A trip to the Mehrangarh Fort Jodhpur - History and Architecture

The history of Mehrangarh Fort of Jodhpur, Rajasthan goes like this. Once upon a time, there was a King who ruled Mandore. Mandore is a dry land situated at the heart of the present day Rajasthan in India. The King's name was Rao Jodha. His ancestors were the rulers of Kanuj, a province in present day Uttar Presdesh who fled to Mandore after the Afghanistan invasion in the 12th century. Rao Jodha belonged to the elder Rajaputra clan known as the Rathore.  Rao Jodha was the 14th Rathore ruler of Mandore. His search for a place to build the fort ended in a red sandstone mountain located 8km south of Mandore.

  Mehrangarh Fort - History and Architecture
Mehrangarh Fort - A bird's eye view
By Jmacleantaylor (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

It was a deserted place. The only inhabitant of the mountain was an old sage, who was locally known as the "Chiriyawala Baba"(The Bird's sage). Enraged by the prospect of losing his abode the sage cursed the King and the upcoming fort.

"Let the new fort you build and the surrounding areas suffer by drought. Let it be impossible for any human or animal to live here!" such was the curse of the sage. The King begged the pardon of the sage, and asked him what penance would revert the effect of the curse. The sage proposed a very difficult penance - human sacrifice. Not only that, the person who sacrifices his life must do so willingly. The King was in a dilemma. However soon after this news spread across his kingdom, a soldier named "Rajaram Mehwal" presented himself before the king and conveyed his decision to sacrifice his life. The King accepted, when the foundation of the fort was laid, Rajaram Mehwal was buried beneath it. Thus goes the history of Mehrangarh Fort of Jodhpur. Mehrangarh Fort was built in the year 1459. 

Mehrangarh Fort - History and Architecture
Fort Walls and the Palaces
My visit to the Mehrangarh Fort was on a chilly morning in January 2015.  It was the fifth day of the Rajasthan trip. I had already visited many palaces and forts in Rajasthan and had already fallen in love with it. I reached the fort premises at around 8:00am in the morning. Visiting hours for Mehrangarh fort is 9:00am to 5:00pm every day. The entrance fee of Mehrangarh fort is 70 INR, and camera fee is 100 INR. Mehrangarh Fort tour is not complete without a guide. I decided to go with the audio guide available at the ticket counter.  It was a wise choice. I have tried many audio guides in several monuments, but without any doubt, this was the best. The audio guide for Mehrangarh fort cost 170 INR.  For international travelers the entry fee for Mehrangarh Fort is 600 INR, which includes the audio guide as well. On May 12th all guests can enjoy a free entry on the occasion of Jodhpur Foundation Day.

The first sight that welcomes you when visiting Mehrangarh fort is the rough high walls and the balconies of the palaces above it. I was quite curious about the position of the palaces. Usually in Rajasthan Forts, the palaces would be placed in the heart of the fort, secured by many levels of gates and walls. However the audio guide told me that these palaces are placed in such a vulnerable position to get some cool air during the unbearable summer season. Does the below picture seems similar? It is the same place featured in “The Dark Knight Rises” – the latest and best batman movie of all times! When Bruce Wayne comes up from the jail like a deep well, the background shown is the Mehrangarh Fort!

Architecture of Mehrangarh Fort


My visit to the Mehrangarh fort started at the first gate known as the "Jai Pol". In Rajasthan, the main entrances to the palaces and forts are known as Pols. Mehrangarh Fort has 7 gates in total at different levels. The gates of Mehrangarh fort are:  Jai Pol, Fateh Pol, Loha Pol, Amruti Pol, Dodh Kangra Pol, Gopal Pol and Bheru Pol. Even though the Jai Pol is the entrance for visitors, this was not the main entrance to the fort in ancient days. Jai Pol is newer compared to the other parts of the Fort. It was built in 1810 by Maharaja Man Singh. Jai Pol was added to enhance the security after the Jaipur-Jodhpur was in 1809. Even though both the countries were ruled by brother clans, there were serious dispute between them. One of the reasons for the dispute was the Princess of Udaipur. Both the Kings in Jodhpur and Jaipur claimed that they have the right to marry the rich and beautiful princess of Udaipur!

Jai Pol Mehrangarh Fort - History and Architecture
Jai Pol in Mehrangarh Fort
I spent some more time around Jaipur, admiring the paintings on both sides of the gate.

