Meera Mahal – Merta, India - Atlas Obscura
Free iron-on Atlas Obscura badge when you preorder our new kids’ book. Shop now.

Merta, India

Meera Mahal

This small and unknown museum recounts the life of Mirabai, a remarkable mystic saint of the 16th century. 

At height of her fame, around the year 1557, Mirabai disappeared. The mystic poet and devoted worshiper of Krishna was singing devotional songs to Sri Krishna in Dwarka Temple, and in front of many witnesses, she simply vanished. All that was left was her sari, wrapped around the Krishna murti (statue).

Believers say she merged with her beloved God. Doubters think she was spirited out a side door, to a waiting boat, to escape from a deputation of pursuers that were commissioned to bring her back to Chittor.

Mirabai’s mysterious disappearance, at age 57, was the culmination of a series of miracles and other unlikely incidents in a remarkable life. Born a princess in Rajput (present-day Rajasthan) Mirabai became completely devoted to Krishna when she was a girl. The granddaughter of Rao Jodha, founder of Jodhpur, Mirabai grew up in a palace in Merta City, an off-the-tourist-trail spot near Pushkar in central Rajasthan. It was here that she was first introduced to Krishna, and where she decided to devote her life to him.

Though she was married to a powerful Rajput prince, Prince Bhoj Raj of Chittor, Mirabai continued to show her devotion to Krishna by writing hundreds of poems and songs, and spending her days in a state of ecstatic rapture. Her fame as a composer and singer spread, and even the Mughal Emperor Akbar came to see her, in disguise. But the royal family was not pleased with her: They felt her behavior was unseemly for a Rajput Princess.

After her husband’s death, her in-laws tried three times to kill her, and each time, it is said, Krishna intervened and miraculously saved her life. Finally, she ran away, and spent the rest of her life traveling as a revered mystic, poet, and saint in North India, finally ending up in Dwarka (present-day Gujarat).

Today, Mirabai’s former girlhood home is a museum, Meera Mahal, that recounts the strange incidents of her life. It is very near a well-known temple, Charbhuja Ji, that honors her. But the museum itself is largely unknown and not listed on any tourist sites or brochures, and as such attracts very few visitors.

Nevertheless, Meera Mahal is impressive. Her life is retold at the house museum through a series of exhibits, sculptures, paintings, and a shaded garden located in the very place where some of the incidents took place.

Mirabai is well-known in India to this day as a Bhakti (a worshipper) and composer of devotional songs to Krishna that continue to live on.

Know Before You Go

The above coordinates and address are for the Meera museum. You may also get directions when you visit the Charbhuja Ji Temple in Merta City, which is very close by.