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Jodhpur the desert kingdom founded by the Rathores has the beautiful catchy Mehrangarh fort perched up on a hill and from here the Marwar kingdom created its influence in the desert. The fort has some beautifully ornated palaces and the museum speaks about its rich history.
On the edge of the Thar desert Jodhpur echoes with tales of aniquity in the emptiness of the desert. Once the capital of the Marwar state it was founded in 1459 by Rao Jodha and is now the 2nd largest city in Rajasthan. While the graceful palaces, forts and temples bring alive the historic grandeur, exquisite handicrafts, folk dances, music and the brightly arrired people lend a romantic aura to the city.
Standing sentinel to the city below is the majestic Mehrangarh fort, overlooking the rugged and rocky terrain which beckons visitors with its rich architecture. Equally enchanting is the Chittar palace bettwe known as Umaid Bhavan palace today part is hotel and part is museum and still part is home to the royalty, Maharaja of Jodhpur.
How to reach
By Air - Jodhpur has its own airport 5 kms downtown.
Ry Rail - Jodhpur comes in the western highway and is linked to various regions by express and passenger trains.
By Road - A well connected network of roads connect Jodhpur to all the other cities, Ajmer 208kms, Mount Abu 304kms, Bikaner 260kms, Udaipur 275kms, Jaisalmer 285kms, Agra 575kms and Delhi 602kms.
Places to see
Rising out from a 410 ft high rock Mehrangarh is one of the majestic among the forts in Rajasthan. Mehrangarh's forbidding ramparts are in sharp contrast to the decorated palaces within. Founded in 1459 by Rao Jodha the sandstone fort was added to it by the later rulers mostly between the 17th - 19th centuries. The apartments within the fort now is a very beautiful museum. The Brahmapuri village clustered below the ramparts of the Mehrangarh fort are blue washed and it looks as beautiful sight from the heights. Havinga look at what all is in store at the Mehrangarh fort.
One of the most impressive sights in Rajasthan is the view of the blue city of Jodhpur from the ramparts of the Mehrangarh fort, built on a 125 metre high rock. There are several stories about the blue colour applied to the houses in the city. One is that it was used to mark the residences of the Brahmins, another is that it helped to cool the houses. Actually the colour derives from copper sulphate which is mixed with the whitewash to repel termites and other insects. A winding road leads up to the fort from the city five kilometers below. The Mehrangarh fort sprawled across the entire hill is one of the most impressive and formidable fort in Rajasthan.
Its awesome location impressive gates palaces and numerous trappings of royalty are worth a visit. It provides the most authentic surviving taste of war, honour and extravagance that charaterised the royal Rajputana and is still maintained by the family of Gaj Singh the erstwhile Maharaja of Marwar - Jodhpur. The lattice work on the buildings in the inner courtyard is intricate. Inside the Mehrangarh fort there are a series of courtyards and palaces. They house an extensive collection of trappings of the Rajput royalty including elephant howdahs, miniature paintings, folk music instruments, furniture, armoury and costumes.
On the walls of the Lohapol or iron gate of the sixth gate of the seven gates is designed to hinder the ascent of the enemy, are the handprints, the sati marks of Maharaja Man Singh's widows who voluntarily threw themselves on his pyre following the Rajput code of honour in 1843 and in defiance of the law passed against sati. Also there are the :
The walls of the fort are perched with cannons. Either walking down the whole fort or hiring the lift one reaches the top of the fort where one can see the cannons placed.
The Suraj pol is the entrance to the museum.
has a 14th century image of the goddess Kuldevi, the family diety of the rulers.
The coronation throne placed here is the of the Jodhpur rulers. It is made in white marble. All the rulers sat in this throne.
It was the hall of the private audience. It is a beautifully decorated room with mirrors, gold leaf, sea shells and so on.
This room was the favourite of Maharaja Takhat Singh who had 30 queens and numerous concubines.
exceptional collection of weapons include Mugal daggers, gem studded shields and special armour for war elephants.
One of the seven fortified gates to the fort it is now the main entrance. It was built by Maharaja Man Singh to commemorate a vicyory in a battle.
Mehrangarh fort museum
The Mehrangarh museum's entrance is through the Suraj Pol and to the right is the Palki Khana which has a rich collection of palanquins. The Howdah gallery has elephant howdahs whcih give us a impression of the grand processions that used to taje place. The Daulat Khana has a good collection of weapons. The Umaid Mahal has a rich display of paintings of the Jodhpur school. It has paintings of kings riding camels, playing polo, ceremonial processions etc. The Phhol Mahal was the hall of public audiences which has paintings. The Takhat mahal has painted murals of the Radha and Krishna and the dancing maidens. The Jhanki Mahal was the place from where the royal women saw the ceremonies and festivals in the courtyard below. Here one can spot beautiful royal cradles. The Moti Mahal which is also called the Pearl palace is the next and on way a pamist sits to foretell the future of the visitors. Fine Rajasthan turbans and folk music also happens here in the fort premises.
