Between Heaven and Earth - Mehrangarh Fort
Trip Start Apr 11, 2009
40Trip End Aug 06, 2009
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Where I stayed
Our first adventure was breakfast on the hotel rooftop. Three hours later we recovered, and hit the streets of Jodhpur with the renewed enthusiasm of the recently napping.
The fort is a massive and impressive building that dominates the landscape for miles around, which should, in theory, make it easy to find. The minute you dive into the Blue City's maze of market streets, however, the fort disappears from view completely. It was only after three hotel-stops and four different, equally hopelessly inadequate maps, that we reemerged above the rooftops, and began our steady progress towards the fort and heatstroke.
The first hour of our visit was spent under the fans of the terrace cafe, just within the fort's walls, sipping cold cokes (some mid-western good sense in my remembered being fed coke syrup at a pharmacy somewhere in North Dakota for an upset stomach. I am now fully convinced of its magical powers - I just wish I could see what it did when cocain was actually present.) After our recovery period (which I think we need to build into every activity we undertake from now on) we headed into the fort proper.
To say that Mehrangarh is magnificent, or imposing, or impressive, or any of the words I've tried so far, would be to do it a grave injustice. The fort is outstanding and, more impressive yet for the region, outstandingly well curated. The audio guide (the first of its kind in Rahjastan) is entertaining and shockingly informative. It ties the long and mighty history or the Manwar province and Maharajahs to the present day city, including bits of audio commentary from the current Maharajah and the Crown Prince (who could not have a plummier accent if he were an actor - apparently he is also keen on polo. Figures.) The former, especially, has had an amazing life story - crowned at four in a newly independent India and, in his early twenties, having the last of his ceremonial powers stripped, and instead remodeling the Maharajah into a cultural philanthropist and ambassador for Rajhastan - it was he who founded the trust that runs the fort.
I could, and would, go on for ages, but Kate and I have promised ourselves a treat. Since we may be able to handle food for the first time, we're taking a tuk-tuk out to the palace - half of which is still occupied by the royal family, half of which is a modern, up-scale hotel, which apparently serves up a mean pasta. With any luck, we'll be recovered within hours.