Paintings in Jaipol Mehrangarh Fort - History and Architecture
Paintings in Jaipol - Mehrangarh Fort

Entering through the Jai Pol, I reached a small courtyard with high surrounding walls. While visiting the Mehrangarh fort, never miss to see the canon shot marks on the walls of this corridor, it was said to be made in the 1809 Jaipur-Jodhpur war.

Canon Marks on the Mehrangarh Fort wall
Canon Marks on the Mehrangarh Fort wall
While walking towards the next gate, I saw a small memorial in the Islamic style. I was quite curious about how this Islamic style monument came inside the fort of the Hindu kings. It is a memorial of "Shahid Bhure San" - A noble in the court of Raja Man Singh.
Shahid Bhure San Memorial Mehrangarh Fort - History and Architecture
Shahid Bhure San Memorial - Mehrangarh Fort

 I was going at snail pace and the magnificent fort was standing in front me, challenging. It is quite exhaustive to walk uphill to the top of the fort and come back. For those who are not physically fit to do so, the fort has lift service. However it is much more fun to walk around! Mehrangarh fort is exemplary in terms of the facilities for visitors. There are good hotels, clean toilets and above all an excellent audio guide! On the way up the ramp, on the left side of the road, there is a very important historical inscription. It is a memorial of Raja Ram Mehwal who sacrificed his life for the fort.

Mehrangarh Fort - History and Architecture
Raja Ram Mehwal memorial in Mehrangarh Fort


Also, next to the Raja Ram Mehwal memorial there is a platform named - Rao Jodha Ka Falsa . It marks the boundary of the Mehrangarh Fort, as initially decided by Rao Jodha. However the fort was extended well beyond this point by his successors.

Mehrangarh Fort - History and Architecture
Rao Jodha Ka Falsa - The boundary of Mehrangarh Fort
As I climbed on, I reached the next gate of Mehrangarh fort - known as "Amriti Pol". There is an interesting history behind Amriti Pol. It was built during the time of King Maldeo In 1549. The Delhi forces conquered the Mehrangarh Fort under the leadership of Sher Shah Sur. For almost 1 year they ruled the fort. However King Maldeo counter attacked and regained the control of Mehrangarh Fort. After the attack and regain, Maldeo enforced the Mehrangarh fort with additional wall and Amriti Pol.
Mehrangarh Fort - History and Architecture
Amriti Pol and the Ramp leading to the Loha Pol

The ramp becomes quite steep and then there is a ninety degree bend in the walkway. Right in front of it, there stand the ferocious "Loha Pol". The steep ramp and the hair pin bend in the path are to prevent elephants of the attacking army to charge towards the Fort gates. The Loha pol is also equipped with sharp metal spears protruding from it. It is to wound the elephants who try to barge through the Loha pol. It is quite scary!


Mehrangarh Fort - History and Architecture
The ferocious Loha Pol of Mehrangarh Fort 

On the road leading from the Loha Pol, there is a very important monument which reminds us of a quite sad ritual Sati. For those who don’t know, Sati was a ritual practiced in ancient India. When a woman is widowed, she commits suicide by jumping into the funeral pyre of her husband. The women who committed Sati are considered as a Goddess thereafter. The Sati memorial in Mehrangarh Fort is a series of hand prints by those women who performed Sati ritual at Mehrangarh Fort. As each woman exit the Mehrangarh fort following her husband's funeral procession, she dips her hand in vermilion and makes a mark on the Fort wall. Later these hand prints are preserved as a mark to remember those women who either voluntarily or involuntarily sacrificed their lives. I spent a few quiet moments in front of the Sati memorial of Mehrangarh fort.

Mehrangarh Fort - History and Architecture
Mehrangarh Fort - The Sati memorial

The next courtyard of Mehrangarh Fort is known as the "Shringar Chowk".  It is the place where the coronation of the new king takes place. The coronation ceremony is known as "Raj Tilak". There is also a humble marble throne at the end of raised platform.
Mehrangarh Fort - History and Architecture
Mehrangarh Fort - The throne in Shringar Chowk

During the coronation ceremony, the king-to-be-anointed would sit on this small throne. The last coronation ceremony in Mehrangarh Fort took place in 1953. It was the coronation ceremony of His Highness Maharaja Gajaraj Singh II.
Mehrangarh Fort - History and Architecture
Mehrangarh Fort - The platform in Shringar  Chowk where Raj Tilak celebrated

As I stood in the Shringar Chowk, I just looked around. We can see intricately carved red sand stone windows of the upper floors of Mehrangarh fort from Shringar Chowk.


