Rajasthan, in Northern India, is chock full of palaces, ruins, and forts. Every major city has a fort in it, or beside it, or looming over it. Jodhpur is no exception, with the Mehrangarh Fort on a rocky hilltop in the middle of the city. It is spectacular.
It is the kind of sight that you say “Wow!” every time you walk out of your hotel. Many hotels and restaurants have rooftop patios to take advantage of the view. Our hostel, Hostelavie has a great terrasse with a superb view and an enclosed A/C section for hot or rainy weather.
Like many of the tourist hotels in Jodhpur, Hostelavie is not far from the city clock tower. A short walk uphill gets you to the steep, switchback road up to the fort. It’s not long before the enormous fort walls start to tower directly above. I couldn’t help but wonder how anyone could ever have built this place almost 700 years ago! Oh, that’s right, indentured servitude.
The outer ramparts and beautiful views of the city, with it’s clusters of indigo houses, are accessible for free. To get into the museum and the various rooms of the fort open to the public will cost you. The foreigner rate is INR 600, almost 10 times the local price (as usual). (The fort is open from 9 to 5)
There is a couple of new twists here, though. If you are a senior or have a student ID it costs INR 500, and the full price comes with a pretty good audio guide. Some of the explanations are from members of the Jodhpur royal family (who apparently live in a big castle across from the fort). The challenge is distracting the kids long enough to be able to listen to the audio.
We found that if we gave them one to share, we could take turns with the other audio guide. I don’t know how much history they picked up, but we were actually able to listen to whole sections of the guide!
The museum is terrific, with rooms of old swords, rifles, artwork, and even silver palanquins that were strapped to the backs of elephants. Lazy maharajahs, too fancy to walk.
The tour winds its way up through the rooms of the fort, passing through a nursery, the women’s quarters, and balconies with amazing views. My favorite was the grand reception room with beautiful, ancient stained glass windows and secret alcoves where the maharajah’s wives could eavesdrop on meetings and take notes.
The maharajahs bedroom was also very impressive. Retrained, understated giant glass Christmas balls on the ceiling and a huge fan over the bed that some poor sucker had to keep moving all night.
After the tour we took a short walk up onto the ramparts of the fort to see the views of the blue city. The kids loved looking through the cannon ports and spotting monkeys and kites flying over the city. We even somehow spotted our hotel in the labyrinth below.
All in all, a very cool place. It’s do-able in an afternoon, even with small kids. There’s enough to keep them interested and you fascinated.