Next day in Jodhpur, we planned to visit the pride of Jodhpur… Mehrangarh fort. Mehrangarh (Mehran Fort), located in Jodhpur, Rajasthan, is one of the largest forts in India. Built around 1460 by Rao Jodha, the fort is situated 410 feet (125 m) above the city and is enclosed by imposing thick walls. There are seven gates, which include Jayapol (meaning ‘victory’), built by Maharaja Man Singh to commemorate his victories over Jaipur, Udaipur and Bikaner armies. Fattehpol (also meaning ‘victory’) gate was built by Maharaja Ajit Singh to mark the defeat of the Mughals. The palm imprints upon these still attract much attention. So colossal are its proportions that Rudyard Kipling called it “ the work of giants”. Today, it is acknowledged as one of the best preserved fort in India.
The ticket for Indian citizens is 100/- INR, and for foreigners is 600/- INR. The fort is open 9 to 5 pm.
For over five centuries Mehrangarh has been the headquarters of the senior branch of Rajput clan known as the Rathores. According to their bards, the ruling dynasty of this clan had at an earlier period controlled Kanauj (in what is known as Uttar Pradesh). Like other prominent medieval Rajput rulers – including the famous Prithviraj Chauhan – they were defeated by the invaders from Afghanistan at the end of the 12th century. This catastrophe led to the disruption and migration of the early Rajput clans that they led. The Rathores came to Pali, in Marwar, in what is now central Rajasthan. It is claimed that they were to settle there to protect Brahmin villages against cattle-rustling local tribes. The story may seem somewhat fanciful, but the protection of the priestly caste in one of the traditional roles assigned to the Rajputs. Their task in Pali was the basis of their expanding power in the region.
For Rao Jodha’s successors, these defences were essential, though not always adequate. The centuries following the fort’s foundation were marked by rivalries between the Rajput clans and by other external threats. A dominant influence over the region was asserted first by the Delhi Sultanate and later by the Mughals. As they built their empire in India, the Mughals sought to subdue Rajput states like Marwar and its neighbours in Rajasthan, but they did not wish to eradicate them. To most established Indian rulers they preferred to offer terms of subsidiary alliance: serve the empire, they said, and you can retain control over your ancestral lands. Four successive generations of rulers in Marwar, between 1581 and 1678, accepted this challenge and became loyal allies and in effect feudatory chiefs of the empire. But for decades both before and after this phase, the understanding with the Mughals broke down, the city and fort of Jodhpur were overrun, and the Rathores were reduced to guerrilla-style resistance in their own kingdom. It did not make matters easier that their relations with the bordering Rajput states such as Jaipur and Bikaner also tended to be volatile.
The current head of the Rathore clan and custodian of the fort, Maharaja Gaj Singh II, has preserved the buildings and developed the museum as a record of the lives of his predecessors. His ancestors ruled the state of Marwar and over many generations built this architectural treasure, and it falls to him to ensure that their legacy is maintained and understood.
Here are some picked clicks by me at the fort –
Visiting Mehrangarh is a must and should be on your Jodhpur Checklist. So we actually took longer than we anticipated. We planned to visit Umaid Bhavan as well but couldn’t as we were hitting our deadline. After this we immediately went for lunch and after it we had plans to visit some woodworking factories, to study on wood carving.
After a long and cumbersome day we returned to our hotel at around 5pm and had no energy for anything. Our Umaid Bhavan plans shifted to next day.
Well thats all for Day 2 at Jodhpur. Stay tuned for more…