Saturday, August 02, 2008

Its Jodhpur

Jodhpur's Mehrangarh fort is maginificent and so alive. The shenai and tablas played by locals at the entry, the grand museum, the Sheesh Mahal like dancing rooms, winding stair cases and the intriguing 'jharokhas' for the women of the Rajputana to view the happenings in their mahal- its just so waiting to spring to life. Imagine being a woman within such forts with jharokhas, sheesh mahals, watching the King watch women dancing. Strange. And the hand prints of all those countless women who dived into the fire filled 'jauhars' to salvage their honour. Phew.
Outside you can see the stamp of the new age royalty. The Umaid Bhawan royal residence cum museum cum five star hotel is modern, real, tangible. I prefer Mehrangarh though- its so damn riven with character.
80 kms off is Osian- great place to catch some fun in a sms version of sorts of the great Thar desert. A couple of sand dunes to get the desert feel, the touch of smooth sand slipping under naked feet as one climbs up and then slides down the golden flowy mountains of the desert. Next time, I will see the real thing at Jaisalmer. Goodbye to a vacation I shall always remember fondly.

Pushkar Tales

We reached Pushkar at 10 pm and the small town was like under curfew. But then there was some bhajan and shayari that wafted with the breeze along the mellowed Aravallis. The only place we found open at that hour was the Sunset Point and it was love at first sight. So boho with its colour heavy decor, cane furniture, arty lamps and an enviable menu. Whatta line up right from a chocolate pan cake, pastas to desi paranthas. Sitting pretty with its translucent drapes and oh-so-bohemian feel, Sunset Point is right on one of the ghats across the holy Pushkar lake. After a great dinner and some stretching out of sore limbs, the best thing to do is to just sit quietly near the lake side and let the pleasant and breezy silence of the welcome darkness wash you over and over till you feel there is something that's just so peaceful about the place. During off-seasons ofcourse.
The Panditji at Pushkar lake next morning related a mythological tale I had never heard before. Here goes the story of Pushkar and the genesis of Ved Mata Gayatri who gave the power packed gayatri mantra to scores of Indians. Lord Brahma was to perform a major yagya and when he was all set, the priests reminded that he must be accompanied by hsi wife for the ritual. His son Narad was asked to get his mother Mata Savitri to the spot as soon as possible. However, Narad being Narad decided that it would be against his true nature to not cause a tiff between his parents now as he did with everyone he meane. Accordingly as he told his mother of the yagya, in teh same breath he suggested that the occasion demanded she dress well and arrive with due pomp and show. Savitriji concurs and takes her time while the priests are ruing that the 'muhurt' will pass with further delay. So they come up with a bright one- a local Gurjar girl is 'purified' and wedded to Lord Brahma as Gayatri devi and the yagya is completed. Savitri arrives just to see the end of the story and flying into a rage diminishes Brahma's holy status casting a curse that he would never be worshipped anywhere else except here where the flowers from his palms fell- at Pushkar where the flowers fell to form a lake. The holy lake by the way is not as inviting to take a dip in. Really big fish can be seen swimming at the shores, gulping down every flower in sight- that, say the pandits here, keeps the lake clean and rather green. BTW the lake is said to change colours according to seasons. In mid July it looked a bright mossy green. Nice place.