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Saturday, May 20, 2017

Rampart Stomping Inside Mehrangarh Fort in Jodphur, India

I first saw Mehrangarh Fort as the imposing thick walled fortress at the backdrop of the scene in the film “The Dark Knight Rises”. As one of the build-up parts to the climax of this classic film; Bruce Wayne is seen escaping from the pits of his imprisonment – finally ascending out of a hole from the ground. The thrilling high of that moment is made more spectacular by the presence of a magnificent mountain lustrous with sun rays and where the impressive fort stands solidly and undaunted by the passage of time.


One of the Largest Forts in India

City by city, as we make our way through the heart of India from Kolkata to Varanasi to Agra and New Delhi and into the state of Rajasthan where Jodphur became our second stop next to Jaipur, we have walked the fabled steps of numerous historic forts. Mehrangarh Fort upon first glance from a far distance, still overwhelmed me with its sheer size. Even if it appears almost similar to the Rajput style architecture of Amer Fort in Jaipur; golden, shiny and adorned with an abundance of windows, Mehrangarh Fort still dishes a unique character of its own.


Built in the 1460’s by Rao Jodha - who was considered as the founder of Jodphur and at that time; the chieftain of the Rathore clan, the knifing hill of Bhaurcheeria was where the first bricks were laid out, because of its strategic location overlooking the vast settlements below. Numerous gates and winding roads leads visitors inside, where a number of palatial rooms, galleries and museums housing historical artifacts belonging to past rulers of the many kingdoms that lay domination over Jodphur, are housed.

Getting Lost to Imagination

So far, the forts we have visited had this tendency to pull me into an episode of extended imaginings as if – each wall partition of a fort’s wall was narrating a story to myself.  Mehrangarh Fort is no different, as the plentiful intricate carvings, architecturally gifted temples and sprawling courtyards seen inside, gave me the impression of being involved in a setting to many a fascinating stories etched through many centuries.  


Each step I made produced a thud eerily similarly sounding – as I assumed, to the marching stomps of the soldiers who defended and fought within and outside the walls of this fort. One of the well-known one was Kirat Singh Soda, a valiant warrior whose memory was eternalized in a Chhatris – a raised dome-shaped pavilion and important characteristic of Indian architecture, situated on the left side of Mehrangarh fort.


Everywhere I direct my gaze, I seem to summon an absorbing picture, whether from the rows of windows to the steps of the stairs to the brick walls and elegant ceiling arts. The interior of the fort and the pockets of temples inside dishes a splendid visual banquet. Further strides outside the upper grounds of the fort led me to rows of olden cannons – which at one time was the bad-ass weaponry meant to pulverize the incoming enemies at the barren land below the fort.


Hookah-smoking holy men and young kids playing melodious traditional tunes create a connection to the past when such types of people spent their time inside the walls of the fort – while they await the next wave of attacks from their enemies
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Gazing at the Blue City

The one experience that stood out in my experience inside the fort was when I walked over the walls near the cannons and I finally laid eyes on the famed blue city of Jodphur. It felt surreal seeing it in person as opposed to previously watching it on films such as Darjeeling Limited and the Tarsem Sing’s film The Fall.  


Known as the Sun City, the city’s blue-colored houses creates another level of charm to its already extraordinary setting. The panoramic scene from where I was standing summoned my wonder into notches higher. As I survey the surroundings; from the desert sand dunes far away to the city below me, I was able to view a couple of our earlier destinations; the Umaid Bhawan Palace and the Ghanta Clock Tower.


From motion pictures to real-life, nothing gets better than this. I must have told myself that instant at how fortunate I was in witnessing and experiencing this place and its environs. Truly, good karma found a way to bring me to where my heart once desired.

Jaswant Thada Temple

Stepping outside of Mehrangarh Fort, a narrow tree-lined path led me and Aileen to another attractive looking temple also situated atop an adjacent hill. Glistening with white marbles, elaborate arches and architectural details, the Jaswant Thada temple was built upon the order of Maharaja Sardar Singh in 1899 to honor the passing of his father, Maharaja Jaswant Singh.


Encircled by a spacious garden, pockets of gazebos and a man-made lake, this small temple appear in total contrast from the magnanimous allure of Mehrangarh, but nevertheless fashions a different attraction of its own.



As The Dark Knight Rises introduces Mehrangarh fort as the place where Bruce Wayne gained his freedom, the real life fort itself is where the bloods of multitudes flowed in order to retain their own. It is a fitting moment that as we walked away, I looked up at the beautiful blue skies reigning over Jodhpur at that time, and under my breathe I recited a prayer thanking the heavens for making me a free man to pay a visit to such spectacular landmark.


Check out the rest of my India series here.



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