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Rajasthan Forts & Palaces » Mehrangarh Fort

About Mehrangarh Fort

Earlier called the Chintamani fort, the fort was built in 1459 by Rao Jodha the founder of Jodhpur on the summit of a steep hill called the Bakharchiriya or bird’s nest. The citadel was fortified by eight Pols or gates (now reduced to seven) regulating entry into the premises. The expansive ramparts of the castle span some 10km, and if you stand atop the fort, you do get a bird’s eye view of the city with its whitewashed homes. Bakharchiriya was an apt name for the hilltop on which the fort now sits, is perched on top of Meherangarh and from there you get a commanding view of the landscape. In fact from that vantage point, you can even sight the Kumbhalgarh fort situated a good 125 km away. The fort stands 122 metres above the plain and rises on sheer bare rock. It is fortified by walls ranging from seven to twenty-four metres in thickness, and rising upto a height of 40 metres.

The Main Gateways To Fort

It would have presented a forbidding sight to any invading army with its maze of imposing towers at frequent intervals. Jai Pol, the main entrance to the fort was built in 1808 celebrating the great victory of Raja Man Singh over his great rival Jagat Singh of Jaipur. Also the doors of Jai Pol are embellished won by Raja Abhay Singh from Ahmedabad. The western gate of the fort is called the Fateh Pol (victory gate) which was built to commemorate an important event in Jodhpur’s history- the reclaiming of the fort from the Mughals by Ajit Singh in 1707. The Lakhna Pol, also called the Dedh Kangra Pol was added on in the 19th century, constitutes an important historical landmark in Jodhpur. It was built during Rao Maldeo’s reign in the 16th century, but it bore the brunt of the attack launched by the Jaipur army in 1807. It still bears the dents from the cannonballs launched at it by the aggressors. To the left of the Lakhna Pol is the Amrit Pol, also built by Raja Maldeo, on passing which you come to the original entrance of the fort which was built in 1459.

The then entrance consisted of a boulder, which had two holes in which were inserted wooden logs to provide a provisional barrier. Beyond the Lakhna Pol is the Loha Pol (Iron Gate) dating back to the 15th century, although the façade that you see today was again the contribution of Rao Maldeo in the 16th century. The handprints of 15 royal satis, Jodhpur queens who burnt themselves on the funeral pyres of their husbands, are a chilling reminder to the barbaric custom, which was very much in vogue in Rajasthan. It was the considered an honour by the women themselves to sacrifice their lives for their menfolk. So much so, that when Maharaja Ajit Singh died in 1731, no fewer than six of his wives and fifty-eight of his concubines burnt themselves on his funeral pyre. and although sati was made illegal by the British governor general William Bentick in 1829, the last recorded case of sati occurred in Jodhpur as recently as 1953. Just next to it is the Suraj Pol or Sun Gate, one of the oldest gates in the complex. This gate is one of the oldest in the Mehrangarh fort, and on entering it you will come across a flight of stairs which takes you to the Moti Mahal, one of the loveliest palaces in the complex.

Fort In Attractions

Nagnechiji Temple

To the extreme right of the fort complex is located the Nagnechiji temple, the family temple of the Rathore dynasty. The Nagnechiji idol was brought to Marwar in the early 14th century by Rao Dhuhad, and after Meherangarh was constructed the idol was placed there.

Chamunda Devi Temple

Adjacent to it is a temple dedicated to Goddess Durga, called the Chamunda Devi Temple. The idol of Durga was brought by Rao Jodha (the founder of Jodhpur) himself, but it was destroyed in a gunpowder explosion in 1857. It was reconstructed by Takhat Singh who reigned between the years 1843 and 1873. The precincts of the fort house two tanks as well, which was the main source of water to the residents of the complex. The Gulab Sagar or Rose-Water Sea is the larger of the two and situated to the south of the complex. The other tank is called the Rani Talao or Queen’s Lake which, as the name suggests reserved for the ladies of the zenana (royal ladies).

Moti Mahal

The Moti Mahal or the Pearl Palace was built during Maharaja Sur Singh’s reign in the last two decades of the 16th century. Moti Mahal was where the king used sit on his throne and meet all his subjects. The size of the hall indicates that it must initially have been utilised as a Public Audience Hall. The alabaster throne which lies resplendent and one end of the room is magnificent to behold and the enire palace has a very ostentatious look to it with the entire ceiling covered with mirrors and gilt. It is has been very well maintained and the walls and ceilings are still sparklingly smooth. Its latticed screens and superb balconies are in many ways similar to the Anup Mahal in Bikaner, and both of these palaces by way of coincidence were built in the 1670s. The Moti Mahal is where every Jodhpur ruler since the founder Rao Jodha has been crowned. The red sandstone coronation seat or Sangar Choki is spectacular and so is the white marble facing which was added on by Bakhat Singh in the 1750s. The palace houses the royal palanquins, and silver howdahs (special seat for riding on elephants), one of which was gifted by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan to Jaswant Singh. Other howdahs are resplendent with the flags of the nine Rathore states of medieval times, eight of them offshoots of Jodhpur itself.

Jhanki Mahal

The Palace of Glimpses, as this palace is commonly known, is next door to Khabka Mahal. It is called so because it was from where the women of the royal household to take a look at the outside world. Purdah was strictly enforced by the Rajputs in medieval times and the women’s quarters were deliberately fitted with latticed screens to allow the royal women to peek outside without being observed themselves. Like the Moti Vilas (mentioned below), the sandstone jalis (latticed windows) were so fine as to look like lace from a distance. The Jhanki Mahal is virtually covered with mirrors where no doubt the royal ladies attended to themselves. Other interesting aspect of the palace is the numerous royal cradles you will find here, all of them exquisitely embellished. One of the cradles is actually motor-powered and was presented to the Maharaja of Jodhpur in 1948.

Moti Vilas & Sardar Vilas

Meherangarh Fort Jodhpur, India Travel GuideThe next two palaces you come across are the Moti Vilas and the Sardar Vilas. The unique feature of the Moti Vilas is its beautifully carved latticed screens. The detailing is so fine that from a distance you could be forgiven if you mistook the jalis (latticed screens) to be built out of lace. Neighbouring the Moti Vilas is a zenana court, built in 1640 and comprising of beautifully chiselled stonework. The Sardar Vilas located nearby is chiefly characterised by its exquisite woodwork. The doors and the panelling in the interiors of Sardar Vilas is marvellous to behold. Much of the woodwork is gold-plated and embellished with ivory. It also houses a splendid marble table, which was presented to it by the king of Kabul.

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