Location: Jodhpur, Rajasthan
Built In: 1549
Built By: Rao Jodha
Dynasty: Rathore Dynasty
Tags: One of the largest forts in India
Other names: Mihirgarh
Built in the regal city of Jodhpur, amidst the backdrop of ‘Rajasthan’ landscapes, the Mehrangarh Fort is by far, one of the largest forts ever built in India during the early periods of the Rathore dynasty. The magnificent craftsmanship of the Jodhpuri craftsmen can be seen on this superior sandstone fortification. Situated atop an elevated hill, the fort spreads over an area of five kilometers in the central area of Jodhpur, at 400 feet altitude. The fort’s grandeur can alone capture the attention of tourists, leaving them in a state of pleasant disbelief. The history of the fort goes back to the time of Rao Jodha who happened to be the fifteenth child of Ranmal. He decided that his former abode was under threat and went on to construct this palatial structure which is considered to be one of the great architectural landmarks of medieval India.
The history of this grand fort dates back 1459, when Rao Jodha, right after his accession to the throne, decided to move to the south of his Mandore fort, as the fort was no longer safe and stable. He selected a site on which he decided to build his new fort. But in the process he angered a hermit who cursed the fort that Jodha was planning to build. He stated that the fort would face severe water shortage and droughts. Ironically, this part of Rajasthan faces droughts even to this date. Jodha eventually took an extreme step to counter the curse and buried a man called ‘Rajiya Bhambi’ alive. He promised Bhambi that his family would be taken care of in return for his life and the site still houses descendants of Bhambi even today. Although, built during the Rathore dynasty, the fort was held strong by Rao Jodha and Jaswant Singh. There were no signs of annexation except the bombardment scars that recount an unbeatable fortification in its history marked with failed attacks. Other forts of the Rathore period were the Kishangarh and Barli Forts.
An example of breathtaking architecture, the Mehrangarh Fort is one of the many, untouched heritage erections left in India today. With a series of seven gates, a Mehrangarh museum, a canopy or ‘Chatri’ constructed in the memory of ‘Kirat Singh Soda’, innumerable chambers, delicate, sandstone, wall art and elusive lattice work, make the fort an appealing exhibition in itself, leaving the visitors spellbound. The magnificent fort houses some of the biggest palaces in the country.
With a colossal diameter of about five kilometers, the fort is home to some of India’s most extravagant palaces such as the Phool Mahal, Sheesha Mahal and the Moti Mahal to name a few. Red stone Jharokha work and remnants of its glorious past in the form of furniture, palanquins, instruments and attire, still exist in the fort today. Most of the intricate, sandstone wall arts reflect the lavish lifestyles of the Rathore and Rajput royals from a bygone era.
Major Battles And Events Associated With The Fort
- The fort has witnessed many battles in the past though none of them eventually led to the capture of this majestic existence. The gates of the fort still bear the marks of failed seizure attempts by the Mughals and the armies of Jaipur.
- The Fort welcomed triumphant soldiers after their win over the Bikaner armies and the Mughals who were on a spree to take over whole of India. However, their attempts to seize the Mehrangarh Fort went in vain.
- Many gates have been erected to commemorate the victories such as the ‘Jayapol’ and the ‘Fatthepol’ gates. A ‘Chatri’ or a canopy was also built to remember one particular soldier who died while fighting to protect the fort.
- In the year 2008, there was a massive stampede at the Chamunda Devi Temple inside the fort that led to the loss of 250 lives and injured more than 400 people.
- The fort is now maintained by a private trust. The fort and historical artifacts has been well conserved.
- Now, Mehrangarh Fort has elevators and other amenities to make it more accessible for the tourist.
- Tourists are not allowed to enter the fort on their own. They have to be led by a registered guide.
- Several Traditional festivals and international festivals are held at the Mehrangarh Fort.
Best time to visit
The best time to visit the Mehrangarh Fort is during the months October to March, when Jodhpur is relatively cooler and when there are no occurrences of sand storms. The fort is open to the public between 9 am to 5 pm and is open on all 365 days of the year.
How to reach
- The fort can be accessed through the central city of Jodhpur. All domestic airlines connect this city to other parts of India.
- The city is also accessible through all major rail networks.
- Once the tourist has arrived at Jodhpur, the fort can be accessed through private transport, tourist buses and even local cabs that can be hired from anywhere in the city.
- The nearest airport is the Jodhpur airport and the nearest railway stations are the central Jodhpur railway station and Bhagat ki Kothi railway station which are connected to many important cities in the country.
Around the Fort
The Mehrangarh Fort is well stocked with historical artifacts that can be viewed at the Museum built within the fort. The oldest surviving buildings around the Mehrangarh Fort can also be witnessed by tourists during a visit. The cenotaphs of the Rathore Rulers, the Chokelao Palace, the Rao Jodha Nature Park and the water bodies that surround the fort are accessible to the public.
Although, the Mehrangarh Fort stands as a glorious chapter in the rich history of Rajasthan, it also recounts and narrates to its visitors the stories related to it. From the intricate architecture, to the glimmering palaces against a picturesque backdrop, the Mehrangarh Fort is a grand symbol of an eternal history and is a must visit place for the tourists.