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ಸಂಗೀತದಲ್ಲಿ ಸಾಧನೆ ಮಾಡಿದ ಯುವ ಜನರೊಬ್ಬರಿಗೆ   ಜಿ.ಟಿ. ನಾರಾಯಣ ರಾವ್ ಹೆಸರಿನಲ್ಲಿ ಪ್ರತೀವರ್ಷ ಮಾಧುರೀ ತಾತಾಚಾರಿಯವರು ಪ್ರಶಸ್ತಿ ನೀಡುತ್ತ ಬರುತ್ತಿದ್ದಾರೆ.     ಮೃದಂಗ ವಿದ್ವಾನ್ ಎ. ರಾಧೇಶ್  ಅವರು ಈ ವರ್ಷದ ಪ್ರಶಸ್ತಿಗೆ ಭಾಜನರಾಗಿದ್ದಾರೆ. ಆ ಕಾರ್ಯಕ್ರಮ ೨೦೧೨ ಎಪ್ರಿಲ್ ೧೫ರಂದು ಮೈಸೂರಿನ ಗೋಕುಲದಲ್ಲಿರುವ ಆಳ್ವಾರ್ ಕಲಾಭವನದಲ್ಲಿ ನಡೆದಿತ್ತು. ಆ ದಿನ  ಅಕ್ಷರಿ ಅವಳಜ್ಜನ ನೆನಪುಗಳ ಬಗ್ಗೆ ೫ ನಿಮಷ ಮಾತಾಡಿದ ಪೂರ್ಣ ಪಾಟ ಇಲ್ಲಿದೆ.

ಅಜ್ಜನೊಡನೆ ನಾನು ಕಳೆದ ೨೦ ವರ್ಷಗಳು ಇನ್ನೂ ನಿನ್ನೆ ಮೊನ್ನೆ ಕಳೆದಂತೆ ಅನಿಸುತ್ತದೆ. ಈಗಲೂ ಅಜ್ಜ ನಮ್ಮೊಡನೆ ಇಲ್ಲ ಎಂಬ ಭಾವನೆ ಬರದೆ ನಮ್ಮೊಡನೆ ಸದಾ ಇದ್ದಾರೆ ಎಂದೇ ಅನಿಸುತ್ತಿದೆ. ಅಜ್ಜನೊಡನೆ ನಾನು ಕಳೆದ ಕ್ಷಣಗಳು ಅಮೂಲ್ಯ ಹಾಗೂ ಮಧುರವಾದುದು ಮತ್ತು ಎಂದೂ ಮರೆಯಲಾರದಂತದ್ದು. ಅಜ್ಜನನ್ನು ನಾನು ಏಕವಚನದಿಂದಲೇ ಕರೆಯುತ್ತಿದ್ದೆ. ಅದನ್ನು ಕೇಳಿದ ನಮ್ಮ ನೆಂಟರೊಬ್ಬರು ತರಾಟೆಗೆ ತೆಗುಕೊಂಡಿದ್ದಾಗ, `ನೀನು ನನ್ನನ್ನು‌ಏಕವಚನದಲ್ಲೆ ಕರೆ. ನನಗೆ ಬಲು ಸಂತೋಷವಾಗುತ್ತದೆ ಮತ್ತು ಅದರಿಂದ ನಮ್ಮ ಭಾಂದವ್ಯ ವೃದ್ಧಿಸುತ್ತದೆ’ ಎಂದು ಹೇಳಿದ್ದರು. ಚಿಕ್ಕವಳಾಗಿದ್ದಾಗ ನಾನು ಬೆಳಗ್ಗೆ ಬೇಗ ಏಳದಿದ್ದರೆ ಅಜ್ಜ ಮಹಡಿ ಹತ್ತಿ ಬಂದು, ಮಗೂ ಹುಷಾರಿಲ್ಲವೆ? ಎಂದು ಕಾಳಜಿ ವ್ಯಕ್ತ ಪಡಿಸಿ ಕೇಳುತ್ತಿದ್ದರು. ಬೆಳಗಿನ ಸಕ್ಕರೆ ನಿದ್ದೆ ಹಾಳಾಯಿತೆಂದು ನಾನಾಗ ರೇಗುತ್ತಿದ್ದೆ. ಮುನಿಸಿಕೊಂಡು ಕೂತಾಗ `ಅಕೊ ಬಂತು ನಗೆ ಅಕೊ ಬಂತು ನಗೆ’ ಎಂದು ಅಜ್ಜ ರಾಗವಾಗಿ ಹಾಡಿ ನನ್ನನ್ನು ನಗಿಸಿದ್ದರು.  ಶಾಲಾ ದಿನಗಳಲ್ಲಿ ಭಾಷಣ, ಚರ್ಚಾಕೂಟ, ಪ್ರಬಂಧ ಇತ್ಯಾದಿ ಯಾವುದೇ ಸ್ಪರ್ಧೆಗಳಿಗೆ ಅಜ್ಜನೇ ನನಗೆ ಮಾರ್ಗದರ್ಶಿಯಾಗಿದ್ದರು. ಅಜ್ಜ ಬರೆದುಕೊಡು ಎಂದು ನಾನಂದರೆ `ನೀನೇ ಬರೆಯಬೇಕು. ಸ್ಪೂನ್ ಫೀಡಿಂಗ್ ಒಳ್ಳೆಯದಲ್ಲ. ನಾನು ಬರೆದುಕೊಡಬಹುದು. ಆದರೆ ಅದರಿಂದ ನೀನು ಬೆಳೆಯುವುದಿಲ್ಲ. ನಿನಗೆ ಅನಿಸಿದ್ದನ್ನು ಬರೆ. ತಿದ್ದಿಕೊಡುವೆ’ ಎನ್ನುತ್ತ ನನ್ನ ಎಲ್ಲಾ ಚಟುವಟಿಕೆಗಳಿಗೆ ಅಜ್ಜ ಸದಾ ಪ್ರೋತ್ಸಾಹ ನೀಡಿದ್ದರು. ಅಜ್ಜನ ಹುಟ್ಟುಹಬ್ಬದ ದಿನ ಅಜ್ಜನಿಗೆ ಶುಭಾಶಯ ಹೇಳಿದಾಗ ಉಡುಗೊರೆ ಕೊಡು ಎನ್ನುತ್ತಿದ್ದರು. ಆಗ ನಾನು ಪೆನ್ನು ಅಥವಾ ಗೋಂದು ಕೊಟ್ಟರೆ ಅಜ್ಜ ಅದೆಷ್ಟು ಸಂಭ್ರಮಿಸುತ್ತಿದ್ದರು ಎಂಬುದು ಈಗಲೂ ಕಣ್ಣೆದುರು ಬರುತ್ತದೆ. ನನ್ನ ಹುಟ್ಟುಹಬ್ಬಕ್ಕೆ ತಪ್ಪದೇ ಶಾಲೆಯ ವಿಳಾಸಕ್ಕೆ ಒಂದು ಕಾರ್ಡು ಬರುತ್ತಿತ್ತು. ಅದರಲ್ಲಿ ಚುಟುಕವಿರುತ್ತಿತ್ತು. ಉದಾಹರಣೆಗೆ

