January 29, 2015

Travel to Past: A visit to Mewar Kingdom (Part-1)

The land of the Kings! Undoubtedly Rajasthan holds a fascinating aura which always tickled my soul and senses as a traveller that I bound to cover the whole state in three parts. Every time I have been to this place, I enjoyed the ethnicity of culture, history, beauty of the deserts or landscapes of Aravali Range that took my breath away.

During my week long experience in Rajasthan, I adored not just for its heritage and colorful art embodied architecture, but also for the impact of rustic but a wholesome experience. During much of our road trip in Rajasthan, we went to lesser visited places and came back with an enviable experience. Every different city that I traveled had a natural yet interesting niche that made a tad different from every other city within the state.

19 of us started from Borivli (Mumbai) on 17th January and returned back late afternoon on the 24th. Six days of the most incredible sights, sounds and taste of Royal Rajasthan.

The weather was just perfect! The gentle winter sun allowed us to walk around exploring the forts and palaces even at 2 pm. [Just try doing that in summer ;-)]

The route that evolved as we covered each place was:

Ranthanbore > Bundi > Chittorgarh>Udaipur>Ranakpur>Kumbhalgarh>Udaipur

Ranthambore National Park:

We reached Sawai Madhopur on 18th Jan morning. Got plenty time to freshen up as we booked the afternoon safari. Zone 3 was reserved and we were informed that that zone is best to watch wildlife. Zone 3 and 4 cover 3 lakes.  The presence of the large water bodies gives a good chance to see number of birds. The afternoon safari was on a canter and we entered the park around 3 pm. There were a lot of chital deer, peacocks and Sambhar deer, birds including the red-wattled lapwing, crested serpent eagle, tree-pies and jungle babblers.

Ranthambore is the land of Tigers!!! We saw some tiger pugmarks but our wait and tracking was unsuccessful. It was time to return to the gates. Though we were not lucky enough to sight one this time but that's how it is, this uncertainty keeps the interest alive. Here the King is the Tiger, he chooses to see you, and you wander around the whole park hoping to be seen!!! It's said that Tigers of Ranthambore are the most camera friendliest Tigers in the world.

Bundi :

If you are a Bengali you must have read “Nokol Garh” (False Fort) by Rabindranath Tagore of the book Katha O Kahini. A tale where Kumbha, a Harabansi tribe fought bravely to the last drop of blood to protect the false Bundi fort which was built to abide the Rana’s word. Chittor Rana took an oath, not to touch a drop of water until he conquers the Bundi.

With narrow lanes of Brahmin-blue houses, lakes, hills, bazaars and a temple at every turn, Bundi is a small town where time seems to have stood still and it still looks as it would have a few decades ago. Bundi is dominated by an incredible fort on a hill overlooking the city. Though popular with travellers, Bundi attracts nothing like the tourist crowds of cities like Jaipur or Udaipur, nor are its streets choked with noisy, polluting vehicles or dense throngs of people. Bundi is one of the few places in Rajasthan retains so much of the magical atmosphere of centuries past.

We started our visit here with a trip to the local Bundi palace and fort. Since Bundi is a very small town everything is walk able and we walked up to the palace. It is quite a steep climb and the way is made with rocks. So you need to wear the right footwear.
Right side of the palace is a Chitrashala (picture gallery) that has some lavish traditional murals and frescoes. The fort is embellished by colorful painting. The colors are predominantly blue and green; themes cover scenes like Radha-Krishna story, religious ceremonies, hunting scenes and other princely amusements. This part of the palace is a must visit.

 “Garh mein Garh Chittor garh Baki sab Garhiya,
                   Rani mein Rani Padmini Baki Sab Gadhhiya”

Chittorgarh is simply stunning! Believed to be the largest and grandest in the country, the fortress is associated with rather melancholic stories. Dating back to the seventh century, the stately fort practically captures the hill it is built on, spanning nearly seven hundred acres. However, its history is a tale of bloody sieges, and terrible sacrifices.

During the eight centuries it was ruled by Rajputs, till Akbar’s 1568 invasion saw the fort abandoned, Chittorgarh became legendary for the events – the jauhar (suicide) of Rani Padmini, sacrifice of Panna dav and the escapade of Rana Udai Singh.

Light & Sound Show

Chittor was also the home of the Bhakti poet Rani Mirabai, and a temple has been built at the site where she is said to have kept a shrine for Lord Krishna. A sign at the temple declares “here is the place where poison was turned into nectar”. Exploring the ruin and later in evening travelling the past through the light and sound show was a thrilling experience!
Ranakpur :

If you are on a trip to Udaipur, don't miss Ranakpur Temple, this artistic temple that became an unforgettable part of our beautiful memories.

It is a masterpiece of architecture. This temple is world famous for being one of the five most important Jain shrines in India. Ade entirely of light colored marble, this temple infuses wonder with its engraved designs and grandeur.

 The temple is said to have been built by Seth Dharna Sah (a Jain businessman) with the aid of Rana Kumbha, who ruled Mewar in the 15th century. The temple complex is positioned in an isolated valley on the western side of the Aravalli Range.

When you do visit the Jain temple in Ranakpur, you must eat a meal at its temple food hall called the “Bhojan Shala”. Here they serve the simplest of food with the greatest pride. A few cooks in a very basic kitchen prepare the meals here. The food is served to you in a thali (platter) and you can have as many helpings as you wish. But keep in mind do not waste roti. Generally a meal consists of a vegetable, a curry and a daal (lentil). This is accompanied with rice, rotis and fried papads. In addition, they also serve chutneys and curds (yogurt). The food is a simple as can be and yet there is something about it that is so delightful.

Just a few words :
  1. The most excellent time to tour around Rajasthan is from the end of September to mid of April month.
  2. The morning safari time to the Ranthambore National Park is better than the afternoon. 
  3. If you really interested to explore the forts, wear comfortable shoes,sunglasses and carry a water bottle coz there's lot of walking inside.
  4. Light and sound show is a must do when you visit  Chittor.
  5. It’s better to hire a car to reach the smaller rural and remote areas of Rajasthan . Get a knowledgeable driver who is aware of all the areas.

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