Jodhpur was the last stop in our journey through Rajasthan as per our itinerary – Jaipur – Pushkar (via Ajmer Sharif Dargah) – Udaipur (via Chittorgarh) – Mount Abu (via Haldighati) – Jaisalmer – Jodhpur.
We had only one and a half day to explore the place that has so much to offer to its visitors. Therefore, we targeted two must-see attractions of Jodhpur – Mehrangarh Fort and Umaid Bhavan Palace. Jodhpur is, perhaps, the best place to witness the royal heritage of Rajputana. While the palaces in Mehrangarh Fort and its in-house museum tell you about the grandeur and glory of the royal Rajputana in the middle ages, Umaid Bhavan Palace presents the kingly aura and a tradition of luxury living that Jodhpur still carries on in modern times.
Our first stop was Mehrangarh Fort. Nestled on a hilltop outside the town the fort overlooks the “blue city” Jodhpur and the rugged landscape of rural Rajasthan. The fort bears the mark of architectural elegance of medieval India. Its palaces, windows, pillars, corridors, and halls, everything has a story to tell.
I listened to the little facts and anecdotes about the royal Rajput lifestyle and culture that our guide shared with us while exploring the fort and its heritage museum.
The museum exhibits the weapons, armours and accessories used in battle at that time. Fine robes, jewellery, decorative items, and golden palanquins used in carrying kings and queens, are also on display in the museum. I came to know that straight swords belonged to the Hindu Rajput warriors while Muslim fighters used curved swords in battle.
While we were passing by Maharaja Takat Singh’s mahal, a colourful chamber decorated with stained glass and golden embellishments on pillars and walls, our guide told us an interesting story about the king and his private life, which I would like to share here.
The king, Takat Singh had thirty wives living with him in the palace. He used to meet four of his queens at a time at the chamber. The queens played ‘pasha’ and the one who beat others in the game would get the chance to spend time with the king the next day. I was really amazed by the story – how clever this man was to manage thirty wives in one life! 😉 😀
On the contrary, the life of queens and princesses in the palace where sunshine barely entered, were not so colourful. I heard that the daily activities and entertainment of women in royal families were mostly restricted within the palace and areas meant for them.
Umaid Bhawan Palace
Our next destination was Umaid Bhawan Palace. The palace, built in 1943 and currently the “world’s largest private residence,” is a wonderful instance of neoclassical architecture with excellent blending of eastern and western styles.
The iconic architecture, named after Maharaja Umaid Singh, is partially open for visitors. Compared to Mehrangarh Fort palace and other old palaces in Rajasthan, Umaid Bhawan Palace is more spacious, airy and glamorous with contemporary luxury decor.
A small portion of the palace houses a museum where the entire family line of Maharaja Umaid Singh is depicted with portraits of the royal family members. It also displays an exclusive collection of precious artefacts, crockery, porcelain vases, and expensive clocks owned by the royal family. The vivid frescos depict the events of royal coronations.
Check out my post – The Colours of Rajasthan for more on Rajasthan travel.