Mandore Gardens- Poetry in Rock on Departed Royalty

Sindhu Murthy

Located 8 km away from the majestic Mehrangarh Fort of Jodhpur in a lush green garden of Mandore is the erstwhile capital of Rathores. We made a quick stop at the Mandore gardens while we were heading to Osian from Jodhpur. As we entered the unmanned gates of the Mandore gardens, least did we know that we would see such beautifully carved cenotaphs of the earlier rulers of the Rathore clan.

The overgrown trees, numerous cenotaphs, beautifully carved spires and the remains of the abandoned fort on the rocky hill in Mandore surrounded by lush green garden conspired to provide a perfect contrast to the busy streets just outside the gates.

 

Mandore which was earlier named Mandavyapura has a mention in the ancient Hindu Scripture Ramayana. As per the legend, Ravana, the demon king of Lanka who abducted Sita defying Rama married Mandodari, the princess of Mandavyapura.

Mandore was the capital of  Parihar Rajputs who ruled the region during the 6th century. To defend Mandore against the attack of  Sultanate of Delhi, the Parihars got into a marital alliance with Rao Chunda, the King of the Rathore clan. Mandore was presented as a gift to the Rathores during the wedding. Thus Mandore became the seat of power for Rathores. As the successors of Rao Chunda expanded the kingdom of Marwar, they realized that the old fort of Mandore was not good enough to defend them from the external attacks. Thus Rao Jodha, the grandson of Rao Chunda laid a foundation for the construction of the Mehrangarh fort on the rocky hill of Bakurcheeria located 6 miles away from Mandore.

The city within the Mehrangarh fort got its name Jodhpur from its founder. As Jodhpur emerged as the new seat of power in Thar region, people from Mandore migrated to the new capital leaving the city of Mandore to gradually fall into decay. However, the old capital of Mandore continued to be the final resting ground of the late rulers of Marwar until 1873 AD  post which the royal cremation ground was shifted to a small hill close to Mehrangarh fort.

There are numerous cenotaphs in Mandore that are spread across the entire garden. While some are constructed in the usual chhatri style, some are built in extreme grandeur with beautiful carvings. The ones that caught us spellbound were the cenotaphs of Maharaja Ajit Singh and Maharaja Jaswant Singh. The cenotaph of Maharaja Ajit Singh stands out as an architectural wonder with its three-storeyed spires constructed on a huge edifice. The walls and pillars are decked up with beautiful carvings made by combining Buddhist and Jain elements.

Cenotaph of maharaja Ajit Singh at Mandore gardens

Just opposite to the cenotaph of Maharaja Ajit Singh is the cenotaph of Maharaja Jaswant Singh which consists of a vast pavilion and a huge dome built on an octagonal base and supported by beautifully carved pillars.

Cenotaph of maharaja Jaswant Singh at Mandore gardens

A short walk behind the cenotaphs of Maharaja Ajit Singh and Maharaja Jaswant Singh lead to the rocky hill which has the abandoned fort built by the Parihara Kings during the 6th century. Most part of the fort is in decay now owing to lack of maintenance.  The rocky terrain of the hills also house some cenotaphs built for the Rathore queens.

What greets us today as we enter this centuries old marvel is a huge garden with overgrown trees and playful langurs. The water canals surrounding the cenotaphs are in complete dismay covered with algae. The beautiful water fountains and bird baths located amidst the water canals are filled with bird poop. However, most of the cenotaphs and the carvings are very well preserved.  It was surprising to see that such beautiful monuments had no visitors, quite contrary to Mehrangarh fort located just 9 km away which was brimming with tourist herds.  What came as a bigger surprise was the fact that there was no entry ticket for such a beautiful monument and there were no guides available to help the visitors. It is quite true that not all beautiful things in life come for a price.

If you are someone like us with a desire to discover the architectural wonders and love to avoid the crowd, you should make a visit to the Madore gardens. However, make sure you do your bit of reading and research before heading to Mandore because it is highly unlikely that you would get a guide to help you around at Mandore.

How to reach:

Mandore is located very close to Jodhpur and is well connected by road.

Nearest Railway Stations: Mandore.

Nearest Airport: Jodhpur.

Driving distance from major tourist attractions:

From Mehrangarh Fort: 9 km
From Jodhpur city center: 14 km
From Osian: 60 km

Tips:

  • The best time to visit Mandore is post-monsoons when the garden is lush green and the temperature is moderate.
  • Mandore is a photographers paradise. Don’t forget to carry a good camera along with you during your visit.
  • Beware of langurs in the garden.
  • Wear comfortable clothes and footwear as there is a lot of walking involved.
  • It takes around 2 hr to see around mandore gardens. It might take even more if you are an avid photographer. So, plan your itinerary accordingly.
  • No restaurants are available inside the gardens. Carry adequate water and some snacks while going there.

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