Mehrangarh Fortress (India)
Rajasthan See list of castles in India
Mehrangarh fort is situated 150 m higher altitude hill, the imposing Mehrangarh Fort overshadows the other attraction of Jodhpur. The name itself means Mehrangarh 'majestic fort' and, as such, the tourists who visit this mighty fortress are happy with his greatness.
The fort was originally built for the year 1459 by the city's founder, Rao Jodha after he shifted his capital from Mandore here. However, much of what today date back to the 17th century, a time when Jaswant Singh held the reins of Jodhpur.
As with many other forts and palaces of Rajasthan, Mehrangarh too, holds in its heart a legend that had its birth during construction. It is believed that to build a fort, a sage had to be forced out from the hill. Enraged, this sage cursed that the construction of the fort will see serious problems regarding the availability of water. To ward off the ramifications of this curse, a man offered himself to bury alive in the foundation of the fortress.
The fort, which has 36 meters high and 21 meters wide walls is registered after passing through seven gates. Jayapol or the main gate is the starting point. The gate was built by Maharaja Man Singh who ruled Jodhpur in the early part of the 19th century, to commemorate his victory over the army of Jaipur and Bikaner. Fatehpol is another victory gate built by Maharaja Ajit Singh in 1708 to mark his victory over the Mughals. Out of six other ports, there is no one that is a victory gate, Lohpol. The Iron Gate preserves the handprints of the wives of Maharaja Man Singh who threw himself into the sacred fire of their pyre of her husband. The hand prints are considered extremely pious and have grown into a symbol revered. A number of devotees smear with red powder and silver to show their respect for the royal ladies who like the humiliation of death.
The area within the fort is covered with beautiful buildings and spacious courtyards. The buildings, like the Moti Mahal (Pearl Palace), Phool Mahal (Flower Palace) and Sukh Mahal (Pleasure Palace), today serve as a museum. Entry through the Suraj Pol, the museum boasts a wide range of collections - elephant carriages, Maharaja's palanquin, covered palanquins for ladies, of lethal weapons, small canons and paintings. The buildings themselves have an undeniable charm. For example, the Moti Mahal has five alcoves along the west wall. Other small niches on the walls had to keep oil lamps. The ceilings are radiant with glass and gold paint tiles. Phool Mahal is the building where the traditional dance regaled the audience. The ceiling is gold plated images of the various Maharajas of Jodhpur around it. The paintings that adorn the walls of the palace are the work of a single artist who, unfortunately, died before completing his work. The royalty of this palace is enhanced more due to the colored glasses that seem to keep the glitter of gold platings.
The Umaid Mahal shines beautifully with glass tiles and the private room of the Maharaja Thakhat Singh near Zhanki Mahal glows with lac paintings. The Zhanki Mahal, in turn hosts the cradle of the newborn principles Thakhat Singh. The Zenana Mahal is not far behind in beauty and displays magnificent latticework halls with more than 150 drawings. Other buildings such as the Rang Mahal, Chandan Mahal and Throne Room are also delicious.
Apart from the buildings, there are a cenotaph and a temple is worth a visit. The cenotaph, Chhatri Sodha Kirit Singh, is located right after the main entrance. The cenotaphs pays tribute to the brave soldier, Kirit Singh, who has established his life to defend his country's army Jaipur. The Chamunda Devi Temple is located at the southern end of the fort and displays Durga in her furious mood.
A walk on the ramparts to that end provides some really eye catching views of the old town. Numerous houses painted in blue color immediately draw the attention of tourists. Previously, only Brahmins could get their house painted in blue, however, more and more people today use this color to ward off monotony of the desert region. It 'also felt that the color blue spreads freshness in the house and, as such, very useful.