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.