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By: Rajiv Chopra

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Saturday, 16-Feb-2008 10:19 Email | Share | | Bookmark
Another Trip To Rajasthan. Mandawa 1

Entrance to a shop
Walking By
Guarding The Fort
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This will not be such a long trip, as the last one. For one, it took place over a weekend. My wife, a friend and I went to this place about 250 km north of Jaipur. The area is called Mandawa. The region is hostile. Very little grows there and, about 150 to 160 years ago, members from several families, made their way to Delhi ( about 400 km away ), got on boats and sailed on the Yamuna River, across the width of the country, to Calcutta. Once they reached Calcutta, which is situated on the Hooghly distributary, they alighted. There, along what is called the Strand today, they set up their business. They started as wholesalers, with the office below the living quarters.

About forty years later, members of the family went back and set up these mansions made of limestone. And, had them painted inside out. Some of the paintings are classics. They then left them in the hands of caretakers, never to return. The caretakers live there today, and earn money by charging visitors entry fies.

You can also buy "antique" furniture in Mandawa. Ha! Ha! The furniture is made, and buried in the limey ground for a month, to give it an antique feel!

This region's history is not marked for the history of the kings, but it is known for the history of the merchants.

The merchants today? Their businesses boomed and, their descendants are now members of the largest business houses in India - the Birlas, Ruias, Singhanias, to name just a few of them. These descendants are, today, setting up the Indian multi national companies that are slowly spreading across the world.

Wednesday, 6-Feb-2008 11:39 Email | Share | | Bookmark
Finally Ending That Old Road Trip

An Old Jain Temple 1
An Old Jain Temple 2
I'm back after what seems to be a very long time indeed. I was in Delhi most of December and, half of January. We bought an flat(apartment) in December and, my mom-in-law died in January. So, it has been quite a period in our lives.

Since I don't like leaving a job undone, I thought that it would be appropriate to end the old trip with some shots that I took on the road from Jodhpur to Udaipur. The buildings are an old Jain temple. I forget the name. I think that I was too boozed out to find out at that time!

Anyway, I shall post again soon. Different place in Rajasthan!

Thursday, 13-Dec-2007 12:47 Email | Share | | Bookmark
In Jaisalmer

Empty Spaces Before The Dead
A Cluster Of Tombs
A Big One
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Jaisalmer is a magical place. It is on the borders of the Thar Desert, and is one of the places where the earliest invaders used to enter India.

The fort itself is one of the largest desert forts in the world. The fort has three walls. The inner wall is where the warriors inside the fort would pour boiling oil onto the invaders. It could'nt have been a pleasant prospect, to have boiling oil come streaming down onto your head, into your eyes and, into your mouth.

The fort itself was built in 1156 Ad by the Rajput ruler Rawal Jaiswal. So now you know where the city got it's name. It was taken in Ala ud-din Khilji in the 13th century and was attacked again by the second Mughal emperor Humayun, in 1541. During Ala ud-din's siege the Rajput women committed jauhar - they killed themselves by jumping into fire rather than be taken by the invaders.

The fort today, is one of the few forts where there is a bustling market in the fort. Most forts are 'dead', in the sense that they are only peopled by tourists.

And, on the border of the desert, outside the town, are the tombs of the warriors and princes who died in battle. Forgotten but for legend, and the tombs that gaze silently on to eternal rest.

Monday, 10-Dec-2007 15:26 Email | Share | | Bookmark
Lunch time between Jodhpur & Jasisalmer

the old man and his time
entertainers at the restaurant
rustic charm
A note from the hospital. My hard disk has still not recovered. I need t take it to one more lab, and if that does not work, I will be stuck. As of now, it seems that all the shots I took in the last one year have gone forever. This means photos in Inner Mongolia, Qinghai, Zhang Jia Jie, an old section of the Wall, the by lanes of Beijing are alll gone. Plus, some more. And, these were amongst my best shots

Luckily, I had copied a whole bunch of photos on to CDs and, these are 'alive'. I shall now buy one more hard disk and, back up all my data.

To carry on from where I left off, we left Jodhpur, and drove to Jaisalmer. Even though this was October, the sun was bright. Very, very bright indeed. We stopped by at this little 'rustic inn' on the highway for lunch. It was a good break. October is still hot in Rajasthan, and the sun is strong. This point was 250 km out of Jodhpur, and we had another 250 km to go. We'd been drinking since the morning, and by lunch time, we were dead on our bums. Not dead on our feet. We were'nt walking. We were sitting. So, we were dead on our bums!!

The magic of the highway had dimmed. The star waned but, when we reached this inn, it waxed and shone brightly again. Inside the huts, was the cool shade, cool water, some nice food, and some more beer.

All the while, the people waited. They waited for travellers like us to come by, so that they could earn some money. They have time on their hands. I think that, when you have time on your hands, you develop a kind of inner calm. It may, at times, be a dead calm.

Tuesday, 27-Nov-2007 07:41 Email | Share | | Bookmark
Moving On From Jodhpur. Only A Map...

My hard disk is still in hospital and, I will take it to a doctor tomorrow. So, I figured that it may be good to show you all a map this time. You'll see Jodhpur in the centre of the map. From here we moved on to Jaisalmer, which is on the Westen border of Rajasthan. You'll also see a little red line going left from Jaisalmer. This is where the desert is, and where we went camel riding. Apparantly, a very good place to get opium and hashish. Apparantly, a lot of hippies like to bonk off with the locals of this area, while floating about in a hazy world!

We took another car from Jodhpur. A very nice car, which gave us access to the luggage space at the back, actually. We crammed our luggage into the smallest space possible and filled the rest with ice boxes filled with ice and cane of beer. A cassette of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan was jammed into the car stereo and, we were off.

Now when you are on the highway, with the road ahead of you, and the sky above you, floating in a beer haze, occasionally in a marijuana haze, and listening to Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan sing, you feel close to God indeed. It's an entirely different experience.

Now, I have to digress and, talk about another occassion. This was during my engineering days. Must have been about 2 am or 3 am. A couple of classmates and I were jammed into my room, smoking pot. There was a fierce storm outside, and we were listening to "Riders on the Storm", by the Doors. Similar and yet, so different. An experience that brings you close to God in a different sort of way.

But, on this trip, we had Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan with us. And, his singing can set your soul free. With freedom in the air, you pass into an entirely different realm of human experience. The highway never leaves you. Ever.

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