Mehrangarh Fort Jodhpur is an iconic landmark of Rajasthan. It stands tall at the edge of the Thar Desert and has been a witness to centuries of history. The fort is famous for its detailed design, amazing sights, and deep historical background. This guide will explain everything you need to understand about this great fort, like its past, its design, and the things you can see there. So join us in exploring the greatness of Mehrangarh Fort in Jodhpur!
Table of Contents
The History Of Mehrangarh Fort in Jodhpur
Origin and Foundation
The majestic Mehrangarh Fort of Jodhpur holds an extraordinary place in the annals of Indian history. The foundation of this imposing fort traces back to the year 1459 when Rao Jodha, the Rathore ruler, decided to shift his capital from the vulnerable city of Mandore to a safer location. His choice was a rugged hill named ‘Bhaurcheeria’, or the Mountain of Birds, owing to its natural defense provided by the sheer cliffs.
However, the hill was already inhabited by a hermit, Cheeria Nathji, the lord of birds. Jodha managed to displace the hermit, but not before the disgruntled sage cursed the kingdom with the scarcity of water. To appease him and to ensure that his new fort remained blessed, Jodha built a temple in his honor and buried a man alive in the foundations – a ritual for ensuring the fort’s durability.
The man was Rajiya Bhambi, a local Rajput prince, and his family was rewarded with a position in the Rathore’s house and has been taken care of by the Rathore kings to this day.
The fort took several decades to complete, with successive rulers contributing to its expansion. Today, the Mehrangarh Fort stands as a testament to the vision of Rao Jodha, majestically overlooking the blue city of Jodhpur.
Key Historical Events and Influences
The fort has witnessed several historical events that have left their marks on its walls. One of the key events was the invasion of Jaipur’s armies in the Battle of Mehrangarh in 1807. The fort, under the reign of Maharaja Man Singh, showed immense resilience and thwarted the invaders.
The history of Mehrangarh is also replete with tales of valiant queens and princesses. One of the most revered among them is Queen Tarabai, who ruled as a regent for her young son in the 18th century and defended the fort from Maratha invaders. Her tenure saw the construction of many exquisite structures within the fort.
Mehrangarh Fort had a profound influence on the socio-cultural life of Jodhpur. The fort not only served as a stronghold for the Rathores but also played an integral role in the city’s development. The fort’s vicinity grew into a bustling marketplace, which continues to be a vibrant cultural hub, with the fort as its iconic centerpiece.
Over centuries, the fort has not only been a silent witness to historical events but also played a decisive role in shaping the history and culture of Jodhpur. It continues to captivate historians, architects, and tourists alike, luring them to explore its intriguing past and magnificent splendor.
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The Architecture of Mehrangarh Fort Jodhpur
Mehrangarh Fort, nestled atop the 410 feet high Bhakurcheeria hill, is a stunning blend of grandeur and intricacy that has withstood the test of time. The fort is encased by thick, imposing walls that are up to 118 feet tall and 69 feet wide in places, offering robust defense from invaders while displaying a striking example of Indian fort architecture.
A distinguishing feature of the fort’s architecture is its well-thought-out design. The fort is interspersed with seven grand gates (pols), each telling a tale of victory from different epochs. The fort’s interiors captivate visitors with a network of courtyards, intricately carved panels, and multi-tiered gardens that speak volumes of the skilled craftsmanship of artisans of the past.
Influence of Different Eras on the Architecture
The architecture of Mehrangarh Fort has seen the influence of several eras, each leaving an indelible mark on its structures. The fort, initially built by Rao Jodha in the mid-15th century, continued to flourish under his successors, with each adding new dimensions to its architecture.
The era of Jaswant Singh (1638-78) was marked by the inclusion of ornate jharokhas and chhatris (domed pavilions), typical of Rajput architecture, adding a royal aura to the fort. Later, during the reign of Maharaja Man Singh in the 19th century, we see an evident influence of British colonial architecture, which introduced the use of cast iron.
Notable Structures Within the Fort
Several notable structures within the fort are sure to capture your attention.
