HERITAGE TRIP TO JODHPUR & JAISALMER – Aman Kumar Jha
TALF, an NIIT UNIVERSITY initiative that aims to prepare the young students to view the world through the multiple and diverse Asian perspectives i.e. providing a deeper understanding of what it means to be Asian; an understanding that stems from the awareness of ourselves, our surroundings and histories. We had this trip under this program, which was led by our TALF Faculty Mr. Abhisek Dutta and our coordinator Miss Sushmita Singh.
The trip started from the University itself with our excitement at the peak. The journey started with lots of fun and we covered around 500kms to reach Jodhpur. What comes to our mind when we first visit any place? Of course the cuisine of that very place! A burst of flavors. We bow down to the almost inexhaustible variety of street foods that the local kitchens of the mega-state offer. And we at the beginning did the same thing.
We tasted a variety of dishes; like Kadi Kachori, Appe, Girlfriend chat, and much more things. And we also tried to learn the various recipes of some of the cuisines. A short glimpse of that:
After having the breakfast, our next morning started with visiting Umaid Bhawan palace, built in the early 1920s and named after Maharaja UMAID SINGH, the king of MARWAR, presently known as Jodhpur. Amongst all the palace of Jodhpur, this is the youngest of all.
Now not talking much more of the Google thing, we encountered some interesting unknown facts of this palace, like this palace is also known as CHITTAR PALACE because it was constructed using stones from Chittar hills. Another interesting fact is to know about the reason for the construction of this palace. Once in the 1920s, famine struck Jodhpur (earlier known as Marwar). The troubled people came for help to Maharaja Umaid Singh and his Royal Highness generously commissioned a new palace to give employment to the people. The expensive venture employing the needy was not only a beautiful private residence but a symbol of hope and the new icon of Jodhpur replacing the Mehrangarh Fort. The paintings by Stephen Norblin not only depicted the past events but also accentuated the beauty of the palace.The venture was constructed from 1928 and 1943 giving the hard working people enough to survive the bad times. Visiting there, we came to know that the King of Umaid Bhawan was fond of vintage cars.
After mesmerizing the beauty of Umaid Bhawan palace we witnessed the POLO match. It was the first time that we were seeing the live match and also got the chance to have a photograph with the present king of Jodhpur.
Going forth our journey, we visited the MEHRANGARH FORT. The fort above the Jodhpur skylines, comprising vast interconnected networks of palaces, museums, courtyards and halls was worth viewing. There we visited many of the rooms, courtyards, museums which added to the immense beauty of this fort. We also felt the amazing experience of tying Rajasthani turban.
Visiting a place like Rajasthan and not experiencing it architectural beauty is worthless. So our eyes rolled on to Jaswant Thada, being the second largest mausoleum after the ‘Taj Mahal’ in India. This place attracted us with its extreme beauty and the architectural design. This building was made up with “the white marvel” and the best thing about this is that it glows when the sunlight falls on it. In the interior of the building, we could see the images of all the kings/leaders of that dynasty. It also spread the religious beliefs and made the faith in people of making their wishes come true.
As we all know that Jodhpur is being known for the state of kings/leaders, that’s why MANDORE GARDEN was our next destination. It caught our eye the most because of its charming collection of temples and memorials, and its high rock terraces are a major attraction of Marwar/Jodhpur. Set around the old cremation ground of rulers of erstwhile princely state of jodhpur, these cenotaph’s were built along the lines of a Hindu temple, four stories high, with fine columns and an elegant spire, all in red sandstone being each unique in their architectural design. Mandore garden also includes a government museum, a Hall of Heroes and a Temple of Three Hundred Million Gods. A special fact about this place is; Farah Khan who was roped to choreograph an extravagant song for Jackie Chan’s film recently shot the “big, happy, Bollywood style-Chinese song” in Jodhpur’s Mandore gardens.
