Jodhpur stands on a low range
of sandstone hills and is famous for its fort, perhaps the
finest and the most striking in Rajasthan, a land of
fortresses. Jodhpur is 616 km. (383 miles) from Delhi, 309
km. (192 miles) from Jaipur and 103 km. (64 miles) from
Marwar junction on the Western Railway. It is connected by
road with Jaipur 307 km. (230 miles), Abu 265 km. (165
miles), and Udaipur 511 km. (318 miles).
The city was founded in 1458 by Rao Jodha, the head of the
Rathor clan of Rajputs, which claims descent from Rama, the
hero of the Ramayana. It is surrounded by a strong wall
7,498 m. (24,600 ft.) long 2.7 m. (9 ft.) thick, and 4 m.
(15 ft.) to 9 m. (30 ft.) high, built of large blocks of cut
stone and strengthened by buttresses, towers and ramparts.
Its seven gates flanked by bastions are fixed with pointed
Situated on an isolated rocky
eminence, 122 m. (400 ft.) above the city, the fort
dominates the surrounding plain. It is scarped on every
side, specially on the southern side where the palaces are
built on the edge of a perpendicular cliff, 36 m. (120 ft.)
high. The walls of the fort, relieved by round and square
towers, are from 6 m. (20 ft.) to 36m. (120 ft.) in height,
3 m. (12 ft.) to 21 m. (70 ft.) thick and enclose an oblong
space about 457 m. (1,500 ft.) in length
and 228 m. (750 ft.) in breadth at its widest. This
enclosure is full of palaces, barracks, temples and other
buildings. From the battlements of the fort, there is a
splendid view of the entire city.
A gradually ascending road
winds up to a massive gateway with immense portals, the
first of a series of barriers thrown across the circuitous
approach to the fort. Fateh Pol or the Gate of Victory,
leading up from the city, was erected by Maharaja Ajit Singh
to commemorate his victory over the Mughuls in 1707. Amrit
Pol was built by Rao Maldeo. Jodha-ka-Phalsa indicates the
extreme limit of Rao Jodha’s fort. The Jaya Pol commemorates
the triumph of Maharaja Man Singh over the armies of Jaipur
and Bikaner which marched on Jodhpur in 1807. On the walls
of Loha Pol, the last gate, are the palm marks of some
ladies who immolated themselves on the funeral pyres of
Palaces and Temples
The principal buildings in the
fort are the princely palaces decorated with beautifully
carved panels, latticed windows of delicate design, and
pierced screens of red sandstone. Moti Mahal, built by
Maharaja Sur Singh, and Phool Mahal, built by Maharaja
Abhaya Singh, have fine decorations in colour on the
ceilings, pillars and walls. Old weapons and arms used by
the rulers are displayed in the Sileh Khana.
Among the many fine old buildings and temples in the city
are the Talhati-ka-Mahal and Raj Mahal on the bank of Gulab
Sagar. The temple of Ganga Shyam has a lovely spire. About 2
km. (1½ miles)
from the city, in the small walled town called Mahamandir,
is a big temple with a colourful interior and a roof
supported by a hundred pillars. Of the modern palaces, the
Umaid Bhavan crowning the Chitar hill is a magnificent
building of imposing proportions and striking beauty.
There are several attractive
tanks in Jodhpur. Five kilometres (3 miles) to the north,
between the city and Mandor, is Balsamand with a well laid
out garden and a palace on its embankment. The Kailana is
the largest tank in Jodhpur.
The Sardar Museum in the
Willingdon Garden has a variety of exhibits including
specimens of local arts and crafts and also inscriptional
slabs, coins and sculptures from Kiradu, Osia, Bhinmal,
Nagaur and other historical Places in the region.
About 8 km. (5 miles) to the
north of Jodhpur city is Mandor, the old capital of Marwar.
It was the capital of the Parihar Rajputs till 1381 when it
was captured by the Rathor chief, Rao Chonda. Subsequently,
it served as the Rathor capital till the foundation of
Jodhpur in 1459.
In the extensive garden at
Mandor are the dewals or cenotaphs of the former rulers of
Jodhpur. Raised on high plinths, crowned with soaring spires
and decorated with sculpture, these monuments reflect the
epoch of Marwar’s glory. The architectural composition
partakes both of Saivite and Buddhist styles, but the
details are decidedly Jain, particularly the columns.
The cenotaph of Maharaja Ajit Singh (who died in 1724), the
largest of all these buildings, stands in a line running
from south to north, with the other principal cenotaphs of
Raja Maldeo, Raja Sur Singh, Raja Gaj Singh and Maharaja
Jaswant Singh. To the east of this line of monuments are the
smaller cenotaphs of other rulers and nobles.
Of considerable interest is the ‘shrine of 330 million gods,
containing painted figures of divinities and heroes. In the
‘Hall of Heroes’ is a group of sixteen colossal figures
carved out of a single rock.
On the rocky plateau farther up is the site of an ancient
city now littered with ruins. The remains of the old fort
and temples lie buried in the mass of debris all around.
Some distance from this point are the chhatris of the old
chiefs and the Panch Kund recessed in the rock.