ಹದಿಮೂರು ವರುಷಗಳ ಹಿಂದಿನೀ ದಿನದಂದು
ಮಧುರ ಕನಸೊಂದು ನನಸಾಯ್ತು: ಅಕ್ಷರಿ ಜನನ
ಮೊದಲ ನೋಟದಿ ಕಂಡ ಮುಗ್ಧ ನಗುವಿಂದರಳಿ
ಮುದ ಬೀರುತಿದೆ ಜಗಕೆ ಸೊಗಮಕ್ಕೆ ಅತ್ರಿಸೂನು

ಕಾಲೇಜು ದಿನಗಳಲ್ಲಿ ಒಮ್ಮೆ ಅಮ್ಮ ಊರಲ್ಲಿಲ್ಲದ ದಿನ ನಾನು ಉಮೇದಿನಿಂದ ಅಜ್ಜಿಯ ಸಹಾಯ ತೆಗೆದುಕೊಳ್ಳದೆ ಅಡುಗೆ ಮಾಡಲು ಹೊರಟಿದ್ದೆ. ಸಾಂಬಾರ್ ಸೀದು ಹೋಗಿತ್ತು. ಅಜ್ಜ ಅದರ ಬಗ್ಗೆ ಏನೊಂದೂ ಹೇಳದೆ ಸಾಂಬಾರ್ ಬಹಳ ಅದ್ಭುತವಾಗಿದೆ ಎಂದು ಹೊಗಳುತ್ತ ಊಟ ಮಾಡಿದ್ದರು. ನಾವು ಯಾವುದೇ ಸಮಾರಂಭಕ್ಕೆ ಹೋಗಲಿ, ಅಲ್ಲಿ ಊಟವಾದನಂತರ ಅಜ್ಜ ಯಾರು ಇವತ್ತು ಅಡುಗೆ ಮಾಡಿದ್ದು ಎಂದು ವಿಚಾರಿಸಿ ತಿಳಿದು ಅವರನ್ನು ಕಂಡು ಅಡುಗೆ ಬಹಳ ರುಚಿಯಾಗಿತ್ತು ಎಂದು ಹೇಳಲು ಮರೆಯುತ್ತಿರಲಿಲ್ಲ.

