Rajasthani Heritage

 

Amer or Amber Fort just north of Jaipur in India, is a splendid fortress on Cheel Ka Teela, the hill of eagles.

The fort was built by ‘Raja Shri Maan Singh JI Saheb’ (Maan Singh 1), from 1550 to 1614, from red and white sandstone. The palace can be approached by taking an elephant ride up the ramparts, but this wasn’t for me, because I love elephants.

Palace entrance

Amer has a mix of Rajput and Mughal influences and there is much to see.

Sheesh Mahal

It’s best known for the Sheesh Mahal, Hall of mirrors, a sight I’ve never forgot.

One of the stunning views from the palace’

Garden on the lake

Amer is hugely popular for tourists, and a World Heritage Site, said to be the most beautiful palace in India. Don’t miss it if you go to Rajasthan!

 

 

 

 

 

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Rani Sati

October 2005, I find myself in Jhunjhunu, Rajasthan. It’s early evening and I’ve just had one of the most moving experiences of my life. The elderly lady in the photo below has hugged me, put a red bindi on my forehead, and entered the temple I’ve just left.

I’d seen an Aarti ceremony in the Rani Sati temple, after  the congregation offered puja. The temple is at least four hundred years old and was built in memory of Narayani Bai who self emolliated and became Sati Ji.

The ceremony was incredibly loud, with drums and bells reverberating through every cell in my body. Water was sprinkled around, some of the crowd ran heir hands through flames, before circling the central shrine. We were welcome to take part but there were no expectations. Caught up in the atmosphere and the heady incense, I followed, with thoughts of Rani Sati, who was beloved to be an incarnation of the goddess Durga, running through my mind.

I have no words to describe the feelings, my journal that day had a line, ‘if I have to go home tomorrow, then it’s okay because I’ve had the experience of a lifetime’.

This post is for Paula’s Traces of the Past.

 

In Hope, a poem for Thursday

This Thursday instead of Lazy Poet, I’m re-posting a poem I wrote a few years ago, for International Women’s Day. Yes I know that was yesterday, but you know me by now, the other week that I got the day wrong for wordless Wednesday, and the syllable count wrong for LP!

In Hope

Cast aside your veil

Turn your face to the sun

Gather round the hearth

Your work today is done

Your sisters draw near

Feet planted to earth

They no longer fear

The lone walk on the trail

Your children breathe free

The mountains clear air

Well nourished with plenty

And wind blown away care

Your abundance is here

Take love in your stride

Future perfect and clear

Go forward with pride

Cast aside your veil

And no longer hide

Haveli harmony

A haveli is a townhouse or mansion, a traditional style found in India, Pakistan and Nepal. Build with an inner courtyard space, rather like the riads found in Morocco, but with a more attractive exterior. There are very many in Rajasthan, particularly the Shekhawati area. It’s possible to stay in a haveli, some have been converted in hotels and guest houses. Like a riad, they would be a calm haven shut away from the bustle of the towns.

haveli2This one wasn’t a hotel unfortunately, but it was possible to look around and they also sold antiques, some very expensive and some accessibly priced.

Homes like this aren’t created in a hurry, they have to develop their ambience over time, don’t you think?

 

Ten Years Ago Today . . .

. . . I was in India.

When I first heard of the city of Jaisalmer I was entranced, it seemed to me to be at the end of the world. The golden city is  dominated by the fort, a living, vibrant place that has a life of its own, hanging on the edge of the far west of India.

It’s a very commercial town, everywhere you turn someone is trying to persuade you that you need spices you’ve never heard of, saris, wall hangings, ornaments of all types. I expect it’s even more touristy now. But that doesn’t spoil it’s charm, the twists and turns of each cow inhabited alley, gets under your skin and even deeper into your nostrils.

There are several Jain temples, with finely detailed interiors, and a plethora of Buddhas.

The stoneware is so beautiful it’s hard to know where to look.

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But there are quiet spots to reflect,
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And sculpture to wonder at,
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Haveli’s are mansion houses of the wealthy. While some in Rajasthan are dilapidated, many are well maintained and open to the public for a few hundred rupees. This one was a museum come antique shop, I think pretty much everything was for sale at a price, even though it was also a home.


In the afternoon of October 20th,we went wandering around the streets. As in cities all over the world, groups of men gather on street corners and squares to play cards and board games, while the women are hard at work trying to feed their families.
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The fort is one of the biggest in the world, built high on a hill with three layers of walls and ninety nine bastions. Here is a view from one.
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In time for sunset, we went just outside the town to see the fort change colour, by day it’s the colour of a lion, but at sunset it turns to a honey gold.
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Although the sunset was disappointing, traveling friend and I were happy to be all dressed up in our finery, in the most mesmerising city at the end of the world.

jais17Jaisalmer is around 800 kilometeres from Delhi, and it can be reached by train, an overnight journey. Better still, try a slow journey and stop along the way. Rajasthan is wonderful and the people are warm and friendly, who are justifiably proud of their heritage.

I wish I was this warm

If you’re like me, living in the upper reaches of the Northern Hemisphere, this is the season where we seek out small pleasures to compensate for the short days and chilly weather: fireplaces, down comforters, hot chocolate (or glühwein, if we must…).

Says Ben Huberman for this weeks challenge at the Daily Post, Warmth. The Thar Desert is without doubt the warmest place I’ve ever been, in a midday temperature of 44 degrees, I was hot and happy, even though it felt like the inside of my nose was burning. Dry heat seems to agree with me, here are some photos of my favourite kind of warmth.

Visit https://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_photo_challenge/warmth/ to join in.

Weekly Photo Challenge: On Top

Sara Rosso at the Daily Post says that ‘On top can be a feeling, a perspective, or a physical location’ and asks us to share photos that express On Top this week for the photo challenge.

My photos were taken On Top in Bikaner, Rajasthan,

from the roof of a temple.

This is a photo that I’ve posted before. O don’t what it is about it but it’s one of my all time favourite photos, so I’m sharing it again. It’s the same place as the gallery facing a different direction.

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Join in at http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_photo_challenge/on-top/

Weekly Photo Challenge: Grand 2

It should have occured to me before that some of the grandest places I’ve seen, were in Delhi and Rajasthan, northern India. So here is a little gallery of some grand places I visited there.

Travel Theme: Big

I don’t seem to have many pictures to fit the theme this week, I guess I’m not drawn to big. Perhaps its because the UK just isn’t very big, or maybe big is difficult to capture. Anyway a few years ago I went to India and I’ve always remembered this big Hanuman along the road. I hope he’s big enough!

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Big is Ailsa’s theme, join in at http://wheresmybackpack.com/2013/08/16/travel-theme-big/