EXPLORING MEHRANGARH FORT- THE SKYLINE OF JODHPUR
Every traveller who’s ever been to Jodhpur knows that the mere presence of the golden Mehrangarh Fort amid the sea of indigo blue houses is enough to make anyone go gaga.
But what is behind the strong walls of this edifice still remains a mystery for travellers around the globe.
Come let’s unveil the treasures of this fort for you to be familiar with what’s next on your road trip to Jodhpur.
History of Mehrangarh Fort
The foundation of this fort was kept in the mid 15th century by Rao Jodha. During that time, Rao Jodha was the ruler of Marwar.
He shifted his then capital Mandore to Jodhpur (around 9 km North) for security reasons.
However, he wasn’t solely the one behind this architectural masterpiece.
In fact, the majority of fort’s work finished under the reign of Jaswant Singh Rathore during the 17th century (200 years after the onset of the fort’s construction).
Like the fort, various palaces inside this structure are also 500 years old. However, as we told you before, the construction of this fort did not complete in one go.
It actually went through three phases:
- Maldeo (1531-62).
- Maharaj Ajit Singh (1707-24)
- Maharaja Takhat Singh (1843-72).
- Maharaja Hanwant Singh’s(1947-52).
Mehrangarh gets its name from the sun deity ‘Mihir’ that holds an auspicious position in the beliefs of the Rathore rulers.
However, with the pronunciation conventions of Rajasthan ‘Mihir Garh’ became Mehrangarh.
The fable (Mehrangarh Fort Story)
Mehrangarh Fort’s history also talks about a spiritual fable that may or may not be a treat to the ears.
According to which, the hillock (then known to be Bhakurcheeria (mountain of birds)) on which Mehrangarh fort is built was earlier home to a hermit Cheeria Nathji.
For the construction of the fort, Rao Jodha requested his displacement elsewhere. Nathji declined his request.
Thus, starting a feud between them. It wasn’t until Karni Mata, another powerful female warrior sage, came to the king’s rescue that Cheeria Nathji decided to leave his abode.
However, while leaving he cursed the city to always be in the scarcity of water.
Shocked and afraid of the curse, the King pleaded for forgiveness and even promised to hermit a temple in the fort.
However, the curse could not be nullified. So, Nathji suggested that only a selfless sacrifice like that of a man burying alive could reverse the curse.
Later that evening, a man by the name of Rajaram Meghwal volunteered to be buried alive to protect the city of Jodhpur from this curse.
So, after choosing an auspicious day and time, Rao Jodha buried Rajaram alive.
Fun fact: The memorial of this selfless warrior still exists within the premises of the fort.
The myth/truth: who knows?
People in Rajasthan believe that Karni Mata was born with extraordinary powers. However, during her time on earth, she was able to lay foundations of two forts, one in Bikaner and another of Mehrangarh.
Out of all the forts that live and breathe in Rajasthan, only Mehrangarh and Bikaner fort were able to stay in the hands of the rulers themselves.
Exteriors of Mehrangarh fort:
Mehrangarh fort resides in the heart of the city spreading over 5 kilometres (3.1 mi). The mighty walls of this fort rise as high as 36 meters (118 ft) and are 21 meters (69 ft) wide.
The city of Jodhpur flourishes around the Fort, which has been the abode of the Rathores for over 5 centuries.
The fort resides on the hillock so that it looks like it sprouted from the earth.
Generations of the royal family lived in Mehrangarh fort, and it’s commendable how the fort has lived here through all the hardships and wars it faced through the sands of time.
To enter the fort you have to walk past an array of seven gates. Out of them, the following are most talked about:
- Jai Pol is the Gate of Victory built-in 1806 celebrating the triumph of Maharaja Man Singh over the forces of Jaipur and Bikaner.
Often called the main gate, the function of this gate in the past was that of a mere outer rear gate.
Jai Pol is the place where you’ll buy a ticket for entering into this royal wonderland.
Today, visitors hardly use the original main gate. And, the popular trail actually bypasses it if you plan on reaching here by road. *
“Insider’s tip: The most popular way of exploring Mehrangarh is to ascend upwards to the highest level of the fort by an elevator and then descend seeing all its attractions. However, if you aren’t on a time constraint, and are fit to hike steeper slopes, we’d recommend you to travel to and fro via foot to enjoy all the little details.”
