Rigid and thoughtless organization is a highly developed art form in India – logical, common-sense organization is not. I have spent enough time traveling here that I can comfortably make this claim.
Imagine my surprise when we walked into the fort in Jodhpur and were greeted by a well-groomed young man in a clean uniform, “Welcome to Meherangarh Fort. After you get your entry ticket, I’ll be handing you the audioguide and a site map with all the stops.” I turned to Tony and whispered, “Where are we?” The welcome committee also handed us an evaluation form which turned out to be useless because everything was perfect. It seems, the Maharaja of Jodhpur, who runs the fortress, really learnt something while studying at Oxford.
Meherangarh Fort stands out among all the forts we’ve visited. The witty audio tour which includes supplementary information and interviews with the royal family, as well as the lack of guards hassling you for baksheesh make the fort a worthwhile place to hang out and soak up the atmosphere. It’s also unique in that quite a few of the interior rooms are in excellent condition and can be viewed by the public. The first interior shot shows the 18th-century Phool Mahal, a room used for royal celebrations. Richly decorated in gold and red, every inch of it is painted and the numerous mirrors reflect the natural light coming in. After spending an hour in there photographing the room from every possible angle, the confused guard seemed to be eyeing us wondering why we needed so many photographs, so we moved on.
The stained-glass windows are the focal point of the 16-th century Moti Mahal room. (If you are wondering why the rooms are from such different time periods – consecutive rulers have added to the fort throughout the centuries.) This room with its ceiling decorated in gold leaf and mirrors was the Hall of Private Audience. It has a definite 1960’s look with almost too many clashing colors to handle. This, however, is offset by the shiny light-colored walls which look as though they were covered in marble when, in fact, they are not. Plaster mixed with crushed seashells give the walls this polished look.
After we finished our tour, we popped out at the other end of the fortress. There, we were received by a smiling lady who asked us to return the audioguides in exchange for my driver license which I had left as a deposit. I was just in awe. Someone actually had the forethought to carry all the deposits to the exit. Brilliant!
Make sure to check out our list of places to visit in Jodhpur for other amazing things to do in the Blue City.