Mehrangarh Fort new

By Sanjeev Nayyar | 2013

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How can one visit Jodhpur without seeing Mehrangarh Fort. U see fort view from western side. I had gone for a Heritage walk thru old town, clicked from the terrace of a home. It was about 4pm so good light. "Rao Jodha (ruled 1438-89) began to build a fort at a new site 6 miles to the south of Mandore, on an isolated rock with a higher elevation and better natural defences. Jodhpur, the town that sprang up at its base, was named after him. Mehrangarh means ''Fort of the Sun'' a reference to the Rathore''s descent from the sun god Surya. Over 500 yards long, its wall rises in places to a height of 120 feet and is 70 feet thick.".

This is east facing view of the Mehrangarh Fort clicked about 7.30 am from the gardens of Umaid Bhawan Palace. Looks so imposing. Hope some buildings are not made so as to obstruct this beautiful view. Was told about encroachments on fort area, is something that local authorities have to prevent at all cost.

During the Heritage Walk went to a temple, part of which has now become a hotel. From its terrace, much against the wishes of the owner, clicked this side view pic of Mehrangarh Fort at about 4.30 pm. "Fort stands a hundred feet in splendor on a perpendicular cliff, four hundred feet above the sky line of Jodhpur. Burnished red sand stone, imposing, invincible and yet with a strange haunting beauty that beckons".

As you walk up the fort you see some symbolic hands sculpted on a vertically fixed stone slab. These are SATI hands, reminders of the Royal ladies who committed Sati.

U can reach the fort in two ways. One is drive up the hill and two walk up to the fort. Either way u get this close up of front view of the fort. U can see rock at bottom of pic. Centre of pic are palaces from where you get a spectacular view of Jodhpur.

Once the car drops you can take a lift to the palace areas or walk up. I took the lift - you enter a large open area took this pic from there. Left of pic u see entrance for those who walk up. On right u see fort external wall and a water body beyond which are houses, mostly painted in blue. It is from the terrace of one such house that I clicked pic no 1. Note that the Fort had many layers of walls to defend itself.

Once the car drops you can take a lift to the palace areas or walk up. I took the lift - you enter a large open area took this pic from there. Left of pic u see entrance for those who walk up. On right u see fort external wall and a water body beyond which are houses, mostly painted in blue. It is from the terrace of one such house that I clicked pic no 1. Note that the Fort had many layers of walls to defend itself.

This is the open area that u see on getting off the lift. Canons are in front. Centre of pic u see cars driving up the hill. White monument in centre of pic is Jaswant Thada, more on that later. Note the terrain, it is hilly and rocky. The fort and surrounding areas are full of water bodies. I am yet to come across a fort in Rajasthan where water harvesting, as we call it today, was not part of the fort.

A close up of a canon. "The Fort and its palaces were built over period of 500 years following the foundation in the mid-15th century."

We now enter the palace area. First is Shringar Chowk or Anointment Courtyard that you see. The proceedings included the anointment of new Rulers for which the marble throne that you see at end of pic was employed. As you will see in the next pic the facades of the upper storeys form a perforated screen, thru which women could observe the proceedings of Shringar Chowk which included anointment of a ruler.

This is a pic of the upper storeys with perforated screen thru which women observed the proceedings of Shringar Chowk. There are many guides available at fort entrance. I used Mahaveer Singh, very good. His nos is 9461030286. Converses in English and Hindi very well, soft-spoken with a pleasing personality.

Board in museum that explains what is a HOWDAH - a wooden framed seat.

Silver Howdah of Mughal king Shah Jahen.

Museum has numerous Palanquins. This board tells you all about palanquins.

Normally palanquins were horizontal meaning you sat in them. With the advent of British rule and chairs the habit of sitting down was probably replaced by sitting on chairs. This is a sitting style palanquin. So also today most urbanites have a problem if they are asked to sit on the floor with no back support, always need chairs.

View of another palace as we walked around the fort. Design, architecture is superb. It has lasted so many hundreds of years unlike buildings of today. To read about fort architecture Click here

This board has details of palanquin brought by Maharaja Abhay Singh after defeating the Gujarat Governor. Meher Jati were trained to pick up palkhis.

A view of the palanquin. It is executed in rich Gujarati tradition of carved and painted woodwork. The museum is very well laid down and maintained. Artifacts are well preserved. It is always a pleasure to visit such museums. What is now a museum was earlier Daulat Khana or place to keep wealth.

This is Sheesh Mahal or palace of mirrors.

