Marvellous Mewar

A 10-day trip to magical Mewar has left a lasting impression on my mind. It is a fertile region, criss-crossed by rivers and dotted with large freshwater lakes, carved out from the mightly Aravali ranges in the sandy Rajasthan. We reached Udaipur and got a taste of the famed Rajput pride from the airport itself, when the taxi driver picked us up and recounted historical slices. Our hotel was located just 10 minutes away from the City Palace and run by a member of the Shaktawat family from Boheda.

On our first day in Udaipur, we walked up the winding lanes. Just a few metres before the City Palace is the Jagdish Mandir which is a marble marvel. The sanctum houses a huge idol of Lord Vishnu as Jagannath. We then proceeded to the City Palace which is located on one side of Lake Pichola. One part is a museum open to the public. 

We then took a boat ride to Jag Mandir, which was a royal guesthouse built on an island in Lake Pichola. It is surrounded by carved elephants. That evening we went to Sahelion ki Bari which is a beautiful water garden built on the bank of Lake Fateh Sagar. An ingenious technique uses water from the lake to power the fountains in the garden without any motor system as the lake is at a higher level compared to the gardens. A humorous chap, Radheshyam Chaubisa insisted on showing us around the gardens. He told us that visiting a place without a guide is like watching a silent movie and not all silent movies are as good as Mr Bean.

We ended the day by watching a cultural performance at ‘Bagori ki Haveli’. The next day we went on an excursion to Chittaurgarh.

The hilltop Chittaurgarh fort is the second largest in Rajasthan after Kumbhalgarh. There are many temples, stepped wells and royal residences within the fort walls though only a few are accessible. The temple where Meera Bai worshiped Krishna is one among the noteworthy ones. Padmini’s Palace, ‘Vijaystambh’ and ‘Keerthi Stambh’ are a few of the well-preserved monuments. We returned to Udaipur that evening and visited Ahar where one can find a myriad of cenotaphs of the royalty and the nobility of Mewar. We then proceeded to the Monsoon Palace or Sajjangarh. Poorly maintained, it is perched on a hill overlooking Udaipur City. The views of the city on one side and the Aravali ranges on the other are breath-taking.

The next day, our first stop was Kailashpur village. On our way back to Udaipur, we passed through Haldighati which is the site of Maharana Pratap’s famous battle against the Mughals. We spent a few teary moments at ‘Chetak Samadhi’ as we read about the story of how a severely wounded Chetak (Maharana Pratap’s horse) leapt across a stream to carry his master to safety before dying.

Jodhpur beckoned us the next day. On the way we went to Kumbhalgarh Fort which is the largest fort in Rajasthan. There are numerous Jain and Hindu temples within the walls and there is a palace called the ‘Badal Mahal’ at the summit. The entire fort is in a dramatic setting and is built amidst the Aravali Ranges in such a way that it is not at all visible, in spite of its massive walls, unless you are very close to it. After the strenuous ascent and descent, we proceeded to Ranakpur which has one of the most beautiful Jain Temples I’ve come across. The Chaturmukha Temple dedicated to Adinatha is a ballad in marble.
We reached Jodhpur that evening and immediately realised the change in landscape and the weather.

We spent the entire morning scaling Meherangarh Fort and marvelling at the sandstone work and the various treasures on display — ivory make-up boxes of the queen, gilded swords, wine flasks and golden howdahs.  We set off to Mount Abu. After climbing Guru Shikhar and catching great views of the mountains around, we went to the
Dilwara Jain temples. It is a complex of five marble temples which have the most exquisite of carvings.

After driving around the Nakki Lake, we drove down the winding road and returned to Udaipur by evening. With a heavy heart, we left Udaipur the next day and returned.


(She can be contacted at rijutha.jaganathan@gmail.com)

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