“There’s nothing in there, just a few cenotaphs” is what most of them will tell you as an introduction to the Mandore Gardens of Jodhpur. Be it your taxi driver or your host. Although, we are really not sure why. Because as we stepped into the Mandore Gardens of Jodhpur on the second day of our 2 days in Jodhpur, towards the evening and explored it’s premises, we were really happy. Happy to have come to the right spot towards the end of the day. For one, the Mandore Gardens of Jodhpur transports it’s visitors to an altogether different world with it’s unique features. And next, it resembles so many other beautiful places from around the world – giving you the deja vu. If anything, this garden is very underrated amongst the places to visit in Jodhpur. And we must admit it is a little neglected as well. While the Mehrangarh Fort of Jodhpur boasts proudly as one of the most well maintained forts of India, the Mandore Gardens at the other end are crying for more attention.
Entrance to the Mandore Gardens of Jodhpur
We won’t say that the entrance to the Mandore Gardens is very impressive. There is a parking lot in front where you can leave your vehicle parked. And after a little walk, you will reach the gates of the garden. The parking lot is a bit congested with a lot of vendors lined up on both the sides, all the way till the gates of the garden. But, as you step inside the gates of Mandore Gardens of Jodhpur, you will suddenly feel like entering into a different world. For, the vast expanse of greens and sudden peace will be the first ones to welcome you. The road inside leads towards the Cenotaphs. But, there is a short walk to be done before you reach the cenotaphs. On either side of the road leading inside, again, you might see some vendors selling some souvenirs, bangles and other daily use products as you take this walk.
The monkey forest of the Mandore Gardens of Jodhpur
There are a lot of trees in the Mandore Gardens. Walking further down the Mandore Gardens, as you start approaching the center of the garden, you will start spotting a lot of monkeys on these trees. There are some black apes too. And as you walk further, the groups become larger and the number of monkeys increase all around you. You will find them walking on the road as well in groups, chasing each other, jumping from one branch of the tree to the other and doing their regular monkey stuff. They are quiet used to human presence and will most likely not harm you if you choose to ignore them and just walk your way. The presence of these monkeys amongst the greenery reminded me of the Monkey Forest of Ubud. And that’s why I chose to call this region of the garden as the monkey forest of the Mandore Gardens of Jodhpur.
Our little one was a little scared and a lot more excited about the monkeys as we cautiously walked through them towards the Cenotaphs. We spotted someone coming with a bunch of bananas and feeding the monkeys. He looked like a regular visitor. A word of caution here though. Although these monkeys are not the aggressive ones. Still, it’s good to take all the precautions that you would otherwise take in any area surrounded with so many monkeys. Don’t offer them food. And don’t try to get friendly. It will be good idea not to try to snap their pictures from too close unless you want to risk your camera being snatched away 😀
The cenotaphs in the Mandore Gardens of Jodhpur
As you pass through the abode of monkeys , you will start getting the glimpses of the cenotaphs of the Maharajas. The architecture of the cenotaphs is such that from a distance they can be easily mistaken for temples. After having visited the different ancient temples including the Mahabalipuram Shore Temple, the Lepakshi Temple and the Temples of Kolar, we really thought for a while that we were mistaking some temples for Cenotaphs. The architecture of these Cenotaphs are very different from the constructs of the cenotaphs that you see in Jaisalmer like the Bada Bagh or Vyas Chattri. In the cenotaphs, you can easily see a mix of Hindu and Jain architectural elements. The chattris (cenotaphs) here are marked by an enormous edifice. And they have a high shikhara or spire on top of them. Which predominently gives them the resemblance to the temples. They also have a pillared and domed forechamber. On the walls of the chattri one can see very fine sculpture which include small carved elephants and lions.
A very prominent one is the Chattri of Maharaja Ajit Singh that was constructed in 1793. Near the chattri is a memorial that marks the commitment of Sati by several women on the death of Ajit Singh. Nearby there is another big Chattri, that of Maharaja Jaswant Singh I. This one has an octagonal base with a huge dome and a vast pavillion. The symmetrical structure of this cenotaph is particularly striking. You can easily spend an hour here. It’s a marvel for the photographers. Clicking the Cenotaphs from different angles inside out is really a fun activity that you can thoroughly enjoy if you love photography. So did we.
Towards the end of the garden comes a small hill. From atop this hill, one can see the ruins of the Mandore Fort. Mandore was the old capital of the kingdom of Mewar. But as time progressed, the kingdom felt a need for better security, particularly from the invading muslim forces. So, they decided to get the Mehrangarh Fort constructed. Mehrangarh Fort is located on much better grounds from strategic point of view. Perched on a higher hill with very clear views of the planes far and wide, it definitely provided for a much better and secure setup. Thus, once Mehrangarh Fort was completed, the Mandore Fort was abandoned.
Our experience in the Mandore Gardens of Jodhpur
Overall, we had a very pleasant evening in the Mandore Gardens of Jodhpur. We didn’t see a reason why one should avoid visiting this spot. It’s not commercialized, free of vendors or guides, and also not much crowded. We love such places. We spent a good amount of time in the Mandore Gardens, particularly near the Cenotaphs. The beautiful architecture of the Cenotaphs and around are like the perfect spots for photographers to try their skills. After spending time around the Cenotaphs, we went a little further towards the back.
There is a pond here, which definitely calls for some maintenance. As the water seems to have become muddy and the drains around clogged with dried leaves, But the trees surrounding the pond, a small bridge on top of it and the dried leaves fallen all around just make for a beautiful view. We visited this place in the month of fall. With bougainvillea in full bloom and lots of dried leaves almost making a bed around the pond, it was really a sight to behold. Overall, we will say, Mandore Gardens of Jodhpur are a must visit and they should be on every traveler’s list. Although remember that they are not sold by the locals like the other spots in Jodhpur.
Tips on visiting the Mandore Gardens of Jodhpur
- You can easily get an auto from anywhere in the city to Mandore Gardens. Or, you can hire a cab for a day to visit the Mandore Gardens along with other attractions that Jodhpur has got to offer. Including the Mehrangarh Fort, Jaswant Thada etc. like we did.
- Visit in the morning or towards the evening after 4:00pm. Since the days in Jodhpur are hot, even in the winter months.
- Carry adequate drinking water with you. There is no source of drinking water inside the gardens. At times you can see vendors selling drinking water but it is upon luck that you get to encounter one.
- You can also laze around in the fields of the garden, and have some relaxing time. Although I see eating here might be a challenge due to the huge number of monkeys.
- As said earlier, you should be cautious around the monkeys in the garden. Don’t try to provoke them or befriend them.
- Plan to exit before dark if you go here in the evening since we didn’t see much provision of lighting inside the park.
- You need to take off your shoes when visiting inside the cenotaphs as a token of respect.
- The gardens are open from 8:00am to 8:00pm.
- There is no entry fee for the garden.
- Although, there is a museum inside the garden premises and there is an entry fee of INR 50/- for the museum.