“Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Europe anymore”—this was pretty much what I told myself as we made our way up to Mehrangarh Fort. Our auto driver mentioned that he’s taking us to a beautiful palace yet what I saw was this bare, almost austere structure looming as we approached. No quintessential medieval spires like the fairytale castles of Bavaria—just thick, unadorned stonewalls.
Rajasthan literally translates to “Land of Great Kings” and a visit to the Mehrangarh Fort showed me—quite convincingly—why. Towering 400ft (120m) over Jodhpur, the fort’s imposing thick, brick walls show no clues of the riches kept inside.
Once through the gates, the switch to opulence is instantaneous: I found myself walking through galleries and rooms so finely and delicately decorated with coloured glass, luxurious fabrics, and elaborate gilding only fit for royalty. Most impressive to me, above all the jaw-dropping period rooms, are the intricate carvings throughout the fort—on walls, windows, and at times covering complete façades of a four-storey structure. The latticework and carvings are so detailed that at first glance they looked like they were made of wood, but in fact they’re all meticulously carved out of stone.
At the end of our visit, I found myself in a courtyard surrounded by the same mind-blowing latticework on all four sides—wishing that the millions of tourists who visit the likes of Versailles and Neuschwanstein would also travel to Rajasthan and see—like I did—how India’s take on royalty can rival and even outshine the best they’ve ever seen.
Next in the itinerary in Rajasthan: An eight-hour drive to the lake city of Udaipur!