ಅಜ್ಜನೊಡನೆ ಸಂಗಿತ ಕಾರ್ಯಕ್ರಮಗಳಿಗೆ ನಾನು ಕೆಲವೊಮ್ಮೆ ಹೋಗುತ್ತಿದ್ದೆ. ನಡೆದು ಹೋಗುವುದಾದರೆ ದಾರಿಯುದ್ದಕ್ಕೂ ಕಥೆ ಹೇಳುತ್ತ ಹೋಗಬೇಕು ಎಂದು ನಾನು ಅಜ್ಜನಿಗೆ ಮೊದಲೇ ಷರತ್ತು ವಿಧಿಸುತ್ತಿದ್ದೆ. ಹಾಗೆ ಅಜ್ಜ ನನ್ನಾಜ್ಞೆಯನ್ನು ಒಪ್ಪಿ ಅನೇಕ ಕಥೆ ಹೇಳುತ್ತಿದ್ದರು. ಸಂಗೀತ ಕಲಿಯಲು ನಾನು ಪ್ರಾರಂಭಿಸಿದಮೇಲೆ ಕಛೇರಿಗಳಲ್ಲಿ ಸಂಗೀತ ಆಲಿಸುತ್ತ ಕುಳಿತಿರುವಾಗ `ಇದು ಯಾವ ರಾಗ ಹೇಳು ಎಂದು ಪ್ರಶ್ನಿಸುತ್ತ, ಸರಿ ಹೇಳಿದರೆ ಭೇಷ್ ಎಂದು ಪ್ರೋತ್ಸಾಹಿಸುತ್ತ, ತಪ್ಪು ಹೇಳಿದಾಗ ಇಂಥ ರಾಗ ಇದು ಎಂದು ಹೇಳುತ್ತ ನನ್ನ ಸಂಗೀತ ಜ್ಞಾನವನ್ನು ವೃದ್ಧಿಸಿದ್ದರು. ಸಂಗೀತ ಕೇಳಿ ಮನೆಗೆ ಬಂದು ಊಟ ಮಾಡಿದ ಕೂಡಲೇ ಗಣಕದ ಎದುರು ಕುಳಿತು ಅಂದಿನ ಸಂಗೀತದ ವಿಮರ್ಶೆಯನ್ನು ತಡ ರಾತ್ರಿಯಾದರೂ ಸರಿ ಬರೆದು ಮುಗಿಸಿ ಮಾರನೇ ದಿನ ಬೆಳಗ್ಗೆಯೇ ಅದನ್ನು ಮಿಂಚಂಚೆ ಕಳುಹಿಸಲು ನಮಗೆ ಹೇಳುತ್ತಿದ್ದರು. ನಾವು ಕಳುಹಿಸುವಲ್ಲಿವರೆಗೂ ಕೇಳುತ್ತಲೇ ಇರುತ್ತಿದ್ದರು. ಅದನ್ನು ಕಳುಹಿಸಿದಮೇಲೇಯೇ ಅವರು ಸಮಾಧಾನವಾಗುತ್ತಿದ್ದುದು. ಒಡನೆಯೇ ಪತ್ರಿಕಾ ಕಚೇರಿಗೆ ದೂರವಾಣಿ ಮಾಡಿ ಕಳುಹಿಸಿದೆ ಎಂದು ಹೇಳುತ್ತಿದ್ದರು. ಏನೇ ಕೆಲಸ ಮಾಡಿದರೂ ಅದು ಆಗಿದೆಯಾ ಇಲ್ಲವೇ ಎಂದು ಜವಾಬು ಉತ್ತರ ಸಂಬಂಧಿಸಿದವರಿಗೆ ಕೂಡಲೆ ಕೊಡಬೇಕು ಎಂದು ನಮಗೆ ಕಲಿಸಿದ್ದರು. ನೆಂಟರು ಯಾರೇ ಮನೆಗೆ ಬಂದಿದ್ದರೂ ಆ ದಿನ ಸಂಗೀತ ಕಚೇರಿ ಎಲ್ಲಾದರೂ ಇದ್ದರೆ ಅಜ್ಜ ಹೋಗುವುದನ್ನು ತಪ್ಪಿಸುತ್ತಿರಲಿಲ್ಲ. ನೆಂಟರಿಗೆ ನೀವು ಬರುವುದಾದರೆ ಬನ್ನಿ ಸಂಗೀತಕ್ಕೆ. ಎನ್ನುತ್ತಿದ್ದರು. ಅವರೂ ಒಪ್ಪಿದರೆ `ಸಂಜೆ ೫ ಗಂಟೆಗೆ ಸರಿಯಾಗಿ ಹೊರಡಬೇಕು ಎಂಬ ಆಜ್ಞೆ ವಿಧಿಸುತ್ತಿದ್ದರು!  ಚಳಿ ಇರಲಿ, ಮಳೆ ಇರಲಿ, ಹವಾಮಾನ ಏರುಪೇರಾಗಲಿ, ಸಂಗೀತ ಕಛೇರಿ ನಡೆಯುವ ಜಾಗ ಎಷ್ಟೇ ದೂರದಲ್ಲಿರಲಿ ಹಾಗೆಂದು ಅಜ್ಜ ಸಂಗೀತ ಕೇಳಲು ಹೋಗುವುದನ್ನು ತಪ್ಪಿಸುತ್ತಿರಲಿಲ್ಲ. ಸಮಯಕ್ಕೆ ಸರಿಯಾಗಿ ಅಲ್ಲಿ ಹಾಜರಿರುತ್ತಿದ್ದರು.
ಹಾಗೆಂದೇ ಅಜ್ಜ ಬರೆದದ್ದು

ಸಂಗೀತವೆನ್ನುಸಿರು ಸಾಹಿತ್ಯವೆನ್ನೊಡಲು
ವಿಜ್ಞಾನವೆನ್ನಶನ ಅಧ್ಯಾತ್ಮದೆಡೆಗಮನ
ನಿರಪೇಕ್ಷ ನಿಸ್ವಾರ್ಥ ನಿರ್ಮೋಹ ಸೇವೆ ಗುರಿ
ಅಜ್ಞಾನತಮ ನಿವಾರಣೆ ಧ್ಯೇಯ ಅತ್ರಿಸೂನು

ಪರಿಶುದ್ಧ ಗಾಯನಕೆ ಶರಣಾಗು ನೀಬೆಳೆವೆ
ಪರಿಪರಿಯ ಆಮಿಷಕೆ ಮರುಳಾಗು ನೀನಳಿವೆ
ಗುರಿಯಿರಲಿ ನಕ್ಷತ್ರ, ನಡೆಯಿರಲಿ ತಿರೆ ಮೇಲೆ
ತೆರೆಯುವರು ಕದ ವಾಣಿ- ಲಕ್ಷ್ಮಿಯರು ಅತ್ರಿಸೂನು.

