15 June 2024

Mehrangarh Fort: Sun Fort of Rajasthan. The architectural marvel of Jodhpur, Rajasthan, India

Mehrangarh Fort holds the pride of place in Jodhpur because of its splendid architecture and the diverse history associated with it. Mehrangarh Fort covers an area of 5 kms around 1,200 acres of land (486 hectares) in Jodhpur, Rajasthan. The complex is located on a hilltop around 122 metres above the surrounding plain and was constructed circa 1459 by Rajput ruler Rao Jodha. Inside its boundaries there are several palaces known for their intricate carvings and expansive courtyards, as well as a museum housing various relic.

There are seven gates, which can be used to enter the Mehrangarh fort. These 7 gates are made by different rulers and are built in honor of victory over Bikaner and Jaipur armies.

History:

Rao Jodha, the chief of the Rathore clan, is credited with the origin of Jodhpur in India. He founded Jodhpur in 1459 as the capital of Marwar. He was one of Ranmal’s 24 sons and became the fifteenth Rathore ruler.

When Rao Jodha decided to shift his capital to a safer and elevated location in Jodhpur, he laid the foundation of this massive fort in 1459 on a hill named Bhakurcheeria aka the Mountain of Birds. The cornerstone of the fort was laid by Shri Karni Mata, a female warrior sage.

Legend has it that Rao Jodha had to relocate the sole occupant of the hill, a hermit named Cheeria Nathji, in order to build the fort. The enraged hermit cursed that the fort would suffer scarcity of water forever. To appease him, the king built a temple and a house for him within the fort premises. Some local stories even say that Rao Jodha buried alive a common man named Raja Ram Meghwal in the foundations of the fort to nullify the impact of the curse. Since the man had agreed to sacrifice his life willingly, the king promised to look after his family and continued to fulfill his promise diligently.

Over the years, Rao Jodha’s successors contributed much to the fort’s structure. They strengthened the fort’s walls and gates and also constructed new palaces and temples within the premises. It was in the 17th century, during the reign of Jaswant Singh of Marwar, that the fort was built into what we see today.

Tourist attraction:
  • National Geological Monument: It is a geological feature representing the last phase of igneous activity of Precambrian age in the Indian Subcontinent at the foot of the picturesque Mehrangarh Fort. This unique geological feature is part of the Malani Igenus Suite seen in the Thar desert region, spread over an area of 43,500 km2.
  • Rao Jodha Desert Rock Park: It spreads over 72 hectares, adjoining Mehrangarh Fort. The park contains ecologically restored desert and arid land vegetation. The park was created in 2006 to try and restore the natural ecology of a large, rocky area adjoining and below the fort and opened to the public in February 2011. The area in and around the park contains distinctive volcanic rock formations such as rhyolite, with welded tuff, and breccia, sandstone formations.
  • The Chamunda Mataji Temple: The chamunda Mataji was Rao Jodha’s favorite goddess, he brought her idol from the old capital of Mandore in 1460 and installed her in Mehrangarh. She remains the Maharaja’s and the Royal Family’s Isht Devi or adopted goddess and is worshipped by most of Jodhpur’s citizens as well.
  • Mehrangarh Museum: The museum at the Mehrangarh Fort has different galleries showcasing an amazing collection of artifacts and decorative arts. There are mainly six galleries which include:
  • Elephant’s howdahs: Howdahs (seats used for riding the elephants) from the 18th and 19th centuries, including the silver howdah that Shah Jahan presented to Maharaja Jaswant Singh.
  • Daulat Khana: 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 Mughal emperors.
  • Palanquins: A spectacular collection of palanquins including Pinjas (covered palanquins) and Rajat Khasa (lotus-shaped palanquin), to mention a few.
  • Armoury: This gallery displays a rare collection of armour from every period in Jodhpur. On display are sword hilts in jade, silver, rhino horn, ivory, shields studded with rubies, emeralds and pearls and guns with gold and silver work on the barrels.
  • Paintings: This Gallery displays colours of Marwar-Jodhpur, the finest example of Marwar paintings.
  • Turban: This gallery displays various kinds of turbans which was used in Rajasthan by different communities and regions on various festivals and occasions.
Gates: There are seven gates which include:
  • Jai Pol (“Gate of Victory”), built by Maharaja Man Singh in 1806 to celebrate his victory in a war with Jaipur and Bikaner.
  • Fateh Pol, built to celebrate a victory over the Mughals in 1707;
  • Dedh Kamgra Pol, which still bears the scars of bombardment by cannonballs;
  • Loha Pol, which is the final gate into the main part of the fort complex. Immediately to the left are the handprints (sati marks) of the ranis who in 1843 immolated themselves on the funeral pyre of their husband, Maharaja Man Singh.

Within the fort are several brilliantly crafted and decorated palaces. These include, Moti Mahal (Pearl Palace), Phool Mahal (Flower Palace), Sheesha Mahal (Mirror Palace), Sileh Khana and Daulat Khana. The museum houses a collection of palanquins, howdahs, royal cradles, miniatures, musical instruments, costumes, and furniture. The ramparts of the fort house preserved old cannon (including the famous kilkila) and provided a breath-taking view of the city.

Nitesh Kumar Singh

Technical content writer l Website developer

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