This is principally why we came to Jodhpur, once the capital of Marwar – the “region of death”. In 1459 Rao Jodha moved his capital here after he was forced to leave his old capital of Mandore 8km to the north.
To beat the heat, we started out on the early side for Mehrangarh fort, which is simply the most spectacular fort I’ve seen anywhere.
The hilltop location dominates the city from all angles and the views from the fort are tremendous. But it is the state of preservation and the palace museum with all of its artifacts that make this such a great visit.
The current Maharaja came to his title after Independence and so is just another Indian citizen. However, in the 1970s he started a trust which sought to renovate, preserve and share the heritage of his family.
Although the building was in good shape, it had not been used for years and because bats had taken roost, the place had lots of bat guano. The first income for the new trust came from selling this to local farmers.
Today the fort is in a very good state of preservation and is very well presented. The audio guides we received with our foreigner tickets were not just informative, but also entertaining.
One story I particularly liked was how in the custom of the royalty, non family members were not supposed to look upon the women. This is why all the palaces have Zenana, or women’s quarters where wives, concubines, women servants, etc. could look out on court proceedings, but not be seen by those at court. When they were transported by howdah or palanquin they used enclosed vehicles (the open ones were only for males).
When the present Maharaja’s grandmother visited the UK they transported a special palanquin which she used whenever she was not in a car. The British were intensely curious to know what she looked like, but the best the press photographers could do was get a photo of her ankle as she stepped out of the palanquin.
The Indians were outraged and bought up every copy of the paper before it could be delivered to India.
After spending several hours inside the palace museum, we walked along the ramparts, which have canons from various eras pointing out over the city below. On our way back towards the exit, we came across a small exhibit on the turbans of Rajasthan, which are extremely colorful and varied.
It is going to be be hard to surpass the splendor and grandeur of Meherangarh!