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Mehrangarh Fort Review
This enormous hilltop fort was built by Rao Jodha in 1459, when he shifted his capital from Mandore to Jodhpur. Looking straight down a perpendicular cliff, the famously impregnable fort is an imposing landmark, especially at night, when it's bathed in yellow light. Approach the fort by climbing a steep walkway, passing under no fewer than eight huge gates—if you're not up for the hike, you can take an auto-rickshaw instead for about Rs. 100 or 150 from Clock Tower, or take the elevator (Rs. 20) up two levels from the ticket office. The first gate, the Victory Gate, was built by Maharaja Ajit Singh to commemorate his military success against the Mughals at the beginning of the 18th century; the other seven commemorate victories over other Rajput states. The last gate, as in many Rajput forts, displays the haunting handprints of women who immolated themselves after their husbands were defeated in battle.
Inside the rugged fort, delicate latticed windows and pierced sandstone screens are the surprising motifs. The palaces—Moti Mahal (Pearl Palace), Phool Mahal (Flower Palace), Sheesh Mahal (Glass Palace)—and the other apartments are exquisitely decorated; their ceilings, walls, and floors are covered with murals, mirror work, and gilt. The palace museum has exquisite rooms filled with lavish royal elephant carriages (howdahs), palanquins, thrones, paintings, and even a giant tent. It also has an interesting weapons gallery. From the ramparts there are excellent views of the city; the blue houses at sunset look magical. If you're up for it, you can strap on a harness and take a zip-line tour around the fort with Flying Fox; it's not for the weak of heart. The fort is possibly the best-maintained historic property in all Rajasthan, and offers an audio tour with headphones (included in the admission price for foreigners) with recorded commentary in six languages, including English.
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