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RAJASTHAN,THE VISUAL EXTRAVAGANZA

(ಇದು ನಮ್ಮ ಮಗಳು  ಅಕ್ಷರಿ  ಆಂಗ್ಲದಲ್ಲಿ ಬರೆದ ಪ್ರವಾಸ ಕಥನ . ಓದಿ ಆನಂದಿಸಿರಿ. )

 

  Youth Hostel of India had arranged a Family desert camp, in Jaisalmer. We also decided to see Jaipur and Jodhpur. Appa and amma came to Chennai from Mysore. We (appa, amma, my husband Mahesh and myself) started from our house on 28th Dec 2011 at 5.30am in the morning and reached Chennai Domestic Airport at 6am. Our flight was at 7.45am. We just waited in the Airport after check in and the security check. We didn’t have breakfast in the house. So we decided to take a piece of sandwitch in the flight! One piece of sandwitch costed Rs.100!! We boarded the Spicejet flight but due to technical defect we were inside the flight for nearly one and a half hours. At last the flight took off at 9.30am. There was a stop in Hyderabad Airport and at 12.45pm it landed in Jaipur. The weather was quite good with 13 degree temperature. The taxi driver was waiting for us in the airport. We had booked taxi and hotel earlier itself through exotic tours and travels. The driver was a friendly guy who gave us the details of the city.

 JAIPUR

Jaipur is the capital of Rajasthan, the desert state in India, which is famous for its majestic forts, havelis, beautiful lakes and sand dunes. The history of Jaipur takes us about 300 years back in time, when the Mughal Empire in India was on the decline. At this time Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II in Rajasthan was looking for a safe place to shift the increasing population of Amber and found Jaipur to build the city. He commissioned Vidyadhar Bhattacharya, a fine architect from Bengal the responsibility of building the city. Jaipur was designed strictly according to Shilpa Shastra. Thus Jaipur is considered as the planned city in India. The city has been divided into nine blocks and is encircled by a wall that has seven gates. Jaipur is also known as the Pink City. Jaipur’s date with the pink color goes back to 1905-06, when Jaipur city was getting ready to welcome the Prince of Wales and needed a fresh coat of paint. But the contractor’s inability to provide any other color except the pink. Since then Jaipur is known as the Pink City.

AMBER FORT

We were madly hungry as we didn’t have proper breakfast. The driver took us to Pavithra Bhojanalaya which was near the world famous Hawa Mahal. We all had a good Rajasthani meal. After our stomach was satisfied we directly went to Amber Fort. At a distance of 11 km from the city, the Amber Fort also called the Amer Fort is the former capital of the Kachhwaha clan from Amber. Built on the hilltop outside Jaipur, it is famous tourist attraction in Jaipur. It was built by Raja Man Singh in the 16th century and was completed by Sawai Jai Singh in the 18th century. The fort offers magnificent views of the surrounding area. The fort is a mix of Mughal and Rajput architecture. On the walls, are paintings depicting various hunting scenes, and there is also a lot of work on walls, which are covered with intricate carving, mosaic and minute mirror work that make the hall, look very majestic and imperial. It is built with white marble and red sandstone and looks even more attractive because of the Maota Lake in the foreground. You get a glimpse of a thousand year old settlement of stone-carved homes as you climb up to the palace. The tourists to this fort can either approach the fort by road or take an elephant ride or walk. If you are in Rajasthan, do not miss the opportunity to tour the Amer Fort, which is one of the important forts of the city and one of the major attractions of Jaipur.

 

JAL MAHAL

 While coming from the fort we saw Jal Mahal (Water Palace). It was built by Sawai Pratap Singh, in 1799 AD. This palace was built by constructing a dam between two hills. Sawai Pratap Singh built this palace for the royal family as a place of leisure and especially for royal duck shooting parties. It is an extremely romantic place with its red sandstone intricate architecture casting beautiful reflections in the calm waters of the Man Sagar Lake. Though abandoned, it is very well-preserved. The first four floors of Jal Mahal are under water and only the top floor is above the water level. The lake eco system is a favorite home of a number of migratory and resident birds.

 

HAWA MAHAL

Next we stopped near Hawa Mahal and took some snaps. Hawa Mahal is an epitome of the Rajputana architecture. The splendid five-storey “Palace of the Winds” is a blend of beauty and splendor much close to Rajasthan’s culture. Maharaja Sawai Pratap Singh built Hawa Mahal in 1779. The pyramid shape of this ancient monument is a tourist attraction having 953 small windows or jharokas. Palace of winds, also called “specimen of the fanciful architecture” is located on the intersection of Badi Chaupad, south of the city. The look of the Hawa Mahal, Jaipur resembles a honeycomb with the windows. This Mahal adjacent to the City Palace was for the royal women and girls of the palace. Sitting here, they could enjoy the air and have a city view. Lal Chand Usta built Hawa Mahal in pink sand stones keeping in mind the pink color of the other monuments in the city. The fun lies in climbing up to view Jaipur through multiple small windows. We had to rush to the railway station as we had a train to Jodhpur at 5pm. We reached Jodhpur Railway station at 10pm and went to the Hotel Prince. It was a decent hotel with extremely good friendly people.