Mehrangarh Fort - History and Architecture
Mehrangarh Fort - Red sand stone windows with intricate carvings
By Pratibha Choudhary (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

There are 2 exhibition halls situated in the Shringar Chowk. One is the exhibition of the Royal Howdas. Howdah means the seat that is placed on top of an elephant when the royal men ride it. The Royal Howdah collection of Mehrangarh fort is quite extensive.
Mehrangarh Fort - History and Architecture
Mehrangarh Fort - Royal Howdas


They are made using silver, gold, silk and wood. The next exhibition is that of palanquins. It is also known as "Palki-Khana". The palanquin museum contains some real gems. One of them is the palanquin made with red and gold silk material.

Mehrangarh Fort - History and Architecture
Mehrangarh Fort - Royal Palanquin

I climbed up to reach the next courtyard of Mehrangarh fort. It is known as the "Daulat Khana Chowk". "Daulat Khana" means treasury. Daulat Khana is indeed a treasury of rooms with incredible architecture and decorations. May be in ancient times it acted as a treasury also. Daulat Khana is a three storied building. The ground floor was used as the public audience hall of Raja Ajit Singh.


Mehrangarh Fort - History and Architecture
Mehrangarh Fort - Daulat Khana Chowk
By Varun Shiv Kapur from New Delhi, India (Mehrangarh Fort) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

The first floor is the palace rooms and the second floor is the open terrace. The ground floor of Daulat Khana is now converted into the archaeological museum of Mehrangarh fort. Many curious artifacts that belong to the royal family are on display here. However the central piece is a beautiful palanquin, which is not quite in the Rajput style. There is a curious history behind this palanquin. This actually belongs to Gujarat. In 1730s, Jodhpur king acted as the Gujarat governor under the British. This palanquin is brought from Gujarat during that time.

Mehrangarh Fort - History and Architecture
Mehrangarh Fort - Gujarati Palanquin


There are many other items on display which has their own historical background. Another interesting piece is the ornament box made in pure ivory. Those who have seen the "Jodha-Akbar" movie, shot in the backdrop of Rajasthan will appreciate the variety and beauty of Rajasthani ornaments.


Mehrangarh Fort - History and Architecture
Mehrangarh Fort - ornament box in carved ivory

There is Kundhan, Meenakari, Teva and much more beautiful types of Rajasthani ornaments. Another interesting artifact is the idol of the Goddess Gangur. Gangur is a form of Goddess Parvati.


Mehrangarh Fort - History and Architecture
Mehrangarh Fort - Goddess Gangur
By Jean-Pierre Dalbéra from Paris, France [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

There is a dark tale also heard in connection with the Daulat Khana Chowk. There was another palace named Agarniro Mahal right opposite to the Daulat Khana, until 1752. History describes about a murder happened inside this palace of Mehrangarh Fort. Raja Ajit Sigh who ruled Jodhpur from 1707 was murdered in Agarniro Mahal by his own sons. Later his 6 wives, 25 concubines and 32 slaves performed the ritual - Sati. It was indeed a massacre. "Bhakth Singh" who allegedly performed the patricide was haunted by the ghost of his own past and ordered to demolish the Agarniro mahal.

Mehrangarh Fort - History and Architecture
Mehrangarh Fort - Daulat Khana
By michael clarke stuff (Merhengarh Fort 11 HDR) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

The best part of the Mehrangarh fort was yet to come. I was awe stuck when I saw the "Sheesh Mahal" of Mehrangarh Fort. Sheesh Mahal means the mirror palace. Sheesh Mahal was built by Raja Ajith Singh. The walls of Sheesh Mahal are completely covered by thousands of small mirrors.

Mehrangarh Fort - History and Architecture
Mehrangarh Fort -The Sheesh Mahalin Day light

"Lustrous" is the only word that can explain the Sheesh Mahal of Mehrangarh fort. When light falls on one of the mirrors, it gets reflected numerous times and gives a glowing appearance to the room. It looks like the walls of Sheesh Mahal are on fire! Another striking and beautiful feature of the Sheesh Mahal is the mural painting on the walls. There are depiction of local folklore, Hindu gods and King's adventures.

