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Old 29th January 2014, 17:58   #16
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Default Re: A week's drive through Rajasthan - The bastions of the Mewar Kingdom

I haven't been to Rajasthan (yet), but reading this travelog was like a virtual tour. And one steeped in history. Your narration style and pics are excellent.
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Old 29th January 2014, 22:42   #17
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Default Re: A week's drive through Rajasthan - The bastions of the Mewar Kingdom

Not only a well-written travelogue, but a very well-researched one too. Loved the history lesson while reading through (not that I didn't know most of it already).

And now that you've met the reincarnated Rana Pratap in person, perhaps you can go back to Kumbhalgarh again one day - find the poor chap who had decided in his earlier birth that...
Quote:
Originally Posted by predatorwheelz View Post
"I will sleep under trees, not royal beds, I will eat on a leaf, not on royal utensils etc etc..till I defeat the Mughal dynasty".
...and you can extend him an invitation on behalf of all Indian citizens to join politics during his present birth!

For whatever reason (wrong time of day, lack of time, laziness), we've driven by Chittorgarh many times on the NH79-NH76 loop while headed for destinations further away, but never yet stopped to explore. It was therefore a virtual tour of the place for me through your photos. The fort and important buildings appear to have been less painstakingly maintained than elsewhere in RJ (esp. Jaipur/Udaipur). I suppose more tourists would induce the ASI to work a little harder at taking care of Chittorgarh and its historic monuments. Note to myself - need to visit Chittorgarh in the near future.

PS: Voted a well-deserved 5*.

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Old 30th January 2014, 08:06   #18
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Default Re: A week's drive through Rajasthan - The bastions of the Mewar Kingdom

Lovely thread. Loved reading it and going through the pictures.

Been to Rajasthan several times since it is my native place.
Hoping to be road trippin to Rajasthan with my friends in Calcutta soon.
Road trippin in America has given me quite some experience now. Its good fun and a nice learning experience too.

Rated 5 stars.
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Old 30th January 2014, 12:58   #19
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Default Re: A week's drive through Rajasthan - The bastions of the Mewar Kingdom

Excellent thread and places I have never read / heard of before. Thanks for your effort.

R
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Old 30th January 2014, 13:13   #20
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Default Re: A week's drive through Rajasthan - The bastions of the Mewar Kingdom

Wow such a lot of pics and very well narrated using them, brought out the entire trip in front of our eyes. Also those whacky pics of the kid taking pics using an iPad out of nowhere and the taxi comment on contacting him on watsapp , nice observations and some great lines put down!
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Old 31st January 2014, 07:18   #21
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Default Re: A week's drive through Rajasthan - The bastions of the Mewar Kingdom

Rajasthan has a special place in my heart, having spent 5 years in the state for studies.

Thank you for the travelogue predatorwheelz. Brings back lot of fond memories, though I have not visited these places before, the forts, temples, roads all similar to the other parts of Rajasthan!
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Old 31st January 2014, 15:32   #22
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Default Re: A week's drive through Rajasthan - The bastions of the Mewar Kingdom

Hi

This is among the top 5 Rajasthan TL. By narration and pictures there is a lot to relive.

Please keep it rolling.

In the next visit please do jaisalmer/Jodhpur also.

Cheers
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Old 1st February 2014, 15:04   #23
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Default Re: A week's drive through Rajasthan - The bastions of the Mewar Kingdom

Fantastic travelogue & equally amazing narration and photos. Just went through a brush up in history.

Thanks for the lovely travelogue.

Rated 5*
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Old 2nd February 2014, 11:38   #24
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Default Re: A week's drive through Rajasthan - The bastions of the Mewar Kingdom

Fantastic log! Kumbalgarh was one place which I could never visit in spite of staying for a long long time in Rajasthan. Those were times when we used to visit across the country in trains and buses, but always missed the local places.