 MEHRANGARH FORT JODHPUR

 The next day morning we had a good breakfast (poha and alu parota) and went out to explore Jodhpur city. The city is known as the “Sun City” for the bright, sunny weather it enjoys all year. It is also referred to as the “Blue City” due to the blue-painted houses around the Mehrangarh Fort. The old city circles the fort and is bounded by a wall with several gates. Jodhpur history revolves around the Rathore Clan. Rao Jodha, the chief of the Rathore clan, is credited with the origin of Jodhpur in India. He founded Jodhpur in 1459. The city is named after him only. It was previously known as Marwar. We first went to Umaid Bhavan Palace and Museum. One of the fascinating palaces of Jodhpur is the Umaid Bhavan palace. Maharaja Umaid Singh constructed it in 20th century. The famine had struck the arid and barren land of Jodhpur and farmers were dying of hunger as their lands yielded nothing and they had no money to buy food. It was then, when like a judicious king, Maharaja Umaid Singh of Jodhpur undertook the construction of this magnificent building as a famine relief project to provide employment and a regular source of income to his subjects. However, he didn’t start the building in a slip-shod hurried manner. He took a voyage to England in 1925, in search of an architect and commissioned the London firm Lanchester and Lodge. It took 16 years and hard work of over 3000 artisans to complete this spectacular sandstone palace, named after its maker as the Umaid Bhawan Palace. The royal residence of Jodhpur, this splendid palace has the distinction of being the largest private residence in the world and one million square feet of the finest marble was consumed in its construction. The palace stretches across 26 acres of land out of which 15 acres have been occupied by the gardens. The palace has aristocratic European interiors and latest facilities.  A part of the palace has now been converted into a hotel and a museum. Then we went to Mehrangh Fort. It almost takes half day to see the entire fort and enjoy the beauty of the fort. It is one of the largest forts in forts. It is also the most magnificent fort in Jodhpur, in fact, in the whole Rajasthan. The fort is amongst the popular tourist places in India. It is situated on a 150 m high hill. It was founded by Rao Jodha in 1459. It can be reached from the city, 5kms below, through a circular road. Seven gates have to be crossed to reach the fort. The gates still bear the marks of the various battles fought in the bygone era. Its second gate still stands witness to canon ball hits by attacking armies of Jaipur during wars. One of the gates is Jayapol, meaning victory. It was built by Maharaja Man Singh to commemorate his victories over Jaipur and Bikaner armies. Another gate, Fattehpol, again meaning victory, was built by Maharaja Ajit Singh as a celebration for defeating the Mughals. Other attractions of Mehrangarh Fort, Rajasthan include several palaces inside the fort, with their sprawling and huge courtyards. One of the fort’s palaces, The Moti Mahal or the Pearl Palace, has the royal throne of Jodhpur, the Sringar Chowki. The fort also has galleries, temples, etc. To the left of the Mehrangarh Fort is the Chhatri of a soldier, Kirat Singh Soda. It is the spot where he fell while defending the fort against the armies of Amber. The Mehrangarh Fort, with its beauty, is the living proof of the hard work and skill of the Jodhpuri sculptors.

 

JASWANT THADA

 Later we went to Jaswath Tada. Jaswant Thada lies to the left of the Mehrangarh fort complex. It is a royal cenotaph(Samadhi) made up of white marble. It was built to commemorate Maharaja Jaswant Singh. Some rare portraits of the former rulers of Jodhpur are also displayed here.

 

MANDORE GARDEN

After lunch we went to Mandore Garden. Kolaveri Di song welcomed us there!! It is Ravana’s wife’s mother’s place. We walked along and were totally surprised to come across some really beautiful old temples in the middle of a forsaken rundown garden. It was like they had been completely forgotten and left to ruin with the garden which was in bad shape.  There were water ways and fountains built but no water in them and bushes and flowers that were partially alive but needed some serious trimming.  I’m telling you it was so sad to see this rundown garden that could really be beautiful if it was revamped. The Mandore Gardens are also the home of hundreds of long-tailed monkeys who are fed by devotees of Hanuman, the Hindu Monkey God. Many people were giving brinjals to them! The monkeys were decent. They didn’t grab anything from people. They just took whatever they were given. The ‘Mandore gardens’, with its charming collection of temples and memorials, and its high rock terraces, is another major attraction.  The gardens house the Chhatris(cenotaphs) of many rulers of the erstwhile princely state of Marwar. Instead of the usual chhatri-shaped cenotaphs typical of Rajasthan, the cenotaphs of the famous Mandore garden of Jodhpur, Rajasthan are built along the lines of a Hindu temple. They are four stories high, with fine columns and an elegant spire, all in red sandstone. Prominent among them is the chhatri of Maharaja Ajit Singh, built in 1793. The cenotaphs of the Maharani are set on a rocky outcrop over the hill. The Mandore Gardens also house a government museum, a ‘Hall of Heroes’ and a temple to 33 crore Gods. Various artifacts and statues found in the area are housed at the museum. The ‘Hall of Heroes’ commemorates popular folk heroes of the region. It contains 16 figures carved out of a single rock. Next door is a larger hall called “The temple of 33 crore Gods” which houses images of various Hindu Gods.

