ROYAL RED ARCHWAYS

Raipur Village in Pali District , Rajasthan is a small intriguing Village on way to becoming a tiny Town as it expands and merges with village Haripur (home to the fabulous Lakshman Sagar) . Raipur is located 90 kms from Ajmer, off a fabulous Highway .

Rajasthan is a lovely state which truly reflects the Heritage of a Royal Past.

The pictures that follow were taken in  Raipur Fort Palace now located in the midst of the Raipur Village where the erstwhile Ruling Family resides todate.

Red is the Hallmark  of this Royal Palace from where ,Once Upon a Time, Regal Diktats were issued and executed.

The first glimpse of the Regally Red Archways to unfold  from the bustling village street of Raipur.

archway to the royal home
Ancient Archways reveal the First Gate to the Raipur Palace Fort

The Main Entrance from the alleys of the Town-Village as it exists to date.

main gate
Primary Gate to the Fort Palace

The Main Gate which leads to the courtyard and the numerous Palaces within the Raipur Fort complex.

to the main courtyard
Lord Ganesha adorns the beautifully Carved Doorway

 

You feel you have gone back in time, 400 years ago as you step into the main courtyard that leads to the various Palaces .

The Palace which is immediately behind the Royal Marble Throne.

red arches.JPG
The beautiful Arches unique to Rajasthan

This was a peak into one of the relatively unknown  Royal Homes of Rajputana.

DELIGHTFUL OSIAN

Osian, is the tiniest of Dots in the heart of a Desert District of Rajasthan, India.

Located about 65 kms from Jodhpur , Osian is a tiny tot of a town, nay overgrown village,  now famous due to the discovery of spectacular Hindu and Jain temples from the 8th Century A.D.

Repeated Invasions from Central India from 12th century onwards laid to waste the once thriving centre of trade and the temples were forgotten in the dust of time.

When you drive along the Highway from Jodhpur to Kichan ( do read my blog THE WINTER GUESTS and A FEAST) you will see many temples still in a state of ruin, see the picture below.

Ruins of Osian
An 8th Century  Temple in Ruins

I strongly recommend you take 1-3 hours off your hectic schedules when you visit Jodhpur or Jaisalmer and have look at these Amazing beauties cast in Stone.

The exquisitely carved spire of the Main Temple is dedicated to Sachya Mata , who is worshipped by all communities in the region.

Do observe the  gorgeous Lord Ganesha statue in the foreground.

the main temple
The Main temple dedicated to the Mother Goddess

The Sudarshan Chakra ( or the Wheel of Time) atop one of the  intricate Temple spires clearly indicates the temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu.

Vishnu Temple with Chakra
The Chakra atop The Lord Vishnu Temple

The Vishnu Temple is adorned with amazing Sculptures depicting various Mythological Tales from ancient Sanskrit scriptures.

Unfortunately invaders from Central Asia during the 12th Century have mutilated a majority of the  fascinating sculptures.

The detailed and magnificent Central sculpture depicts the story of Lord Narsimhan ( A Lion Headed Avatar of Lord Vishnu) who brings and end to the Demon Hrinyakshyap by placing him on his thighs and disemboweling him.  ( do read the entire fascinating story laden with symbolism and messages) .

It marks the End of Evil and Victory of Good.

 

Narasimha Avatar
Narsimhan Avatar of Lord Vishnu

The featured Image has two striking Symbols which indicate to whom the temple is dedicated to, one is the Lion and second is the Trishul or the trident.

The Lion is the vehicle of Goddess Parvati who is the consort of Lord Shiva ( bearer of the Trishul)

Osian has a vast library of outstanding temples and sculptures, each of which reveals the mysteries of the past and the Glorious skills of Medieval India.

GATEWAY TO INDIA

The Gateway of India was completed in 1924 and was conceived to welcome King George V to India in 1911.Located in the extremely fascinating Colaba ( Apollo Bunder)  area of Mumbai, it is also the point where you can take a ferry to the historical Elephanta Caves.   ( 300 BC)

It was also the year that New Delhi On Raisina Hill became the capital of British India. It is even today the Capital of the Republic of India.

gateway of india
Gateway of India

I have  read many blogs/ articles of visitors to Mumbai. Most comment about a visit to the Gateway of India, but none mention the lovely buildings that surround it.Many even stay in the Taj Mahal Hotel but do not even take a walk around the hotel premises.

This lovely heritage building goes back to the mid 19th century and was originally the Royal Yachting Club.

It is in all probability the oldest building on the waterfront.

atomic research centre
Current Atomic Research Centre and  erstwhile Yacht Club

The magnificent Gothic style  Yacht Club as viewed today is probably made from the same Basalt stone as the Gateway of India.

It is even today an exclusive, all members Club only.