I still remember those green/lemon Yellow RJ express buses and the Green/White deluxe buses plying across Singoli/Begu/Chittorh/Udaipur and other sectors. Times long gone. But yes definitely need to visit again and surely it won't be the last time!
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Old 3rd February 2014, 14:42   #25
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Default Re: A week's drive through Rajasthan - The bastions of the Mewar Kingdom

Man, that was fantastic. Your narration and pictures really took me back in time. The pictures of the intricate carvings and Vijay Stumbh are superb. The unfinished Shiva temple is the masterpiece. Definitely a trip to Udaipur needs serious consideration.....
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Old 3rd February 2014, 23:06   #26
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Default Re: A week's drive through Rajasthan - The bastions of the Mewar Kingdom

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ddrive View Post
Fantastic one. Lovely photos and apt narrations.
A wonderful travelogue sir.
Quote:
Originally Posted by RoadSafety_RR View Post
I haven't been to Rajasthan (yet), but reading this travelog was like a virtual tour. And one steeped in history. Your narration style and pics are excellent.

Quote:
Originally Posted by cityvic View Post
Lovely thread. Loved reading it and going through the pictures.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Reisender View Post
Excellent thread and places I have never read / heard of before. Thanks for your effort.
Quote:
Originally Posted by girishglg View Post
Wow such a lot of pics and very well narrated using them, brought out the entire trip in front of our eyes.
Quote:
Originally Posted by pulsar56 View Post
Thank you for the travelogue predatorwheelz. Brings back lot of fond memories, though I have not visited these places before, the forts, temples, roads all similar to the other parts of Rajasthan!
Quote:
Originally Posted by Joy View Post
Fantastic travelogue & equally amazing narration and photos. Just went through a brush up in history.

Thanks for the lovely travelogue.
Quote:
Originally Posted by ampere View Post
Fantastic log
Thank you all for the appreciation. Yes, the travelogue has been painstakingly written, with the idea of giving the reader a virtual tour. Don't miss reading the remaining part.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rajain View Post
Hi

This is among the top 5 Rajasthan TL. By narration and pictures there is a lot to relive.

Please keep it rolling.

In the next visit please do jaisalmer/Jodhpur also.
Thanks. I have mentally charted out the entire Rajasthan in 3 parts. Southern (Mewar), Western (Marwar) and Eastern (Shikhawati). Western Rajasthan (Jodhpur-Jaisalmer-Barmer-Bikaner) is next on the cards. But not before next winter.


Quote:
Originally Posted by vrprabhu View Post
Man, that was fantastic. Your narration and pictures really took me back in time. The pictures of the intricate carvings and Vijay Stumbh are superb. The unfinished Shiva temple is the masterpiece. Definitely a trip to Udaipur needs serious consideration.....
Thanks. You can do Chittor as a day trip (as we did) from Udaipur. You can also choose to stay in Chittor for the day, as accomodation is available in Hotel Padmini (RTDC) and some private hotels. We had lunch at Padmini, its a decent property.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SS-Traveller View Post
Not only a well-written travelogue, but a very well-researched one too. Loved the history lesson while reading through (not that I didn't know most of it already).

And now that you've met the reincarnated Rana Pratap in person, perhaps you can go back to Kumbhalgarh again one day - find the poor chap who had decided in his earlier birth that...
Thank you as always dada. Surprised to know you, of all people, have not visited Chittor yet. BTW, go back and read the Kumbhalgarh part again. The child we met, claimed he was a reincarnation of Rana Kumbha, not Pratap!

Day 6 - The palaces of Udaipur, and the drive to Ghanerao

Any visit to Udaipur is pointless without seeing the magnificent Udaipur City Palace. A colossal structure made of white marble, it was initially built by Rana Udai Singh after he left Chittor and established his capital here. It has been built upon by successive rulers.

The palace complex is in three parts. The first (and largest) houses the original palace (Badi mahal) and a royal museum. The second (Fateh Prakash palace) is now a heritage hotel which houses (among others) the Royal Car collection and the Crystal palace. The third, Shiv Niwas Palace, is also a heritage hotel.

The entry to City palace complex is through this incredibly crowded and chaotic road. For the first time we could sense it was tourist season in Rajasthan, as hundreds of tourists - most in large noisy groups - were descending upon the palace.

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The entry gate. Buy tickets for yourselves, your camera and your car.

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Just in case you thought the entry gate would be called Ram, Laxman or Hanuman.

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Take a guide at all costs. There are hundreds of little nuances to be explained.

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The admin office immediately upon entering Badi Pol. The scrawny fellow in the foreground in the sleeveless jacket is our guide.

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The Tripoli Gate (not Pol?), so named because of the triple arches.

