Udaipur – Part 2

The tribal community called “Bhils” found in this region is one of the oldest tribes in the world. Their tribe claim to belong to the stone age.

This community was as committed to the protection of their state as was the royal family of Mewar. And fought hand in hand for the cause of an independent state. Infact their unconditional support was one of the reasons why Mewar could maintain its sovereignty against some of the mighty attacks.

The city of Udaipur is surrounded by Aravalli hills (one of the oldest ranges in the world).

IMG_1355IMG_1357

In those times a thick jungle sheltering wild animals surrounded Udaipur. The attacking armies would find it very difficult to pass through this difficult terrain to reach the city of Udaipur. Over these natural hurdles, the Bhils – experts in guerilla warfare, would shoot arrows of poison at these intruders to dampen their spirits further.

IMG_1306

Nature protects the brave. The kings and Queens who were ready to sacrifice their lives for the cause of their state and its people, it seemed even God extended a special umbrella of protection at them.

Some Spiritual tales –

The Kings of Mewar called themselves the Custodians of Ek Ling ji. Ek ling Ji is the form of lord Shiva worshiped here.

The Kings official signatures read “Dewan of Ekling ji” .

By saying this they contributed all their wealth rightly belonging to lord Shiva. Being on the highest stature and still recognizing all belongs to God is a definite sign of deep spiritual roots,isn’t it!

Story of Prem Giriji

King Udai Singh went hunting one night. Curious seeing smoke rising at the top of a hill he went towards it. Tracing it lead him to a mountain peak where he had an encounter with Saint Prem Giriji .

The sage blessed the king and intuitively told him that if the King choses to built his royal Palace on this particular peak, the King’s generations would rule for hundred years and more.

This is how Udaipur was founded by King Udai Singh. In the heart of City palace is located a temple of PremGiriji, even today, at the same place where the king was blessed by the sage.

IMG_1339

God’s direct intervention, that’s what we would call this. Isn’t it.. And so Mewar dynasty continues to be the longest serving dynasty of the world. It’s the 76th generation serving as a king.

However this clan claims itself to be from the linage of lord Ram. Lord Ram had two children Lav and Kush. They believe they are descendants of Lav.

There will always be critics who would over rule such claims, but to me what makes this clan one of the most outstanding is their value system and great will to live and die for the sake of their state and people.

And these values seeped downwards in their subjects, and both humans and animals reflected the same emotions of sacrifice.

Let me explain by narrating the two tales…

Sacrifice of Panna Dhai– Often among royal families would be found a sense of rivalry among cousin brothers for the greed of power to rule the throne.

Cousin Banvir wanted to be the uninterrupted crowned king of the Mewar dynasty and after killing Vikarmaditya elder son of King Sanga he also wanted to kill his youngest son, infant Udai Singh.

Blinded by his extreme greed for power, cousin Banvir planed to kill the infant while he was asleep. Panna Dhai, the prince’s maid got to know about his evil plans. To save the only heir of the throne Panna Dhai, quietly exchanged her own son (approx. the same age) with prince Uday and saved his life. At the cost of her own Son’s life.

panna-dhai

How many legends can boast of such loyalty. Where a mother sacrifices her own child for protecting the heir of her state. Wow! Such astonishing acts of bravery make India such a unique country.

Sometimes even the Animals reflected outstanding Heroism, another rare tale of Chetak– Most of us may have heard about the famous battle of Haldighati. Ranapratap the King of Mewar refused to succumb to pressure of Akbar and sign a treaty on his terms. Furious Akbar sent his large army lead by Raja Mansingh (king of Amber) for a battle against Rana Pratap.

This was the famous battle of Haldighati. Rana Pratap fought bravely against the mighty army of Akbar.  Read more @ http://www.indiaonline.in/about/Profile/History/Wars/Battle-of-Haldighati.html

Rana Pratap’s loyal horse Chetak was injured badly and lost one of his leg during this fight. But he did not give up. But labored on carrying his master, about 2 miles from the site of the battle field he came across a small stream. It was here, while trying to leap across the stream that chetak collapsed.

A heroic end to Chetak , even today the cenotaph still exists at Haldighati in Rajsamand district.

IMG_1325

Though we have heard some of these tales in our childhood, but there morals seem to have been long forgotten now. Aren’t  these epics our true wealth and our real moral guide? And if so, shouldn’t we sing these lores again and re kindle that lost sense of pride?

These Suryavanshi kings who would prefer to sacrifice their lives but not trade their independence, for small sensory pleasures or weaknesses, are true Hero’s in my eyes.

