Historical

Getting lost in Sambhar Lake

By

On the way back, we drove the entire distance over lake only. Trying to absorb more of that dry-dusty frame. We also learned that ‘Jodha Akbar’ was shot here and apparently they created the entire war set here. Another movie, this time of junior Bacchan was shot in the main town. We dropped the Sambhar Salts gentleman back after thanking him for all his help and started back.

As we were driving back, I was thinking that how long the lake would remain like that. Probably 50 years down the line, this story would look like a legend. May be the area would get habituated, the land would be reclaimed to build SEZs and factories or may be the new Jaipur Airport. Who can imagine a 230 sq KM dry lake which is open for driving. You tell that to your grandkid and he would laugh it off. Go and look at it before it vanishes.

Read More

झीलों का शहर और बारिश की रिमझिम (उदयपुर में दो दिन)

By

सिटी पैलेस का भ्रमण पूर्ण करने के पश्चात अगले आकर्षण गुलाब बाग़ जाने के लिए सिटी पैलेस से बाहर निकलते ही ऑटो तैयार खड़े थे, उनमे से ही एक ऑटो पर सवार होकर गुलाब बैग कि सैर पर चल पड़े. गुलाब बाग़ का नाम सुनने में तो केवल बाग़ का ही परिदृश्य आँखों में घूमता है, पर इस बाग़ में पर्यटको विशेषकर बच्चों को लुभाने के लिए जन्तुशाला (zoo), टॉय ट्रैन कि सवारी, झूले, जलपान आदि कई अन्य मनोरंजक सुविधाएं भी उपलब्ध हैं. बच्चों के लिए तो गुलाब बाग़ कि सैर बहुत ही आनंददायक लग रही थी. इस समय बारिश भी रुक गयी थी. लेकिन झूले अभी भी गीले थे और उनके आस-पास पानी भरा होने के कारण बच्चे झूलों का पूरा मज़ा नहीं ले सके. इस कमी को टॉय ट्रैन कि सवारी ने पूरा कर दिया. ट्रैन में बैठे-बैठे ही पूरे बाग़ के भ्रमण के साथ ही जन्तुशाला (zoo) देखते हुए बच्चे-बड़े सभी रोमांचित हो उठे.
गुलाब बाग़ कि सैर के बाद हमारा अगला पड़ाव दूध तलाई नामक स्थान था. दूध तलाई उदयपुर का एक बहुत ही सुन्दर आकर्षण है. दूध तलाई नाम का एक छोटा सा ताल लेक पिछोला से सटा हुआ है. इसके आस पास का दृश्य बहुत ही सुहाना और मन को मोह लेने वाला है. यहाँ के मुख्य आकर्षणों में पैदल बोट, मोटर बोट, कैमल राइड, सनसेट पॉइंट, करनी माता मंदिर, रोपवे ट्राली आदि हैं. यहाँ चारों और मनोरंजन, रोमांच और प्राकृतिक सौंदर्य फैला हुआ है. दिन भर के सैर-सपाटे के बाद दूध तलाई कि ये शाम बहुत ही आरामदायक लग रही थी.

Read More

Some Days in Gujarat…. Adalaj Ni Vav and GandhiNagar sojourn

By

Legend says that Mahmud Begara was mesmerised by the beauty of the Queen Roopoba, the wife of the chieftain and had promised to complete the structure if the queen marry the ruler as the Vaghela ruler had died till then. Structure was completed by Mahmud but the queen instead of marrying him, committed suicide by jumping from the uppermost story of this step well.

Read More

Road Journeys – Towards Somnath, In search of enlightenment

By

Soon, we reached at my fourth Jyotirling, Somnath. Parking the car a few meters away in a very large space with unorganized parking facility though I hurriedly jogged to have the glance of the magnificent temple about which I have read so much in our history books during school and also in visual media. Soon a right turn left me in awe with eyes wide open to see the magnitude and glamour of the historical and mythological grand shrine at the shores of Arabian Sea, an architectural marvel standing erect in pride.