- Next gate is Fateh Pol. This gate is another victory gate that celebrates the ruler’s victory over Mughal around 1707.
- Hold thy breath! This next one is a sight to behold. Dedh Kangra Pol is one such gate in Mehrangarh Fort which still bears the imprints of cannonball bombardments.
- Loha Pol is the final gate and your ticket into the main part of the fort complex.
Now, when you’ll reach this gate you’ll see some handprints to the immediate left of the gate.
Just to calm your curiosity, let us tell you that these handprints are the testimony of a medieval social evil that expected women to end their lives after the demise of their husbands.
These handprints here are of the wives of Maharaja Man Singh, who burnt themselves on the death pyre of their husband.
Entering the last gate, you’ll feel as if you have turned back time. The glory, the beauty, the magnificence of that era will help you picture history in the most graphic way possible. All thanks to the artists and galleries that are on display here.
Places to see in Mehrangarh Fort: Interiors of Mehrangarh Fort
On India Rajasthan tour in Mehrangarh, Shringar Chowk is the first courtyard that will welcome you with open arms.
The highlight of this place is that in one of its corners there is a marble throne, where the new ruler of Jodhpur after coronation presents himself in front of the subjects.
From the exterior of the fort, the intricacy of Jali work will move a notch up here in this Chowk.
Treasures of Mehrangarh Museum:
Now, let’s talk about the space that is the treasure trove of this fort: Mehrangarh Museum.
The Mehrangarh Museum consists of seven Period Rooms and Six galleries
- Sheesh Mahal
- Phool Mahal
- Takhat Vilas
- Sardar Vilas
- Jhanki Mahal
- Dipak Mahal
- Moti Mahal
- Howdah Gallery
- Palanquin Gallery
- Daulat Khana
- Painting Gallery
- Textile Gallery
- Arms Gallery.
Let’s talk about these in detail.
The mirror palace or Sheesh Mahal was Maharaja Ajit Singh’s bedchamber during his reign. As the name suggests, it is a palace decked in mirrors and shiny objects.
As you can see in the picture, there are painted gesso panels of sacred Hindu subjects under the mirror arches.
On one panel Hindu deities, including Brahma, Shiva with Parvati, Devi, Krishna and Ganesh are all sitting on a throne.
However, on the other panels, there are images of Lord Krishna playing the flute and lifting mount Govardhan.
Moreover, this room also showcases scenes from various Hindu epics with gesso panels. Let’s see how many are you able to spot on a trip there.
Phool Mahal (Flower Palace)
The Flower Palace or Phool Mahal is a majestic beauty that shines in intricate carvings and golden motifs.
It is a grand reception room built in the mid 18th century. According to the guide, this palace was to entertain private audiences.
Observing it’s elevated positioning, one can easily guess that the access to this room was given just to King’s confidants.
Locals believe that the king used this room to perform certain personal rituals.
Moreover, people also believe that this room may have also served as a leisure room, observing the breeziness of this chamber.
Talking about the architecture, the interior carving style in this palace reminds of the details in the palaces of Shah Jahan.
However, after a while in Rajasthan tour, you’ll realise that the outer casing of this room with elaborate jaali still reminisces a style that’s authentic to this part of Rajasthan.
Panning through the room you’ll find paintings in columns, walls and the ceilings.
For your information, the paintings on the columns and walls are original. However, the ones in the ceiling were repainted in the 19th century.
Maharaja Takhat Singh ruled Jodhpur in the 19th century, and this very palace was his living quarters.
Marked with remarkable interiors, the Takhat Niwas is an unusually large area without any supporting columns in the centre.
Every inch of this room is painted including the floor. Windows to this room have coloured glass panes, giving the room an eerie light.
This room is strategically placed to get amazing eye shots of the forts and the blue city of Jodhpur. While you are here don’t forget to click some amazing panoramas of the city.
Jhanki Mahal (Peeping Palace)
This Palace occupies the upper floor in the North Wing.
The room was earlier used by royal ladies to indulge in the activities of the courtyard from a distance. Thus, giving it the name the Jhanki Palace.
This room is the showcase of baby cradles that were made decades after decades for the newborns of the royal bloodline. Get ready to be amazed by the opulence of these cradles.
Zenana Deodi (Palace of Women)
If you already have fallen in love with the intricate Jali work the fort has to offer, we are sure you’ll love this next bit of this fort.
