Mehrangarh Fort located in Jodhpur, Rajasthan, is one of the largest forts in India. Built around 1460 by Rao Jodha, the fort is situated 410 feet (125 m) above the city and is enclosed by imposing thick walls. Inside its boundaries there are several palaces known for their intricate carvings and expansive courtyards.
A winding road leads to and from the city below. The imprints of cannonball hits by attacking armies of Jaipur can still be seen on the second gate. To the left of the fort is the chhatri of Kirat Singh Soda, a soldier who fell on the spot defending the Mehrangarh fort.
There are seven gates, which include Jayapol (meaning ‘victory’), built by Maharaja Man Singh to commemorate his victories over Jaipur and Bikaner armies. Fattehpol (also meaning ‘victory’) gate was built by Maharaja Ajit Singh to mark the defeat of the Mughals. The palm imprints upon these still attract much attention.
The museum in the Mehrangarh fort is one of the most well-stocked museums in Rajasthan. In one section of the fort museum there is a selection of old royal palanquins, including the elaborate domed gilt Mahadol palanquin which was won in a battle from the Governor of Gujarat in 1730. The museum exhibits the heritage of the Rathores in arms, costumes, paintings and decorated period rooms.
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 are several brilliantly crafted and decorated palaces. These include, Moti Mahal (Pearl Palace), Phool Mahal (Flower Palace), Sheesha Mahal (Mirror Palace), Sileh Khana and Daulat Khana. The museum houses a collection of palanquins, howdahs, royal cradles, miniatures, musical instruments, costumes and furniture. The ramparts of the fort house preserved old cannon (including the famous Kilkila), and provided a breath-taking view of the city.
Galleries in Mehrangarh Museum
The howdahs were a kind of two-compartment wooden seat (mostly covered with gold and silver embossed sheets), which were fastened onto the elephant’s back. The front compartment, with more leg space and a raised protective metal sheet, was meant for kings or royalty, and the rear smaller one for a reliable bodyguard disguised as a fly-whisk attendant.
Palanquins were a popular means of travel and circumambulation for the ladies of the nobility up to the second quarter of the 20th century. They were also used by male nobility and royals on special occasions.
Daulat Khana – Treasures of Mehrangarh Museum
This gallery displays one of the most important and best-preserved collections of fine and applied arts of the Mughal period of Indian history, during which the Rathore rulers of Jodhpur maintained close links with the Mughal emperors. It also has the remains of Emperor Akbar.
This gallery displays a rare collection of armour from every period in Jodhpur. On display are sword hilts in jade, silver, rhino horn, ivory, shields studded with rubies, emeralds and pearls and guns with gold and silver work on the barrels. The gallery also has on display the personal swords of many emperors, among them outstanding historical piece like the Khaanda of Rao Jodha, weighing over 3 kg, the sword of Akbar the Great and the sword of Timur.
This Gallery displays colours of Marwar-Jodhpur, the finest example of Marwar paintings
The Turban Gallery
The Turban Gallery in the Mehrangarh Museum seeks to preserve, document and display the many different types of turbans once prevalent in Rajasthan; every community, region and festival having had its own head-gear.
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