Tuesday, July 8, 2014

A peek into History with notes from Namrata on a trip to Jaipur

Namrata  Manot - part of Bichitra Pathshala writes about her trip to Jaipur

Money make us resourceful , experiences make us rich!

One of the earliest planned cities with royal buildings and structures, Jaipur was founded by Raja Jai Singh  II in 1700s. He was quite a king, who allied with Mughals ( and we find that connection in architecture ) and established a long , stable rule. He is also believed to have been a great astronomer too.

Most men here adorn a earring in one ear and speak in their native language, showing their Rajput roots. All official and royal buildings are either made of red sandstone or painted pink establishing their oneness & identity to Pink City.

We got an opportunity to see Jawahar Kala Kendra - a multi arts centre , on the first day
Here, there is a dome shaped entrance painted with natural colors and there are huge openings and corridors everywhere giving a feeling of largeness wherever you go. All the paintings are  astronomical and show some eclipses, symbols and writings in Sanskrit. Beautiful Rajasthani motifs of nature and its people adorn the walls . The huge doors are all wooden and carved with metal buttons and the buildings are stark pink stone structures.

Courtyard at Jawahar Kala Kendra

The place is abuzg with adda sessions of all kinds, young, old, guru-shishya, art teachers and their students discussing issues and various topics

We reach an open courtyard called Mukta Aakash which is an open space for performances surrounded by stone steps that will be occupied by audience. All four directions lead to corridors to next structure.

The Next day we get to see more of Jaipur

The city grows on you like opium!  Jaipur just gets more beautiful each day but only when you go back in time.

History is what makes this place really special. The valour, far sightedness, great administrative skills and patronage of art and architecture is what makes you wonder! Just saw a brilliant light and sound show of storytelling with classical Rajasthani music at Fort Amer. Relived 700 years in an hour of composition. Felt like I was part of the history. A Must Visit if you chance upon Jaipur! Also, Amer is on hills amidst jungle, so you are sure to catch sight of beautiful birds including peacock cooing away' piyu'

Fort Amer
Audio Guide Centre
So, plan today was City Palace. while passing by the long road with pink structures in line on both sides. There are well Labelled Shops on ground floor and houses on top , made by the subjects of the kingdom in olden days approximately 200 years old.

We pass by Hawa Mahal. Hawa Mahal looks gorgeous, made for the royal women to view the street festivals. I wonder why women need jharokhas and hawa mahal to look into the outside world!

And now entering City Palace, parts of which still belong to the king's family. But most parts have been converted into museum and are open for public appreciation.

I pick up an audio guide and enter the Palace, where till date, there's a private section that is home to royal family.

I step into the Sabha Niwas or the court where king used to meet his subjects. And I discover Raja Sawai Ram Singh, the most extra ordinary king that catches my eye first time I see him on the wall in his exceptionally bohemian outfit, lean body, unusual minimal design turban, English shoes and striking spectacles.

And then what I heard on my audio guide about him made me develop an instant respect and likeness for this rather humane and reformist king. He used to dye his own clothes, designed and washed his own turban, was a photographer, starts the Jaipur School of Industrial Art that was first of its kind with help of Colonel Hendley who was rather meticulous with the inventory recording and research of such arts.
He also started the first practical school with all facilities of labs, library and drawing tools, and guess what? He set up the first college, hospital and public park! Wow , what a Visionary! He is the one who started the establishment of Albert Museum of industrial Arts of Jaipur and his adopted son ,Madho Singh , who was very keen on art, and also completed it.
Albert Museum

My day was made! He was a treasure to tread upon. And then there was this biggest silver vessel, twice my height , that was made to carry holy Ganges water to London for this king who was very holy and wanted to stay pure! 
Large Silver vessel

The aesthetic find was the four beautifully crafted doors to the courtyard where dance performances happened. They were themed after four seasons: one was based on peacock for monsoon, one had waves of green for spring, third one had a God for summer and the last one had a blue theme for winters.

Then there was a small museum that housed all the various garments of the royal family. Saafa was supposed to be only 6 m long while pagdi was 25 metres long! Both were a must for men . The amazing garment was really the giant one that belonged to this Sawai king who weighed 200 pounds and was 7 feet in height ! As broad and as tall!!

Raja Sawai Man Singh's interest in Polo , his marriage to Gayatri Devi and contribution to developing army and helping in the World War also caught my attention. He built the strongest team in Polo and in fact died while playing too.
Pigeon outside Golf Court

The kings really contributed by planning the city so meticulously. The canals built on mountains that allowed rain water to collect in a fort supplied water all the year through! The Nahargarh was built for queens, Jaigadh for army and Amer Fort for kings that also had the largest cannon in the country. Ram Niwas Bagh with four gates housed the City Palace, houses and shops and gardens for common man and festivities.

Jaipur is really the seat for industrial arts, be it stone sculpture, wall painyong, marble carving,minakari, blue glass pottery, shoe making, carpet making, textile printing, silver art , mural art or ornamental sword making.

Peacock entrance

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