Rao Jodha (28 March 1416-6 April 1489) was a Rajput ruler of Mandore (in the present day Rajasthan state of India). He was the son of Rao Ranmal (Ranamalla) of the Rathore clan. He is known for founding the city of Jodhpur in 1459.
Rao Ranmal secured the throne of Mandore in 1427. In addition to ruling Mandore, Rao Ranmal also became the administrator of Mewar to assist Maharana Mokal (father of Rana Kumbha). After the assassination of Rana Mokal in 1433, Ranmal continued as administrator of Mewar at the side of Rana Kumbha. In 1438, Rana Kumbha decided to end the power sharing arrangement, and had Rao Ranmal assassinated in Chittor. Warned by a domb, Rao Jodha escaped towards Marwar. He was pursued by the older brother of Rana Mokal, Chunda (progenitor of the Chundawat branch of the Sisodiyas).
Approximately 450 horsemen accompanied Rao Jodha as he escaped from Chittor. Fighting near Chittor and a valiant attempt to bar the pursuers at Someshwar Pass resulted in heavy losses amongst Jodha's warriors. When Jodha reached Mandore he had only seven people accompanying him. Jodha collected whatever forces he could, abandoned Mandore and pressed on towards Jangalu. Jodha barely managed to reach safety at Kahuni (a village near present day Bikaner). For 15 years Jodha tried in vain to recapture Mandore. Jodha's opportunity to strike finally came in 1453 with Rana Kumbha facing simultaneous attacks by the Sultans of Malwa and Gujarat. Jodha made a surprise attack on Mandore using horses seized from the Thakur of Setrawa and other jagirdars. Jodha's forces overwhelmed the defenders and captured Mandore with relative ease. Jodha then successively captured Chaukade, Sojat, Merta, Bahirunda and Kosana. Rana Kumbha did make attempts to recapture these territories, albeit unsuccessfully. Jodha and Kumbha eventually settled their differences in order to face their common enemies, the rulers of Malwa and Gujarat.
LEGEND ABOUT CAPTURE OF MANDORE
Once, late at night, Rao Jodha stopped at a Jat farmer's house.They did not recognize who he was. He was given a bowl of hot khichdi, an Indian porridge. Jodha put his fingers in the centre of the bowl and burnt his fingers. The farmer's wife commented, "stranger you are making the same mistake as our king (Jodha) is. Khichdi is hottest in the centre and coolest at the edge". This prompted Jodha to stop worrying about Mandore and just focus on outlying forts, which he managed to win with ease. In due time he captured Mandore.
JODHA AND MARWAR FIEFS
According to James Tod, Rao Jodha gave a new form to the feudal institutions of Marwar. Necessity, combined with pride, led him to promulgate a statute of limitation of the sub-infeudations of Maru. The immense progeny of his father Ranmall, twenty-four sons, and his own, of fourteen, almost all of whom had numerous issue, rendered it requisite to fix the number and extent of the fiefs; and amongst them, henceforward constituting permanently the frerage of Maru, the lands were partitioned, Kandhal having emigrated and established his own numerous issue, the Kandhalots, in Bikaner, The two brothers next to Jodha, namely, Champa and Kumpa, with his two sons, Duda and Karam Singh, and his grandson, Uday, were declared the heads of the feudal association under their names, the Champawats, Kumpawats, Mertias (sons of Duda), Karamsots (His 8th son), and Udawats, continue to be the pillars of Maru. Eight great estates, called the ath thakurat, or eight lordships of Marwar, each of the nominal annual value of fifty thousand rupees (50000), were settled on these persons, and their immense influence has obtained many others for younger branches of their clans. The title of the first noble of Maru was given to Champa and his issue, who have often made its princes tremble on their thrones. Besides these, inferior appanages were settled on the junior branches, brothers, sons, and grandsons of Jodha, which were also deemed hereditary and irresumable; to use their own phrase, their bat, or allotment, to which they consider their title as sacred as that of their prince to his throne, of whom they say, "When our services are acceptable, then is he our lord; when not, we are again his brothers and kin, claimants, and laying claim to the land.
According to Nainsi's Vigat (Marwar ra parganam ri vigat) the rulers of Jalore and Bundi submitted to Rao Jodha. Ajmer and Sambhar were ceded to Jodha by Rana Kumbha's son, Udaysimha (Udaysingh I). The ruler of Mohilavati, Ajit Singh died in a battle with Rao Jodha's forces and the city was captured some years later. After settling down in the aforementioned village of Kahuni, Jodha's son Bika founded a new state. Jodha thus controlled two thirds of the Marwar region and also Bikaner.
Foundation of Jodhagarh/Jodhpur
MEHRANGARH FORT, JODHPUR
A holy man sensibly advised Rao Jodha to move the capital to hilltop safety. By 1459, it became evident that a more secure headquarters was required. Chidia-tunk, a high rocky ridge, nine km to the south of Mandore was an obvious choice for the new city of Jodhagarh. The natural elevation was enhanced by a fortress of staggering proportions, to which Rao Jodha's successors added over the centuries. Jodhagarh was on the important Delhi to Gujarat trade route and it greatly benefited from the trade of silk, opium, sandalwood, copper and other items. The Mehrangarh Fort, situated on a 125 m high hill, is among the most impressive and formidable forts in Rajasthan. The construction of the fort was begun by Maharaja Rao Jodha in 1459 and was completed by Maharaja Jaswant Singh (1638-1680).
The fort originally had seven gates ("pols"). There is a first gate with spikes to prevent attack from elephants. The Fatehpol or victory gate was erected by Maharaja Ajit Singh in 1707 to commemorate his victory over the Mughals. The other gates include the Jayapol, built by Maharaja Man Singh in 1806, following his victory over the armies of Jaipur and Bikaner.
DEATH AND THE SUCCESSION
Rao Jodha died on 6 April 1489, aged 73. The death of Rao Jodha was followed by a struggle for succession amongst his sons. He was succeeded by his son Rao Satal (1489 - 1491). After his death, his brother Rao Suja (1491 - 1515) occupied the throne.