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the-south-asian Life & Times               July - September 2010

 

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Jodhpur

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Mehrangarh Fort

Mehrangarh Fort is the crown of Jodhpur it sits like one. Indomitable and impregnable, Mehrangarh fort rises 400 feet above the surrounding skyline. The near vertical walls of the fort seem an architectural extension of the cliff it is built on. Built as defensive architecture, the fort is enclosed by these imposing walls, which at certain strategic points, are 6m thick. Though battle-scarred in places, the fort has never fallen to an enemy. It stands in majestic isolation the pride and love of Jodhpur.

Within the fort is a maze of stunning palaces with intricate carvings, sprawling courtyards, balconies with awesome views of the walled city below, shimmering in a blue haze. The houses in the old city are painted in various shades of blue. There are many theories and speculations as to why? The only rational explanation seems to be that indigo, mixed into white lime wash, is an effective mosquito repellent, and that blue deflects the searing heat of the summer sun.

At one precipitous end of the fort is the temple of Chamunda Mataji (a form of Goddess Durga) - the guardian deity brought and installed here from the old capital of Mandore in 1460 by Rao Jodha, the founder of Jodhpur. She remains the Isht Devi (patron deity) of the royal family. It was here, on the morning of September 30, 2008, that more than 25,000 worshippers had gathered at this hilltop temple at the start of the Hindu festival of Navratra, a nine-day celebration of the nine incarnations of the Hindu mother goddess, Durga. As the doors to the temple opened, a stampede occurred killing 168 devotees and injuring many more.

The Mehrangarh Fort and Museum must easily be the best-managed heritage monument in the country. The Museum Shop is unlike any other in South Asia it offers a great collection of unique and unusual souvenirs displayed aesthetically.

Read the entire article in the print edition of The South Asian Life & Times

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