"The work of angels, fairies and giants . . . he who walks through it loses sense of being among buildings; it as though he walked through mountain gorges . . ." wrote Rudyard Kipling in 1899. Little has changed since then, and for many this looming 15th-century edifice to Rajput valor is still Rajasthan's most impressive fort, with walls that soar like sheer cliffs 120m (400 ft.) high, literally dwarfing the city at its base, and a proud history of never having fallen to its many invaders. Before you start exploring the fort, get an audioguide (free with entry fee; passport or driver's license required as deposit). This is one of the best audioguides you will get at a tourist site in India, with sound effects and commentaries from former rulers of Jodhpur recorded on an MP3 player in seven languages. It contains additional information on subjects like the caste system, the maharajas, miniature paintings, and more. If you prefer a more interactive tour, hire a local guide (Rs 100/$2.45/£1.25) from your hotel or at the fort entrance, most of whom consider the audioguide useless but will ultimately steer you toward some ill-considered shopping in order to reap a commission (you have been warned). There is an elevator, but choose to walk past cannon-pockmarked and sati-daubed Loha Gate (the maharajas' wives would traditionally immortalize their lives by leaving handprints on the fort walls before tossing themselves on the flames to join their deceased husbands). Once at the top, you enjoy not only the most spectacular view, but you enter one of India's finest museums, with a rich collection of palanquins, royal cradles, miniature paintings, musical instruments, costumes, furniture, and armor. Every room is worth exploring (allow at least 2 hr.), but among the highlights are the gorgeous royal chamber where the Maharaja entertained his 30-plus wives (we're not even counting concubines); Moti Mahal, featuring the throne on which every Marwar Maharaja has been crowned; and Phool Mahal, the "dancing hall" with its pure gold ceiling. A massive silk and velvet tent, taken from Emperor Shah Jahan in Delhi, is a vivid illustration of the superlative wealth and decadent pomp with which the Rathore rulers lived. After visiting the courtyard of Chamunda (Sun Goddess) Temple (remember to remove your shoes), take the lane that leads to the left to view what is apparently among the rarest collections of cannons in India -- again, the view alone is worth it. There is a very good museum shop (look for the exquisite silk and chiffon fabrics made by award-winning Tyeb Khan) and a restaurant where you can catch your breath.
On the road that leads to and from the fort, you will notice Jaswant Thada, a white marble cenotaph built to commemorate the life of Maharaja Jaswant Singh II, who died in 1899, and where the last rites of the Jodhpur rulers have been held since then. It's pretty enough, but after the magnificence of the fort's museum and forts, it can be a bit of a letdown. If you finish with the fort before sunset, descend to the cobbled streets of Sadar Market, where the sights and aromas of India's ancient and narrow streets -- packed with cows, people, goats, carts, and chickens, and remarkably untouristed -- may leave you wondering whether you've wandered onto the set of a movie about medieval times. If it all gets too claustrophobic, hire a rickshaw in which to sit in relative comfort and watch the passing parade. All in all, this will be one of your most satisfying outings in Rajasthan.
- © Frommer's 2013
Ask a local about Mehrangarh Fort & Museum
Ask Jodhpur Locals about Mehrangarh Fort & Museum
- Very Highly Recommended 2010
- tel: 0291/254-8790
- The Fort
- Daily 8:30am-5:30pm
- No Sweat
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