1. Moti Mahal (Pearl Palace): This is one of the oldest structures within the fort, commissioned by Raja Sur Singh. Its name is derived from the beautiful lime plaster that resembles polished pearls. The Moti Mahal served as a royal audience hall and is famous for its colourful stained glass windows that scatter the sunlight into vibrant beams.
2. Phool Mahal (Flower Palace): Built during the reign of Abhaya Singh, this lavish chamber was the pleasure dome for the Maharajas. The room is adorned with gold filigree work, while the ceiling, a magnificent work of art, is believed to have been gilded with gold brought from Gujarat in exchange for opium.
3. Sheesh Mahal (Mirror Palace): As the name suggests, this is the hall of mirrors, adorned with mirror tiles and vibrant paintwork. It showcases exceptional artwork from the 18th century, reflecting the artistic taste of Rajput rulers.
4. Jhanki Mahal (Peeping Palace): This palace has latticed windows through which royal ladies could watch the official proceedings in the courtyard.
These structures, and many more, collectively contribute to the grandeur and diversity of the Mehrangarh Fort’s architecture, making it a veritable feast for history buffs and architecture enthusiasts alike.
Exploring the Fort: Must-Visit Spots
The Magnificent Palaces
The Mehrangarh Fort is home to several splendid palaces that echo the glory of Rajasthan’s royal past. Apart from the aforementioned Moti Mahal, Phool Mahal, Sheesh Mahal, and Jhanki Mahal, visitors must also explore:
1. Takhat Vilas: This palace was the private chamber of Takhat Singh, the last ruler to reside in the fort. The room is a splendid amalgamation of architectural styles with floor-to-ceiling frescoes, colourful hangings, and exquisite miniature paintings.
2. Zenana Deodi: This is the secluded area meant for the royal ladies. The courtyard is surrounded by delicate sandstone screens and was designed to provide privacy for the women of the court.
The Intriguing Temples
Mehrangarh Fort houses several temples, with two particularly worth mentioning:
1. Chamunda Mataji Temple: Located near the Fateh Pol (Victory Gate), this temple is dedicated to the favorite goddess of Rao Jodha, Chamunda Mataji. The goddess idol was brought to the fort from the old capital of Mandore in 1460, and since then, it has been worshipped by the people of Jodhpur.
2. Nagnecha Ji Temple: This temple is devoted to the Kuldevi (family deity) of the Rathore dynasty, Nagnecha Ji. This small yet significant temple is often visited by the former royal family and their followers.
Impressive Defense Structures
Mehrangarh Fort’s defense structures are an impressive testament to its strategic architectural design. Among them, the fort’s seven gates, each built after a significant victory, are must-visit spots:
1. Jai Pol: Built by Maharaja Man Singh in 1806 to celebrate his victory over the armies of Jaipur and Bikaner, Jai Pol (Victory Gate) is one of the most significant gates of Mehrangarh Fort.
2. Fateh Pol: This gate was built in 1707 by Maharaja Ajit Singh to commemorate his victory over the Mughals.
3. Loha Pol: The final gate into the main part of the fort complex, Loha Pol holds a poignant history. The handprints (‘sati marks’) of royal widows who committed ‘sati’ (a now-abolished practice of self-immolation by widows on their husband’s pyre) can be seen on the portals of this gate.
What is inside the Mehrangarh Fort?
Inside the Mehrangarh Fort Jodhpur, you will find a complex of exquisite palaces and a museum, each telling a part of Rajasthan’s grand history:
The palaces within the fort are splendid examples of Rajput architecture with their intricate carvings and expansive courtyards. Among these are the Moti Mahal (Pearl Palace), the Sheesh Mahal (Mirror Palace), the Phool Mahal (Flower Palace), Takhat Vilas, and the Jhanki Mahal.
- The Moti Mahal was the hall of private audiences where the Maharaja held private meetings. It’s known for its beautiful stained glass windows that fill the room with vibrant colors.
- The Sheesh Mahal is the hall of mirrors, adorned with mirror tiles and intricate paintings.
- The Phool Mahal is believed to be an exclusive chamber of pleasure and is the grandest of all, with gold filigree ceilings and mirror work.
