Mehrangarh Fort - Incredible India

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Alex Parepko

The foundation of the fort was laid on May 12, 1459[1] by Jodha on a rocky hill 9 kilometres (5.6 mi) to the south of Mandore. This hill was known as Bhaurcheeria, the mountain of birds. According to legend to build the fort he had to displace the hill's sole human occupant, a hermit called Cheeria Nathji, the lord of birds. Upset at being forced to move Cheeria Nathji cursed Rao Jodha with "Jodha! May your citadel ever suffer a scarcity of water!". Rao Jodha managed to appease the hermit by building a house and a temple in the fort very near the cave the hermit had used for meditation, though only to the extent that even today the area is plagued by a drought every 3 to 4 years. Jodha then took an extreme measure to ensure that the new site proved propitious; he buried a man called "Raja Ram Meghwal" alive in the foundations. "Raja Ram Meghwal" was promised that in return his family would be looked after by the Rathores. To this day his descendants still live in Raj Bagh, "Raja Ram Meghwal's" Garden, an estate bequeathed them by Jodha.
Mehrangarh (etymology: 'Mihir' (Sanskrit) -sun or Sun-deity; 'garh' (Sanskrit)-fort; i.e.'Sun-fort'); according to Rajasthani language pronunciation conventions,'Mihirgarh' has changed to 'Mehrangarh'; the Sun-deity has been the chief deity of the Rathore dynasty.[2] Though the fortress was originally started in 1459 by Rao Jodha, founder of Jodhpur, most of the fort which stands today dates from the period of Jaswant Singh (1638–78). The fort is located at the centre of the city spreading over 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) atop a high hill. Its walls, which are up to 36 metres (118 ft) high and 21 metres (69 ft) wide, protect some of the most beautiful and historic palaces in Rajasthan.
Entry to the fort is gained though a series of seven gates. The most famous of the gates are:
Jai Pol ("Gate of Victory"), built by Maharaja Man Singh in 1806 to celebrate his victory in a war with Jaipur and Bikaner.
Fateh Pol, built to celebrate a victory over the Mughals in 1707;
Dedh Kamgra Pol, which still bears the scars of bombardment by cannonballs;
Loha Pol, which is the final gate into the main part of the fort complex. Immediately to the left are the handprints (sati marks) of the ranis who in 1843 immolated themselves on the funeral pyre of their husband, Maharaja Man Singh.
Within the fort, several brilliantly crafted and decorated palaces are found. Of these, Moti Mahal (Pearl Palace), Phool Mahal (Flower Palace), Sheesha Mahal (Mirror Palace), Sileh Khana, and Daulat Khana are notable. One also finds the fort museum comprising several palaces. This museum houses an exquisite collection of palanquins, howdahs, royal cradles, miniatures, musical instruments, costumes and furniture. The ramparts of the fort are home to not only several excellently preserved old cannon (including the famous Kilkila) but also offer a breath-taking view of the city.