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Jodhpur City Tour Guide

Jodhpur, is the second largest city in the Indian state of Rajasthan. It was formerly the seat of a princely state of the same name, also known as Marwar. Jodhpur is a popular tourist destination, featuring many beautiful palaces, forts and temples, apart from a stark, scenic desert landscape. The city is known as the Sun City for the bright, sunny weather it enjoys all year. It is also referred as the Blue City, due to the indigo tinge of the whitewashed houses around the Mehrangarh Fort. The blue houses were originally for Brahmins but non-Brahmins soon joined in, as the colour was said to deflect the heat and keep mosquitoes away. Jodhpur lies near the geographic center of Rajasthan state, which makes it a convenient base for travel in a region much frequented by tourists. The old city of Jodhpur is surrounded by a thick stone wall. The wall has six huge gates called Nagauri gate, Merati gate, Sojati gate, Jalori gate, Siwanchi gate and Chand pol.

Jodhpur is located at 26.29 N 73.03 E[3]. It has an average elevation of 232 metres (761 feet).

Jodhpur was founded in 1459 by Rao Jodha, a Rajput chief belonging to the Rathore clan. Rao Jodha succeeded in conquering the surrounding territory and thus founded a state which came to be known as Marwar. As Rao Jodha hailed from the nearby town of Mandore, that town initially served as the capital of this state; however, Jodhpur soon took over that role, even during the lifetime of Rao Jodha. The city was located on the strategic road linking Delhi to Gujarat. This enabled it to profit from a flourishing trade in opium, copper, silk, sandals, date palms and coffee.

Early in its history, the state became a fief under the mughal empire, owing fealty to them while enjoying some internal autonomy. During this period, the state furnished the mughals with several notable generals such as Maharaja Jaswant Singh. Jodhpur and its people benefited from this exposure to the wider world: new styles of art and architecture made their appearance and opportunities opened up for local tradesmen to make their mark across northern India.

Aurangzeb briefly sequestrated the state (c.1679) on the pretext of a minority, but the rightful ruler was restored to the throne after Aurangzeb died in 1707. The Mughal empire declined gradually after 1707, but the Jodhpur court was beset by intrigue; rather than benefiting from circumstances, Marwar descended into strife and invited the intervention of the Marathas, who soon supplanted the Mughals as overlords of the region. This however did not make for stability or peace; 50 years of ruinous wars and humiliating treaties dissipated the wealth of the state, which sought and gratefully entered into subsidiary alliance with the British in 1818.

During the British Raj, the state of Jodhpur was the largest in Rajputana, if size be reckoned by land area. Jodhpur prospered under the peace and stability that were a hallmark of this era. Its merchants, the Marwaris, flourished without let or limit and came to occupy a position of dominance in trade across India. In 1947, when India became independent, the state merged into the union of India and Jodhpur became the second city of Rajasthan.

A number of historical monuments dot the city and surrounding region. Some of these monuments are described here.

Umaid Bhawan Palace:
The Umaid Bhawan Palace is not only one of India's most imposing palaces but also among its most recent. This lavish art deco monument to royal living had an improbable conception: it was built as a public relief and employment project during a long period of drought. Over one million square feet of the finest marble was used in the construction of the palace. A special type of sandstone, called Chittar sandstone, has been used in constructing the palace and this gives it a special effect. For this reason, it is also referred to as Chittar Palace by the locals. Its style of construction, with beautiful balconies, charming courtyards, green gardens and stately rooms, makes it a fine example of Indo-Saracenic architecture. The project employed three thousand artisans over a period of 15 years (1929-1943). The palace is named after its builder, Maharaja Umaid Singh (1876-1947), who was incidentally the president of the British Royal Institute of Architects. In 1977, the palace was segmented into the royal residence, the Heritage Hotel and a museum. Its 98 air-conditioned rooms are elegantly decorated with antique furniture as well as all the other amenities of a five star hotel.

Umaid Bhawan Palace was originally called Chittar Palace during construction, due to its location on Chittar Hill, the highest point in Jodhpur. Ground for the foundations of the building was broken on 18 November 1929 by Maharaja Umed Singh, it was unfinished until 1944. Umaid Bhawan was one of the last royal constructions (and India's last Palace), built to provide work and drought relief for the poor. The building is dramatically illuminated at night causing some controversy in a city that continues to endure daily multi-hour power cuts.

