That night as I went on the rooftop restaurant of zostel, the Mehrangarh fort crowning the Jodhpur city left me astonished. I remember, for a few minutes, I was stuck there as if trying to absorb the beauty in my eyes. The trip was organized by The Western Routes and the next day, I met other group members and started to explore the royal city accompanied by our guide, Mr. Deepak. My excitement was at its peak as we proceeded towards the fort, we entered from the Victory gate which was built in 1808 after winning the battle against Bikaner and Jaipur.
The historic tales kept me engaged as Deepakji narrated them, the fort stood massive since the 15th century. In 1459, the construction of the fort started under the rule of Rao Jodha, and before that, the royal family used to live in Mandore. For 35 years, the construction continued, and then as the kings changed, everyone contributed to the further changes. Initially, the fort was named Mihirgarh by Rao Jodha but later it was renamed as Mehrangarh by the current king, Gaj Singh Ji. The fort was nearly impossible to capture, hence it could only be seized. This was proved when, during the reign of Jaswant Singh I, he went to Aurangabad for a battle and was returning after his victory, and he died on the way. During that time, Aurangzeb seized the fort and ruled it for 21 years.
To reach atop one can either walk the ramp or there is a paid lift facility provided as well. We decided to take the lift and reached up, the view of the city bathed in blue was an absolute delight.
We entered inside the museum where there are sections of old royal palanquins, including the elaborate domed, gilt palanquin for royal members, howdah (a frame kept on the back of an elephant for royal members to sit), toran (associated with Hindu wedding and is placed at the entrance of bride’s house). The museum also displays the heritage of the Rathores in arms, costumes, and paintings.
Moti Mahal was one of the largest and most beautiful rooms of all. The throne of this Throne Room or Durbar Takhat is untouched, the ambiance makes it feel like the king will walk in anytime soon. Walking from one part of the fort to the other gave me a feeling as if I was in a different world altogether, it all just felt unreal.
Women in Rajasthan needed to cover their faces; even today we see lots of women covering their faces with their ghunghat. To attend the royal functions the intricate jaali work was done on the windows and balconies so that women could attend the function but no one could see them.
The royal families had their cremation grounds and beautiful cenotaph built in the memory. One such spectacular cenotaph is Jaswant Thada, built by Maharaja Sardar Singh in 1899 in memory of his father, Maharaja Jaswant Singh II.
As we entered the beautiful mausoleum built out of intricately carved sheets of marble, bare feet we could actually feel the beauty of it within. These sheets are extremely thin and polished so that they emit a warm glow when illuminated by the Sun. Inside we spotted the photographs of all the rulers of Jodhpur. The memorial is surrounded by carved gazebos, a tiered garden, and a small lake.
Also read about the Bikaner city.
As I mentioned before, the royal family lived in Mandore city before they moved to the grand Mehrangarh fort. I wanted to know why did they leave Mandore? And how the capital looked before? To find these answers, we went to the abandoned Mandore garden.
Our guide narrated, Mandore was under Rathore clan during the rule of Rao Rinmal until one day, he was assassinated by the Mewar ruler, Rana Kumbha. Meanwhile, Rao Rinmal’s son Rao Jodha managed to escape alive, and for several years tried to recapture Mandore. Eventually, in 1453 he succeeded, but to secure the further invasions, the capital was shifted to Mehrangarh fort. The Mandore garden possesses ancient temples, intriguing cenotaph, and memorials. These cenotaphs date back to 17th to 18th centuries, built by sandstone having with intricate carvings, pillars, and tall spires.
On our last day, early morning before the hustle-bustle we walked through the blue city, whose view had left us perplexed, and multiple reasons are given for its color. First, because only Brahmin families reside here. Second, this color helps the houses be cooler during scorching sun and many others.
The architectural brilliance of craftsmanship and the royal fort has occupied a major part of my memory, and part of me still craves to wander in those lanes between those congested houses!