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Monthly Archives: September 2013

View Through the Windows of the Hawa Mahal

View Through the Windows of the Hawa Mahal

The Palace of Winds is a commonly known name of the famous monument “Hawa Mahal” of Jaipur, Rajasthan, India. Maharaja Sawai Pratap Singh built it in 1798 and the design of it was formed by Lal Chand Ustad. Lal Chand Ustad was the famous architecture of that time, he also designed the Jaipur city. The design of the Hawa Mahal was in the form of the crown of Lord Krishna. The architecture of the palace is really marvelous and reflects the Rajasthani culture.

Hawa-Mahal

Hawa Mahal – Jaipur

This five storey building is very unique in its structure. It looks like a honeycomb of the beehive as it has 953 small windows popularly called as Jharokha. The motive of the number of Jharokas is to allow royal ladies to watch the everyday life in the street as the purdah system was on peak at those times. So, the Mahal was built for the royal ladies so that they can enjoy and interact with the natural surroundings while residing in the palace itself. Besides this the Jharokhas also provide a cool breeze and air conditioned the whole building in peak summers, so, the name is given to it “Hawa Mahal”.

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Rear view of Hawa Mahal

An interesting fact about the Hawa Mahal is that the thickness of the walls of the palace is even lesser than a foot but carved so beautifully. It is made of red and pink sandstone, the palace is situated on the main boulevard in the heart of Jaipur’s business center. It forms part of the City Palace and also extends to the Zenana or the women’s chambers. Its view is particularly striking when seen it early morning as it lit with the golden light of sunrise which makes it beautiful.

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Jharoka or Latticed Window

On entering the Palace, there is a door which leads to a spacious courtyard surrounded by two-storey buildings on the three sides. Of the five storeys of the Mahal, the top three storeys have broad enough like a single room while the bottom storeys have courtyards. The interior of the Hawa Mahal is flagrant and plain with passages and pillars that leads to the top storey. The palace does not have stairs to reach the top floors; they are connected just by slopes. From Hawa Mahal, one can have a panoramic view of the pink city. It also has an archaeological museum in which the paintings and sculptures of Maharaja’s and Rani’s are located elegantly.

Hawa-Mahal courtyard

Courtyard inside Hawa Mahal

Some nearby tourist attractions while traveling to Hawa Mahal are the Jantar Mantar, Govind Dev Ji temple, Amer Fort, Nahargarh Fort, Ram Niwas Bagh, Birla Planetarium, etc. So, the palace is a tourist site in Rajasthan while one is planning a trip his/her trip. It makes an exemplary portraying dignity in the honor of the city’s royal women, so has a great significance in the history pages of Rajasthan.

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Mesmerize in the beauty of Keoladeo National Park

Mesmerize in the beauty of Keoladeo National Park

Keoladeo National Park or Keoladeo Ghana National Park, formerly known as the Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary, is located in Bharatpur sity of Rajasthan, India. It is famous worldwide for its avifaunal species. Lots of visitors come here especially in winters as many migratory birds come here and make this sanctuary their breeding and resting ground. It spreads over an area of 2,783 hectares. Earlier, it was a duck-hunting reserve of the Maharajas of Bharatpur. It was later declared a bird sanctuary in 1956. In 1985, it was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Keoladeo National Park

Keoladeo National Park by east med wanderer on flickr.com

Keoladeo Ghana National Park is named after the temple of Lord Shiva (Keoladeo), which is located inside the forest (go here to see the temple image). This national park is famous for its 364 species of winter birds that flock here in large numbers during the winter season. They arrive from Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, China and Siberia. Many ornithologists arrive here for the studies related to birds. This national park is a man-made wetland. This reserve also protects Bharatpur from frequent floods, provides grazing grounds for village cattle and thus, serves many purposes.

Keoladeo National Park (1)

Keoladeo Ghana National Park by east med wanderer on flickr.com

The 29 Km of the land is locally known as Ghana and contains dry grassland, woodlands, wetlands and woodland swamps. This diverse habitat supports 366 bird species, 379 floral species, 50 species of fish, 13 species of snakes, 5 species of lizards, 7 amphibian species, 7 turtle species and a variety of other invertebrates. The sanctuary is one of the richest bird sanctuaries in the world. The best time to spot the birds is either early morning or evening. Floral species of the national park are dominated by the trees & plants of kadam, jamun, babul, kandi, ber, shrubland, salvadora oleoides, salvadora persica, aquatic vegetation, etc. Forest area spreads in a large area.

