing and beautiful, but I could not help but feel a little nervous at one point when I was on the road and there were literally thousands of monkeys lining the roads and it was starting to get dark. But all in all: AMAZING!

    • Ami

      Ooh I wish you had been able to see Mandore. I am sure you would have loved it. Glad you enjoyed Jodhpur. Thanks for stopping by Judson.

  27. Bhoma Ram

    Mandore in best hangout place in Jodhpur local jodhpur people are love to spend time in Mandore garden

  28. Shreya Saha

    The Mandore Gardens of Jodhpur looks fabulous. I have visited Jodhpur but somehow missed visiting this beautiful place, I regret now. Thanks for sharing so much of details about the place. I am in love with the pictures you have added in the blog, and I must say that it’s really helpful for travellers when you add such information like how to reach and booking resources.