Mehrangarh Fort - History and Architecture
Mehrangarh Fort -The lustrous Sheesh Mahal
By SangeetaC (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

The next room I visited was no lesser than Sheesh Mahal in its beauty. This chamber is known as "Phool Mahal". "Phool Mahal" means the "palace of flowers". Phool Mahal of Mehrangarh Fort was built by Raja Abhay Singh - Son of Raja Ajit Singh.

Mehrangarh Fort - History and Architecture
Mehrangarh Fort - Interiors of Royal chamber Phool Mahal 
By Kiral (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
 The main decoration material used in Phool Mahal is pure gold! The roof, the walls and the pillars are completely covered in thin gold sheets! To add to the luxury of the room, there are stained color glasses on the window panes with red silk curtains.


Mehrangarh Fort - History and Architecture
Mehrangarh Fort - Roof of Royal chamber Phool Mahal
By Kiral (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Rajput kings indeed have redefined the definition of luxury. After Abhay Singh, Raja Thakat Singh also modified the Phool Mahal and enriched with portraits of himself and his sons.

Mehrangarh Fort - History and Architecture
Mehrangarh Fort - Interiors of Royal chamber Phool Mahal 
By Hector Garcia from Barcelona (PalaceUploaded by Ekabhishek) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons


Next, I proceeded to "Takat Vilas" one of the most luxurious palace chambers in Mehrangarh Fort. The room is decorated with gold, white and blue stones and mirrors everywhere. Starting from the blue and white floor tiles, the wooden roofing with heavy wood, the ornate walls - Takat Vilas is a reflection of its creator.

Mehrangarh Fort - History and Architecture
Mehrangarh Fort - Highly decorated Takat Vilas

"Takat Vilas" of Mehrangarh fort was built by Raja Takat Singh who ruled Jodhpur between 1843 and 1872. He was known as a romantic person. Beauty had always enchanted Takat Singh. He might have felt that the most beautiful room of Mehrangarh fort should be Takat Vilas. One curious thing in Takat Vilas is the multicolored Christmas balls hanging from the roof. Mehrangarh audio guide told me that it was a gift from the British. Rajput kings always had a good diplomatic relationship with the British!

Mehrangarh Fort - History and Architecture
Mehrangarh Fort - Roof of Takat Vilas

There is a spacious terrace outside the Takat Vilas. This is the best place in the Mehrangarh Fort to get a view of the Blue City Jodhpur. Jodhpur is called "The Blue City" thanks to this iconic view of roofs painted in blue color.


Mehrangarh Fort - History and Architecture
Mehrangarh Fort - View of Blue city Jodhpur
Daniel Villafruela [GFDL or CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons


This city region is known as "Brahmapuri" - in olden days majority of the Brahmin community of Jodhpur resided in Brahmapuri. The roofs of the houses are painted in blue to in fact reduce the heat seeping into the house during hot summer days in Jodhpur. It is a photo point in Mehrangarh Fort. There is always a crowd waiting to get a perfect shot with the Blue City Jodhpur in background in its glory!
Mehrangarh Fort - History and Architecture
Mehrangarh Fort - View of Blue city Jodhpur

Along with the Audio guide for Mehrangarh Fort, there was a special surprise. The Santoor playing session by renowned artist Nawab Khan! Santoor is a musical instrument which creates mild and magical sound. After the 15 minutes Santoor session in Mehrangarh fort, I really felt like rejuvenated and my nerves were quite relaxed. It is like a music therapy.

We entered into the next part of the Mehrangarh Fort. It is known as "Zenana". The word Zenana means the women quarters. The royal women followed the ritual of Purdah. Purdah is a tradition where a woman covers her face from public. Only her husband, sons and women maids can see her face. There was a clear distinction in Mehrangarh fort between the men dominated areas - known as Mardana - and women dominated area known as Zenana. No man was allowed to cross the barriers without the consent of King.

Mehrangarh Fort - History and Architecture
Mehrangarh Fort - Jhanki Mahal - cradle museum


The next royal quarters I entered is named the Jhanki Mahal . "Jhanki" means glimpse. The women folk of the palace used to stand in this room and looked at the proceedings and meetings going on in Daulat Khana Chowk. The Janki Mahal in Mehrangarh Fort is so named because it enabled the royal women to get a glimpse of the day to day life in the court.

