The undying legend of Mehrangarh Fort
Rajasthan and its undying love affair with Forts is not a hidden phenomenon from anyone of us. The great grandeur of forts and palaces the state holds defies the basis of Rajasthan’s glorious history. One of them is Mehrangarh Fort, a royal palace located in Jodhpur, Rajasthan, is one of the largest forts in India. It was built in around 1459 by King Rao Jodha after fleeing the attacks in Kannauj by Mohammed Ghori. The fort is situated 410 feet above the city of Jodhpur and is enclosed by imposing thick tall great walls. Inside its boundaries lies multiple palaces known for their intricate carvings and incredibly expansive courtyards! But the magnificent history of Mehrangarh Fort is nothing less than splendid!
History of Mehrangarh Fort
Decades ago, a king named Rao Jodha came across a magnificent hills of Jodhpur. Delighted over the beauty of one of the vertical Cliff named Bakhurcheeria, he decided to carve a majestic fort out of it! Soon he sent out the orders to his men to execute the construction of the fort but by first removing the people seeking shelter on the hill. Everyone agreed on the Kings decision except one old nay saint known as Chidiyawale Baba or Cheeria Nathji as he seeks happiness in feeding the birds. Furious saint cursed the monarch that his country would be inflicted by repeated droughts, if the king built a fort over it. Shocked over hearing the curse, the king Rao Jodha quickly felt on his knees and begged the old saint his forgiveness. Seeing the generosity of the king, the old saint regretted the curse, however unable to take back his words, he sought another solution. He said that the curse will be broken if someone from the kingdom willingly choose to be buried alive. Failed finding any willful person, the king was shattered but at that moment came out Rajaram Meghwal a noble man from the clan as king’s guardian angel who willingly sacrificed himself. Rajaram Meghwal was buried alive on that propitious day at an auspicious spot in 1459, in order to execute the foundation for the Mehrangarh Fort! As a tribute to the sacrifice of Rajaram Meghwal, the kind build a sandstone memorial over his tomb.
Building a fort out of Bakhurcheeria, a 400m high volcanic rock from the skyline of the city Jodhpur, was indeed a tough task! Khandwaliya Samaj is known for their special designing and carving knowledge were hired to lay the foundation of the palace. They used to spank the rocks and hear its vibration to locate faults within the rock! And slowly, the Khandiwaliya Samaj started carving the huge rock and turned it into an incredible different shape. Another specialized community, Chawaliyan’s who were experts in lifting weights were included into the project. Using a simple rock and chain methods, they used to lift heavy loads and thus carried thousands of tons of rocks needed for construction up to hilly terrains of Bakhurcheeria. Mehrangarh fort was built over the sweat and skills of these people who invested their entire energy and knowledge over building king’s dream fort. One of the astonishing fact about the construction of the Mehrangarh fort is that no plans or drawings were ever found which means that the construction was made on pure traditional knowledge. Spread over 5 kilometers, the multiple walls up to 36 meters (118 ft) high and 21 meters (69 ft) wide gave multilayered security to the fort! These thick walls could even stand heavy canon fires! The sublime fort is guarded by seven gates named as Jai Pol, Loha Pol, Fateh Pol, Amrita Pol, Doodkangra Pol, Gopal Pol and Bheru Pol. The astounding height of the fort provides the spectacular view of Jodhpur standing over any vantage point of the fort. Over five centuries and some 25 successful kings made Mehrangarh Fort what we see it today.
In Indian History the tradition of Sati is a very prevalent that too among the Marwar region of India. The women of these royal families often committed sati by burning themselves alive after their husbands were killed in the battle to escape dishonour by a victorious rivals. Towards the left side of Iron Gate at the Mehrangarh Fort, there are around 15 handprint murals of the wives of the Maharaja Man Singh, who committed sati in the year 1843. Before this incident, somewhere near 1731, almost 6 wives and some 58 mistresses of Maharaja Ajit Singh also committed sati after the king’s death.
How the Mehrangarh Fort got its name?
Mehrangarh fort which means the citadel of sun comes from the name Mehr-Garh, where ‘Mehr’ means Sun and ‘Garh’ means Fort. Do you know that the sun has been the chief god for the Rathore dynasty? It is said that the Royal Rajput’s were the decedents of Rathore Dynasty and the Rathore’s are further believed to be the descendants of the Sun. And just like this the Mehr-Garh Fort came to be known as the Mehrangarh Fort.
The city of Jodhpur is also known as the Sun City or the Blue city. The name Sun City is derived on the same logic as Fort name story whereas the name the Blue city is given due to its massive amount of houses holding blue paints. It is believed that the houses of Jodhpur is widely painted with Blue colour because of the number of Brahmin’s who chooses to distinguish themselves from the others lived there.
Today, the present king of Jodhpur Maharaja Gajj Singh, who is also the descendent of the Rao family, has led the Ummed Palace also known as Chittar palace as an heritage site. Half of the palace is given as the heritage site and half as the museum which restored the old ornaments, weapons, clothes and utensils used by the past rulers of the place. The Chamunda Devi temple which is located inside the fort is believed to be of great significance. It is believed by the many locals that the city Jodhpur is protected due to this temple. Known for its beautiful architecture and great grandeur, the Mehrangarh Fort hides several undisclosed mysterious and myths inside it!