Umaid Bhavan Palace
This huge palace built of cream and pink coloured marble and sandstone is a beautiful palace. It has 347 rooms which includes 8 dining halls, two theatres, a ball room, reception halls and also an underground swimming pool. The palace was built by Maharaja Umaid Singh to create jobs for famine stricken subjects.
Its construction started in 1929 and it took nearly 3,000 men and 15 years to complete it. The grand son of Umaid Singh, Gaj Singh still lives here in one section of the palace and the rest of the palace has been converted to a five star hotel. The palace has a museum which is open to the visitors and it has a beautiful collection of weapons, watches, clocks, paintings, French furniture and porcelain. It is the only palace to have the finest art deco , to have paintings from the Ramayana painted by a Polish artist. The architect of this heritage building H.V Lancaster who planned it wanted it to rival the Viceregal Lodge (which is now Rashtrapathi Bhavan) then being planned by Sir Edward Lutyensin the new capital of New Delhi also then under construction.
The main memorial has been built like a temple with intricately carved marble stone.. The elegant pillared marble memorial is the chhatri of Maharaja Jaswant Singh II whose innovative irrigation schemes brought water and presperity to this parched land. Local people who believe the Maharaja has retained his healing touch come regularly to offer prayers and flowers at his shrine. Cenotaphs of subsequent rulers and members of royal families are also located here.
Mandore is nearly 9kms from Jodhpur was once the capital of the Rathore kings of Marwar till the 15th centurywhen Rao Jodha built a new in Jodhpur. It is set on a beautiful terraced garden built with red sandstone. The most impressive is the dewal of Maharaja Ajit Singh with a towering temple like spire. When he died his 6 wives and 58 concubines committed Sati on his funeral pyre. Nearby is the Hall of Heroes there are 15 life like statues of religious deities. Further up there are the queen's cenotaphs.
Balsamand is 6 kms from Jodhpur and has a 19th century red sandstone water palace of the Maharajas. Sardar Samand Lake is 55 kms away. Here one can see several water birds like egrets, pelicans, ibis etc. On its shore is a hunting lodge and from here one can visit the Bishnoi villages.
Osian (64 kms)
64 kms from Jodhpur is the site outstanding Jain Hindu temples. Built by wealthy traders between the 8th and 12th centuries when Osian was an important stop on the caravan trade route to Central Asia they represent the earliest phase of the temple architecture in Rajasthan. The most impressive of the 11 temples is the 8th century Mahavira temple with a celing and 20 carved pillars on the main portico. Also to mention is the 10th century Sun temple and the profusely sculpted Vishnu and Harihara temples from the 8th and 9th centuries.
The other temples are the 12th century Sachiya Mata temple. The temple is approached bya series of beautifully carved arches. This temple is particularly popular with infertile women who come here to pray for having children.
Marwar Crafts Village (9kms)
The countryside south to Jodhpur has many villages made of mud and thatch huts which are inhabited by the Bishnois who are potters and weavers. One can have a one day tour to this area to have a feel of their lives and their work.
The bishnois are the followers of the sage Jambeshwar who i said to believ 29 principles. They give lots of importance to enviromental protection and they believe that animals and birds have equal rights as humans to live in this world. Hence the animals like the black buck, deers, cows atc roam around here freely as it is not harmed. The bishnois believe they will be reborn as a deer.
The villagers here are skilled weavers of rugs whith vegetable colours. They make these rugs from cotton or camel hair.
This village is 16 miles away and here one can see clay pottery making.
Set in the heart of the desert and sorrounded by Bishnoi and Raika villages, Khejadala is 84 kms from Jodhpur on the Jodhpur-Ajmer highway and has a number of cenotaps, stepwells and temples.
Luni (35 kms)
The Luni river has provided a lifeline to dwellers in the desert, even though it has been a sensonal phenomenon and its floods in the past has wrought havoc. A small artisans village the Chanwa fort is seen here.
Pokaran (110 kms)
The principalty of Pokaran stands isolated in the heart of the Thar. More recently it has become famous for somewhat unusual reason, as the site where India's nuclear might was tested in underground explosions. But once it was the place where caravans came to rest, and a 14th century fort provided them shelter, as it did later to a more famous visitor, Emperor Humayun in the 16th century. The country side around Pokaran once famous for its shoots, is now home to the great Indian bustard, the houbara bustard and sandgrouse.
Rohet (40 kms)
A small but quaint village, Rohet is home to several artisans and visitors who can visit the Bishnoi settlements with their scrubbed homes and flamboyant dresses, bejewelled women.
Sardarsamand (60 kms)
Once Maharajas of Jodhpur came here for shooting but now visitors are more likely to be charmed by its boating and angling facilities.
Sodawas (90 kms)
Only 20 kms from Pali Sodawas is a fertile tract with fields all around. This was a jagir that was given as recently 1943 to Thakur Bishan Singh by Jodhpur's Maharaja Umaid Singh. The village is an inteesting one, and has artisans working on several forms of local crafts. Also accessible are the temples of Ranakpur and Nadol.