Famed as the most beautiful corner of the fort, zenana Deodi is a small courtyard surrounded by most exquisite Jali Work.
Being the oldest part of the complex, you can actually spectate the intricacy in the work of ancient craftsmen on a tour to this yellow sandstone edifice.
Moti Mahal (Pearl Palace)
Finished with the amalgamation of lime plaster and finely crushed shells, Moti Mahal or White Palace glows with a pearly lustre.
In medieval times, this room played the role of a courtroom for the king, his court and the subjects.
While exploring this room, you’ll come across five deep alcoves on the far side.
For many it may seem like an architectural addition, however, these alcoves had secret balconies back then.
What’s the purpose you ask? Well, they were used by the queens to hear the court proceedings.
The impeccable Galleries of Mehrangarh Fort
We know, you must be thinking, what is a howdah? Well, Howdahs are seatings used while riding an elephant.
However, if you mistake present-day howdah to the ones used in medieval times, then don’t. They were way extravagant back then.
Howdah Room is a room filled with the different kinds of Howdahs used in the 18 and 19th centuries. The Howdahs used during that time were made from fine silver work.
Today these Howdahs become a part of the royal collections. As a matter of fact, the collection in Jodhpur is the finest collection of Howdahs in the entire country.
The star of this collection is a silver howdah which was a present to Maharaja Jaswant Singh I from the Mughal Emperor Shahjahan.
Palanquins (litters) were the popular means of travel for royal ladies in the medieval era.
Ladies up to the second quarter of the 20th century enjoyed travelling in these palanquins which used manpower.
On certain special occasions, the royal men too used these palanquins as well.
Palki Mahal is a showcase of all the palanquins used by the royal family. And, boy oh boy! The collection is breathtakingly beautiful.
The highlight of this palanquin show is Mahadol. It is a golden palanquin gifted by the governor of Gujarat in 1730 A.D to the Maharaja of Jodhpur.
Mawar Painting Room
Marwar was the talk of the town for its paintings. On a tour to Mehrangarh Fort on a Rajasthan Road trip, you’ll find a room full of fine miniature paintings of that era.
A little about this painting:
Court paintings in Jaipur became popular during the 17th century.
It was during this time that the Marwar rulers started associating with the Mughal Emperors. Later, these paintings evolved and inculcated some flavours of Mughal art styles as well.
The Daulat Khana is named after its functioning which means the wealth store or treasury. It showcases some of the priced exhibits of Mehrangarh Museum.
Architecture to this three-storey building is mostly arched and that too with openings on all levels.
This structure was built in the early 18th century by Ajit Singh and this very region of the Fort was famous back then as Ajit Vilas.
The art that’s in display in this gallery remotely showcases the best-preserved collections of fine and applied arts learned during the Mughal period of India.
This gallery displays one of the most important and best-preserved collections of fine and applied arts of the Mughal period of Indian history, during which the Rathore rulers of Jodhpur maintained close links with the Mughals so it has the remains of Emperor Akbar.
Sileh Khana (Armoury)
Are you a fan of weaponry? Then, this room will be a wonderland for you.
It is one such room in Mehrangarh fort that displays a wide array of weapons from different generations. So, try not to miss this on a trip here.
Mehrangarh has definitely saved the best for the last.
It is the perfect place to click some final pictures and bid adieu to the Fort
The takeaways from this courtyard is a painted door with faded panel scenes. Do look out for it while summarizing your trip here.
Oh! And so that you know, if you want to shop for souvenirs, there are shops available right at the exit.
How to see Mehrangarh Fort?
Mehrangarh Fort resides right at the centre of enigmatic Jodhpur, the second-largest city in Rajasthan.
Jodhpur can easily be reached by air, road or rail.
Jodhpur is four and a half hours from Udaipur, five hours from Jaisalmer, and about six hours from Jaipur.
Jodhpur Railway Junction
The nearest airport to Jodhpur is the Jodhpur (JDH) Airport which is approximately 4.1 km away from the main city.
Other nearby airports include:
Udaipur (UDR) (204.1 km)
Jaipur (JAI) (285.4 km)
Note: Travelers can avail taxi and bus facilities from the airport itself.
Similarly, Jodhpur Railway station in South Jodhpur is 5 km from the airport. Moreover, you can avail the bus and taxi facilities from both ends.
The Ins and outs
Good things are never free and that’s exactly the case with Mehrangarh. Tickets for this beauty are available Near fort’s main entrance, Jai Pol.
