Saturday, December 15, 2007

Wrap around & Return

We had a memorable luncheon with a good friend, before our return journey.

Candle-Lit Dinner: A Memorable Evening

Bhils: The bow men of Rajasthan

The Bhils form an important group, which inhabits mainly the southern districts of Rajasthan and the surrounding regions of Udaipur and Chittaurgarh. The generic term, which describes their tribe apparently, derives its name from bil, meaning bow, which describes their original talent and strength.


History corroborates the legends, which tells about their superiority in archery. From the Mahabharata emerges Eklavya, a Bhil who surpassed the skill of Arjuna only to be repressed by the command of his guru. The Ramayana tells of Vail, the Bhil bandit who reformed with the blessings of the Saraswati, the goddess of learning, to become Valmiki, the renowned poet sage.

Even today, the accepted head of all the Rajput clan of Rajasthan, the Maharana of Udaipur is crowned by anointing his forehead with blood drawn from the palm of a Bhil chieftain, affirming the alliance and loyalty of his tribe.

The Bhils gained in strength by intermingling with rebellious, outcast Rajputs who sought shelter with them. Rajput rulers came to value the guerilla tactics of the Bhils, particularly since they were at ease in the hilly terrain. Various fierce invasions could not be repelled without their active support. Leading a camouflaged existence, the Bhils were unable to update their material techniques and this became the main cause of their relegation to the past where they stood as brave symbol rather than a real threat to an enemy.

For us these tribal people were a perceived threat as well as laughing stock. Though everyone was more than a little afraid in his/her mind while crossing the Bhil locality, jokes, overt discussions and mutual leg-pullings over Bhils entertained us and allowed us to exercise our creativity. It's only due to these excessive discussions and laughter, that we unknowingly traversed the badly terrained Udaipur-Mount Abu highway.

Mount Abu: Surroundings

Mount Abu: A Hilly Resort of Rajasthan

The Aravalli hills stretching from Delhi to Gujarat reach their highest point here in a mountain, atop which is a picturesque plateau. This is Abu in Sirohi district, a lush green summer resort and the only hill station in Rajasthan. Mount Abu has a somewhat steep incline, with ravines cut into its sides, filled with trees, bushes and beautiful birds. It is a detached hill, and on the plateau on the summit are granite rocks of fantastic shapes, the space between them covered with greenery. The Hill of Wisdom, The Saint's Pinnacle, The Rajput Olympus, the Mon Capitalia of Pliny. Yes all these are titles for just one place – Mount Abu.

Quick bytes
Altitude : 1,220 meters (4,003 feet)
Distance from Udaipur : 185km (115 miles)
Population : 17,000
Area : 25 sq. Km
Best time to visit : March-June and September-November.

Nehru Park, Fateh Sagar Lake

Nehru Park, Fateh Sagar Lake

As the name suggests this Park has indeed been named after the first Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru. The Park was inaugurated on the birth anniversary of Nehru on 14th November 1967. It is an oval shaped island and lies humbly on the Fateh Sagar Lake. The garden overlooks the ancient Moti Mahal of Rana Pratap. This island garden is a real delight to the eyes, sitting softly on the calm waters of the Lake and amidst the enchanting hills surrounding it. The Park covers a huge area of about 41 acres with its flower gardens and a lily pond.

Haldighati Museum & Surroundings

Ekling mandir: Forbidden photos!

Chetak Memorial: Haldighati

Chetak Memorial: Haldighati

Haldighati, is a small village in the Aravalli Hills about 44 km north of Udaipur and about 1,839 m. above sea level. Beyond this is Haldighati Pass, a narrow defile almost a kilometre in length, running South to the Northeast and finally ending in a broad plain. An interesting geographical feature of the pass is its soft yellow soil, which when crumbled resembles the turmeric (haldi), which gives the place its name. It was here that the famous Battle of Haldighati was fought on June 18, 1576 between Maharana PRATAP SINGH of Mewar and the Imperial army of Emperor Akbar of Delhi.

Battle of Haldighati (June 18, 1576), a four-hour confrontation between the Imperial forces of Mughal Emperor AKBAR and Maharana PRATAP SINGH I (1572-1597) of Mewar.

Chetak, the faithful stallion of the Maharana Pratap Singh saved his master's life, despite being brutally injured in the battle. In three legs, it carried it's beloved master to a safer location before it laid down it succumbed to injuries.

1Temple=108 temples

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Ek Ling Mandir

Lord Shiva is known to have a hundred names. One hunderd and eight in all. 108 is also the number of Upanishads written. Eklingji has been the deity of the royal Mewar family since the time of Bappa Rawal, founder of the Mewar dynasty. Ek means 'one' while ling means 'lingum or the life giving phallic symbol of Lord Shiva'. The patron deity of the Mewar clan is considered the actual ruler of the region while the kings are merely the Dewan (or the Prime Minister) of this God of Mewar, the same way Swami Padmanabha (Lord Maha Vishnu) is for the Travancore royalty in Kerala.

The temple was first built in the year 728AD, however, subsequent changes and renovation work was done later as well. The temple that stands today is not the original structure but the one built on the site of ancient temple. Infact, as later as in the 15th and 16th century, Maharana Raimal too rebuilt and renovated this temple.

The temple complex is located at the banks of Indersagar Lake. Within the walls of the Eklingji Temple, there are 108 shrines built of marble and sandstone. The main shrine has a double storeyed covered platform, a hall with a number of pillars and a flat pyramidal roof with circular knobs. In this main shrine is a four faced black marble statue of Lord Eklingji with Brahma facing west, Vishnu facing north, Shiva facing south and Surya facing east.