In terms of religion, India has been considered richest among the entire world so this brought us to our next destination – Osian temples, that are famous cluster of ruined Brahmanical and Jain temples dating from the 8th to 11th centuries. Of the 18 shrines in the group, the Surya or Sun Temple and the later Kali temple, Sachiya Mata Temple, and the main Jain temple are dedicated to Mahavira which stands out in their grace and architecture. Some facts regarding Sachiya Mata temple: A series of magnificently sculpted arches forms the entrance of this temple complex. The main chamber enshrines an idol of the presiding deity, Sachiya Mata along with images of other Hindu deities. Two separate temples dedicated to Hindu Goddess Chandi and Goddess Amba Mata are also built within the complex. A sculpture of Varaha – boar incarnation of Lord Vishnu, is located in the north complex, while statues of Lord Vishnu and Goddess Lakshmi are present in the east.
After visiting the holy place, we continued our journey to Jaisalmer “The Golden city”. We reached our destination by 6 in the evening.After freshening up; we went for dinner in the nearby hotel where in addition to the meal we enjoyed the local folk dance too.
In the golden city “The Sonar Kila” became our first source of attraction. It is one of the prime places to visit in Jaisalmer. Presently, it has a resident population of about 4,000 people who are largely from the Brahmin and Daroga communities. They are mostly the followers of working population of the Bhatti kings of Jaisalmer, who were allowed to live on the premises. Its architecture is awe inspiring and marvelous. The seamless blend of Rajput and Islamic styles, the golden tinge due to the yellow sandstone, and the enthralling carvings & sculptures makes it rank among the glorious forts in Rajasthan. But this wonder of the nation, a rich heritage now cries for better and immediate attention to maintain its splendor and safety. International heritage foundations insist on reducing water usage by the residents to preserve this fort.
We then continued to see the cluster of Haveli’s situated at the heart of the city and the first one was “Patwon ki Haveli”. It is an interesting piece of architecture and the most important among the Havelis in Jaisalmer because of two things, first that it was the first haveli erected in Jaisalmer and second, that it is not a single haveli but a cluster of 5 small havelis. The havelis are also known as the ‘mansion of brocade merchants’. This name has been given probably because the family dealt in threads of gold and silver used in embroidering dresses. But many people claim that these traders made the considerable amount of money in opium smuggling and money-lending.
And the next one was “Nathmal Ji ki Haveli” which was made to serve as the residence of Diwan Mohata Nathmal, the previous Prime Minister of Jaisalmer. The architects of this haveli were Hathi and Lulu who happened to be brothers. There is a very interesting story regarding its construction. It is said that the two brothers started building different facets of haveli simultaneously and finally resulted in building a masterpiece along with a creating a uniqueness in their own style.
The first thing which strikes our mind, when we come to know about the city Rajasthan is nothing but the famous “Thar Desert”, so we decided to spend our evening in desert camp, where we enjoyed camel ride till the border of India and Pakistan which at present shifted 60 km away. In the evening, we attended Rajasthani folk dance show. Last but not the least the amazing experience of “Stargazing” in a desert at midnight enhanced and made us introspect ourselves by bringing an inner peace all excluded from the outer world.
At the last day of our trip, we decided to visit the famous haunted group of villages in “Kuldhara”. 175 years ago, 84 villages in Jaisalmer district, it still had the memory of cursed’ night. Nobody dared to live in these villages fearing the curse of Paliwal Brahmins would fall on them.
As per the sayings, a Diwan named ’Salim Singh” who was famous with the name ‘Zalim Khan’ because of his merciless activities. Once he wanted to marry a girl against the wishes of the villagers. The villagers, mostly Brahmins, defied the order of the diwan and preferred to leave the village instead of living in disgrace. They fled on the eve of Buddha Poornima night, cursing the diwan and the village as nobody even now dared to live there. We then met the famous “BABA JI” who conveyed us another story related to this village witnessed by him. As per the story, foreigners once came to Kuldhara to have an unauthorized survey beneath the ground and they found that lots of wealth are buried inside the Kuldhara’s land. They tried to steal that wealth but was fortunately caught and imprisoned, it was then declared a government property and became one of the famous tourist sites. From there, our return journey started and the trip came to an end.
At last, I would like to thank TALF for giving us students this opportunity for helping us in the deeper understanding of the heritage of Rajasthan.