14 August 2009
(15) Comment(s) (22)
Posted By joseph
Mehrangarh Fort, the sun-fort, is one of the largest forts in India. Built in 1459, by the Rao Jadho - the fifteenth Rathore ruler. The fort is located only 15 minutes away from the tourist heart of the city - panch batti chouraha, where all the popular hotels are located.
The drive upto the fort showed us some of Jodhpur’s delightfully quirky architecture and roadsigns. A very helpful autowallah directed us in a language we came to understand as belonging to planet Klingon. Being experts in Klingonese, we zoomed off to our destination - of course, we lost our way thrice along the way but we still made it in time.
In time to be roasted in the afternoon heat around the fort, that is. We are very considerate of our health and ensure we are healthy and fit for our travels - hence we took the ELEVATOR up to the fort! Yes, this place has an elevator too! :D
There’s no story to cut short here. The history of the Fort is readily available on the Wiki, so here are some photographs of the people, the mood and the two nomads who bring you this post. Hopefully they’ll speak atleast a few hundred words about the place.
At the ticket-counter, with a colorful follower!
More colorful folks! (male nudity censored!)
GDC at the Blue city
Shady encounters with the clouds
Namrata took a shot of the blue city to update the blog, just a photo guys!
Some of the walls had vivid paintings (not sure if they belonged to the 1600s) and the arching corridors were a delight!
I looked up and spotted a pigeon! Masabkali!
We posed for some photos, very filmy ishtyle!
The local guides were all dressed up, and of course, there was a special chair for those who wanted to get a very nice tan.
This man was one of the show-pieces in front of the Musuem. When we asked who he was, the first thing he replied was “camera ke liye ticket liya kya aapne?”. Ah well, he got the attention of all the foreign tourists around for sure!
The musuem in the Fort is home to some of the most exquisite collections of palanquins, elephant howdahs, daulat khana, armoury, turban galleries, and paintings. Of course, there were a lot of locals and foreigners visiting the place.
A shot of the Cedia as we went down the hill
Jodhpur was followed by Ajmer, then Jaipur and Agra, and now Shivpuri. Lots to follow folks!
14 August 2009
(9) Comment(s) (21)
Posted By namrata
The Ratan Vilas, is a small, cosy hotel tucked away in Ratanada in the blue city of Jodhpur, Rajasthan. Built in 1920 by Maharaj Ratan Singhji of Raoti (1884-1978), a fine polo player and an excellent horseman of his time, this mansion was meant to be an ‘outhouse’ for quick access to the nearby army polo grounds. Located opposite the Loco Shed where steam engines would be shunted for repair & maintenance, the haveli got its water supply through channels that drew from the steam engines water supply. By the turn of the century, the Ratan Vilas had been turned into an exquisite and elegant guest house by Maharaj Bharat Singh, the grandson and R.K. Brijraj Singh, the great-grand son of Maharaj Ratan Singhji. The house continues to be their residence as well, and so we were able to request for an audience with Maharaj Brijraj Singh himself, fortunately he was in town!
The grand driveway of this property gives way to a small and elegant porch. One can imagine horses standing here, once upon a time, saddled and brushed thoroughly as their masters wore their riding breeches and proceeded for a match with Maharaj Gaj Singhji, the ruler of Jodhpur, as his beautiful wife, Maharani Gayatri Deviji watched and applauded quietly from the Royal Box.
Horses soon made place for some shiny wheels, as the younger royals discovered faster speeds and a headier lifestyle to match that. MGs and a hand-assembled Bugatti - 2-seater, 6-cylinder, capable of reaching speeds upto 100kmph, bought just before the factory in Italy was bombed during WWII - were some of their prized possessions. Some of the royal family’s cars are now on display at the Vintage Village in Ahmedabad.
The estate included the Ratan Vilas haveli and around 30 acres of land surrounding it. Maharaj Ratan Singh ran a successful stud farm on these premises, but with the advent of the new urban land ceiling rules, most of the land was handed over to the government and the business had to be folded.
Apart from excelling at polo and horse-riding, the members of this royal family were also keen hunters or ‘shikaaris’. ‘Pig sticking’ was one annual event that had most of the royals in Jodhpur participating together. A pig or wild boar would be set loose in the jungle; the objective was to chase and spear the animal and haul it back to camp. The walls of the Ratan Vilas are adorned by some beautiful photographs of those days.
Maharaj Brijraj Singh was gracious enough to take us through his own family’s history, tracing important events and regaling us with some funny anecdotes from his childhood. Maharaj Ratan Singhji, who survived his son as well as his grand-son, left a strong and lasting impression, and motivated him to preserve the Ratan Vilas in all its glory. Maharaj Ratan Singhji resided here till the very end, and followed his ritual of having exactly two small pegs of rum every evening. The measuring glass he used, remains in the drawing room cupboard even today. Trained under General Sir Pratap Singh, Maharaj Ratan Singhji led a royal yet frugal life. He didn’t approve of the excesses given to the young royals and hence moved out of the family home to bring up his boys in a regimented and disciplined manner. He abhorred any sort of wastage even in little things, and was known to reuse and recycle even then. To save water in the desert state, he would change the collars and cuffs of his shirt so that the same garment could be worn multiple times!
In the hall, the rum shots are on the right
The Ratan Vilas truly gives the discerning traveller a taste of authentic, rajputana hospitality. The entire experience makes you feel that you have only just stepped into a home and not a hotel. From the neat and comfortable rooms, to the tables scattered in the open-air courtyard and the cane seats in the front lawns, the soft, folk music that fills the air in the evenings to the soothing shade of the many trees that green the compound, this place is steeped in Rajasthani culture & history.
If you plan to visit Jodhpur this year, do try and make it between 30 Sep and 30 Oct when the Rajasthan International Food Festival is on. With Mick Jagger as one of the founder patrons, this festival celebrates music, food and culture from around the world. During Sharad Poornima it is also possible to enjoy dinner & drinks on the ramparts of the Mehrangarh Fort. Steve McCurry, of ‘Monsoon’ fame, conducted his third photo workshop on these premises too.
And of course, do halt at the Ratan Vilas.
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Fresh out of college, we were thrown into the dust bowls of U.P and the jungles of M.P. Sneaky trainees that we were, we took full advantage of the available resources to explore. Whether the pine trees of Almora or the ruins of Khajuraho, a Bhojpuri film shoot or some gun-laden, mustachioed dudes in the Chambal areas of Bhind - our travels always had added flavor!