Crowning a rocky hill 400 feet above the surrounding plains, the fortress of Mehrangarh dominates the skyline of Jodhpur. Behind its sturdy walls, exquisite palaces, scars of wars and tales of valour come together to offera glimpse into the fascinating times of an era gone by.
Dating back to the 15th century, Mehrangarh’s origins are shrouded by tales of a hermit who was the hill’s sole inhabitant. His curse of draughts and the extreme measure of burying a man alive in the foundations of the fort, to ward off any bad luck are spoken about.
Another horrific tale awaiting visitors at its seventh gate are the handprints of the 15 wives of Maharaja Man Singh, who immolated themselves on his funeral pyre in 1843.
A number of palaces and galleries within the fortress were embellished thematically – the walls of the Sheesh Mahal are covered with intricate mirrors. The Phool Mahal is gilded with floral motifs while the Moti Mahal is clad with a pearl-like white lime plaster. The larger rooms are surrounded by connecting galleries and intermittent courtyards with a profusion of decorative surfaces, geometric jaalis and elaborate alcoves.
The ramparts that run across the periphery of the fort are littered with ageing canons and cries of kites. Bask in the swift breeze as you soak in the splendid vista of Jodhpur’s old town sprawled out below you.
Text and Photos by Kunal Bhatia