Oriental-Magpie-Robin-Keoladeo-National-park

Oriental Magpie Robin by anindya55 on flickr.com

Fauna of the park divide in many parts like waterfowl which includes Gadwall, Shoveler, common teal, cotton teal, tufted duck, comb duck, little cormorant, great cormorant, Indian shag, ruff, wood sandpiper, Asian open-billed stork, etc. Land birds include bulbuls, buntings, partridges, quails, grey hornbill, marshall’s iora, short-toed eagle, tawny eagle, spotted eagle, crested serpent eagle, etc. So, basically it’s a bird paradise.

Sarus Cranes Keoladeo National Park

Sarus Cranes by east med wanderer on flickr.com

Mammals include feral cattle, spotted deer, sambar, wild boar, porcupine, Indian gray mongoose, jungle cat, leopard, rhesus macaque, fishing cat, small Indian civet, smooth-coated otter, jackals, hyena, gerbils, bats, etc. Herpetofauna (reptile species) includes python, monitor lizard, Krait, cobra, tortoise, Russell’s viper, etc.

Lizard

Lizard by east med wanderer on flickr.com

The climate of the area is warm as the sanctuary is located in Bharatpur. Summers are too warm and winters are not very cold. Many bird species need this climate. Rainfall is also less. Due to which lots of migratory birds like the Siberian crane move here at the time of peak seasons of their country and reside there for some time.

Keoladeo National Park (2)

Image by amanosamarpan on flickr.com

To visit the sanctuary, the best time is from August-November for resident breeding birds and October –February for migrant birds. At this sanctuary, nature is at its best and it can be admired by any visitor.

I recently found about an interesting blogging community called the ABC Wednesday and luckily my this post looks good to be submitted in their weekly post. So I thought, why not give it a try. K is for Keoladeo.

 

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Explore the Gleaming Beauty of City Palace of Jaipur

Explore the Gleaming Beauty of City Palace of Jaipur

City Palace of Jaipur has a great historical past and is located in the northeastern part in the originally designed city. It is a popular tourist spot as it is visited by a large number of tourists. The gleaming beauty of the palace attracts the travelers towards it. Once it was the seat of the Maharaja of Jaipur who was head of the Kachwaha Rajput clan. The palace was built in the 18th century means between 1729 and 1732, by the ruler of Amber – Sawai Jai Singh II. He made it with the help of popular architectures of that time period. Apart from the glorious architecture, the palace also offers a ravishing view of the Pink City.

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City Palace Entrance Gate

The complex of the palace comprises of the Chandra Mahal, Mubarak Mahal, Mukut Mahal, Maharani’s Palace, Shri Govind Dev Temple and the City Palace Museum. There are many pols (gates) to enter the palace namely Virendra Pol, Udai Pol, Tripoli Gate and Atish Pol. Courtyards are arranged in a linear series in the palace.

City-Palace-Jaipur

Inside City Palace

On the ground floor, there is a Pritam Niwas with a small audience hall in its center. The next two storeys are occupied by the marvelous Sukh Niwas. Above of this Niwas, there is the Rang Mahal also known as Sabha Niwas and then the Chhavi Niwas with blue painted interiors, Shri Niwas with the Sheesh Mahal and finally the crowning painting of Mukut Mandir. The arches, motifs, opening, balcony, all shows the Rajput tradition architecture. Compacted and Symmetrical masses were the feature of that period which is reflected in the architecture of the City Palace.

The main attractions inside the palace complex are as follows:-

Mubarak Mahal – This Mahal was built with an amalgam of Islamic, Rajput and European architectural styles by Maharaja Madho Singh II as a reception center of the palace. A beautiful display of the voluminous clothes worn by Sawai Madhosingh I with his 108 wives attracts many visitors towards it.

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Mubarak Mahal inside City Palace,Jaipur

Chandra Mahal – Chandra Mahal is the most compelling building in the City Palace complex. It is a seven storeyed building and each floor has been given a specific name like Sukh Niwas, Ranga Mandir, Chabi Niwas, Shri Niwas and Mukut Mandir. This Mahal contains a large number of unique paintings, floral decorations.

Chandra-Mahal

Chandra Mahal

Diwan-I-Khas – Earlier, it was a private audience hall of the Maharajas. On display, there are two huge sterling silver vessels of 1.6 meters height and each with a capacity of 4000 liters and 340 Kilogram weight. These vessels are recorded by the Guinness Book of World Records.