Mehrangarh Fort - History and Architecture

Now, Janki Mahal in Mehrangarh fort is converted into a museum of cribs. One of the striking features of Jhanki Mahal is the beautifully painted blue colour roof.


The next royal quarters of Mehrangarh fort is known as the "Moti Mahal" - Moti Mahal means the palace of pearls. Moti Mahal is quite simple but beautiful with its white walls and stained colour window glasses. Moti Mahal of Mehrangarh Fort was built by Raja Ajith Singh and later modified by Raja Takat Singh.
Mehrangarh Fort - History and Architecture
Mehrangarh Fort -Moti Mahal
By Jpatokal at wts wikivoyage [GFDL or CC BY-SA 4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0], via Wikimedia Commons


From Moti Maha we enter into another courtyard of Mehrangarh Fort, know and the Zenana Dheodi Chowk (check spelling). This is a courtyard reserved entirely for women. The audio guide of Mehrangarh for has a nice voice footage of an old queen recollecting the lively and beautiful days she spent in  Zenana Dheodi Chowk with her girlfriends and maids. It’s quite touching.
Mehrangarh Fort - History and Architecture
Mehrangarh Fort - Zenana Dheodi Chowk


The audio guide for Mehrangarh fort ends at this point. After returning the audio guide and collecting the identity cards, I moved upper towards the fort walls. There is a gun terrace, where many cannons of different age and size are on display. From this point one can see the Sardar Market and Clock Tower in Jodhpur city. From Mehrangarh fort, Umaid Bhavan Palace is also visible. Umaid Bhavan palace was later built by the Jodhpir Kings to match the British style mansion, were the Victorian architecture is evident.

Mehrangarh Fort - History and Architecture
Mehrangarh Fort - gun terrace

From the Gun Terrace of Mehrangarh fort, one can also see the temple of Chamunta Mathaji. Chamunta Mathaji was the family diety of the Rajput Kings and the favorite Goddess of Rao Jodha. An accident occurred in Chamuta Mathaji temple in 2008. 249 people died in a stampede occurred in the temple during the Navarathri festivals. Even more people were seriously injured in this accident of Mehrangarh fort.

Mehrangarh Fort - History and Architecture
Mehrangarh Fort - temple of Chamunta Mathaji

We started walking down and had our food from a small restaurant named Palki. Mehrangarh fort has many restaurants serving variety of food options to eat at any budget. There is Palki, Caffe Mehran, Chokelao Mahal. Candle light dinner at the Mehrangarh fort in the Chokelao Mahal restaurant is quite a great experience. However, it is quite expensive too. ( (https://yummraj.com/2015/09/23/chokelao-mahal-restaurant-mehrangarh-fort-jodhpur/)  see details.

Mehrangarh Fort - History and Architecture
Mehrangarh Fort -Chokelao Mahal

Chokelao Mahal restaurant in Mehrangarh Fort is actually a small palace converted. Chokelao Mahal was built by Raja Takat Singh. He had number concubines outside of the Rajput caste. This created tension between his legitimate wives and concubines. The legitimate wives of Raja were not ready to co-exist with the concubines in Zenana. Hence Raja Takat Singh made a new palace for the non-Rajput concubines. The position of Chokelao Mahal is quite queer. Usually the dwelling place of women in the Fort usually is buried deep inside the Fort walls. It’s for their safety and seclusion. However, Chokelao Mahal stands outside the Fort walls in a quite exposed position.

Another attraction at Mehrangarh is for adventure lovers. The Zip line tour of  Mehrangarh Fort is arranged by Flying Fox adventure and the cost for adult is 1899.00. See here for more details: (http://flyingfox.asia/destinations/index/Jodhpur)
With Chokelao Mahal, I concluded my visit to Mehrangarh Fort and ran through the 500 years history of the Mehrangarh Fort in less than 3 hours.  

 *For Indian citizen, it may vary for foreign visitor. As on 25st January 2015.

1 comment:

  1. Best information I have found about this fort. Thank you for labeling the photos and all the info on the different palaces. I came home with loads of photos but wasn't sure what was what until I read your blog. Also wish I'd read it before my visit as our guide didn't show us some important features, but then I knew our trip was very rushed.
    Well done, great site!

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