Sourced from the Net. The entire Fort with its MANY palaces.

Sourced from the Net. The entire Fort with its MANY palaces.

Another day, another palace. I can get used to this. Before this visit, I have only heard of the Taj Mahal, Amber Fort and Udaipur’s Taj Lake Palace. Yet our iti included meal stops in former palaces or royal manors, and each city — pink (Jaipur), white (Udaipur) or blue (Johdpur) — has its own top attraction in the form of another fortress or palace. For sure, the monarchs of that time didn’t scrimp on their extravagant residences.ย 

The Fort, perched atop a hill, enclosed by the Blue City of Johdpur.

The Fort, perched atop a hill, enclosed by the Blue City of Johdpur.

Photo Credit: Ernie Albano

Photo Credit: Ernie Albano

From a distance, Mehrangharh Fort reminded me of Table Mountain in Cape Town, South Africa. BUT with the addition of imposing thick walls enclosing not one or two, but several palaces high above the blue city of Johdpur. Its sheer size renders it one of the largest forts in India, right atop a rocky hill known as the mountain of birds. We climbed up through a winding path passing several gates, mindful of many birds flying above us. In Sanskrit, Mehrangarh means “Sun Fort”. Inside, one finds the Moti Mahal (Pearl Palace), Phool Mahal (Flower Palace), Sheesha Mahal (Mirror Palace) and a few more. You may have guessed “Mahal” means Palace. Like “Pur” means city (Jaipur, Johdpur, Udaipur) while “Than” (as in Rajasthan) means place.

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My friend Emy on uphill climb towards one of the formidable Gates.

Y My friend Emy on uphill climb towards one of the formidable Gates.

It is not surprising to hear that the Fort is haunted. After all, a man was burned alive in its foundation as a sort of offering. Past the gate are markings of small handprints — the self-immolation marks of royal widows who threw themselves on the funeral pyres of their maharajas. What a way to die!

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From latticed windows, the wives and concubines watch goings-on in the palaces’ courtyards. One palace has a ceiling made of gold filigree and mirrors. Another has stained glasses which look marvelous in the glow of the afternoon sun. Only shows off the wealth and power of Marwarโ€™s rulers of that period. Museum pieces include many paintings and other art pieces — a glimpse into royal hobbies and interests. And how about those polo outfits which found their way into today’s fashion? Johdpur’s they’re called — those riding pants with many folds and looking loose on your hips but tight from the knees down.

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I wish I can look out from any of those arched windows!

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Mirrors, glass all around!

Have I mentioned that the place is haunted? There must be lots of stories to tell.

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