Diwan-I-Khas

Diwan-I-Aam – Diwan-I-Am or the Hall of Public Audience is a chamber rich in red and gold colors and decorated with ceiling paintings. It looks dynamic in nature. Now the chamber is like an art gallery, exhibits many exquisite paintings, ancient texts, embroidered rugs, Kashmiri shawls and carpets. Many handwritten original manuscripts belonging to Hindu scriptures can be seen in this gallery. Scripts related to Bhagvad Gita are placed there. Also, visit the Golden Throne locally called as Takht-e-Rawal in the art gallery. Golden throne was the seat of the Maharaja at the time of public audience.

Diwan-I-Aam

Diwan-I-Aam (Sabha Niwas) or the Hall of Public Audience

Maharani Palace – As the name suggests itself, it was the residential place of the royal queens of historic times. Now, it has been converted into a museum where weapons used by the royal kings during war campaigns are displayed.

Maharani-Palace

Maharani Palace Interior

Govind Dev Ji Temple – This temple is dedicated to the Hindu God Lord Krishna and is part of the city palace complex. It is set in a garden environment outside the walls of the palace. It contains the paintings belonging to Indian art. The main thing that allures people in this temple is the ceiling which is ornamented with gold. This temple is located just before the Chandar Mahal Palace where the Maharaja resides and could able to get the direct view of the temple from his room.

Govind Dev Ji Temple, Jaipur

Govind Dev Ji Temple

So, the palace is worth visiting site and nobody should miss it while making his/her trip of Rajasthan as it is the luminous heritage site of Rajasthan.

 
 

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The Legendary Fort of Chittorgarh

The Legendary Fort of Chittorgarh

The Chittorgarh Fort holds a great place in the Indian history. Its palaces, broken walls show the heroism of innumerable sieges. This fort is located in the Chittorgarh, Rajasthan. It is a seven mile fort with a number of palaces. This amazing fort is spread in a large area and located at a great height. It is the largest fort in India in terms of area.

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The Chittorgarh Fort

Chittorgarh was one of the furiously contested seats of power in India. It was fortified many times but, the legendary founder of the Sisodia dynasty-Bappa Rawal finally received the Chittor in the middle of the eighth century. This seat was the part of the last Solanki princess’s dowry. In 1330, Allauddin Khilji, Sultan of Delhi fascinated by tales of the exquisite beauty of Padmini who was the Rani of Chittor. After this, he wanted to verify himself about the tales. So, he went Chittor with his army. His armies surrounded the Chittor and the sultan sent a message to Rana Ratan Singh, Padmini’s husband, to say that he would leave the city with his army only if he could able to meet his famous beautiful queen. So, at last Rana Ratan Singh compromised with the sultan to save his empire. He sent a message to the Sultan that if you came unarmed into the fort, only then you would be able to take a reflection of the Rani of Chittorgarh. After this, the Sultan decided accordingly to go up the hill and have a glimpse reflection of the beautiful Padmini standing by a lotus pool. After that Khilji decided to conquer the fort to win Rani Padmini in the battle. Many warriors of both the sides died during the battle. Rana Ratan Singh saved himself and did not want to surrender, due to all that, khilji decided to attack Rani Padmini directly. After hearing this, Rani Padmini and other women of the fort decided to perform Jauhar (self immolation of women and subsequent march of men to the battlefield to end their life with respect) to avoid capture and dishonor at the hands of Muslim invaders. So, this was the famous story behind the famous fort and the beautiful rani’s end. Thus, the fort represents the epitome of tribute to the nationalism, courage, sacrifice exhibited by the Mewar rulers of Sisodia and their kinsmen, women and children.

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Chittorgarh Fort

Many other battles were taking place to conquer the fort but this was the important one in terms of sacrifice. The huge fort has many things inside it to visit. To reach the fort, one has to pass through the seven huge gates (Pol) namely, Padan Pol, Bhairon Pol, Hanuman Pol, Jorla Pol, Ganesh Pol, Laxman Pol and the last one is Ram Pol.

Popular places to see and visit in the fort are:-

Tower of Victory (Vijay Stambh) – It was built in 1440 AD by the famous ruler Maharana Kumbha to commemorate his victory over Mohammed Khilji. It is a nine storey tower, adorned mostly by the sculptures of Hindu deities. Around 157 narrow steps are there that leads to the terrace of the tower.

