Feb 8, 2009

Rajasthan - Roads Lesser Traveled (3rd & concluding Part)

Hello & welcome back to final part of the travelogue to Rajasthan! This part covers our quick trips to Charbhuja Ji, Nathdwara, Haldi Ghati & Udaipur. But before that, thanx once again to all who continued encouraging me with suggestions & positive responses!
Charbhuja Temple

This temple is situated at about 40 km from Kumbhalgarh amidst the hills of Aravali. I had visited this place about 30 years back. Being our family deity and having come this close, we felt it is time to renew the blessings.

Again a very small town with lanes just wide enough to allow one vehicle with people walking on both the sides, chiefly populated around the temple itself. The temple, dedicated to the warrior swarup of Krishna, is said to have been one of the two temples constructed by Pandavas, the other one being Kedarnath. One of the local priest also informed us that only those devotees are allowed to be open the doors of Kedarnath (at the time of re-opening after winter) who have paid their tributes to Charbhuja ji. I wonder though how the records are being maintained for this purpose.


Nathdwara, though not an architectural marvel, is one of the perfect examples of our temples. Unpretentious in looks from outside, but houses one of the most beautiful idol of Shri Krishna. No wonder people keep revisiting this place again & again just to have a brief glimpse of Krishna.

Alas, one brief glimpse is all one gets at a time. And the reason is the way the temple is managed. In order to change the jhanki of the idol as the day progresses, the darshans are open only for 45 minutes every 2-3 hours. As a result, there is a continuous build up of eager devotees outside the temple gates who rush in the moment doors are open. In fact during this trip, we could not enter the temple on our first visit because in view of large crowd of devotees, the temple authorities had cancelled the 9 Am jhanki – thus making the next one more crowded!

It seems, more than an effort to be the link between the Krishna & his devotees, the temple showcases the importance of persons in control and the VIP guests, who get preference once doors are opened. Having visited this temple twice, years back, as part of the VIP entourage, this time round I realised the pains & frustrations of visiting such places as commoners. Also illogical seemed to be the decision of not allowing mobiles & cameras inside. God seemed to have been imprisoned by a few human beings – so ironical for Krishna who born in a prison, was on earth to liberate oppressed ones. The attitude provided a stark contradiction to Ranakpur temples trust, which is more friendly towards the devotees & the tourists and has tried to balance both.


A quick tour to Udaipur was part of our plans and with the times lost in travelling to Nathdwara on a day when we could not have a darshan, we actually had a very brief glimpse of Udaipur. Having stopped in Haldi Ghati for about an hour, we really had a paucity of time. Udaipur is a city having rich mix of history & natural beauty and hence it needs to be explored with about 3-4 days in hand and here we were, trying to compress it in few hours.

While Kumbhalgarh is the place to experience how people lived as warriors, Udaipur is the city to experience the lives of rich & famous during peaceful times. Nothing better showcases this than the City Palace – the palace of the Mewar dynasty, which has been converted into a museum. As one walks through the labyrinths of the castle, one can see the rich heritage of Mewar dynasty, boasting of names like Rana Kumbha, Rana Sanga, Rana Udai (founder of the city), Rana Pratap and Meera Bai. A number of functional rooms of those times have been maintained in the same manner as if the time has just stopped there and only the visitors have kept moving on over the centuries. Interestingly, while the clothes of these kings make one visualise their hude physique, most of the walk-ways in the Palace are barely large enough to allow only one person at a time.

Rajasthan had a tradition of painting its capital cities in a uniform colour – Pink for Jaipur, Blue for Jodhpur & so it is White for Udaipur. But curiously, the countless coloured panes of the windows peeping into the city provided a different view to the rulers. The traditions have continued even with the change of times.

City Palace is situated at the bank of Pichola Lake. Far on the right side of the lake, on a cliff of a small hillock one can see Sajangarh, another palace of the dynasty, viewing indulgently the neatly laid out Udai Vilas Palace (now a top of the line hotel), Lake Palace (a hotel in one of the islands in lake, well known for being a location for James Bond’s Octopussy), and Jag Mandir (a garden on an island from the dynasty times now converted into a restaurant). Though dried up in part, a small bridge connecting 2 parts of the lake near City palace, give a feel of the lake resembling Venice in earlier days.
The museum, showcasing the entire history is a pleasure to walk through. The sole irritants were the nose-up-in-the-air guides from various hotels accompanying foreigners, and thus assuming an inherent title to being superior then the large crowd of Indians tourists around. A number of them were pushing & shoving aside even the kids in order to lay down the red-carpet treatment to their clients.

From the city Palace we could see the Pichola Lake, filled with a variety of ducks and decided to take a boat ride into the lake. Apart from observing the city Palace from the waterfront and Lake Palace & Jag Mandir from close quarters, we could also see numerous Common Coots, Common Pochard, Spotbill Ducks and 2-3 varieties of cormorants, one providing us a proper look at its turquoise blue eyes.

We once again returned to Udaipur on the last day to catch our flight back to Mumbai. The journey, through the forests for part of the route, crossing dried up Banas river and part of which is through new highway being laid out to connect Mount Abu with Udaipur, also provided us a chance to visit a temple which is supposed to be original Nathdwara temple & from where the idol was shifted to the present location. We were informed by our taxi driver that even now, once or twice in a year, the idol is shifted to this place on the expressive request of the god which he communicates to the chief priest.

The place was serene due to absence of any devotee and resultant commercial culture with the priest busy in updating himself with the latest news. In contrast with the heavily commercialised approach road to Nathdwara Temple gate, there existed only one artisan whose work, though limited in display, spoke volumes of his capabilities. Though selling the products much superiors in quality, the prices were reasonable and the bargaining was dealt with smiling countenance. We in fact wondered, despite globalization and networked India, how many such small artisans’ talent is unexposed & hence not properly rewarded.

The journey though did not end without a surprise in store in form of a new nice & swanky

airport at Udaipur. But on ground infrastructure availability was not adequate as the journey ended with the customary delay of flight and availability of information being too little & too late.
However, for me, it was time to look back at the last 6 days filled with mostly great memories and look forward to here & beyond for another holiday. And for those who want to have a look at more pictures clicked during this part of the trip, can visit following link

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