IMG_1447

Other facts-

Maharana Bhupal Singh was the first ruler to merge his state with independent India (18 April 1948). India’s first Union Home Minister (Loh Purush – the Iron Man) Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel reprimanded the reluctant Hyderabad and other states saying that “…if any ruler in India had any right to claim of independence it was Mewar, which has gladly and readily merged with the Indian Union saying that it was fulfillment of 13 centuries of their mission…but for Mewar no other rulers has that right…”

IMG_1444

Today Udaipur continues to be one of the most attractive cities in the world. A city hosting one of the most magnificiant palace hotels like Uday vilas, Leela palace, Lake palace etc. Attracting thousands of tourists towards its outer beauty.

IMG_1240IMG_1497

IMG_1454IMG_1380

But I am sure, at a closer look at the history of Udaipur, every visitor would agree “Udaipur is not just a city of lakes but its real beauty lies in its rich culture, stories of invigorating bravery, a legacy few states in the world have a parallel with”.  I think, It’s always the people and their values of a state which make it truly great. Udaipur in that sense is truly remarkable!!

IMG_1530

Vasudha Jhunjhunwala

P.S- Special thanks to Ran Vijay Singh ji for being such a patient guide.

Udaipur- Not just a city of lakes…

  IMG_1347

What was it that I found most memorable in the city of Udaipur? Were they the beautiful palace hotels, the 7 lakes, the silence and serenity of this place, the perfect weather, our the Full moon night. The moon which seemed to be shining brighter than ever before….

The above were only a cherry on the cake. What really inspired me most was its rich culture and the rare tales of the bravest people, that this land has gifted India.

IMG_1300

“Located on the south western tip of Rajputana (the name of Rajasthan before independence) the small area of Mewar is one of the only princely states which was never under the Mughal or the British rule”

Really?  I asked Ran Vijay Singh ji (Our guide) as he continued…

I was bewildered by this unimaginable truth, how did the Mewar Kings have any chance against the mighty Mughal emperors and the modern British armies? Are there many states who can boast about such an achievement in India?

Ran Vijay Singh ji almost caught my mind. And with a smile told me, you will know everything in detail by the end of this tour of the grand city Palace of Udaipur.

                                                                                                                                                            IMG_1268     IMG_1269

IMG_1256

City Palace of Udaipur is one of the few heritage sites of India, which have been restored and conserved like a world heritage site, rightly should be. I have often walked into the most astounding pieces of architectures in our country, finding them in ruins now, feeling a sense of pain. Contrast to which was my experience of City palace Udaipur. Thanks to the commitment of Arvind singh ji popularly known as Sriji, the present king of Mewar dynasty, for his great efforts to preserve this invaluable legacy.

IMG_1476IMG_1489

The city palace took more than 400 years to be built and even today some construction goes on in this palace. The continuous construction being considered a sign of growth and prosperity by the locals.

 On the left of the Palaces’ main entrance is the private residence of the present king and on the right side the area open to public, now maintained as a museum.

IMG_1252                         IMG_1258

(The Private Residence)                                                                                  (The Museum)

The Palace was designed in such a way that it would help the king to equip himself quickly for an emergency. A situation, which must have been faced very often, by every Mewari king.

At this point, Shashwat curiously asked, Mummy why do all these city names end with a “PUR”  JaiPur, UdaiPur, JodhPur etc etc. Ofcourse I did not know, so I looked at our expert for a worthy answer.

To which he replied- most of the cities which were ruled by Hindu kings have their name ending with a “Pur” and those ruled by Mughals with a “Bad”, like AhmedaBad, HydreBad ,FerozaBad etc etc. I just nodded in agreement, after all one must believe an expert!!

The horse stables were located right across the palace in its courtyard. Like in Mumbai, now the Cars are parked across the multi-storied buildings. So that the ever racing Mumbaikar, who is always riding at the speed of a Ferrari, can hit the highway in no time.  Just kidding! 🙂 🙂 🙂   this was so that the horses could be made readily available to the kings as fast as possible. 

Also this is the only place on planet earth where there is also found an official parking for the elephants. How organized and well planned were Mewari’s, I thought…

Their planning was better than the modern day airports, for boarding their warships (horses and elephants) they did not require any special elevators, they had 2 Aerobridge (elevated extensions) built for the job. Which helped them board without any delay. The Mewari troops were often defending themselves against armies which were much bigger than their own size. And so needed much more planning to combat their enemies.

The palace had zig zag , uneven passages and shorter  gateways ( Mewari kings were short and their contemporary Mughal kings where much taller) The soldier would hide behind the doorways and when the Mughal soldier bent their neck to enter, their heads would be chopped.

IMG_1307

(Rana Sangram Singh-1)

An emblem on the main entrance caught my attention. In the center of the emblem was the Sun and on its each side was a man. By their clothes one looked like a king and the other looked like a tribal.

IMG_1275

A Tribal, next to a king, what did this signify?

To all the readers, share your thoughts on what can this signify.

For the answer, wait till the next post 🙂  Till then keep guessing.. 😉

– Vasudha Jhunjhunwala