A large boundary around the shrine, with many visible vigil eyes, armed guards, innumerable CCTV cameras and steel barricading with metal detectors, scanners besides checking physically to every entrant beyond the permissible limit, reminds the history of destructions of the shrine in the past and its prone to vulnerability in the future.

Read More

Sanchi – of Serene and Secluded Stups

By

After wandering around the hill, you are drawn back to the crown jewel that is the Stup 1. The four magnificent gateways with their exquisite carvings are the main attraction of Sanchi and its trademark. The stup was embellished with the eye-popping carved torans in the 1st century BC by the Satavahans. Satavahans were the right people with the right credentials for the job. They gave us the glorious Ajanta temples. You are just relieved that the torans have survived for over two thousand years in almost pristine condition. Of course credit goes to Cunningham and Marshall for the restoration efforts.

The four gateways are installed at four cardinal directions of the stup. They have a common design – two square pillars with capitals and surmounted by three parallel architraves. All sides of the columns and the rear and front of the architraves are profusely carved. You could mistake the carved panels for wood or ivory. A lot of carving is overlapping and would require highly skilled workers. Reportedly, the workers were ivory carvers of Vidisha.

Read More

Road Journeys – Ahmedabad to Jungarh

By

Finally a huge granary, a few steps from the step-wells, covered with stage wise storage facilities enabled the curators to use the stocks in hardships as per its requirement by taking it out of the selected chamber designed by high class engineering technique without disturbing the entire storage. Preserved with natural herbs and their way of modern-ancient techniques of keeping the grains dry and free from pesticides is a matter of research. We are happy with pride to know that we were always ahead of time.

An interesting fact, which I feel prominent to mention, is that Zulfikar Ali Bhutta, the deceased veteran of Pakistan, hanged in a political trial was an administrator of the Nawab of Junagadh and played a role during annexation, post independence. Also the very famous, beautiful actor in Bollywood, Parvin Babi was a kin to Junagadh Nawab of Babi dynasty, sadly died in pitiable condition. A few fresh blooms and a solitary eagle on a dead dried tree impressed me with the balance of nature.

Read More

Road journeys – Nashik to Ahmedabad

By

In 30 minutes we reached the famous abode of the Mahatma, the father of the nation and a legend preaching lessons on peace even today. We were enthralled with the mere feeling that we are actually at the site where, Mahatma Gandhi once lived, preached, enlightened our political revolutionists with his successful spiritual ideas of peaceful revolution and earned independence through his ardent anshans, un-armed and without blood shed. The river Sabarmati alongside flowing timidly adds tranquility in the already pacific atmosphere of the heavenly adobe. A few foreign visitors accompanied with philosophers on Gandhian studies were keen in learning with humility. We visited the whole area pursuing every facts preserved in pictures, models and writings with great respect and honour. A stall with Gandhiji’s books and relevant works by other legends was very worth visiting. A classic piece on crystal with Gandhiji’s portrait in it was what we couldn’t resist purchasing besides few artifacts and books. The hutment of Mahatma, a much revered place and the replicas of the items used by the immortal was also of interest. A charkha in working condition at its verandah is still there, in remembrance to the veteran, honouring his omnipresence in every Indian heart and beyond. A man weaving on the charkha drew every ones attention and was framed in all cameras including mine. The room, where Gandhiji resided was found locked for no better reasons but one can see through the netted wires on its windows, the resting place of the Mahatma, Later we also visited Vinobaji’s hut which is a thatched roofed mud hutment with two rooms one for him and another for Mira Ben the Anglo follower of Gandhiji.

Read More

Rome – The city of just-about-everything

By

Like Delhi, Rome is also circular and even has a ring road (called Autostrada) that is about 56 kms long. So travelling from one place to another takes a maximum of an hour in regular traffic. Cab fares begin from 4 Euros and for a single hop should not exceed 30.