Built on the Chittar Hill in southeastern area of the Jodhpur, construction employed more than 5000 men for sixteen years. The building does not use mortar or cement to bind stones together; all of its pieces are carved stones joined together by a system of carved interlocking positive and negative pieces. Umaid bhavan is designed in such a manner that it always retains the temperature at approx 23 Celsius. A specially constructed train line was used to transport these large blocks of stone. The Palace, when it was built, was the world's largest private residence, with 347 rooms. The building's prominent central dome is 110 feet high. The architect, H V Lanchester designed the palace in what could be termed Indo-Art-Deco style - the project was to cost the Maharaja Rupees 94,51,565. The resident engineer for this project was Mr.Hiranand U. Bhatia. The interiors for the palace were designed in the art-deco style by Maples of London, however, in 1942 the ship transporting them was sunk by the Germans. As a result, the Maharaja employed the services of Stefan Norblin, a Polish interior designer. The building, however, maintained the traditions of medieval palaces and maintained a male section and a ladies section, each with separate entrances.

Present status:
The present owner is Gaj Singh. He has divided the Palace into three functional parts, one having a five-star hotel (in existence since 1972), one is the residence of the royal family and one has been opened to public where a small museum displays pictures, arms, swords, and other items relating to Jodhpur's royal heritage. The opening times of this museum are 10 AM to 4 PM, and it is closed on Sundays.

The palace grounds cover 26 acres, out of which constructed area is 3.5 acres and 15 acres are devoted to lawns. This is the most expensive hotel at Jodhpur and this is one of the largest private houses in India.

Mehrangarh Fort: The Mehrangarh Fort lies at the outskirts of Jodhpur city and is located atop a 125 m high hill. The magnificent Mehrangarh Fort (Jodhpur ka kila) is the most majestic and one of the largest forts in India. It was originally started (c.1459) by Rao Jodha, founder of Jodhpur. However, most of the extant fort dates from the period of Jaswant Singh (1638-78). The walls of the fort are up to 36 m high and 21 m wide; they enclose some exquisite structures. The fort museum houses an exquisite collection of palanquins, howdahs, royal cradles, miniatures, musical instruments, costumes and furniture. The ramparts of Mehrangarh Fort provide not only excellently preserved cannons but also a breath-taking view of the city.

History Of Mehrangarh:
In 1458, Rao Jodha (1438-1488), one of Ranmal's 24 sons became the fifteenth Rathore ruler. After one year of his accession, Jodha was suggested to move his capital to a safer place because the one thousand years old Mandore fort was no longer considered to be strong and safe. This need for a safer place for Jodha gave India one of her largest forts, Mehrangarh.
The foundation of this fort was laid on May 12, 1459 by Jodha on a rocky hill which is 9 km. south to Mandore. This hill was known as Bhaurcheeria, the mountain of birds. Its lone human occupant at the time was a hermit called Cheeria Nathji, the lord of birds. In order to create this fort, Cheeria Nathji was forced to leave his cave and the disturbed hermit left his place cursing Rao Jodha. His curse was "Jodha! May your citadel ever suffer a scarcity of water!". To avoid the consequences of this curse, Jodha try to appease the god by building a house and a temple in the fort very near the cave the hermit used for meditation.
Jodha then took the extreme step to ensure the new site proved propitious; he buried a man alive in the foundations. The man was Rajaram (Meghwal) and he was promised that in return his family would forever more be looked after by the Rathores.

Mehrangarh (etymology:'Mihir'{Sanskrit)-sun or Sun-deity; 'garh'{Sanskrit}-fort; i.e.'Sun-fort'; according to Rajasthani language pronunciation conventions,'Mihirgarh' has changed to 'Mehrangarh';the Sun-deity has been the chief deity of the Rathore dynasty;source:Mr Yashwant Singh,an official guide to the Fort)is one of the largest forts in India. Though the fortress was originally started in 1459 by Rao Jodha, founder of Jodhpur, most of the fort which stands today dates from the period of Jaswant Singh (163878). This magnificent fort is located at the centre of the city spreading over 5 kilometres atop a 125-metre high hill. Its walls, which are up to 36 metres high and 21 metres wide, protect some of the most beautiful and historic palaces in Rajasthan. To commemorate historic victories three gates are found in the fort. Within the fort, several brillantly crafted and decorated palaces are found. Of these, Moti Mahal (Pearl Palace), Phool Mahal (Flower Palace), Sheesh Mahal (Mirror Palace), Sileh Khana, and Daulat Khana are notable. One also finds the fort museum comprising several palaces. This museum houses an exquisite collection of palanquins, howdahs, royal cradles, miniatures, musical instruments, costumes and furniture. The ramparts of the fort provide not only excellently preserved canons (including the famous Kilkila) but also a breath-taking view of the city.

