The Mehrangarh Fort at Jodhpur is one of the most impressive forts in Rajasthan and easily the best maintained and managed of all the Forts I visited during my Rajasthan trip in February this year.
It caters to all to all kinds of tourists and does it rather well without letting anyone feel left out. Quiet spots for contemplation; fantastic photo-ops for the serious or click-happy photographer; architecture, history and a jaw dropping collection of objets d’art on display for those interested in culture, design and history … the Fort has it all. But the activities that are the most popular and draw the tourists are the fun ones like ‘how to tie a turban’, ‘how to play chess’, having your palm read, etc.
That afternoon in February, I had just finished walking though one part of the museum at the Fort and was crossing one of the many courtyards there, when I saw a couple of international tourists requesting some Fort’s ‘volunteers’ to show them how a turban was tied. And within seconds, it was showtime.
Presenting the story of how a turban is tied in the words of the “demonstrator” 🙂
First we spread out the turban cloth to show how looooooong it is.
There was once a King and like all self-respecting kings of his time, he wanted a grand and imposing fort at an impressive location. One day, he came across the location of his dreams — an isolated hill. The King ordered his men to immediately clear the hill of inhabitants and lay the foundations for the construction of the fort.
Only one man lived on the hill — a man considered holy by the local people around and known as Chidiyawale Baba. He was called thus as he took care of birds and fed them and spoke to them. Chidiyawale Baba was so furious at being evicted from the hill that he cursed the King with recurrent drought in his kingdom. Shaken and now contrite, the King went to Chidiyawale Baba to ask for forgiveness and to request him to cancel the curse. The Baba said that words once uttered could not be taken back, but the effect of the curse could be reversed if a selfless sacrifice was offered. In other words, someone had to volunteer to die by being buried alive on the hill.
The King came away dejected as he did not think anyone would volunteer. But that very evening, a man by the name of Rajaram Meghwal presented himself before the King and volunteered for the deed. A relieved (and, I’m sure, delighted) King accepted and on an auspicious day and time and at an auspicious site on the hill, Meghwal was buried alive. Rao Jodha, the King, then laid the foundation to building the Mehrangarh Fort in 1459.