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Eight torans to the left. It is said every year the Maharanas would be weighed here in Gold and Silver, and the coins given away to local people. Wow! If the custom was followed to the current day, big fat people (like me) would be the automatic public choice for the post of PM!

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Below the torans is the entrance to a public school run by the palace trust.

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Nothing prepares you for the sight of the magnificent white palace, basked in early morning sun, the first time.

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The lovely Jharokha'd passage in the pictures (as we later learn) is the path between the Raj and Jenana Mahals.

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The emblem of Mewar (remember the Haldighati Museum?) at the entrance to the palace.

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The statue of Lord Ganesha at the entrance.

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Some lovely tiles.

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The first passage, called the Ganesha Deodi, leads to a museum on Maharana Pratap (again??)

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The armor Maharana Pratap wore to battle. Said to weigh 72 kgs, though I find that difficult to digest.

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By now, I can recite the exploits of Pratap and Chetak in the battle of Haldighati backwards!

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We quickly move on from the museum onto the next floor. The entrance gate has these lovely lotuses (can't recollect what they were made with) which change color with the direction of the sun.

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This lovely tub is constructed from one single block of marble. And in case you were wondering, its not for taking a bath.

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Read the history and get stunned.

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Our first view of Lake Pichola.

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Badi Mahal is also known as the Garden Palace, due to the central garden which we have now reached. This place is an architectural wonder, as the central garden is actually based on an 89 foot rock. The trees you see are actually rooted deep into the rock, providing structural support to the building. The central pool was filled with colour during Holi.

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The garden is adorned on all sides with paintings and quaint exhibitions. One of these was the collection of cages for mail pigeons the Ranas used.

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The fountain at the other end of the courtyard. Behind this is a picture of 2 horses gifted by the British government to Maharana Fateh Singh.

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We can now see the Tripoli gate (and Chhotu parked near it) from up above.

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You thought Sumo wrestling was cool? How about elephants wrestling each other in the palace grounds? A painting.

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In case its still unbelievable, a photograph of the last elephant fight that took place in 1951!

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We come across this brilliant room, made entirely with coloured glass. Worth many photographs, but you have to stand outside.

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The roof of the glass room.

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Old 3rd February 2014, 23:42   #27
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Default Re: A week's drive through Rajasthan - The bastions of the Mewar Kingdom

Day 6 (Continued)

You can see the other end of the Badi Mahal courtyard. To your left is an expensive restaurant and some souvenir shops. To their right is a gate. Pay about a 1000 bucks more (per person) and you get entry to the Fateh Singh Palace and Shiv Niwas palaces from here.

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The view of the Taj Lake Palace from the roof of Badi Mahal. The rates are fit for kings.

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The Leela Udaipur, another property fit for the kings.

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This Jharokha seemed identical to the one seen in Badal Mahal, Kumbhalgarh.

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Wonder how many elephants died to get tusks for this door.

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The passage between the Zenana Mahal and Raj Mahal. Remember the passage I mentioned in the earlier post?

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Living quarters of Maharana Bhupal Singh, the handicapped king (1844-1955).

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Some amazing adjustments were made to ensure the handicapped king could carry on his royal duties. The first was the installation of a lift, right from his living quarters to the ground below. Unfortunately no pics, as the lift is non-operational and the shaft has been sealed off.

The second was the installation of this gold (yes, gold) Surya so the handicapped king could wake up every morning and do his Surya Namaskar.

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This portion of the palace is called Mor Chowk. Why Mor? see below.

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Brilliant glasswork on the east wall of Mor Chowk.

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Apparently a Messrs Khuda Bax & Sons (of Delhi) are to thank for it. Great work, sirs.

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A simple kitchen with copper utensils. Used by the last queen mother after the death of her husband.

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The central courtyard of the palace. This was being decorated as the current Maharana's son was due to get married 20 days later. Otherwise a member of public can rent it, for the princely sum of 35 lakh rupees a day!

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8 rooms all connected through a common passage. The walls of each room abound with pictures of the Mewar dynasty, including photos of the current generation in the last room.

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We have now done a full tour of the different levels and are back to ground level.

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A collection of palkis.

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A recently opened wing houses the royal collection of musical instruments. No real surprises though. The instrument you see below seems to belong to an elderly gentleman from a Haryana village?

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The Indian Banjo. Not to be confused with a similar sounding Punjabi expletive!

