Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Land of kings 3

Here is instalment three of the Land of Kings series. This time its Udaipur, Kumbhalgarh, Ranakpur and Mount Abu. Of these Udaipur needs no introduction. It's the most scenic location in Rajasthan, and as such, has featured in everything from movies to TV. Its most iconic son, Rana Pratap, is honoured in legend and song. The city palace at Udaipur has everything a palace should ever have, from the Sun symbol of the Sisodias, to grand rooms, beautiful murals, shady courtyards, and of course a sheesh mahal, apart from some of the

the most beautiful paintings that can be seen in Rajasthan. The lake palace, is a distant mirage in the lake, alas; only accessible to the well-heeled.  Haldi ghati, with its famous battle, and tales of valour, loyalty and betrayal, is also far from the city, but Rana Pratap and his loyal horse Chetak stand guardian over the city.

On next to Kumbhalgarh, made by Rana  Kumbha and used by Udai Singh and Rana Pratap during their long drawn battles with the Mughals. The fort  wall is second only to the great wall of China in length. The history of the fort consists  of happy occasions, such as the birth of Rana Pratap in 1540 as well as unhappy ones such as the murder of Rana Kumbha by his own traitorous son Ude in 1468.  The fort owes its existence to the sacrifice of a sage who offered himself as sacrifice so that the fort could be built. The gate of the fort was made where his head fell, and the walls where his body did.  A temple to him was made inside the fort walls. The fort is almost impregnable, and only fell in battle once. A spectacular view of the Aravallis can be seen from the topmost ramparts. The sound and light show at night is full of these wonderful stories, far better than the show at Amer, those who fought the Mughals make for the good stories, not the ones who fought for them! We had the good fortune of seeing it on a full moon night, when the air is full of the whisperings of those who lived here before.

The last leg of the journey were the Jain temples of Ranakpur and Mount Abu. The marble carving of the temples is literally lace in stone. No pictures, alas, photography being firmly prohibited. The Jain temples all over, over 300 in Kumbhalgarh, a huge number in Chittorgarh, reminds one that the history of Jainism in  the region predates both Rajputs and Mughals, and goes back to the 11th century. 
So we returned from the land of kings once again. No, no, this is not the last edition of the LOK. The golden fortress beckons still.

This blog post is by Neelima Gupte and Sumathi Rao.

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