Mehrangarh Fort Timings:
Mehrangarh Fort is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Mehrangarh Fort Jodhpur ticket price:
- For foreigners, ticket prices are around 600 INR (including an excellent audio guide with headphones)
- For Indians: ticket prices are 100 INR. If Indians want an audio guide too, they can pay an additional cost of 180 rupees for it.
Side note: We will strongly recommend purchasing the audio guide. Although in other places it isn’t that much of use, in Mehrangarh Fort it will help you big time and will help bring the place to life.
Note: On May 12, every year, entry to the fort is free to mark the celebration of Jodhpur Foundation Day.
Now back to exploring. We would like to remind you that if you are covering Mehrangarh on foot, there are two possibilities.
One, walk up to the entrance, reach Mehrangarh via the old city. Moreover, it will take you about 15 minutes to reach there on foot but the hike will be quite steep.
For tourists who like it easy or want to skip this tiresome hike, can easily take a taxi or an auto-rickshaw from the road.
However, walking is really fun if you want to appreciate the fort’s magnificence and enormous size.
For all our fellow travellers, who love exploring at night, “Mehrangarh by Night” is a special program for you.
The museum curators lead this tour in the citadel in two slots from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. and from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Best time to visit Mehrangarh Fort
Mid October – Mid March is the most pleasant time to visit the Mehrangarh Fort in Jodhpur.
However, if you are wishing to plan your trip around the festivals of India, it’s better you go for October end or early November.
Want to explore Mehrangarh during the hot summer months? Then, we highly recommend the night tour of Mehrangarh in that case.
What are the best ways to cover Mehrangarh Fort on a Rajasthan trip?
You can easily cover Mehrangarh on any Rajasthan tour if Jodhpur is on the itinerary.
However, we personally suggest you cover it either on a Udaipur to Jodhpur road trip or on a winter tour to Rajasthan to enjoy all of its perks.
What festivals Mehrangarh fort celebrates?
Mehrangarh Fort is the epicentre of festivals in Jodhpur. Rajasthan celebrates festivals in high spirits and Mehrangarh is no different.
However, there are two festivals in particular that you need to experience in Mehrangarh while in Jodhpur.
One of which is Jodhpur Riff. It is a cultural extravaganza that resonates with the voices of esteemed musicians of the state.
A showcase of Rajasthan’s plush culture and tradition, this cultural program puts forward 5 dazzling nights of classical singing, religious music, folk dance, and folk music.
The other festival that we totally recommend to you people is the Word Sacred Spirit Festival.
It invited talents across the globe and garners a treat that’s next best thing after Mehrangarh itself.
The World Sacred Spirit Festival amalgamated the traditions of the East, Asia and Africa to the rich heritage of India.
In the gist of which, renounced artists from Egypt, Turkey, France, Pakistan, Paris, Mongolia, Afghanistan, China, etc, along with the traditional Rajasthani folk musicians, become a part of this gala event.
Are there any special arrangements for Christmas and New Years in Mehrangarh Fort?
The best party of Jodhpur happens on the 31st December every year at Mehrangarh Fort.
During this time, the fort looks like a bride and becomes the talk of the town.
However, for booking yourself a place in this gala event, you need to book prior as the seats get over quite soon.
What are some places to visit near Mehrangarh?
Supported on more than 100 pillars, Udai Mandir is another spectacle to catch on a Jodhpur trip.
Built with sandstones, this Hindu temple resides on a raised platform. Moreover, a cloth veils the Garbha Griha inside this shrine here with gold pots surrounding it.
Furthermore, the temple is built in the most beautiful way possible showcasing the prowess of Indian artisans.
Umaid Bhawan Palace
Umaid Bhavan Palace or the Chittar Palace is a magnificent building complex carved out of the stones brought from the nearby Chittar Hills.
Maharaja Umaid Singh commissioned this palace in 1929 and it took over 15 years to construct this masterpiece.
Today, Taj Hotels owns a part of this palace. So, if you love the idea of heritage hotels, this is the place for you to be.
Craving for some nature token? Then, travel 8kms away to for a little time off the hubbub of Jodhpur at Kaylana Lake.
Maharana Pratap Singh built this artificial lake. It is a beautiful place to relax and reflect back and its expanse makes this even easier.
Earlier this place used to have palaces and gardens as well. But they fell subsequent to the building of the lake.