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Doesn't the courtyard look better without those umbrellas?

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The shaadi-ka-mandap which is used for royal weddings. The entire mandap is made of silver!

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Another newly opened museum which houses items of everyday royal use. Almost everything is made of silver. To me, only the magnificent royal chariot was worth a photo.

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A nicely done roof mural at the exit gate. Krishna with his gopis.

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At this point, we were running behind schedule. That, added with our guide's assurance that the other 2 mahals only contained more glittery displays of royal wealth, made us decide to move out. The Fateh prakash palace and Shiv Niwas palaces would be seen in another Udaipur visit.

So we leave, taking one last look at the original Udaipur palace.

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PS - I later learnt that one of the other palaces housed the Royal Mewar car collection. Just as I was ruing my chance to view those vintage beauties, I realized tbhp has a thread on them already.

http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/vintag...ollection.html (Royal House of Mewar Car Collection)

Last edited by predatorwheelz : 3rd February 2014 at 23:44. Reason: Added info
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Old 4th February 2014, 00:24   #28
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Default Re: A week's drive through Rajasthan - The bastions of the Mewar Kingdom

Day 6 (Continued)

It feels nice to see charity begin at home. It feels nicer to see your history lesson (of the place you're visiting) begin right at the hotel you're staying in.

The Lalit Laxmi Vilas Palace, our abode in Udaipur for the stay, was not just another 5 star hotel. The beautiful property, located atop a hillock facing the Fateh Sagar Lake, was a piece of history in its own right.

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As the centuries marched ahead, the rulers of Udaipur did their best to keep the visible presence of British paramount as far away as possible. The most obvious measures lay in giving the British Political Agent stationed at Udaipur, a residence well outside the city walls. This was in Dabok - where the airport now stands. While palatial by any standards, the Crown’s representative still had to make a long haul to the Maharana to deliver any missive he had.

Then in 1911, Maharana Fateh Singh constructed this palace facing the Fateh Sagar Lake somewhat closer to his own place. This palace was named Laxmi Vilas. This made things a little easier to Mr. Wingate, the Political Agent at that time. From here he could sally forth along Udaipur’s waterways and avoid the congestion of the city. And for the next three decades, two rooms of this Palace remained something of a royal rest house and camp office for the Political Agent. Maharana Bhupal Singh, Fateh Singh’s successor, then built a new residency by the Hathi Pol Gate and the Laxmi Vilas became functioning as a royal guest house.

From 1932 to 1934, the Laxmi Vilas was completely reconstructed and transferred into a luxurious guest palace. Here, visiting princes and dignitaries could stay in a style worthy of Mewar’s hospitality. Bhupal Singh personally superintended parts of the construction and decoration. The Maharana took special pride in this personal guest house housing which hosted various heads of state, kings, princes and governor generals. All the rich and famous dignitaries visiting the erstwhile state of Mewar were invariably made to stay in this splendid Palace.

Laxmi Vilas Palace played host to Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India in 1948 and 1951. Pandit Nehru arrived here in April 1948 to inaugurate the combined state of Rajasthan, where the various princely estates of Rajasthan namely Kota, Bundi, Jhalwar, Dungrapur, Banswara, Kishangarh, Shahpur & Jaipur were merged and Shri Bhagwat Singh ji was administered the oath of President of Union of Rajasthan and Shri Manik Lal Verma was made the first Prime Minister.

Subsequently in 1949 Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel the then Home Minister of India stayed at Laxmi Vilas. Laxmi Vilas has also housed most of the Presidents of Independent India starting from Dr. Rajendra Prasad during February 1951 to Dr. Shankar Dayal Sharma in 1994. The first Indian Governor General of Independent India Mr. C. Rajgopachari also stayed here during October 1948.

Even after independence, Laxmi Vilas Palace continued to serve as a palace guest house. In the 1960’s it passed into the hands of the government and was converted into a hotel by the ITDC-Ashok Group.

In February 26, 2002, Laxmi Vilas Palace was taken over by Bharat Hotels Ltd. and named as The Grand Laxmi Vilas Palace and later, in 2008 renamed as The LaLiT Laxmi Vilas Palace Udaipur when the company rebranded itself as The LaLiT.