Read More

Road journeys – Delhi to Udaipur-the Lake City

By

Enjoying the splendid landscapes we reached Baewar by 1.30 pm on our first major stop for refreshment and lunch. I was so energetic till then that my wife didn’t ask me why we are heading towards Udaipur and not Chittorgarh for the break journey. Filled the tank of the car alongwith our tummy, we were again lost in the nostalgic picturesque landscape full of greenery, on an average speed of 100 kmph with ease due to good tar and less traffic. Our first visiting place was Rajsamand Lake which soon appeared with an awesome view of a natural wild lake on the left side of the road. Rajsamand Lake is an artificial lake created in the 17th century by Rana Raj Singh of Mewar. We stopped and hurriedly captured the view both in our eyes and in the camera. Surprisingly, none other was available to enjoy the serene virgin beauty of the so natural place in wilderness. A clear water in the lake, yet uninterrupted by artificiality, was a soothing sight. A rusted board mentioning victory of Maharana Pratap over Akbar’s huge army in 1582, fought there was boasting its historical importance. We stayed a few minutes clicking photographs and watching the silence in the tranquility, glooming hearted was back to our seats. It was sad to see that a place of so rich history, so beautiful is so unattended.

Read More

आमेर दुर्ग : चल खुसरो घर आपने….

By

राजस्थान पर्यटन विभाग की तरफ से यहाँ आपको सपेरे, शहनाई वादक और सारंगी वादक बजाने वाले, कई लोक कलाकार अपनी कला का प्रदर्शन करते भी मिल जायेंगे, हालांकि पहली नज़र में आपको ऐसा लग सकता है, कि यह सब पर्यटकों के मनोरंजन और उन्हें आकर्षित करने के लिये है, और इस से राजस्थान की संस्कृति झलकती है, लेकिन यदि आप जरा गौर से सोचें तो आपको इसके पीछे की सोच और मानसिकता पर हैरानी ही होगी | मेरी अपनी समझ से, इस सबका कुल मनोरथ यहाँ आने वाले उन यूरोपियन पर्यटकों के दिलों में बसी हिन्दुस्तान की उस छवि को पुख्ता भर करने से ज्यादा और कुछ नही है, जिसके वशीभूत वो आज भी हिन्दुस्तान को सपेरों, जादूगरों और मदारियों का देश ही समझते हैं, उनकी इन मान्यतायों और पूर्वाग्रहों को सच साबित करने के लिये ही, ऐसे कलाकार यहाँ बैठाये जाते हैं, जिनके साथ आप फोटो खिचँवा कर जब वापिस अपने देश पहुँचते हैं तो वहाँ के समाज को ऐसे चित्र दिखा कर साबित कर सकते हैं कि वास्तव में ही भारत आज भी उस दौर में ही है, जैसा कभी हमारे पूर्वज छोड़ कर आये थे ! इन सबके अलावा, इस दुर्ग में ही अलग-अलग दिशायों में खुलने वाले प्रवेश द्वारों में से त्रिपोलिया दरवाज़ा सबसे ज्यादा प्रसिद्ध है, क्यूंकि यहाँ से तीन जगहों के लिये रास्ता निकलता है, जिनमे से एक रास्ता आमेर शहर की तरफ भी है |