Painting of Ma Durga at entrance to Sheesh Mahal. ""Missed visiting the Chokhelao garden which sits at the foot of the Mehrangarh Fort. This over 200 year old garden has recently been restored, complete with the scents, sounds and textures of a garden of 18th century Marwar."

This is Phool Mahal or Palace of Flowers was built in the 18th century by Maharaja Abhay Singh (1724-49) as Hall of Private Audience. The ceiling is in gold filigree and mirror and the walls painted in the 19th century depicts the various moods of Indian Classical Ragas, Royal Portraits (centre of pic) and incarnations of Lord Vishnu and Ma Durga. Represented are 36 female ragas and 6 male ragas similar to Indian Classical Music in which are 42 ragas.

Another view of Phool Mahal. "With its delicate colors, stained glass windows, golden-shield and ornate ceiling the Phool Mahal is the grandest period room in Mehrangarh. Glass is Belgian stain glass. "

U see Takhat Vilas. The bed-chamber of Maharaj Takht Singh (1843-1873) is decorated from ceiling to floor with paintings on a variety of subjects from Gods/Goddesses to European ladies. Even the floor is painted like a carpet. Noteworthy are the lacquer paintings on the ceiling. Takst Singh was the last of the Maharajas to wholly reside at Mehrangarh.

Left of pic u see fort wall that comes from a height to a lower level and then moves at same level as seen in centre of pic. Purpose of showing u this pic is show how the fort area has got restricted to what is the highest point of hill. As you can see number of homes come up inside fort area, when, why and how do not know.

Entrance to Jhanki Mahal "which translates as the Palace of Glimpses…because from here, women could peep through the stone Jali screens and amuse themselves with the activities in two separate courtyards, one on each side…the Coronation Courtyard and the Courtyard of Treasures".

One such cradle. U see pillar on right of pic, inside is stone but plaster made of sea shell+jaggery+molasses mixed with lime and mustard. Retains shine even years later. "Several beautiful cradles, including an electric powered one made for the present Maharaja, make up a rare and unique collection."

Painted ceiling inside Jhanki Mahal. Purpose of showing pic is to show design and extent of restoration being done by the Trust that manages the fort. Museum also showcases paintings.

This is a night view of Jodhpur. In centre of pic lit up structure that you see is Umaid Bhawan Palace. Took this pic about 9 pm from Mehrangarh Fort. If you want to get a real feel of the fort and its surroundings spend a day there. To know about The Mehrangarh Museum Trust Jodhpur Click here

This is Moti Mahal or Pearl Palace is one of the oldest surviving period rooms in the fort. It was built in the 16th century by Sawai Raja Sur Singh (1595-1619) as Hall of Public Audience. Right of pic the niches that you see open upwards when the Queen sat. During a public audience if a Queen had something to say then she would send a message to the King. Niches existed for 5 queens. To know more about the various period rooms or Mahals Click here

Another view of Moti Mahal. Right of pic is where the Maharaja sat. Belgian stain glass were fixed sometimes in the second half of the 19th century. The walls of the room are lustrously polished with ''chunam'' and decorated with ''niches'' where lamps once flickered (see right of pic). The ceiling is beautifully embellished with mirror and gilt. To read about History of Fort Click here

As one walks out of the Moti Mahal enter the Rani Mahal Chowk or rooms where all the Queens lived. The palace was designed in a way by which every Queen could have direct access to the Maharaja without having to meet any other Queen enroute. Centre of pic is where Tulsi plant was kept. Captions in inverted commas fare rom the official site of Mehrangarh Fort Click here

A close up view of the Jalis below one of the jharokhas in Queen''s Palace. Really intricate work. About 8 kms from Jodhpur is Mandore Fort. Worth a visit. To see pics Click here

After walking thru the fort was feeling hungry. There is this restaurant and an open air one. Loved the ambience here, snacks were very good. What I like about the Mehrangarh Fort is that they have retained and maintained the fort as was whilst giving modern amenities like this restaurant. If you want to buy Dhurries in Jodhpur Click here

A short distance before Mehrangarh Fort is Jaswant Thada. U see a front view. It is a royal cenotaph made up of white marble. It was built to commemorate Maharaja Jaswant Singh. To see pics of Jodhpur RIFF 2009 Click here

From Jaswant Thada made best use of 75-300 mm Canon lens to click the Umaid Bhawan Palace. U can see the fort wall that had referred to earlier. The original fort area was quite huge na. To see pictures of Umaid Bhawan Palace at different times of the day and night Click here

Setting sun''s rays on Jaswant Thada. It is a must visit. To see pictures of Mehrangarh Fort by Eeshit Narain Click here

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