The White Palace


The Jai Vilas Palace in Gwalior combines three European architectural styles—the first storey is Tuscan, the second Italian-Doric and the third Corinthian.

There is an eclectic collection of items housed inside the museum, which can be visited by the public. One section still serves as the residence of the heirs of this Palace.

We weren’t allowed to carry bags inside (there is a provision of a locker), and strangely, we weren’t allowed to carry umbrellas inside either. While the museum itself is entirely indoor, to exit the Palace, one must pass through the central lawn. As luck would have it, it began pouring just before we were about to complete our tour.

If you plan to visit this Palace in Gwalior, make sure you have sufficient time—we spent over two hours (excluding the rain delay), as there is much to see. And if you are short on time, pace yourself to keep the maximum time for the last section—the opulent Durbar Hall. We had read about the extravagant decor and seen pictures of the massive chandeliers. But it was only when we saw the hall that the reality of its grandeur hit us.

In our limited exposure to exotic places, some places leave a lasting impression, some of romance, others of awe. The Jai Vilas Palace, even with all its magnificence, left a somewhat cold and distant feeling. It’s hard to tell why – perhaps it’s the excessive indulgences; or the exclusively European architecture; or perhaps it was the weather; or just maybe, the contrast between the lifestyles of the common people, and that of their representatives, that is so blatantly visible to the casual observer.

Jai Vilas Palace
Jai Vilas Palace, house of the Scindias. The imposing structure and all its extravagance is visible right from the entrance.

Photo taken with Moto G3. Click/tap to enter my Flickr Photostream.


This is post #11 in this year’s NaBloPoMo, or as Ra calls it Nano Poblano

NaBloPoMo = National Blog Posting Month = Thirty straight days of blogging

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Myths about Monsoon Palace


Researching for our trip to Udaipur, we had heard and read about the amazing views of the Aravalli hills from the Monsoon Palace, especially at sunset. The Monsoon Palace was constructed specifically for the purposes of observing the monsoon clouds—and what better time to visit the Palace than in the monsoon!

It had poured heavily the day we reached Udaipur, and it appeared that the heavens above would deny us our visit to this Palace. Amazingly enough, the rain stopped in the early evening, and we headed out to catch the setting sun under a rather overcast sky.

From what we had read in the travel reviews, it was a long trek uphill, and not much upstairs, apart from a neglected building; that one must carry food and water, as there were no food stalls; and keep them safe as there were lots of monkeys who would snatch away your food. And so we went, fully prepared with snacks and water, tucked in a canvas bag, secured safely with the modern miracle called a zip.

Atop Monsoon Palace
Atop the Monsoon Palace

It turns out, either this place hasn’t been reviewed by travellers for a while, or I ended up reading every old one!

So I’m going to attempt to set it right, by debunking all the myths (and adding one observation) about the Palace.

    1. The building didn’t really look neglected or decaying.
    2. There is a restaurant there.
    3. There are also public water dispensers (as with most other monuments)
    4. There are no monkeys (except for one big Langoor, that had probably been hired to keep the red ones away)
    5. There are lots of multi-legged insects. Not dozens or scores or hundreds, there were literally thousands of centipedes/caterpillars/millipedes (I have no idea which of those they were) on the stone steps and walls—possibly due to the rains.

What each of the travel reviewers did get right, though, were the views. To quote one reviewer, “the views are to die for”.

Such was the breathtaking view of the Aravalli hills at sunset, that neither my words, nor my pictures could do justice to it.

We spent a couple of hours drenched in the golden hues of the sun, and as grateful as we were to be in presence of such magnificence, there was one greedy thought still lurking within, “if it weren’t so overcast!” Oh well. 🙂

So what were the great views, that captivated us, you ask? I’ll leave that hanging for one more day.

In the meanwhile, here’s a peek.

Monsoon Palace
Monsoon Palace just after sunset

Photos taken with a Moto G3, edited with Image Composite Editor and Befunky. Click/tap to enter my Flickr Photostream


This is post #4 in this year’s NaBloPoMo, or as Ra calls it Nano Poblano

NaBloPoMo = National Blog Posting Month = Thirty straight days of blogging

To reveal, or not to reveal?


A prominent feature of Rajasthani architecture are the windows with their characteristic floral silhouette. When visiting monuments in the region, it is hard to resist the temptation of framing the magnificent views with the window. Ah, what a feeling it must have been, living in those palaces!

Alas, for women, not a very good one. The queens and princesses had their share of riches and maids and all luxuries that a royal household could provide. But freedom? Trapped in a tower, looking out of the window was the only freedom they had. Called jharokhas, the beautiful latticed windows were built to allow women to look at the world outside, without themselves being seen.

Here is one such window at Bagore ki Haveli, Udaipur. I wonder what must be visible through those tiny windows within the main window.

Latticed glass window
“What a wonderful world”

My previous posts of the Jag Niwas Island Palace and the Monsoon Palace were my favourite (and best) shots of windows with great views.

So this week, when the Daily Post asked us to show windows, I felt cheated. But considering what it must have been like for the women who looked out of these tiny windows, I don’t have any reason to complain.

Framing the in-laws!


the bahu from the point of view of saas
The bahu, from the point of view of saas

One of the major attractions in Gwalior is the Saas-Bahu ka Mandir. In Hindi, saas translates to mother-in-law and bahu is the daughter-in-law.

The strange name is believed to be a convenient short form for sahasrabahu – meaning thousand arms. The two temples in the complex are covered with beautiful, intricate carvings of geometric patterns, animal motifs and dancing figures. Some claim that one temple is for Lord Vishnu, while the other is for Lord Shiva. There is also some confusion as to whether they are Hindu temples at all. What is widely agreed to, is that the larger one is definitely the saas, and the smaller one, the bahu!