Outside the temple are the statues of Nandi, Shiva's bull and Bappa Rawal. Bappa Rawal is shown facing Nandi with his hands clasped. There is another statue of Nandi in silver in the hall of the temple.

Though the temple is mainly dedicated to Lord Shiva, yet other deities are worshipped here as well. Few of the prominent among these are Parvati, Ganesha, Ganga, Kartikeya, Yamuna and Saraswati. Smaller temples dedicated to Amba Mata and Kalka Mata can also be found in the temple complex.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Apni Dhani

A thematic village restaurant in Udaipur, Apni Dhani has it's own charm. Apart from the culinary delights of a restaurant, Apni Dhani tends to highlight the colourful life of the people in rural
Rajasthan. There are various shows arranged to delight the public, but it serves as a window to look at the culture of Rajasthan.

Lake Pichchola

Lake Pichola with exceptional scenic beauty is surrounded by hills, embankments, bathing ghats, shrines and palaces. The lake was enlarged by Maharana Udai Singh II after he founded the
city. He built a masonry dam, known as the 'Badi Pal', and the vast lake is nearly 5km in length and three km wide. The magnificence of the lake is enhanced by beautiful Lake Palaces, Jag Niwas and the Jag Mandir.

Saheliyon ki Baadi

I couldn't find much information about this beautiful garden, which displays its thirst for renovation and prompt restoration. In the outskirts of city, a few kilometers through the banks of the Fateh Sagar, our auto driver took us to this garden. If his stories were to be taken into face value, this garden was designed for the unique purpose of providing a rain-like shower for the princess (he told me the name, but it's now hard to recollect), a a gift from her father Rana Sangram Singh II, who did not want his daughter to be deprived of the pleasure of having a rain shower, in an arid city. Though the driver told us that the shower works purely on gravitational principles and manual operations, I couldn't find a suitable reason to believe it--neither by the way it was designed nor by the altitude it maintains vis-a-vis the level of the mighty Fateh Sagar.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

City Palace: More images

City Palace

The City Palace

Largest palace complex in Rajasthan, the City Palace of Udaipur stands tall in glory and honour bearing testimony to the tumultous history it as witnessed. The construction of this great palace consummated a whopping 300+ years. Initially, Maharana Udai Singh built this superb wonder, but the present form of the Palace is the result of subsequent additions by his successors. City Palace boasts of the wonderful blend of Medieval, European and Chinese Architecture.

City Palace comprises 11 wonderful palaces, which were built by different rulers still they resemble each other. With the sheer glimpse of unique paintings, antique furniture and exquisite glass mirror & ornamental tiles work of these palaces, you will get amazed. Manak Mahal (Ruby Palace) has figures of crystal and porcelain. However, Bhim Vilas flaunts a fabulous collection of miniature paintings depicting the real life stories of Radha-Krishna.

The 'Krishna Vilas' is known for the noteworthy album of miniature paintings portraying royal processions, festivals and games of the Maharanas. Moti Mahal (Pearl Palace) is celebrated for its lavish decor while Sheesh Mahal (Palace of mirrors) is known for its breathtaking mirror work. 'Chini Chitrashala' is renowned for its Chinese and Dutch ornamental tiles. 'Dilkusha Mahal' (Palace of Joy) is known for the murals and wall paintings.

Bada Mahal is the exotic garden palace that stands erect on a 90 feet high natural rock formation. Rang Bhawan is the palace that used to contain royal treasure. There are temples of Lord Krishna, Meera Bai and Shiva, located right to the 'Rang Bhawan'. 'Mor Chowk' has exceptional glass mosaics of peacocks, set in the walls presenting the three seasons of summer, winter and monsoon. 'Laxmi Vilas Chowk' is an art gallery with a distinctive collection of Mewar paintings. City Palace has amazing interiors with delicate mirror-work, marble work, murals, wall paintings, silver work, inlay work and surplus of colored glass. The exquisite work of City Palace cannot be bounded in words, so one must visit this palace to capture the real picture of it.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Moti Magri: The Memorial of Great Hero

Pearl Hill: An Ideal Place for an Ideal Memorial

Our initial day in Udaipur began with the local sightseeing. On top of Moti Magri (Pearl Hill), stood the tribute to one of the greatest kings in Indian history, Maharana Pratap of Mewar. The memorial comprises a life-sized bronze statue of Maharana Pratap balanced on his loyal and favourite horse, Chetak. If I decode the style of design of the sculpture, I should consider that the Maharana survived all wars, and his passing away was due to natural causes. Chetak was craftfully sculpted as having his feet on the ground. History teaches us that Chetak gave up his life in the service of his master, while attending to a battle of strategic importance. Situated at the top of Moti Margi or Pearl Hill, the memorial overlooks the Fateh Sagar Lake. If you are a photographer, then you will truly love this place. From the comfortable height of the hill, you can click some of the best pictures of Udaipur city.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Day 1: The capital of Mewar

The initial day was dedicated to sight-seeing and spending time in the city and it's suburbs. The hotel we stayed was adjacent to Lake Pichhola. Our taxi driver mentioned that the lake got it's name just because it is situated in the rear side of the city. (In Hindi, "Peecha" turns out to "back.") . It's only when I had a deeper study of the locality that I learned that the name originally is related to the adjacent village, Pichholi. The hotel we stayed was not in a very happening location, as we learned later, but it definitely had something about it. Our auto driver doubled up as a local guide. The pride of being a subject of Mewar was apparent in his words, but his contempt towards adjacent kingdoms like Marwar and Jaipur (purely due to historic reasons) didnot visibly complement the hospitality he showered on us.

Day 1: Udaipur City