Mahal, Mystic and Magic
The jewel of the blue city Jodhpur, the Mehrangarh Fort captivates and bewitches anyone, in all its glory. The foundation of this imposing structure was laid today in 1459.
A man one day decided that the house he was living in was old and not that wonderful. He wanted grandeur. So he found a good place to build a new house and then lived happily ever after until the curse of a magician plagued him.
This man was Rao Jodha and his new residence was the Mehrangarh Fort.
Rao Jodha was the son of Marwar’s Rathore ruler Ranmal. The Mandore fort, which dates back to a thousand years, was their royal residence. For all these years, the fort with the strong walls served as good protection against the enemy but everything has an expiry date and after inheriting the throne, Jodha decided to shift his capital. His Diwan, Rao Nara discovered a rocky hill called Bhakurcheeria, south of Madore that checked off all the boxes for the location of a stronghold.
Rao’s dream destination did not come to him easily. Legends say that to construct Mehrangarh, he expelled the person who lived there. This man happened to be a hermit, Cheeria Nathji, the lord of birds who had some spiritual powers and was a mystic of sorts for the local people.
Rao Jodha asked him to leave Bhakurcheeria, but he did not budge. Each time a request was brought up, it was dismissed. Kings are known to be extremely entitled humans who don’t prefer things when they don’t go as per their will. He tried to coerce him into leaving the place but all in vain. Finally, Jodha took help from a powerful warrior-sorceress, Shri Karni Mata of Deshnok and was successful in securing the place for himself.
Cheeria was furious and even though he left, he made a memorable exit. He cursed Rao Jodha that his fort would always face water scarcity.
If one thing, our epics and stories have told us to not take these curses lightly and Rao immediately got into damage control and built a home and a shrine for the mystic. Now that potentially harmful supernatural forces were in control, the king finally decided to lay the foundation of Mehrangarh.
On 12 May 1459, Karni Mata laid the foundation of the Rajput Fortress.
Interestingly, the foundations of both the Rathore residences of Jodhpur and Bikaner were laid down by her and still remain in her control. Many see this as her divine miracle.
Well, the stories of faith and superstitions about this imposing structure don’t end here. A man named Raja Ram Meghwal was buried alive in its foundations as per his own will. Today, his descendants live in the fort’s Raja Ram Meghwal's Garden.
The Mehrangarh Fort is beautiful and strength set in stone. It is surrounded by seven huge gates with each having a story behind its construction.
Within the iron-like impregnable walls that stretch on for miles, various intricate structures dot its entire landscape. The most well-known of these are the Moti Mahal, Phool Mahal, Sheesha Palace and the chhatri of Kirat Singh Soda.
The fort houses multiple galleries and its museum collection is one of the best in the country.
Apart from these tourist attractions, many families have also inhabited its premises for centuries now. The fort is not just dilapidated stone walls that echo a glorious time, it is a living and thriving organism.
With its meaning being the Sun Fort, Mehrangarh glimmers in the strong heat of Rajasthan like molten gold.