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, about 500 feet above the city, 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. 150, or take the elevator (Rs. 35) 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 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 and you should not miss viewing these chambers. 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 great views of the city; the blue houses at sunset look magical. Another option is to take a zip-line tour around the fort with Flying Fox; it's not for the fainthearted. 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). There are two shops, open 9 to 5, run by the Mehrangarh Trust, that can be accessed without visiting the fort, that sell expensive but very attractive handicrafts. There's also a small craft bazaar that offers a variety of bargains. Apart from the fine-dining rooftop restaurant Mehran Terrace, there are also two cafés serving snacks and drinks where you can stop for a bite or a break. For an extra Rs. 30 one can visit 200-year-old Chokelao Bagh, well-laid out palace gardens.