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Rajasthan, the land embellished with infinite imprints of colour and chivalry,
harmonious life and lingering music, harmony and hospitality, palaces and
pristine nature; has been extending an invigorating invitation to the world,
since time immemorial.
Jodhpur, the heart of Rajasthan and the majestic jewel of her eternal
crown, iluminate the Thar, enriching the desert with enterpreneurship,
scholarship and art.
According to Rathore tradition, the clan traces its origins back to the
Hindu god, Rama, hero of the epic Ramayana, and thence to the sun. So the
Rathore's belong to the Suryavansha (solar race) branch of the Kshatriyas,
the warrior caste of Hindus. Later, breaking into historical reality, in
470 A.D. Nayal Pal conquered the kingdom of Kanauj, near modern Kanpur in
Uttar Pradesh. The Rathor capital for seven centuries, Kanauj fell in 1193
to the Afghan invader's led by Muhammad Ghori.
The fleeing ruler, Jai Chand was drowned in the Ganga. But his son Siyaji,
had better luck. An expedient marriage alliance between the Rathore Sihaji
and the sister of a local prince enabled the Rathors to consolidate themselves
in this region. In fact, they prospered to such a degree that they managed
to oust the Pratiharas of Mandore, nine km to the north of present day Jodhpur.He
later set himself up as an independent ruler around the wealthy trading
centre of Pali, just south of Jodhpur.
His descendants flourished, battled often, won often, and in 1381 Rao Chanda
ousted the Parihars from Mandore which then became the Rathore seat of government.Rathore
fortunes then turned for better. Rao Chanda's son and heir, Rainmal, won
praise for his capture of Ajmer and was then entrusted with the care of
his orphaned nephew, destined to inherit the Mewar throne of Chittor. Rainmal
may well have had his eyes on this fine, hilltop fort. But court intrigue
and treachery stopped him.
In 1438 he was doped with opium, and finally shot dead. This triggered bitter
feuds, ending with Mewar and Marwar becoming separate states.Rathore legend
continues in various versions. One is that Jodha, one of Rainmal's 24 sons,
fled Chittor and finally, 15 years later, recaptured Mandore in 1453. Five
years later he was acknowledged as ruler. A holy man sensibly advised him
to move his capital to hilltop safety.
By 1459, it became evident that a more secure headquarters was required.
The high rocky ridge nine km to the south of Mandore was an obvious choice
for the new city of Jodhpur, with the naturaly enhanced by a fortress
of staggering proportions, and to which Rao Jodha's successors added over
Rao Ganga Singh of Jodhpur (reigned 1516-32) fought alongside the army
of the great warrior king of Mewar, Rana Sanga, against the first Mughal
But over the next half century, the rulers of Jodhpur allied themselves
with Babur's grandson, Akbar. Several rulers of Jodhpur became trusted lieutenants
of the Mughals, such as Raja Surender, who conquered Gujarat and much of
the Deccan for Akbar, and Raja Gaj Singh, who put down the rebellion of
the Mughal prince, Khurram, against his father, Jahangir. With the support
of the Mughals, the court of Jodhpur flourished and the kingdom became a
great centre of the arts and culture.
In the 17th century Jodhpur became a flourishing centre of trade for the
camel caravans moving from Central Asia to the parts of Gujarat and vice
versa. In 1657, however, Maharaja Jaswant Singh (reigned 1638-78) backed
the wrong prince in the great war of succession to the Mughal throne. He
was in power for almost twenty-five years with Aurangzeb before he was sent
out to the frontier as viceroy in Afghanistan. Aurangzeb then tried to seize
his infant son, but loyal retainers smuggled the little prince out of his
clutches, hidden, they say, in a basket of sweets.
Political Strife: The kingdom of Jodhpur then formed a triple alliance
with Udaipur and Jaipur, which together threw off the Mughal yoke. As
a result,the maharajas of Jodhpur finally regained the privilege of marrying
Udaipur princesses something they had forfeited when they had allied themselves
with the Mughals. A condition of these marriages, however, was that the
sons born of the Udaipur princesses would be first in line to the Jodhpur
throne. This soon led to considerable.jealousy. Nearly a century of turmoil
followed. The state of affairs was such that a young Rathore prince, when
asked ,where Jodhpur was, simply pointed to the sheath of his 'dagger
and said, "Inside here".
In the 1870's, a remarkable man came to the fore in Jodhpur: Sir Pratap
Singh a son of Maharaja of Jodhpur, he himself ruled a neighboring kingdom
called Idar, abdicated to become Regent of Jodhpur, which he ruled, in effect,
for nearly fifty years. Sir Pratap Singh was a great warrior and the epitome
of Rajput chivalry. He became an intimate friend of three British sovereigns.
At Queen Victoria's durbar he is said to have presented her not with mere
jewels, like everyone else, but with his own sword, his most valuable possession
as a Rajput warrior. Sir Pratap Singh laid the foundation of a modern state
in Jodhpur, which Maharaja Umaid Singh (reigned 1918-47) built upon. The
kingdom of Jodhpur was not merely the largest of the Rajput states, but
also one of the most progressive.
In 1949, after the independence of India, it was merged into the newly
created state of Rajasthan.