Mehrangarh Fort was built in 1459 by 36 Hindu warrior clans known as the Rajputs. They established a powerful foothold in the north west of the Indian subcontinent during the 9th century AD and were revered for their warring prowess. The fort is positioned atop a 125m cliff and has never been breached by an enemy despite many attempts. Each Maharaja (Rajput King) added to and altered the complex. More palaces and temples were built and further defensive gates were added to commemorate great victories against neighbouring empires or tribes.
This picture shows the detail of one of the 7 huge gates which protect the complex. It is studded with long iron spikes that are designed to repel elephants. This gate is located just after a right angled corner which also acts as an elephant deterrent; preventing them from charging into the gate with momentum. ‘Loha Pol’ is name of the final gate. Behind it are a series of 31 hand imprints that were made by Maharanees (Queens) in 1843 following the death of their husband, Maharajah Man Singh. Showing absolute devotion to their late husband, all his widows walked onto his funeral pyre to die. This act is called ‘sati’ and although it is now illegal in India, it still occurs. It differs from the similar Rajput act of ‘jahaur’ which is self-immolation of an entire clan when they are faced with certain defeat in war. Sati and jahaur exemplify the Rajput strict code of honour which involved chivalry, discipline and death before dishonour.