Here are some facts I learned from the website ‘indiamyworld.com’:
• “The fort has witnessed many battles in the past though none of them eventually led to the capture of this majestic existence. The gates of the fort still bear the marks of failed seizure attempts by the Mughals and the armies of Jaipur.
• The Fort welcomed triumphant soldiers after their win over the Bikaner armies and the Mughals who were on a spree to take over whole of India. However, their attempts to seize the Mehrangarh Fort went in vain
• Many gates have been erected to commemorate the victories such as the ‘Jayapol’ and the ‘Fatthepol’ gates. A ‘Chatri’ or a canopy was also built to remember one particular soldier who died while fighting to protect the fort.
• In the year 2008, there was a massive stampede at the Chamunda Devi Temple inside the fort that led to the loss of 250 lives and injured more than 400 people.”
KAPOORS ON THE ROAD
While no army was ever able to completely penetrate the defenses that Mehrangarh fort provided for the protection of the rulers, we had very little trouble, other than having to line up to have our temperatures taken, because we were foreign tourists. It would seem to me that the visitors from other regions of India might have posed a threat to the health and safety of the guards and workers at the fort as well, but they were able to enter and exit without impediment.
By the time we had exhausted our curiosity for Mehrangarh’s amazing architectural details and stunning artifacts, most other tourists had already gone, and our retreat from the fort went off without a hitch.
However, there is something I want to tell you about our first visit to Jodhpur and Mehrangar. I didn’t want to mention this at the beginning of my stories and photos for fear that it would dampen your impressions of the fortress.
Our first visit to Jodhpur was memorable for something that happened at the fort while we were having a cold drink on the rooftop terrace of the Yogi Guesthouse where we were staying. Rather than write about the event once again, I will simply quote myself, from my Kapoors On The Road Year 2 Journal:
“The visit to Jodhpur ended on a sad note. We were sitting on the terrace having lunch this afternoon when we noticed a huge crowd on the top of the fort looking down at the ground below. Then we saw people from the homes below, running up to the road at the base of the cliffs. After some time, we saw a policeman talking to people who were pointing to the fort walls.
We learned later that evening that a young couple had jumped to their deaths, probably because they were forbidden to marry by their families. No doubt there will be more in the newspapers tomorrow, I’m glad we will be gone. I would have to see their photos and make it even more personal. To think I might have seen it happen if I had been admiring the fort as they fell. I remember being disappointed that awnings had been lowered to shade the terrace in the afternoon. Those same awnings obscured my view of the cliffs and the fort walls.
Some time later I remembered overhearing a young backpacker in Jaisalmer saying that he loved Rajasthan ‘with all its palaces and forts – just like in Romeo and Juliet’. I didn’t make the connection to my favorite Shakespearian play but now I do – star-crossed lovers. I will try not to dwell on this tragedy. I hope you will not either.”
Now here’s a quote from the Lonely Planet – India 2017 chapter Rajasthan has to say about the ramparts at Mehrangarh:
“Once you’ve visited the museum, continue on from here to the panoramic ramparts, which are lined with impressive antique artillery. The ramparts were fenced off in 2016 after a fatal selfie accident. Hopefully a temporary measure, as the views are spectacular.”
When I read this in our guidebook, I was immediately reminded of the incident in 2008, but I also remembered that the ramparts were not closed off when we visited for the second time in 2013. We were able to walk close to the very spot where the young couple stood before jumping. There were guards on duty to ensure that no one got to close to the edge, whether it was just to peer down to the rocks below, or for more tragic purposes.
As I mentioned before, the ramparts are still closed to the public, perhaps this is the case since 2016 but I didn’t take the time to ask anyone. I didn’t want to know if there were others who met their deaths there.