Read More

ग्वालियर में घुमक्कड़ी – ग्वालियर का किला

By

कुछ कदम आगे बढ़ता हूँ तो देखता हूँ कि किले की तरफ जाने वाली पतली सी सड़क के एक तरफ, पत्थर की चट्टानों को काट कर जैन समुदाय के तीर्थकरों कि मूर्तियां बनाई गईं हैं। इनमे से कई मूर्तियों भग्न अवस्था में थीं जिन्हे शायद किले पर विजय प्राप्त करने के बाद मद -मस्त मुस्लिम आक्रान्ताओ ने इस अवस्था में पहुँचाया था। यह बहुत ही कष्टप्रद विषय है कि इस्लाम को मानने वाले अविवेक में अपने विजयी दंभ को वह इन पत्थरो पर निकालने लगते है। एक तरफ तो यह मुग़ल अपने आप को कला प्रेमी के रूप में स्थापित करने की चेष्टा करते हैं और दूसरी तरफ चट्टानों पर की गई इन कलाकृतियों को नष्ट करते हैं। मंगलवार का दिन था इसलिए बहुत कम लोग ही किला घूमने के लिए जा रहे थे। छुट्टी का दिन होता तो शायद यहाँ पर भीड़ देखने को मिलती। वह दोनों युवक-युवती मुझे रास्ता बता कर तेजी से आगे बढ़ गए। मेरे पीछे एक विदेशी युवती भी चट्टानों को काटकर बनाये गए इन जैन तीर्थकारों को देखती हुई आ रही थी। मै धीरे – धीरे चढ़ाई पर चढ़ता हुआ आगे बढ़ रहा था पर मुझे दूर – दूर तक किला कही नहीं दिख रहा था। इतनी चढ़ाई चढ़ने के बाद मन ही सोंच रहा था कि इतनी चढ़ाई पर किला बनाने का अभिप्राय शायद यही होता होगा कि जल्दी तो किसी दुश्मन की हिम्मत ही नहीं होती होगी इतनी चढ़ाई पर चढ़ कर हमला करने की और अगर किया भी तो पहले ही उसकी सेना इतनी पस्त हो चुकी होती है कि जीत की बहुत कम ही गुंजाइश होती होगी। दो – तीन सौ गज या कुछ ज्यादा की चढ़ाई चढ़ने के बाद एक और गेट दिखाई पड़ता है। किले के दूसरे गेट से करीब 200 गज आगे आने पर चढ़ाई ख़त्म हो जाती है। यहाँ पर भी एक गार्ड रूम है। यहाँ पर एक प्राइवेट टैक्सी वाला बैठा था। किला और किले के अंदर उसके आस – पास की जगह घुमाने के लिए इसने 250 रूपये मांगे। इतनी चढ़ाई चढ़ने के बाद अब और आगे चलने की हिम्मत नहीं हो रही थी। मैंने कहा कि पीछे भी कुछ एक लोग आ रहे हैं उनसे पूछ लो अगर वह लोग चले चलेंगे तो हम लोग आपस में शेयर कर लेंगे । तभी वह विदेशी युवती भी आ गई।ड्राइवर ने उसके पास जाकर शेयर टैक्सी किराये पर लेने के लिए कहा पर वह उसकी बात ठीक से समझी नहीं तब मैंने उससे कहा कि अगर हम लोग यह टैक्सी शेयर कर ले तो सब जगह घूम लेंगे। यह टैक्सी वाला 250 रूपये मांग रहा है आधे – आधे हम लोग दे देंगे। वह युवती भी शायद थक गई थी , वह राजी हो गई।

Read More

The Water Symphony

By

Omkareshwar , one the 12 revered Shiv temples ( Jyoteerling) is actually on an island called Mandhata in Narmada. On the south bank you will find the Mamaleshwar also among the 12. The town is similar to all temple towns all over India, full of small lanes packed with Pooja shops and hotels, a free passage to all living animals including humans, devotees and pestering priests and in addition there were flocks of flies as the monsoon special. Omkareshwar is a modern looking temple from the outside however we know the place is ancient and there are ornate pillars inside the temples which give a glimpse of the old temple. Everything inside the temple is to ensure that you should not feel peaceful. The ceramic tiles, the water abhishek mechanism where water goes in a tube and then gets poured on the shivlinga, the overbearing crowd of priests offering a menu card of abhishek in various types and costs. The only time you find solace is when you come out and look at the serene Narmada. That is the real ‘Darshan’ for me.

Mamaleshwar on the other bank is visible from this side with its ornate high shikhar and a red flag fluttering to show the location amongst the crowd of several other small temples and houses. All built in red sandstone, Mamaleshwar has that special quality of providing a devotional experience to the visitor. The temple is typical Nagar style with up-swinging Shikhar. There are many small and medium temple structures in the clean premise. The elaborate door frames and beautiful sculptures on the outer walls of temples are worth a watch. In the premise, we also find several pieces of temple structure strewn away. A lone ‘amalak’ the round top of the shikhar, some carvings and ‘chandrasheela’ – an ornate step to get into the Garbhagriha are all there stashed away, silently suffering the passage of time.

Read More