According to Rudyard Kipling, this fort is an illustration of "the work of an angel and a giant".
Surrounded by walls, the immense fortress overlooks the city. It is undoubtedly the most beautiful fort in Rajasthan, presenting works of art admirably exhibited and of great value. Before climbing the hill to the fort, stroll for a while through the picturesque Sadar Bazar and the maze of alleys adjoining the blue walls. A steep pedestrian path leads directly to the entrance to the fort. Feel free to ask for directions. From King's Retreat Hotel, go straight up to the fort. At times it can be very steep!
Perched at the top of its promontory, considered impregnable, the fortress of Jodhpur evokes all the glory of added history... and the horrors of quarrels between Hindu rulers. It was the scene of one of the last conflicts in the region before the arrival of the English.
In 1808, Maharaja troops from Jaipur attacked him with cannons in an attempt to resolve a conflict caused by a Mewari princess coveted by the princes of the Kachhwaha and Rathore families. The garrison of the fortress succeeded in repelling the assault. The outer walls kept the impact of the bullets fired by the enemy army.
You will pass through seven successive gates. Under the porch of the last one, Loha Pol, "iron gate", you notice handprints carved on a plaque. They commemorate the sati (sacrifice of widows at the funeral pyre of their husbands) of the princesses Rathore.
The English banned this barbaric rite in 1829... But the tradition continued and the last case of sati recorded in Jodhpur dates back to 1952, when the widow of a senior official of the palace threw herself into the purifying flames.
Continue the ascent up to the entrance of the Mehrangarh Museum. It probably contains the most spectacular collections in the region. These are exhibited in sumptuous rooms, arranged under the reign of the various maharajas. The first exhibits very richly decorated howdah (nacelles to ride on the back of an elephant), some of which are entirely in silver. The Palki Khana is dedicated to palanquins.
You will then arrive in a courtyard dominated by the Daulat Khana facade decorated with numerous balconies with kiosks. Inside, there are collections of weapons and miniatures.
On the upper floors, you will notice above all the decorations of the Phul Mahal (Flower Palace) and the Takhat Vilas (Maharaja Takhat Singh's apartment in the 19th century) rich in gilding, wall paintings and stained glass.
You will then descend to the ground floor to visit the Jankhi Mahal, "Palace of the Eyes Only", from where the princesses could observe the outside through thin jali (windows with open screens).
When you leave the museum, go to the top of the fort. The ramparts, still guarded by huge cannons, offer a splendid view of Jodhpur, the Blue City, and, in the distance, the palace of Umaïd Bhawan (the colours are particularly beautiful in the late afternoon). The round path leads to a small temple dedicated to Chamunda, an incarnation of Durga, the Energy (shakti) of Shiva.
Within the fort (Moti Mahal Chowk), you can consult Mr. S.L. Sharma, an experienced astrologer who reads on the palm of his hand. Open every day from 9am to 5.30pm, allow 250 Rp or 350 Rp for consultation. Then to the Umaid Bhawan Palace, from 7pm to 9pm. Mobile: ✆ (0) 941 14 13 02 00.
Leaving the fortress by road, stop at the Jaswant Thada, a cenotaph erected in 1899 in honour of Maharaja Jaswant Singh II. All in white marble, it stands on the site of the royal cremations, next to other more modest funerary monuments.
Open daily, from October to March from 9am to 5pm and from April to September from 8:30am to 5:30pm. Admission: 600 Rs with audio guide in French. Camera 100 Rs. Video camera 200 Rs.
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