Author: Diya
•11:30 AM
It's been ages since I have written anything, let alone blogged :-( Excuses galore come to mind to save face, but I hate excuses . . . And it's such a disadvantage to me that I live by so very many [??!!??] not-to-be-broken rules :( It's high time that I stop myself from sinking deeper into the habits that I have been wallowing in of late, and get going . . .

Here goes...

We had a beautiful vacation a fortnight back... And there is simply one word to describe it... Royal !!!!!

The beauty of the stark desert landscape that I had pictured was shattered :-) Apart from Jaisalmer, parts of Bikaner and en route to these places we hardly saw sand anywhere !!! And I have my perception of a desert altered forever now :-)

The first thing that struck me on arrival was the trees !!! Yes, proper trees with tall gnarled branches; just like I see in and around home... And this when I was expecting to see cacti everywhere :D

Another distinctive memory is of the colours... The lovely colours - all made from natural dyes... fast colour Madam... full guarantee [as eager shopkeepers and salesmen assured me !!!] - used in turbans, sarees, lehangas, art work, quilts, bedspreads... Name it and you will find all the colours of the rainbow being used in that article . . .

The sheer beauty of the landscape is accentuated by the wonderful forts and palaces dotting every city... My favourites were the Udaipur Palace and the Mehrangarh Fort in Jodhpur...

The stunning architecture, the use of colours, the ingenuity of designs and the sheer splendour simply took my breath away..... Every tile, every mirror, every wall, every ceiling had stories to tell . . . Every step we took seemed to me to be steeped in centuries and centuries of history . . . The excellent audio guides brought before us, the scenes from history. I am now tempted to take a tour of the Mysore Palace with the audio guide :-) The tidbits and trivia were informative and very well presented in most places.

There was a palanquin designed for the queen's visit to London, which had an amusing anecdote associated with it. The paparazzi were hounding the Indian royals to catch a glimpse of the queen. At one event, they happened to catch a glimpse when the queen was climbing into the palanquin after exiting the car. The photos were splashed across the front page of all the tabloids... It was great news... The Indians were extremely upset, lest this become known back home. They went around London buying every single copy of the paper, and burnt them to ashes...

Surprized ??? Well, don't be... At least not yet... The picture the paparazzi had managed to take was that of the queen's ankle !!!!!

Anecdotes such as these were what made the audio guides so enjoyable, and really worth their money :)

Mirrors, coloured glass [very reminiscent of churches], the jaalis in the zenanaas [Zenanaas were the women's apartments within the forts and palaces. For women those days, purdah was a way of life. However, their apartments consisted of jaalis or meshed screens which enabled the women of the royal family and their attendants to observes the goings and comings of the people, without being observed themselves !!! :-) ], the 'Sheesh Mahals' in every palace . . . They are so rich in history and architecture, so beautiful and majestic, that I have no words to describe them... They should not just be seen once in one's lifetime, but should be experienced . . . . .

My first camel ride, my first sunset in the west, my lovely puppets, finding a welcome board in Kannada in a Jaipur shop, finding similarities between V and his camel Raja [ :P ], mehendi, the lovely place we stayed at in Bikaner, the lakes and temples, the forts and palaces, trying to understand the workings of the various structures in the Jantar Mantar, laughing over the spoon specially designed for a king with a bushy moustache, and marvelling at the beauty and royalty surrounding us . . . every bit is filled with sweet memories...

The most breathtaking sight was that of the Jain Temples at Ranakpur . . . Carved out of pure white marble, the architecture of the temples are stunning... The serene atmosphere inspires reverence in the most atheist of minds... The neighbouring Sun Temple, is no less in grandeur . . . We spent an entire morning here and were still left with the feeling of having missed out on so many of the amazingingly intricate carvings !! Well, that's what the next time would be for ;) I hope someone's listening :-)

The paintings, the handicrafts, the handlooms, the blue pottery . . . and the musicians . . . The musicians defined Rajasthan for me... Their soul stirringly powerful music, still rings in my ears... One finds musicians playing away without any seeming care in most of the tourist attractions and hotels... Apart from a stray flutist, the music of all of the others touched my heart . . .

Kesariya baalam aavo ... padhaaro mhaare desh ... A royal welcome ... A royal experience ...

A family of folk musicians who were performing at Bikaner... A young boy playing the rawanhathha at the Jaswant Thada... Sand dunes, a camel ride, and a desert sunset... A knight riding on Raja and his queen beside him . . . A land, truly of the royals . . .
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9 comments:

On December 31, 2010 at 12:27 PM , Bit Hawk said...

Wonderful piece! Now that you have 'resumed' writing, I would urge you to be more regular :)

'Someone' listened. How about staying in a tent near sand dunes next time? :D

------

I had missed writing this in my article, so will write it here:
In 2314 AD, the famous Rajasthanologist Ludwig Wilhelm Schlesinger would write: "The Rajasthanologists are divided over as to when the palaces and forts were built. While some believe that everything was constructed during the Rajput era, the rest opine that more than half of these magnificent structures were built by Taj group of hotels, in order to cater to the foreign nationals (who came to India to see elephants) and neo-rich IT people (who were called Internet Hindus - irrespective of their religious affiliations - by post modernist jounalist Sagarika Ghose)"

 
On December 31, 2010 at 12:37 PM , Diya said...

@ Bit Hawk: Am taking a bow... I will definitely try and be more regular... As for the tent at the sand dunes... How about in May ??? ;)

Amazing foresight :D Almost fell of my chair laughing !!! Especially at the 'Internet Hindus' bit :D

 
On January 3, 2011 at 9:01 PM , Srik said...

Hehehehee - Lol on the comments of Vasuki.

Diya, it is a wonderful piece of introduction to Rajasthan.... I virtually lived a moment in there!

I would want to visit that state sooner, of course.

 
On January 4, 2011 at 8:08 PM , Nuthan said...

I still remember the snaps that you sent, beautiful place, truly!!!
And now, the summary of your trip comes as an add-on.
I could see the joy out of this trip. I hope to see this place, in the days to come.

 
On January 4, 2011 at 11:17 PM , Art said...

To begin with, i am glad you wrote something
and what a thing to write. Its so tempting. We had plans for this in nov. But dint go coz of other things. Will take ur help when we actually plan again :)

 
On January 5, 2011 at 11:17 AM , Diya said...

@ Srik: U have a wonderful opportunity coming up too !! So make that visit :)

@ Nuthan: :) Next visit home, u could include this in your itinerary !!

@ Art: Will hope to help u plan ur vacation there very soon !! And yes, I feel good too on having written something after so long...

 
On February 1, 2011 at 5:37 PM , Raji said...

I still remember the snaps you showed related to camel ride...and bangles story...lol :P
Really nice pics...3Cheers for u lady :)
U know what... I had an eye on your marionettes...so be careful :P :P
Keep blogging and keep smiling :)

 
On February 2, 2011 at 3:17 PM , Diya said...

@ Raji: Am taking a bow !!! U are welcome to my marionettes any time ... On the condition that you stay home with me to look after them ;)

 
On February 2, 2011 at 3:50 PM , Raji said...

Diya@ Thank u soo much... :) :)