Vijay-Stambh-Chittorgarh-Fort

Vijay Stambh (Tower of Victory)

Tower of Fame (Kirti Stambh) – This tower is dedicated to Adinathji, the first Jain Teerthankar and adorned with the naked figures of the Digambers.

Kirti-Stambh-Chittorgarh-Fort

Kirti Stambh (Tower of Fame)

Gaumukh Reservoir – This reservoir is basically a deep tank filled by a spring coming from a “cow mouth”, located at the edge of the cliff.

Gaumukh-Reservoir-Chittorgarh-Fort

The Gaumukh Reservoir

Rana Kumbha Palace – This place is totally ruined now and is most famous as the Rani Padmini and other women committed Jauhar there. In spite of the ruined building, it is of great historical and architectural interest.

Rana-Kumbha-Palace-Chittorgarh-Fort

Rana Kumbha Palace Ruins

Padmini Palace – This palace is also famous there as Rani Padmini lived here. It is a distinct feminine structure that overlooks a beautiful pool. This is the palace which is responsible for the battle between Allauddin Khilji and Rana Ratan Singh.

Padmini-Palace-Chittorgarh-Fort

Padmini Palace

Meera Temple – Also known as Meerabai Temple, it was also built by the Maharana Kumbha in 1449. This temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu and Lord Krishna.

Meera-Temple-Chittorgarh-Fort

Meera (or Meerabai) Temple

Kalika Mata Temple – This temple is also located inside the fort and simply dedicated to Goddess Kali. It was built originally as Surya or Sun Temple and after that converted to Kali temple.

Kalika-Mata-Temple-Chittorgarh-Fort

Kalika Mata Temple

Fateh Prakash Palace (Government Museum) – This palace or museum was built up by the Maharana Fateh Singh and so the name of the museum is. It is a huge palace with all modern amenities. There is a big sculpture of Lord Ganesha, a fountain and many frescoes. Now, the palace becomes a museum and has a rich collection of sculptures from temples and buildings in the Chittorgarh fort. Today, it is managed by the government of India.

So, Chittorgarh fort has many places to visit and each has its own past behind it. If anyone visits this place then, one should also visit Udaipur to know the whole past and the history behind the city’s battles and the Maharaja’s & Rani’s sacrifices towards their beloved ones.

 

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Jantar Mantar Observatory – The Largest House of Instruments

Jantar Mantar Observatory is one of the famous UNESCO listed heritage sites of Rajasthan. It was built by Maharaja Jai Singh II, a Mughal Commander who served Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb and his successors. Jai Singh II built his new capital of Jaipur between 1727 and 1734. He had constructed a total of five such houses of instruments, but at different locations, including one in Delhi. The Jaipur Observatory is the largest and best preserved of these and has a set of some 20 main fixed instruments placed in it in an elegant manner. It is just an expression of the astronomical skills and cosmological concepts.

Jantar_Mantar-Jaipur

Jantar Mantar in Jaipur

There are many observatories built all over the world, but the Jantar Mantar of Jaipur is considered to be one of the largest observations ever built. Being the largest observatory, it also houses the world’s largest sundial in it. Due to the people’s lots of interest in the Universe and the Cosmos, Maharaja compelled to build this observatory. The people interested in these things can move to this place as it is a right place for them.

Sun_Dial

Sun Dial at Jantar Mantar in Jaipur

This observatory is a perfect combination of the astronomical intelligence with the typical heritage of Rajasthan. On one side of it, the instruments symbolize the astronomical predictions and on the other side, the same marble made instrument honors the heritage of the state. Even though, it was built in the early days, the main importance of this national monument can still be felt by anyone. Due to this, it is the heritage placed on the list of pride of Rajasthan.

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The architecture of the astronomical observatory is very elegant. The observatory consists of fourteen major geometric devices especially located there for measuring time, predicting eclipses, tracking stars’ location, etc. Each instrument is a fixed and ‘focussed’ tool. The Samrat Yantra, the largest instrument, which is 90 feet high and the shadow of it is properly plotted to tell the exact time of day. The main face of this instrument is angled at 27 degrees, which is the latitude of Jaipur. The Hindu Chhatri located on top is used as a platform for announcing eclipses and the arrival of monsoons in the medieval era. It was renovated from time to time and houses the above said instruments that provide precise measurements of time, the azimuth, declination of the sun and the positions of constellations along with several other astronomical phenomena.