Tourist Attractions in Mehrangarh:
The Chamunda Mataji Temple
The Chamunda Mataji was Rao Jodha's favorite goddess, he brought her idol from the old capital of Mandore in 1460 and installed her in Mehrangarh (Maa Chamunda was the kul devi of Parihar rulers of Mandore). She remains the Maharaja's and the Royal Family's Isht Devi or adopted goddess and is worshipped by most of Jodhpur's citizens as well. Crowds throng Mehrangarh during the Dussehra celebrations.

Period Rooms
Moti Mahal - The Pearl Palace
Built by Raja Sur Singh (1595-1619) the Moti Mahal is the largest of the Mehrangarh Museum's period rooms. Sur Singh's Moti Mahal has five alcoves leading onto hidden balconies; it is believed they were built for his five queens to listen in on court proceeding.

Sheesh Mahal - The Hall Of Mirrors
It is a fine example of a typical Rajput Sheesh Mahal. The mirror-work includes large, regular pieces, rather than an intricate mosaic of tiny fragments; another thing is the superimposition over the mirror-work of brightly painted religious figures made in plaster.]

Phool Mahal - The Palace Of Flowers

The Phool Mahal was created by Maharaja Abhaya Singh (1724-1749). The grandest of Mehrangarh's period rooms the Phool Mahal was in all likely hood a private and exclusive chamber of pleasure; dancing girls once swooned in exhaustion here under a ceiling rich in gold filigree.

Takhat Vilas - Maharaja Takhat Singh's Chamber
Built and lived in by Maharaja Takhat Singh (1843-1873), Jodhpur's last ruler to reside in the Mehrangarh Fort, Takhat Vilas is an interesting blend of styles, most traditional, but some, like the glass balls on the ceiling, testifying to the modern age which arrived with the British.

Galleries In Mehrangarh Museum
Elephant's Howdahs
The howdahs were a kind of two-compartment wooden seat (mostly covered with gold and silver embossed sheets), which was fastened on to the elephant back. The front compartment with more leg space and raised protective metal sheet was meant for kings or royalty and rear smaller ones for a reliable bodyguard disguised as a fly-whisk attendant.

Palanquins were a popular means of travel and circumambabulate for the ladies of the nobility up to the second quarter of the 20th century. They were also used by male nobility and royals on special occasions.

Daulat Khana - Treasures Of Mehrangarh Museum
This gallery displays one of the most important and best preserved collection of fine and applied arts of the Mughal period of Indian history, during which the Rathore rulers of jodhpur maintained close links with the Mughal emperors.

This Gallery displays a rare collection of Armour from every period in Jodhpur. On display are sword hilts in jade, silver, rhine horn, ivory, shields studded with rubies, emeralds and pearls, guns with gold and silver work on barrels. The gallery also has on display personal swords of many an emperor, among them are outstanding historical piece like the Khanda of Rao Jodha, weighing over 7 pounds, the sword of Akbar the Great and The sword of Timur the Lame.

This Gallery displays colours of Marwar-Jodhpur, the finest example of Marwar paintings.

The Turban Gallery
The Turban Gallery in the Mehrangarh Museum seeks to preserve, document and display the many, many different types of turbans once prevalent in Rajasthan ; every community, region and, indeed, festival has its own head-gear and this diversity, the colors of the desert, is wonderfully brought out in this welcome addition to the museum.

The Folk Musical Instruments Gallery
There are a number of different types and kinds of folk musical instruments, some particular to a group or community, and some to a region.

Jaswant Thada: The Jaswant Thada is architectural landmark found in Jodhpur. It is a white marble memorial built in 1899 in memory of Maharaja Jaswant Singh II. The monument, in its entirety, is built out of intricately carved sheets of marble. These stones are extremely thin and polished so that they emit a warm glow when the sun's rays dance across their surface. Within this cenotaph, there are also two more tombs.The Jaswant Thada is a traditional cremation ground of Jodhpur rulers. The grounds are also comprised of exquisitely carved gazebos, a beautiful multi-tiered garden, and a small lake.

Osiyan Temple: An ancient Jain temple, well worth the visit, lies in the village of Osiyan, about 60 km outside Jodhpur. There are many sections of this temple, which was built in several distinct phases.
Kaman art gallery: The Kaman art gallery is Indian contemporary art gallery .It is first contemporary art gallery in Rajasthan .There are see many famous Indian contemporary artists painting. This gallery location near clock tower Jodhpur, Old fort Road, Kili Khana.

Other places to see
Girdikot and Sardar market
Maha Mandir ( temple)
Government Museum
Mandore park

Kalinga Lake and Garden
Balsamand Lake
Sardar Samand lake and palace
Dhawa ( Dholi) forest area

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