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This extraordinary fort, towering like a giant over the city of Jodphur, is one of those destinations you could file under the heading, “must be seen to be believed”.
Viewed from the city below, the fort’s muscular sandstone walls (literally as hard as concrete) radiate a sense of permanence. And for good reason; it was built in the 15 th century to resist the approaches of enemy armies from neighbouring Jaipur.
But if you were to make the journey on foot up the winding path to the entrance – which we wouldn’t advise, incidentally, as there’s a fleet of motorised rickshaws near at hand – you’d find that, up close, the fort tells a different story.
Behind the massive stone walls, through the dim corridors and open courtyards, visitors discover an outstanding display of craftsmanship, by turns delicate and ambitious. Gold leaf glitters from opulent chambers illuminated by glass chandeliers. Believe us when we say this place is huge. You can walk the corridors for miles without doubling back on yourself.
Speak to a native of Jodphur and they talk about Mehrangarh Fort with a deep sense of pride. Quite apart from the centuries of history, not every city has the honour of a visit from Batman. In The Dark Knight Rises, Bruce Wayne climbs from a well, overcoming his demons in the process.
Of course, you needn’t go to these lengths to enjoy this legendary fort. And although thousands of people flock here every year, it seldom seems crowded because of the sheer scale of the place.
There are seven gates by which to enter Mehrangarh Fort, each built in celebration of a famous military victory. However you enter, flat-soled shoes are a must, as well as comfortable, loose-fitting clothing.
As well as plenty of gift shops, restaurants, bazaars, and bands of local musicians, the site has important local uses. For example, some of the temples within the fort still function and conduct religious ceremonies. Therefore, as with all of Rajasthan, modesty should be your byword.
The fort is now a museum, and houses a wealth of artefacts, many of which date back hundreds of years. Among the most interesting are the howdahs, seats for riding on elephants. The finest of these are made of silver, featuring repoussé style engravings.
In other rooms, you can marvel at the collection of palanquins, ornate carriages in which important people – usually women – were carried. Incredibly, some of these were still in use in the 20 th century.
The fort stands at the top of a long, steep hill above Jodphur. So we’d recommend you take a motorised rickshaw or taxi to get there, to save your energies for touring the interior. The view from the walls across the city’s blue-painted houses far below is worth the visit alone.
Opening hours are 9am–5pm and we’d recommend you save at least half a day to visit the fort and it’s many museums, internal palaces and historical artefacts.
We advise you to visit in the cooler season between October and February.
The exterior of the fort is free to visit, but visitors will need to bring Rs 600 to enter the building.
Flat-soled shoes and comfortable, modest clothing are strongly recommended. High heels would make for a long and torturous day.
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