The acquisition marked the re-birth of the Palace. Each element of the Palace was painstakingly restored to its original glory. The effects of the changes made in the recent past were studied and wherever possible the original elements were restored. The goal was to re-capture the charm of the Palace, which has played host to dignitaries like the Presidents and the Prime Ministers of India.

The restoration was planned carefully after detailed study of literature, local crafts, historic facts and examples of local architecture. The Palace fully restored in November 2004, sparkles with a new life, echoes the splendor of ‘regal old world charm’ while amalgamating the luxuries of the modern world.

The Palace has also been awarded the coveted classification of “Heritage Grand”.


Source

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The Fateh Sagar lake, which the hotel overlooks.

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A pan shot of the magnificent facade.

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The room we stayed in.

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A little sit out, for the guests to enjoy views of the valley or lake (as per room chosen).

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Luxurious, ain't it?

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Some refreshments for you, sir?

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The seating lounge beside the reception, snooker table and all.

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The picture of the palace founder, Maharana Fateh Singh.

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And his son, the handicapped king we spoke of in the last post.

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The reception.

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Another quaint seating lounge.

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The main staircase, leading to the first-floor balcony restaurant.

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Some royal arms.

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A peculiar custom they follow to greet every guest. As the latter's car rolls in, this horse trots in, to the sound of the dholki.

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Then the horse stands up on 2 legs and does a jig. The show was amusing to most foreigners. I found it just silly!

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A picturesque corridor. Wifey marvelled at how real the trophy heads looked. I had a hard time convincing her that they were real!

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Us at the hotel porch.

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And doing our best to hide the view of the lake.

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I must say, the valets gave very stepmotherly treatment to poor Chhotu. The facade parking was littered with Mercs, Audis, 2 Corollas belonging to the hotel and an occasional Xylo/Innova. On the first day they simply parked it as far away from the porch as they could possibly get!

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On the second day Chhotu found its revenge. Sandwiched between the black Honda City and the Innova is Chhotus tail sticking out.

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Finally, we bade goodbye to India's most romantic city and moved on. Our next stop would be Ghanerao. Google Maps as usual, took us through the most obscure roads to land us on to NH79 in the shortest time. And what a road!


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Some mountain sections, almost always with sparse traffic.

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And after an hour we take a diversion onto a state highway that lands us right back on the way to Ranakpur.

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Though officially Ghanerao is in Pali, it turns out really close to Ranakpur and some distance away from Kumbhalgarh. We reach by late afternoon, as the sun is setting. Its bye bye to the Mewar dynasty. Tomorrow, Ghanerao, the surprise package of our entire trip.
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Old 4th February 2014, 05:25   #29
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Default Re: A week's drive through Rajasthan - The bastions of the Mewar Kingdom

Wow! fantastic photologue. Don't know how I had missed this one before. What I really liked was the extensive research that has gone behind this. We did a 10 day Rajasthan trip in 2013 January, but I will hardly be able to narrate anything except the "Bhang" experience in Jaisalmer and the drive through Chambal at night . Rated 5 stars..
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Old 4th February 2014, 17:48   #30
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Default Re: A week's drive through Rajasthan - The bastions of the Mewar Kingdom

Day 7 - Ghanerao

Ghane who? - Ghanerao is not a name that rolls lightly off your memory, provided you've heard about it at all. Ghanerao was a Thikana (princely state) comprising 37 villages, that was formed in 1552 under Thakur Pratap Singh Ji I. Due to its geographical location, the thikana has been a source of strategic alliance between the Marwar (Jodhpur) and Mewar kingdoms. The rulers have been granted Sirayat (Feudal Baron) status in both the Marwar and Mewar courts.

There's a lot to see in Ghanerao. The rawla (haveli) you're about to see was built in 1606. Ghanerao borders the Kumbhalgarh Wildlife Sanctuary, and you can arrange treks in the forest (we did) and stay in the Forest Rest House (did that too). There are 11 ancient Jain temples within Ghanerao (Muchhal Mahavir being the prime) due to which it is a place of Jain religious importance. Unknown to many, the village also has 33 baolis (step wells), most of which are lying in a state of disrepair.

Why Ghanerao? - I had planned the first 6 days of the 8 day trip, and was looking for a feasible destination within Mewar for the last 2. Came across an article on Ghanerao in a 2009 issue of Outlook Traveller from my archives, and decided this was to be the place. And boy, was I glad.