This photograph of the smaller temple was taken inside the larger temple.

If you intend visiting, be sure you have enough battery and memory to click pictures. We know we didn’t stop with one 😉


To see how bloggers across the blogosphere are framing their points of view, check out this week’s Photo Challenge

The locked house


Colonial Building

A Colonial building in a Mughal Garden Complex, living amid ruins of the Revolt of 1857, locked and forgotten, except by park officials and evening joggers.

For whom was it built? Why is it locked away? What lies behind those red stone walls?


nanopoblano2015lightThis is post #3 in this year’s NaBloPoMo, or as Ra calls it Nano Poblano

NaBloPoMo = National Blog Posting Month = Thirty straight days of blogging

Thanks a bunch to all the cheering peppers who have been tweeting and liking posts across WordPress 🙂

Broken


My grandmother often says that of the several artistic abilities our family possesses, the ability to throw, is the one that we need the most! At our home, when things break, our instinctive reaction is that of fixing them. So for this week’s photo challenge, broken, I had quite a few options at home! Except, of course, they had mostly been fixed, or have become something else. For instance, the beads from several broken bracelets and necklaces have now become a gypsy-style garland. And all the broken seashells from our collections have now become a decorative wall hanging.

* * *

We were in Old Delhi to meet relatives and decided to explore Qudsia Bagh in the evening. Clean jogging tracks surrounded by palm trees and Laburnums in full bloom, the park was a sight for sore eyes and sun-drained explorers like us. Large pots of water and benches with bird feed attracted birds by the dozen.

“What are you waiting for? Take out the camera!” It took me a little while to react. My brother nudged me as I stared at a kite sitting atop the earthen pot. Before I could take a clean shot, it flew above us and onto a tree branch. Another one swooped down and flew low, before joining its friend on the branch. They didn’t seem to mind the people around them — little children swinging on monkey bars and groups of evening walkers.

We continued walking, and it wasn’t long before we spotted a wall behind a few trees. An old building! After several months, we discovered something old in Delhi. An entrance gate of some sort, with a staircase on the side leading up to the roof; an old locked up lodge that seemed appropriate for some mystery novel; and a mosque under renovation — we hopped from one building to another, trying to cover as much ground as possible in the little time we had left in the day. But with daylight fading and our stomachs grumbling, we had to head back.

As we were returning, I noticed this minaret-like structure. It turned out to be at the exact same place we saw the kites earlier. In our excitement of seeing the kites, I’d missed this one entirely.

Minaret at Qudsia Bagh
Minaret at Qudsia Bagh

I clicked a few more photographs of the park just as a peacock came out for its evening walk.

We may go and visit Qudsia Bagh again. We might climb the gate, inspect that old house more closely, and perhaps, find more treasures.


From Wikipedia: Qudsia Bagh is an 18th-century garden complex and palace located in Old Delhi, India. Constructed in 1748 for Qudsia Begum, this complex was largely destroyed during the Indian rebellion of 1857.

For more broken images, visit the Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge: Broken

Expressions of Faith


We were on our way to the Vaitheeswaran Temple, when we decided to take a short detour. The magnificent gopuram* of the ancient temple was visible from afar, and it was on an impulse, that we decided to visit the Chidambaram temple.

Kolam at the entrance
A part of the large kolam at the entrance of Chidambaram Temple

Opposite the entrance stood an intricately carved wooden structure, being prepared, perhaps, for the grand pooja which was to take place only two days after our visit. A long row of shops – selling flowers, pooja items, idols of Gods, colourful kolam powders and filter coffee – lined either side of the path leading up the entrance. We deposited our slippers with one of the shoe-caretakers (for lack of a better word), and stepped inside.

Beautiful kolams greeted us, followed by the grand gopuram which we had seen from afar. There were more gopurams inside the premises. Hundreds of devotees had come, mostly in crowded buses, from different parts of the country. We followed the crowd.

After a long walk from the entrance, we entered the main shrine. Devotees who were closer to the sanctum sanctorum, bent over the railings; those who were behind, stood on their toes; children sat on shoulders of their fathers, all of them waiting to get a glimpse of Nataraja, the lord of dance. As the curtain was pulled apart, temple bells and folded palms filled the shrine.

This ancient temple, spread over 40 acres, is one of the largest temples in the world (fourth largest, to be precise)**. Intricate sculptures of deities atop the gopurams, stone panels depicting dance postures, halls with high ceilings, all supported by massive pillars embellished with floral detailing. With several shrines and tanks, the temple priest told us, it would take one full day to properly visit the temple complex. An hour, was hardly going to be sufficient to soak in the magnificence and grandeur of the temple.

Every year Bharatanatyam dancers converge in this temple during the annual festival to worship, their offerings in the form of dance. I can only wonder what that atmosphere would be like. Hopefully I will visit the temple once again. And on that day, I will spend more than just an hour.

Chidambaram Temple
Devotees heading towards a shrine, Chidambaram Temple

More Expressions here: Daily Post Weekly Photo Challenge : Express Yourself

* Gopuram is a monumental tower, usually ornate, at the entrance of any temple, especially in Southern India. This forms a prominent feature of Koils, Hindu temples of the Dravidian style. They are topped by the kalasam, a bulbous stone finial. (Source: Wikipedia)

** The three largest temples are, in order, Angkor Wat, Cambodia; The Srirangam Temple, Trichy, Tamil Nadu: Akshardham, Delhi, India (Source)

Further Information on the Chidambaram temple: Chidambaram Temple on Wikipedia