 

 KAILANA LAKE

Next place was Kailana lake. It is located 8 kms to the west of Jodhpur on the Jaisalmer road. Pratap Singh, the then Prime Minister of Jodhpur, got the lake constructed in 1872. This artificial lake is spread over 84 square kms. Where the lake now lies, was once an area having palaces and gardens of two rulers of Jodhpur. They were destroyed to make this Lake. We took a motor boat ride in the lake. Then we roamed in the market of Jodhpur and came back to our hotel in the night. We had a good dinner of ghee rotis and Jodhpur special Haldi Ki Subji and Veg Jaipuri. We went to Railway station and had to wait for a while for the train. We had a train to Jaisalmer at 11.45pm. It was very cold.

     

JAISELMER

The bed sheet vala in the train woke us up telling that we have reached Jaisalmer. It was the last stop and the time was 5.30am. It was toooooooo cold outside. We took an auto and went to Youth Hostel base camp which was held in Border Home guard grounds. We were given a tent. It was a nice place. There were separate bath rooms and toilets for laides and gents. There were 15 families and we spent the morning introducing ourselves and roaming around the place. Jaisalmer is situated in west Rajasthan near the border of India and Pakistan. It is also called “golden city”. It is almost entirely a sandy track, forming a part of the Great Indian Desert. The common and striking feature of the area is that of an interminable expanse of sand hills, of all shapes and sizes, some rising to a height of 150 ft. After lunch we went to Jaisalmer city.

tent

GADISAR LAKE

First we went to Gadisar Lake. This is a rain water conservation lake built by Maharawal Gadsi in 14th century. It was once the main source of drinking water for the entire town of Jaisalmer. Now tourists spot, there are many small temples and shrines around it. A wide variety of water birds can be seen here especially in winter. We went around the lake in peddle boat. Then we went to Salim Singh Ki Haveli. This haveli is actually worth seeing from outside only. It was built in the first half of the 18th century and a part of it is still occupied. Salim Singh was the prime minister of Jaisalmer a princely state in 19th century AD. The mansion has a beautifully arched roof with superb carved brackets in the form of peacocks. It is just below the hill near the fort. Next we went to Patwon-Ki-Haveli. A group of apartments, this is one of the largest and most elaborate of Havelis in Jaisalmer and stands in a narrow lane. It is five storeys high and is extensively carved. A part of this beautiful building is owned by the Department of Archaeology and Museum. There are remnants of some paintings on the walls inside as well as some mirror work. This has been the star attraction of Jaisalmer. We then went to Deewan Nathmal Ji Ki Haveli. Two architect brothers built it in the 19th century. Interestingly, while one concentrated on the right, the other concentrated on the left and the result is a symphony epitomizing the side-by-side symmetry during construction. Paintings in miniature style monopolize the walls in the interior. Mighty tuskers carved out of yellow sandstone stand guard to the haveli. It is a private property. We then went to Amar Sagar Jain temple. It is the oldest and the most beautiful temple dedicated to Lord Parshwanath. Amar Sagar is 6 km north-west of Jaisalmer on the way to Lodurva. Later we came back to our base camp at 6pm. Immediately after the sunset the weather starts changing and it becomes very cold. It was around 3 degree in the night. We were given sleeping bags to sleep. So it was warm inside the tent. After dinner there was camp fire(just the name camp fire- few people sang songs, few told jokes. There was no fire as burning of wood was strictly prohibited in that area) and we slept at 10pm.

 

 JAISELMER FORT

The next day morning after breakfast we went to see Golden fort in Jaisalmer city. The Jaisalmer fort, known as Sonar Quila or the Golden fort rises from the sand and merges with the golden hues of the desert ambience. The setting sun in its most colorful shades gives it a fairy tale appearance. It is simply magical – as the bastions envelop a whole township that consists of the palace complex, the intricately carved havelis of rich merchants, several temples and the residential complexes of the armies and traders placed strategically on the trade route. It was from this trade route that the ancient caravans passed, distributing the riches for the prosperity to an otherwise non resourceful kingdom. These merchants served and acquired a great deal of power and noble status in the royal courts of Bhatti Rajputs who founded the state in the 12th century AD and proceeded further. However, the rich merchants inspired by the classic style of the royals, constructed huge mansions (havelis) adjacent to each other in the nature of medieval culture and profusely decorated the walls and ceilings and intricately carved the outdoors and interiors. The colourful art forms had some how relegated the royal heritage to a position of secondary importance. The craftsmen were usually Muslims who were induced on their journey to exhibit their skills in art forms. The result was an architectural purity that cannot be seen elsewhere. Jain Temples situated in the Jaisalmer Fort are a must visit. You will find these temples to be very old and high pilgrimage as well as archeological value attached to them. These are a group of Jain temples dating back 12th and 15th centuries and are dedicated to various Jain Tirthankars (Hermits). On the walls of the temples, you can find animal & human figures, carved in famous Dilwara style. These temples are built in the Dilwara style that is famous all over the world for its architecture. The style got its name from the famous ‘Dilwara Temples’ situated on Mount Abu, a famous Hill station and pilgrimage destination in Rajasthan. The Jain temples in the Jaisalmer Fort are dedicated to Rikhabdevji and Shambhavdev Ji, the famous Jain hermits known as ‘Tirthankars’. Like all other structures in Jaisalmer, these temples are craved of yellow sandstones. The beautifully carves decorations on the wall will give you divine peace. The Astapadhi Temples that are situated in the same complex are a must visit too.