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This famous Jantar Mantar is a gleaming reminder of the royal heritage of Jaipur and stands as a royal affidavit to a former epoch. This beautiful structure still manages to captivate the attention of tourists and astronomy enthusiasts towards it. It is an intriguing structure, and is a must visit place in Jaipur.

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Jantar Mantars houses multiple unique buildings and each with a specialized function for astronomical measurement. These structures have striking combinations of geometric forms have captivated the attention of architects, artists, and art historians from across the globe. Though it was built in old times, no one can doubt the accuracy and prediction of astronomy through these instruments. Today, Jantar Mantar is one of the popular attractions for the tourists and travelers to Jaipur and it does not leave the impression of excellent architecture only, but also the idea and amazement involved in the interpretations of astrology. “Jantar Mantar”, “the house of instruments”, “the pride of the pink city” are some of the common and popular names given to this observatory. It is one of the most visited tourist destinations in Rajasthan.

Jantar_Mantar-Jaipur (1)

 

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The Marvelous Fort of Pune – Shaniwar Wada

Shaniwar Wada is a legendary fort located in the city of Pune, Maharashtra. It was built in 1746 and served as the ruling seat of the Peshwa rulers of the Maratha Empire till 1818. While most part of the fort was destroyed in 1828 by a brutal fire, the remaining structure is now maintained by the government as a tourist site. Tourist visits this place due to the elegant architecture and craftsmanship.

Delhi-Gate-at-Shaniwar-Wada-Pune

Delhi Gate entrance at Shaniwar Wada in Pune

This magnificent fort is unique in itself. It has many gates, fortified walls with bastions and court halls. It is a seven storied structure that reflects its beauty very well. The main gate of the fort is known as Dilli Darwaja (Delhi Gate) and the other popular gates are Mastani Darwaja, Khidki Darwaja, Ganehs Darwaja and Narayan Darwaja. The Mastani Darwaja was used by Mastani, second wife of Peshwa Baji Rao I. He later built a separate palace called the Mastani Mahal (previous post) for her. The walls of the palace fort were full of paintings especially the scenes from Ramayana and Mahabharata.

Narayan Darwaja at Shaniwar Wada

Narayan Darwaja at Shaniwar Wada

A glamorous 16 petal lotus shaped fountain stands in the complex of the fort, shows the exquisite work of those times. It was basically constructed for the pleasure of the infant Peshwa Sawai Madhavrao. Each petal of the fountain has sixteen jets with an eighty foot arch. It is said to be the most complex fountain created at that time.

lotus-shaped-fountain

Lotus Petal Shaped Fountain

This historic fort was once a residential area of 1,000 people. Other important buildings in the palace include the Thoraiya Rayancha Diwankhana, Naachacha Diwankhana and Juna Arsa Mahal. After the fire, only the living areas are available. The above said buildings have been designed and constructed by many well-known artisans, including Shivaram Krishna, Devaji, Kondaji Sutar, Morarji Patharwat Bhojraja and Ragho.

Ruins inside Shaniwar Wada

Ruins inside Shaniwar Wada

One can also enjoy the light and sound show available there, especially in the evening. So, during the tour of Maharashtra, this fort must be placed in the itinerary.

 
 

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Mastani Mahal recreated at Raja Dinkar Kelkar Museum

Mastani Mahal was a palace built by Bajirao I for his second wife Mastani. Stories and movies related to Mastani are well known to the people. It was named after this leading lady of immense beauty and skills. He built this palace for Mastani at Kothrud. After a long time of negligence, the palace fell into ruins. Mrityunjaya Temple, along with few other ruins, is now what remains at the site.

Painting-of-Mastani

Painting of Mastani

It was Dr Dinkar G. Kelkar who preserved some of its remnant when the palace was dismantled. He tried to recreate the beauty of Mastani Mahal’s inside architecture in Raja Dinkar Kelkar Museum. Dinkar Kelkar was an ardent art collector, so he transplanted the fine wooden pillars and wall paintings to his museum in Pune.

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Replica of Mastani Mahal in Raja Dinkar Kelkar Museum

There is a special section inside the museum that is dedicated to the legacy of Mastani Mahal. Its living room assembled the old carpenters work. The replicated architecture inside the museum reveals the intricate design and woodcarving. The breathtaking furnishing recalls the atmosphere of the home of Mastani, whose portrait on glass is also presented in the museum. It is a lesser know, but a great place to visit in Pune.

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Replica of Mastani Mahal in Raja Dinkar Kelkar Museum

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Mirror in Mastani Mahal

 

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