(That article is now online. Here's the link)


What you should (and should not) expect? - Lemme start with a small story. I'm a vintage car enthusiast, and love travelling to vintage car shows. Very recently, I was at a show where they had these American barges - lots of them - restored to perfection. The paints (some of them outrageous colors), were finished to a gleam. The interiors were perfectly done up, wood and leather looking like the car just came out of the factory. The chrome parts were fresh and shiny enough to shave on. A perfect concours restoration, as most would agree.

Then I chanced upon this one Jaguar. The paint was period, detailed to its life, but period. The wood in the interior had aged and darkened like only wood can. The chrome had shine, but not re-chromed. The tyres looked used. Would it pass a concours? Probably not. But you could make out that here was a working classic. A car that gets used everyday, which displays the effects of time on itself, yet presents itself endearingly to enthusiasts.

And that answers what you can expect at the Ghanerao Royal Castle. The Lalit Laxmi Vilas palace was a 100 year old classic restored to concours perfection. Ghanerao Royal Castle precedes it by 300 years, and looks the part of a ravaged classic. No swimming pool, no spa, no waiters in starched uniforms. Additions of comfort (lights, air-conditioning, modern toilets) have been added only where necessary. But the rest of the building looks like it just jumped out of a history book.

Oh yes, you can also expect hospitality at its warmest. The hotel is managed by Mr Shakti Singh Ghanerao, younger grandson of the current king Thakur Sajjan Singh Ji. Provided you find him at the office, Shakti will regale you with historical accounts of his palace and his dynasty. Treat the place like a homestay. Choose your room, choose your meal contents, roam about. I took the liberty of asking Shakti if I could do a photo-shoot of the castle at dawn. He readily agreed. We also met Sajjan Singh Ji, the 89 year old king who welcomed us like his grand children and patiently answered our questions.

And with that, let me take you through a guided tour of Ghanerao.

The entry gate.

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The entire facade of the rawla at night. (Note - This pic is not mine, but taken from the hotel website). My camera wasn't capable enough of doing a pan shot of the entire facade.

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The left wing, which is actually the facade of the Zenana Mahal.

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The centre wing. The hotel office is in the ground floor. Beside it is the palace entrance.

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The right wing, or the Raja Mahal.

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The foundation stone of the structure. The oldest thing in the building dating to the 16th century.

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They used to tie elephants here, till as late as 1983!

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The private residence of Thakur Sajjan Singh Ji, at the rightmost part of the complex.

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Stables to the right of the gate. Now housing the family's cars.

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View of the gate from inside.

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When the local kotwali was based inside the rawla, these rooms served as jails.

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Stables to the left of the gate. Where's Mr Uday Bhan Singh when you need him?

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Chhotu finds a parking.

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I walked to the extreme left of the building, behind the Zenana mahal. These rooms are not part of the hotel and used only for storage.

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The old wall stands guard.

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Another shot of the Raja Mahal facade, before we go inside the palace. FYI, the entire second floor is one room, and that's the room we chose! More details in a future post.

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The Ghanerao Royal Emblem.

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Padharo Mare Rawla.

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A statue of Lord Ganesh stands guard, as we saw at the Udaipur palace.

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Spears from way back when.

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I'll first walk you into the left wing, the Zenana Mahal. This is the courtyard of the Zenana Mahal.

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The Lord Krishna temple inside the Zenana Mahal. The temple has a history of its own, a history that relates to something we saw in Chittor. Meerabai, the queen who dedicated her life to the worship of Lord Krishna, was the wife of Mewar King Bhoj Raj. After her husband died in battle, her father-in-law Rana Sanga still appreciated and encouraged her divine pursuits. But after Rana Sanga also passed away, her brother-in-law Vikramaditya became the ruler. He was critical of her pursuits, so unbecoming of royalty, and made several attempts to kill Meera. Ultimately Meerabai fled to Merta in Nagaur with her beloved Lord Krishna idol. She stopped at Ghanerao, and it is said she handed over the idol to the queen for safe custody. Since then, the original idol has been preserved at Ghanerao, and the temple built around it.

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And that is the original idol of Meerabai, if the folklore were to be true.

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A quaint seating area.

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An unused portion of the Zenana mahal.

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The durbal hall. In the next post, I will take you inside.

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The residence of the temple pujari.

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