Kuldhara village

After lunch in our camp we all went to Kuldhara village. Kuldhara & Khabha a Medieval Deserted village of Paliwal Community had a total number of 84 villages. Salim Singh was a cruel king. He was giving trouble to the people of these villages. The girls of these villages were very beautiful and often the king troubled them and he also collected huge amount as tax. One night the entire village was abondoned by Paliwal Brahmins, out of which the two most prominent villages are Kuldhara and Khabha located about 18 and 30 kms respectively south west of Jaisalmer on the same road. It was around 300 years ago! The ruins of Kuldhara and Khabha exhibit the architectural excellence of those times and are an attraction for peace-lovers, photographers and movie maker.

Sam sand dunes

Then we went to Sam sand dunes. Some 45 kms towards the west of the Jaisalmer city are located the barren yet beautiful shifting sand dunes adjoining the village Sam. Here one can have a ride on camel – the ship of desert in the desert sea. We all had camel ride for half an hour in Thar desert. Beautiful folk dancers enrich the visitor’s experience with traditional flavour of joy. It is best to be here at sunrise or sunset. The Sam dunes are also the most picturesque spot around Jaisalmer, and perhaps the whole of western Rajasthan. Sitting there in the evening with the sun setting, you might feel that time has come to a grinding halt. After the sunset the weather started to change and it was very cold and we all rushed to the bus and reached back our camp at 7.30pm. We had a nice dinner which consisted of Rajasthan special dal bhati churma. Camp fire was there till 11pm. Later we slept telling goodbye to 2011!

kuldhara

kuldhara

TANOT TEMPLE AND LONGEWALA

Jaisalmer has many places of interest dotted in and around 100 kms from the city. We decided that we had to pay a visit to Tanot, a temple close to the Pakistan border. The presence of the Army, Airforce and BSF in Jaisalmer is something that cannot be missed. You will see them everywhere. We started towards Tanot at 10am. The path is straightforward, with no probability of getting lost .While going, we saw a windmill farm. A large amount of huge windmills are continuously spinning, to power up Jaislamer. About 12 k.m.s from Jaisalmer, we reached Bada Bagh. At Bada bagh, there are cenotaphs (aka Chhatris) of Jaisalmer rulers, dating from 15th century till 1950s. A cenotaph is built in memorial of the dead. This tradition was ongoing till recent, but due to death of a prince by a mysterious disease, it was stopped in 1947. A large number of cenotaphs are situated here, and seeing the dates on each, one really goes back in time. We then went to Ramgarh. There isa TV tower it is the highest TV Tower of Asia having height of 300 Mts. Next stop was to one temple Ghantyali Mata Mandir, with ‘First Darshan’ board. The story mentions that Pakistani soldiers tried to destroy that temple. Whoever goes to Tanot temple must visit this temple first. We had brought packed lunch of poori and chole. After lunch we reached Tanot Mata Mandir at around 1.30pm. Tanot is 100kms from Jaisalmer and is a Durga temple run by the BSF. This is a 1300 year old temple. This temple is depicted in the movie ‘Border’ too. In 1965 war, Pakistan had attacked with some 3000 bombs. 1450 bombs fell around the temple, but the temple was not damaged even one bit. In fact none of the people who took shelter in the complex were hurt but those who ventured out were killed. Tanot was later liberated by Gurkha fighters. The unexploded shells are still kept in glass cases in the temple complex as a testimony of the Indo-Pak war. Similarly in 1971, hundreds of enemy tanks and vehicles were destroyed by Indian Army and were forced to retreat. The border is around 12 kms from this place. We were excited to see the border. The army post had new set of rules now, stopping everyone at the Tanot Mandir only. Special permission should be taken from the army officials in the Tanot temple by providing our ID cards to visit border. But unfortunately we didn’t get permission in spite of the effort of few people of our group who argued, requested and pleaded for the permission. It was shocking to know that after traveling 150kms, we would be stopped for last 12-15kms.
It was hard to swallow that we were stopped just 15kms from the point we came to see. That day, we realized that interacting with army people is vastly different than interacting with traffic police or even usual police. Army personnel are not reasonable or negotiable, they only follow orders. With heavy heart, we headed towards Longewala (the place where Indo-Pak 1971 war took place) which is just 38kms from Tanot temple. The roads brushed away our sadness again. The landscape could pass off for the moon, absolutely no traffic except for a solitary military truck and huge sand dunes and grayed out vegetation. On the way we visited one village. The condition of the people who lives there is pathetic. They earn money only during tourist season. The weather is extreme. The availability of drinking water is limited. We felt very sad seeing them. We reached Longewala in quick time. It’s essentially a military outpost, there is a single pakistani tank and a recovery vehicle still preserved exactly at the spot where they were shot down. India’s old border pillar (BP638) too is decorated along with names of the 1971 martyrs (The military guys posted there told us that India’s border was here before 1971 but then India pushed it back into pak territory by 12-15 kms after our victory). There is a well supposedly poisoned by pakistanis to pollute the water table there called Zaheerla Kua. The well has water but its not used. One feels quite patriotic in this place. Here too the border is very close. We went to see a ruined fort very near to Pak border. It was a fort of a king. During 1971 war, Pakistan thought that it was military camp and exploded it. We came back to our camp at 7.30pm.

