Jodhpur in Rajasthan is a city on the fringes of India’s Thar desert. Here in the “Sun City of India,” a city of faded blue buildings beckons travellers, while magnificent palaces and forts pepper the land.
Against such an array of attractions, none would argue that Mehrangarh Fort is Jodhpur’s most distinctive landmark. Situated on a tall rocky outcrop in the heart of the city, the fort is one of the largest in the whole of India. It overlooks the famed “Blue City”, and stands imposingly as a monument of Jodhpur’s history.
Mehrangarh Fort’s history is closely intertwined with that of the city it lies in. It was built in the 15th century by Rao Jodha, the founder of Jodhpur city.
Meant as a formidable fort that would withstand battles, within the fort’s walls lie expansive courtyards and ornate palaces open for viewing. These include the Pearl Palace (Moti Mahal) and Flower Palace (Phool Mahal).
Today, these attractions serve to draw in tourists from across the globe, never failing to wow them with its exquisite architecture, palanquins and museums. Most hauntingly is a stone which features the imprints of women who died by sati–a now-banned funeral custom where wives would follow their husbands to the afterlife by burning themselves alive on their pyres.
The fort is no stranger to media publicity either, with a portfolio more impressive than most other forts in India. Commercials by Sprite, Visa and Pepsi come to mind, along with a brief cameo in the 2012 blockbuster “The Dark Knight Rises”.
In the film, Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne escapes an underground prison pit and emerges to find himself in a desert just outside Mehrangarh Fort.
Though brief, this little cameo has since put Jodhpur on the map and propelled it onto the lists of many as a must-see shoot locale.
Bale vividly recalls the experience filming under the relentless heat. “The locals thought we were nuts. We were out in 120-degree heat.”
The fort has also served director Stephen Sommers in his 1994’s rendition of “The Jungle Book”. In the film, several scenes feature Mehrangarh, including one where a courtyard is transformed into a magnificent ballroom.
Balancing conservation, flourishing as an attraction and thriving even as a filming location–Mehrangarh fort is a prime example of a historical landmark which manages to retain its glory instead of just crumbling into memory.
Fun Fact: Legend has it that a man named Meghwal is buried alive under the citadel’s foundations to deter a curse cast upon the fort.
Text by Ng Shen Lee