- The Takhat Vilas was the living room of the last ruling Maharaja and is a rich tapestry of colors and murals.
- The Jhanki Mahal offers remarkable views of the city below and houses a rich collection of the cradles of the infant princes.
2. Mehrangarh Museum:
This museum houses an extensive collection of artifacts from Rajasthan’s regal era. Among its many exhibits are antique Rajput weaponry, miniature paintings, royal cradles, costumes, and furniture, all of which provide a glimpse into the bygone era’s cultural richness.
The fort’s ramparts offer stunning views of the city of Jodhpur and house several ancient cannons.
In addition to these, there are also several temples, galleries, and gardens within the fort, each adding to its historical and cultural significance.
Activities at Mehrangarh Fort
While the Mehrangarh Fort in Jodhpur is an incredible architectural and historical gem, it also offers various engaging activities to make your visit even more memorable. Here’s what you can indulge in when you visit the fort:
1. Participating in a Heritage Walk
Participating in a heritage walk is one of the best ways to explore the Mehrangarh Fort. These guided tours offer a comprehensive understanding of the fort’s history, its architectural splendor, and its cultural significance. As you walk along the fort’s narrow lanes, intricate jharokhas, and grand palaces, the stories from the bygone era come alive.
2. Experiencing a Zip Line Tour
For adventure seekers, the Mehrangarh Fort offers a unique zip line tour. Known as the “Jodhpur Flying Fox,” this zip line tour takes you around the fort, providing a bird’s eye view of the entire city, including the breathtaking view of the blue houses, Rao Jodha Desert Rock Park, and the majestic Fort itself. This is indeed an exhilarating way to explore the fort and its surroundings.
3. Enjoying Cultural Performances
The fort premises often come alive with various cultural performances. Traditional folk music and dance performances are regularly organized within the fort to showcase the rich cultural heritage of Rajasthan. The performances, coupled with the backdrop of the fort, offer a mesmerizing experience for visitors.
4. Shopping at the Mehrangarh Fort Shop
The Mehrangarh Fort Shop is a must-visit for those looking to take a piece of Jodhpur back home. The shop sells a variety of traditional Rajasthani artifacts, textiles, jewelry, and other souvenirs. The items available here are carefully curated to represent the cultural richness of Rajasthan.
Whether you are a history buff, an adventure enthusiast, or a culture vulture, the Mehrangarh Fort offers a plethora of engaging activities that guarantee a rich and fulfilling experience.
Cultural Significance of Mehrangarh Fort Jodhpur
Role in the Local Culture
The Mehrangarh Fort is more than just a tourist attraction; it’s an integral part of Jodhpur’s cultural fabric. The fort has always been the city’s cultural center, and its influence can be seen in the local traditions, art, and music.
A source of pride and identity for the locals, the fort’s history is deeply interwoven with the city’s socio-cultural life. It has been the setting for many folk tales, songs, and dances. The fort’s architecture, its battles, and the rulers it housed have significantly shaped Jodhpur’s history and continue to impact its present.
Moreover, it’s not uncommon to see locals paying their respects at the Chamunda Mataji and Nagnecha Ji Temples located within the fort. These temples hold a sacred place in the heart of the city’s residents, who often visit them to seek blessings.
Traditional Festivals and Events Held at the Fort
Mehrangarh Fort serves as a vibrant cultural hub by hosting several traditional festivals and events throughout the year.
1. Marwar Festival: Held annually in the month of Ashwin (September-October), the Marwar Festival celebrates the heroes of Rajasthan. The festival is a showcase of music and dance from the Marwar region, providing a window into the valor and heroism of Rajasthan’s erstwhile rulers. The fort serves as a perfect backdrop for this grand cultural display.
2. Jodhpur Rajasthan International Folk Festival (RIFF): RIFF, held annually during the Sharad Purnima (full moon night in October), is a five-day music festival that sees participation from numerous international and local folk artists. Recognized by UNESCO as a “People’s Platform for Creativity and Sustainable Development,” the festival is hosted at Mehrangarh Fort and celebrates the traditional folk music and arts of Rajasthan.
