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The Silk Route - World Travel: Jaswant Thada, Jodhpur, India
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India: Jodhpur
February 2009

Jodhpur Jaswant Thada Mehrangarh Fort
India: Jodhpur

 

Jodhpur, the famous "Blue City" is well-named, and has a vibrant market and a magnificent hilltop fort.

 

Jodhpur

Jodhpur
Jodhpur from Mehrangarh Fort.

Jodhpur was founded in 1459 by the Rathore leader Rao Jodha. The city is dominated by the massive Mehrangarh Fort, built on a steep ridge its immense walls rise high above the beautiful blue buildings on the plain below. Though blue traditionally signifies the home of a Brahmin, in Jodhpur the habit has spread widely. We were also told that the blue colour helps keep the mosquitoes at bay.

Sardar Market
Sardar Market Entrance

Jodhpur's advantageous position on the rich trade route between Delhi and Gujarat allowed it to become prosperous from the profits of trade in opium, dates, sandalwood and copper.

Jodhpur
Sardar, or Clock Tower, Market, seen from Mehrangarh Fort.
Bangles
jodhpur

An alliance in the seventeenth century with Shah Jahan against Awangzeb resulted in the city's defeat in 1678. Eventually recaptured, the eighteenth century nevertheless saw many battles with Jaipur and Udaipur. In 1818 a friendship treaty was signed with the British East India Company.

Bangles
Sardar Market

Sardar, or Clock Tower, Market is a wonderfully vibrant place, very noisy and dusty but great fun.

On city streets there are always lots of food-sellers: dried fruit, nuts, sweets, breads, fried chicken, drinks - always plenty of chai!

 

Street food, Jodhpur
These white blocks are a sweet concoction.

Video: Jodhpur from Mehrangarh Fort.

 

Jodpurh
Traditional Rajasthani puppets.
Jodhpur

 

We loved the masala chai so bought packets of it at Sardar Market to take home - vastly cheaper than elsewhere! The trader seemed to sell only this and had his shop in the wall of the entrance gate to the market.

Jodhpur

 

 

We only saw jodhpurs once, obviously it's not an everyday item of clothing, and these were on a waiter in a restaurant!

Jodhpur

 

Jaswant Thada

Jaswant Thada

 

Built in 1899, this beautiful white marble memorial to Maharaja Jaswant Singh II is set on a height above a small lake. It is also the site of the royal crematorium and cenotaphs of members of the royal family are also here.

Jaswant Thada
Royal Cenotaphs
Jaswant Thada
Jaswant Thada
Jaswant Thada
Jaswant Thada

 

The marble is delicately carved, the Mughal influences strong in the cupolas on the roofline.

Jaswant Thada

Lovely carved green wooden doors contrast with the fine, almost translucent, marble.

It is a peaceful spot with superb views of Mehrangarh Fort.

Jaswant Thana

 

Mehrangarh Fort

Mehrangarh Fort
Mehrangarh Fort on a rock ridge above the city, seen from Jaswant Thada.
Mehrangarh Fort

The 125m ridge on which the fort was built is strategically an excellent location, affording wide views over the surrounding plains. The walls of the fort are from 6m to 36m in height and seem to grow directly out of the bedrock, having been made from the quarried-out material on which the fort stands.

Mehrangarh Fort
Wheel on the outside wall of the fort for lifting water.
Mehrangarh Fort
Mehrangarh Fort
Singhar Chowk

The fort has seven pols (gates) progressing from the exterior wall into the citadel, which is no longer a living fort in the sense of Jaisalmer. The massive entrance gate, Jayapol, was built by Maharaja Man Singh in 1866 to commemorate his victory over Jaipur and Bikaner.

Through this gate, and after the ticket outlet, there is a lift to whisk you to the top of the fort - very welcome in the heat! Here, at the top of the fort on the outer wall, is a wheel used to lift water from the ground far below.

Mehrangarh Fort
Singhar Chowk

Through Surajpol, the seventh gate, is Singhar Chowk (courtyard), where a marble throne has been used for centuries in royal coronation ceremonies.

Singhar Chowk
Mehrangarh Fort
Mehrangarh Fort
Elephant howdah.

 

The palaces within the fort now house a museum and there are some fascinating collections here. One hall contains beautiful elephant howdahs, elsewhere are palanquins including the covered variety used by women in purdah (seclusion) and a number of royal cradles are displayed in the Jhanki Mahal. The Jhanki Mahal is also known as the Palace of Glimpses for it is here that the ladies of the Zenana would look out through stone lattice screens without themselves being seen.

Mehrangarh Fort
Covered palanquin.


Mehrangarh Fort
The pierced carving is superb.
Mehrangarh Fort
Peacock palanquin.

There is also a very fine collection of miniature paintings.

Mehrangarh Fort
Mehrangarh Fort
Thakhat Vilas
Mehrangarh Fort
Beautiful wedding adornments -
one for the bride, one for the groom
Mehrangarh Fort
Phool Mahal

Beautifully decorated rooms in the various palaces each have their own traditional function.

Thakhat Vilas, the private room of Maharaja Thakhat Singh is beautifully painted but rather distractingly the ceiling is festooned with Christmas baubles!

Mehrangarh Fort
Thakhat Vilas
Mehrangarh Fort
Phool Mahal

Mehrangarh Fort
Moti Mahal

Dancing took place in the Phool Mahal (Flower Palace), and the royal ladies met in the Moti Mahal (Pearl Palace) in the Zenana, the women's apartments.

Mehrangarh Fort
Moti Mahal
Mehrangarh Fort
Zenana Deodi

Some of the rooms are fabulously decorated with much gilding. Coloured glass in windows adds to the dazzle!

Mehrangarh Fort
The room of the scribe,
detail below.
Mehrangarh Fort

Mehrangarh Fort

 

Mehrangarh Fort
Mehrangarh Fort
Mehrangarh Fort

There is one room where a scribe sat at a little desk, below the minister, and wrote down all his pronouncements in great wedges of papers.

One or two of the facades are under renovation and covered with scaffolding, held together by huge quantities of rope.

Mehrangarh Fort

From the walls of the fort, where cannon are placed, there are fantastic views over the city.

Descending we passed through Lohapol (Iron Gate) with its iron spikes intended to deter elephants. Here can also be seen the marks where cannon balls pounded the walls.

 


Video: On the road in India.

Video: On the road in India.
Jodhpur
Looking down from the fort over Jodhpur.
Mehrangarh Fort