Tanot temple

 

BHADARIYA MATAJI TEMPLE AND ASIA`S LARGEST LIBRARY

The next day morning few families left the camp. We hired a taxi and went to Bhadariya mataji temple. There is also a library called Bhadariya library which is Asia’s largest library, with more than 15 lakhs books. It is yet to be inaugurated. It is 84kms from Jaisalmer.

RAMDEVRA TEMPLE

   We had lunch and went to Ramdevra temple of baba Ramdev. (YOGA GURU RAMDEV ALLA!) Ramdevera is Situated about 12kms to the north of Pokhran, the village of Ramdevra known after Baba Ramdev, a Tanwar Rajput and a saint who took Samadhi (conscious exit from the mortal body) in 1458 A. D. He had miraculous powers and his fame reached far and wide. Legend goes that five Pirs (saints) from Mecca came here to test his power and after being convinced, paid their homage to him. Since then he is venerated by Muslims also as Ram Shah Pir. The Hindus regard him as an incarnation of Lord Krishna. Baba Ram Dev believed in the equality of all human beings, both high and low, rich and poor. He helped the down-trodden by granting them their wishes. Maharaja Ganga Singh of Bikaner constructed a temple around the Samadhi in 1931 A.D. Rice, coconuts, churma and wooden horses (toys) are offered to Ramdevji by the devotees. Later we went to Pokaran Fort. Surrounded with rocky, sandy and five salt ranges, POKARAN means “the place of five mirages”. Fort Pokaran stands on ancient trade route that carried salt, silk and spices to Persia and beyond. Instead of winding caravans of the past, it now has trains, buses and cars. The fort now attracts travelers to stay betwixt the glorious history where each stone speaks out volumes of the past. Pokhran is located at the junction of Jodhpur, Jaisalmer and Bikaner Road. It is en route to Jaisalmer and is also a fort town though the fort is not of the same dimensions as those of Jaisalmer or Jodhpur. It came into limelight in the wake of India’s first underground nuclear explosion. It is also renowned for its furniture and crafts for interior decoration. The fort is located about one and a half kilometers from the bus stand and has an assortment of weaponry, brocade clothes and various games of dice and dominoes on display. Fort Pokran also offers accommodation with a rugged heritage appeal. We reached back our camp at 7pm. We quickly finished dinner, packed our things and left the camp thanking youth hostel for the wonderful stay and food and reached Jaisalmer bus stand. We left Jaisalmer at 9.30pm.

 

JAIPUR

We reached Bikaner at 4.30am. We had to change the bus. It was terribly cold and somehow managed with the luggage and boarded the next bus towards Jaipur. On the way we had samosa and kachori as breakfast! We couldn’t get anything else! We reached Jaipur at 12pm and went to Hotel Shrinath which was booked earlier. It was a decent hotel. The food was not that great. Afternoon we went to see Albert hall. This museum is supposed to be the oldest museum of the state. Colonel Sir Swinton Jacob designed it in 1876 to greet King Edward VII as Prince of Wales on his visit to India. It was opened to public ten years later. Positioned amidst the gardens of Ram Niwas Bagh in Jaipur, this museum has an assortment of rare articles on its display including textiles, carpets, paintings, metal and wood crafts, pottery, arms and weapons, flora and fauna of the state, toys, dolls and even an Egyptian mummy that belongs to the Ptolemaic Epoch. It is also known for housing the famous carpet, which portrays the scene of a Persian garden carpet with running water streams that was bought at a dear price from Shah Abbas of Persia, by Mirza Raja Jai Singh I. It also puts on show the miniature paintings of a number of sub-schools of Rajasthan. The galleries on the ground floor of the museum have been completely remodeled and restructured since 1959 in an attempt to depict the uniqueness of the dresses and jewellery of all the classes and tribes of Rajasthani people including the privileged class that mainly consists of Rajputs and the merchant class. It includes the lifestyle of the tribals such as Meenas, Bhopas, Bhils, Gadoliya Lohars and many more. Then we went to Jantar Mantar. It makes another wonderful sight to visit. Built in 1718 by Sawai Jai Singh, Jantar Mantar Observatory is one of the five observatories that were built by the king. The observatory was built to study the movement of stars. The observatory is built in stone and marble. Then we went to Kanak Vrindavan. It is a newly restored temple and garden. It is a famous garden in Jaipur, the beautiful green valley was labeled as Kanak Vrindavan Valley by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh, almost 280-years ago. It is located in the foothills of Nahargarh hills on the way towards Amber Fort. This garden is designed same as Lord Krishna’s place Vrindavan, so the name Kanak Vrindavan Garden. The taxi driver took us to RTDC ( Rajasthan Tourism Development Corporation) for shopping. It is a big complex with many shops selling Razais, sarees, dress materials, jewels, etc. We did a bit of shopping and went back to our hotel.

jantharmanthar

                        We got up late and after breakfast we went to see Hawa Mahal again. There were many shops near hawa mahal. We purchased sweets and Jaipur special Pyaz Ki Kachori which was awesome! We did shopping and came back to our hotel packed things and straight away went to Airport. We had a flight to Chennai at 2.45pm. We reached Chennai Airport at 6.45pm and took a taxi and reached back home at 8.30pm.

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