Alas , my cousin Vivek  let his opportunity to be a member  go by.

yacht club
Current Yacht Club alongwith the  new Taj building  making the backdrop

The Gateway of India is squeezed in between the  two buildings of the Taj Mahal Hotel. ( do not mix with the seventh wonder of the world TheTaj Mahal in Agra). This was also the site of a terrible terrorist attack on 26th November 2008 which lasted for three days.

 the taj                     The Taj new and old with the Gateway of India in the Centre.

Buildings reveal the history of the land. A walk of 10 minutes around the Gateway of India will take you through hundreds of  years of history of Mumbai.

Mumbai is today the financial capital of India and probably the most populated city in the World.

Pictures were taken from my  mobile and a Nikon DSLR. Can you guess which picture taken by which device?

FRAGRANCE OF UDAIPUR

The Splendour  of Udaipur and the King Of Fruits cast an enchanting spell on all who to visit this JEWEL of INDIA.

Be soaked in Joy and Happiness travelling back in time in UDAIPUR.

The Mango( Mangifera Indica)  tree in blossom at Amet Haveli , Lake Pichola Udaipur.

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                                                   The Ambrai or The Mango Orchard

The largest fruit bearing tree in the world it can attain  a height of upto 40 m.( 120 feet). The blossoms have an overpowering aroma.

Mangoes are native to the Indian Subcontinent and the leaves  form an integral part in  weddings to date

Ancient palaces  dotted with ancient Mango trees circumvent the Romantic Lake Picchola.

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                                                               The Palace and Mango trees 

The Lake Pichhola was once home to Crocodiles and they are depicted in wall paintings inside the Gorgeous and Historical City Palace.

Lake Pichola and Mango trees
                             The Majestic Palaces and Mango trees tell stories of the past

THE REMNANTS OF BLUE GOLD

Ramparts and old buildings have a curious way of telling stories.

The NEEL KOTHI is the  symbol of the worst of a Cruel Colonial past. It represents Monopolies , Imperialism and Brutality at it’s worst.

Neel is Indigo (Indigofera tinctoria)  , also called BLUE GOLD.

The cultivation of Indigo in Colonial India ( 1777  till 1947)  is an example of  greed, cruelty and horror. It is also the cause of a Genocide unparalleled in Human History.

The Indigo  crop was forcefully grown on the  rich fertile Gangetic plains  of  India by INDIGO PLANTERS from Scotland and England .

By 1810 , 95% of Indigo imported in GREAT BRITAIN came from India. Indigo was  then called BLUE GOLD  and was an extremely valuable and sought after commodity in Europe.

The land was left fallow, where not a blade of grass could grow after Indigo was cultivated on it. Consequently  the peasants starved to death for lack of food.

An Englishmen .W.L. Tower then stated and I quote:

 “not a chest of Indigo reached England without being stained with human blood”.

Fallow Lands
The Indigo Plant ensured no food could be cultivated

Remnants of the NEEL KOTHI, Neel is Indigo in Hindi,in Greater Noida. Kothi is Home or House.

Indigo was an IMPERIAL crop forced upon poor peasants of India by their COLONIAL masters.

Reminder of the past
Reminder of the past

The Neel Kothi (   Neel kuthi in Bengali) was once Home to  Raw Indigo buying,  processing and packaging.

The Purchasing of Plantation Land Act in 1833 ensured vast land holdings came under INDIGO cultivation.

It was also home to atrocities unleashed upon thousands of peasants who were forced to work in  Indigo farms.

Millions starved to death  in the infamous Bengal famine of 1896-97.

overgrown with vegetation
overgrown with vegetation

Indigo farms  were virtually wiped out from Bengal after the INDIGO  REBELLION in 1859. It then spread its vicious seeds to Bihar and other parts of Northern India.

Irrigation bungalow
Irrigation bungalow

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi became Mahatma Gandhi as a result of the successful non violent movement called  INDIGO SATYAGRAHA  or CHAMPARAN SATYAGRAHA ( 1917) .

Tears well up in my eyes as I write this tale of a horrific past narrated by THE NEEL KOTHI.

32 ANGELS, A CITY OF HOPE, AN UNWED MOTHER AND THE TEMPLE OF THANKSGIVING

India is indeed a mysterious country with folklore, myths and history so intricately intertwined , it’s hard  to extract one from the other.

Bhojpur is  the tiniest of villages located 30 kms from Bhopal,  the Capital of Madhya Pradesh . A landlocked state located in the heart of India, it is home to many secrets from the past.

Bhojpur was founded by Raja Bhoj in the early 11th century.

Sinhasana Battisi, a famous composition and literary masterpiece  of 32 yoginis ( angels) was composed in this area  itself.

Ashapuri or the  city of hope is about 6 kms from Bhojpur and is home to a vast array of temples, Hindu, Jain and Buddhist.

The region is unexplored and can be a delight for any curious traveler, mythologist or historian.