3. World Sacred Spirit Festival: This festival brings together spiritual and musical traditions from different parts of the world. Held within the fort’s stunningly beautiful and intimate spaces, the event provides a unique and spiritual musical experience.
Hosting these events not only reaffirms the fort’s place as a crucial cultural center but also helps in the preservation and promotion of Rajasthan’s rich cultural heritage. Thus, Mehrangarh Fort remains a living embodiment of the city’s historical past and cultural vibrancy.
Surrounding Attractions: Enhancing Your Visit
Your visit to Mehrangarh Fort can be further enhanced by exploring some of the surrounding attractions that add to the charm and cultural richness of Jodhpur.
Nearby Places of Interest
1. Jaswant Thada: Located a short distance from the fort, Jaswant Thada is a beautiful marble cenotaph built in memory of Maharaja Jaswant Singh II. The monument, often referred to as the “Taj Mahal of Marwar,” stands overlooking the city of Jodhpur and provides a serene environment with its intricate carvings, charming pavilions, and a tiered garden.
2. Rao Jodha Desert Rock Park: Located at the foot of the Mehrangarh Fort jodhpur, this park was created to restore the natural ecology of a large, rocky area. It houses more than 200 species of plants native to the Thar Desert. The park provides a unique contrast to the bustling city life and offers beautiful walking trails.
3. Umaid Bhawan Palace: Built during the reign of Maharaja Umaid Singh, this grand palace is a mix of Indian and colonial architecture. Part of the palace now serves as a luxury hotel, while another section is a museum displaying the royal family’s artifacts.
The Local Bazaars for Souvenir Shopping
No visit to Jodhpur is complete without exploring the local bazaars, each offering a unique shopping experience.
1. Sardar Market: This market is located near the Clock Tower and is a great place to buy textiles, silver jewelry, handicrafts, and spices. The market is a riot of colors, sounds, and scents, offering an authentic slice of Jodhpur’s vibrant culture.
2. Nai Sarak: This is the place to shop for Jodhpur’s famous bandhani fabrics, footwear, and leather items. The bustling street is lined with bookshops, clothing stores, and eateries.
3. Mochi Bazaar (Cobbler’s market): This market is well-known for its traditional Rajasthani footwear called “Mojari” or “Jooti.” These handcrafted shoes made of soft camel leather are ornately decorated and are perfect souvenirs to take back home.
Exploring these nearby attractions and local bazaars can add another layer of richness to your visit, giving you a fuller experience of the cultural and historical essence of Jodhpur.
Best Time To Visit Mehrangarh Fort
The ideal time to visit Mehrangarh Fort is during the cooler months from October to March. To avoid crowds and the afternoon heat, an early morning visit is recommended. It also provides an opportunity to experience a stunning sunrise over Jodhpur. If you time your visit in October, you could partake in the local Marwar Festival. As the fort exploration involves extensive walking, carrying a hat, sunglasses, and water is advisable.
Mehrangarh Fort Jodhpur Entry Fee & Timing
Here is the information regarding the Mehrangarh Fort Jodhpur entry fee and timing:
₹100 for Indians
₹50 for senior citizens, students, paramilitary personnel
₹600 for foreigners (the charges include audio equipment)
₹400 for foreign students
Free entry for all visitors on Jodhpur Foundation Day (12th May)
Timings: 9:00 am to 5:00 pm; every day
Location: Sodagaran Mohalla, Jodhpur
Q. What is the best way to reach Mehrangarh Fort?
The best way to reach Mehrangarh Fort is by hiring a taxi or an auto-rickshaw from any part of Jodhpur city.
Q. Are there any special events held at the fort?
Yes, traditional festivals like the Marwar Festival and music events like the Rajasthan International Folk Festival are held at the fort.
Q. What facilities are available for tourists?
Facilities available for tourists include a museum, guided tours, a restaurant, a souvenir shop, and washrooms.
Q. Is photography allowed inside the fort?
Yes, photography is allowed inside the fort. However, you might need to pay a nominal fee for using professional cameras.
Q. What are the must-see attractions within the fort?
The must-see attractions within the fort include Moti Mahal, Sheesh Mahal, Phool Mahal, Chamunda Mataji Temple, and the museum.