An enormous incomplete temple looms over its landscape.Each stone used to build this colossal structure weighs about 70 tonnes each.

Temple on a hill
                                 Temple on a hill

While I have given you a glimpse of this gorgeous marvel of architecture built about 1500 years in another article. Today I shall play the role of an archaeologist to unravel  the mysteries of Bhojpur.

This site is  off the tourist map and a site visited by but a few. As you can see the temple is INCOMPLETE. The spire or the typical pyramid on top is missing? It was never built, and has remained so for 1500 years.

The mammoth scale  represents the pinnacle of Temple Architecture of 11th century India.

Famous Historical Temple
  Famous Historical Inheritance, Bhojpur Shiv      Temple ( a translation of the writing on the green board) 

The Bholeshwar temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva. Bhojpur was once the capital of the vast empire of Raja Bhoj who ruled this kingdom in the 11th Century AD.

It lies on the banks of the river Betwa which goes all the way to Orchha, another must see historical and quaint  town in Madhya Pradesh.

a closer look as the sunrays lights up the temple
a closer look as the sunrays lights up the temple

The construction of the temple was started by the illustrious KING BHOJ ( the airport at Bhopal is named after him) , who ruled the area known as Malwa.

His dynasty, the Paramaras ruled Malwa  for close to 3 centuries.

It is said that he was stricken by an incurable  disease. A sage advised him  to construct a lake fed by 365 springs ( one for each day of the year) . It is said Raja Bhoj was an accomplished engineer and astrologer as well.

Bhojpur was the site of this lake , nestled between hills and made by creating a unique  dam across the river Betwa.  A dip in this man made lake  cured the King of his ailments.

at the base
                                      at the base

The lake however  has dried up ( or was drained out)  over time leaving only the Incomplete temple as a witness.The temple was the Thanksgiving of Raja Bhoj.

The grateful King  wished to complete a temple dedicated to Lord Shiva in gratitude for being cured of his ailments.

Was it an earthquake which destroyed the temple? A visit to neighboring Ashapuri  points to this possibility.

a small temple outside
a small temple outside the sanctum sanctorum

The thanksgiving continues to date as the gong rings calling the faithful to prayer.

It is a unique site, where you can see the plans of a mammoth proposed temple complex etched in stone. Drawings and etchings made  11 centuries ago can still  be seen to the north west of the temple.

the gong
the gong

The sound of the conch shell takes you through  a time warp  when gigantic stones weighing 70 tonnes were taken along a ramp and placed according to a meticulous plan. The ramp exists to date.

Did invading armies prevent the completion of the temple?

the beautiful sound of the conch
the beautiful sound of the conch

It is fabled the temples were constructed with assistance from the Chola Kings of the south. The Chola kings worshipped Lord Shiva a swell.

What prevented the completion of the temple, were no funds sanctioned by the rulers after 1085 A.D.?

the people collect
the people collect

The Largest Shivling in the world rises 22 feet ( 7m) from base to the top.

first glimpse of  the 21 m Bholeshwar Shivling through  smoke from incense sticks
first glimpse of the 7 m high  Bholeshwar Shivling through smoke from incense sticks

Bholeshwar temple dedicated to Lord Shiva, built by Raja Bhoj ( 1010-1058 AD) was his thanksgiving for being cured from his ailments.

It symbolized the ingenuity of and the prosperity  of his kingdom as it overlooked a 450 sq km  man made BHOJPUR TAAL.( lake) .

Over time it has also acquired the name SOMNATH OF THE NORTH.

boleshwar shivling
boleshwar shivling

The Shivling itself is made from a single stone and is about 2 mtr in height.

inside the temple
inside the temple

It was damaged as the central dome collapsed breaking the Shivling into two. The polish on the sandstone is dazzling to date .

Fables of this mighty ruler reached every corner of the Land bringing the best crafstman under his command.

A treatise on ArchitecureSamarangana Sutradhara   was authored by Raja Bhoj alongwith 84 other books on a vast spectrum of subjects including Medicine & Chemistry.

The blueprints of the temple can be seen  even today , etched in stone, yet the temple was left incomplete ? Did the architects mess it up?

A 1500 year old Shivling carved from a single stone.
A 1500 year old Shivling carved from a single stone.

There is a story from the Mahabartaha ( 1500- 2000Bc)  that Karna ( son of the Sun)  was left in this very river by his unwed mother Kunti.

The incomplete temple brings to life folklore, fables and legends.

the village and river viewed from the temple
the village and river betwa  viewed from the temple

Lets travel to discover more of this amazing land.

THE WORLD UNDER THE FEET: ANY GUESSES ?

world beneath the feet

THE WORLD UNDER THE FEET: ANY GUESSES ?.

via THE WORLD UNDER THE FEET: ANY GUESSES ?.