Thursday, 30 June 2011

Janjira Fort: Unconquered Emerald of Arabian sea

Last year in Dusshera holidays, we planned to go to Goa for a week. While going to Goa, we have planned to meet our relatives in Mumbai. Since it was my first visit to Maharashtra, I was discussing with my colleagues which places to visit. One of my friend suggested Janjirra Fort. When I heard the name, I thought she is saying Jal Jeera which sounded quite strange to me. I browsed through the Google, and found the suggestions real true and the place looked quite interesting to me. So I added it in my list of sights.

We started at about 9 am from Navi Mumbai in a hired cab and reached Kashid beach at about 11:30 am.  The white sand beach was so enchanting that we couldn’t control and run towards it! We captured few snapshots quickly then we proceeded towards Murud-Janjira, which is at about 40mins distance from Kashid. We reached the 'Rajpuri Jetty' from where we travelled to Janjira fort by boat. I saw the glimpse of Janjira fort from shore . The fort is impressive to say the least and is quite unlike something I had ever seen before. It’s huge and right in the middle of the bay surrounded by water at all sides. The 2nd heaviest cannon in India is here. Definitely worth a look.

The local says the fort is immortal due to due to its complex design and astrological calculations about the auspicious moment when the fort could be constructed. I was quite interested about fort history so we took a guide. He told us that Janjira fort, built in the mid-15th century, was originally a wooden fortress built by the Murud fishermen to protect  their village from pirates. Janjira fort  name was originated from Arabic word Jazeera which means island Some of the people also split the name as “Jal Jeera” meaning fort in the water also known as ‘Fort Mehroob’. Shivaji, Sambhaji and the Peshwas tried, in turn, to take over the fort, but the Marathas, British or Portuguese could never capture Janjira. This fort is also termed as the unconquerable fortress of India. The fort remained virtually invincible in its lifespan.

As I entered the fort, I notice a room like structure on the right side of the main entrance called ‘Peer Panchayatan’ which houses a few graves in the front yard. Walk down further along the coastline and came across a stable from where you can see the three storied palace, the tallest structure inside the fort. The western side of the fort features a small door which was used as an emergency exit in the early years.

The whole trip at a leisurely pace would set us backed by about 3 hours or so but the experience to visit the unbeatable legacy of fort was quite thrilling.

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Sajjan Garh: Crowning Rocky Hilllock

We were in a 2 days trip to Udaipur and with so many WOW places in Udaipur, we were forced to chose between the sight seeing spots. We didn’t want to rush through all the spots just to mark them 'seen'. While chosing the sights from the list, our guide suggested us to visit Sajjan Garh at the hill top. Initally we were bit apperehensive to go to the fort as we didn't hear much about it. Guide directed us to see a hilltop where the white marble palace on the hilltop looks like a bejeweled tiara on the hill. Sajjan Garh was visble from all the corners of Udiapur.

So the evening was set aside for the Sajjangarh Palace. All our apperehension started vanishing as we started reaching towards Sajjan Garh fort. We were on a winding road leads up to the hill to the palace. The trip to the palace is absolutely mesmerizing with beautiful dense forest on the sides and a picturesque view of Lake Pichola from the top.
On our way, guide narrated us the history of Sajjan Garh. The palatial residence and magnificent white marble monument was built by Maharaja Sajjan Singh (1874-1884) of the Mewar Dynasty. Maharana Sajjan Singh wished to build a nine storey building, as an astronomical center to keep a watch on the monsoon clouds. Therefore Sajjan Garh is also known as Monsoon Palace but due to untimingly death at the age of 26, the plans were shelved down.This structure was preserved by the kings as a royal shooting fort. Due to it strategic location, at the height of about 3100 feet above sea level and 1100 feet above the lake Fateh Sagar level this fort also served important for security and vigilance of the city.

It took us 30 minutes  to reach Sajjan Garh Fort. Its a a huge palace on one of the highest peaks around, Bansdara Mountain of Aravalli Range, 5 km. west of the city towards Rampura. Dominating the city’s skyline is the monsoon palace of Sajjan Garh. It offers a panoramic overview of the city’s lakes, palaces and the surrounding countryside.From the palace's lofty vantage point, the view of the Aravalli Hills, lakes, forests and rivers beyond the dazzling whitewashed town is breathtaking.

The Palace now stands on  three floor and is built on beautifully carved marble pillars with fine motifs of leaves and flowers.  These marble pillars were carved at the bottom of the peak and then transported to the top with the help of elephants. I was quite amaze to see that this palace had a way to collect rain water for consumption all year around. Unlike the City Palace, the monsoon palace is not being maintained properly, but sitting on one of the walls here, my mind was drifted to ancient times.
The best part of being here is to watch the sun set over the Aravalli moutain ranges. One of the best sunset I have ever seen. The sunset as seen from the castle was a truly mesmerizing sight of unparalleled beauty.

The palace is illuminated at night and from a distance looks like something out of a fairy tale.Every night, the fort gets illuminated , making for a magnificent sight against the picturesque backdrop. I was enjoying every minute of its very eye appealing light decoration.

Some places are etched in your mind forever, and Sajjangarh is one place for me. One of the most beautiful Forts and Palaces in City Udaipur. Mountain top scenic point in Udaipur is a tourist spot to die for. It is a perfect spot to relax while enjoying and romancing the aerial views of the city and watching the sunset. Make sure you make it a point to visit Sajjangarh, whenever you get a chance to visit Udaipur.

Brihadeeswara Temple in Thanjavur(Tanjore) - Its Shadow Disappears at Noon

Thanjavur Brihadeeswara temple is one of the most ancient temple, situated in the city of Thanjavur in Tamil Nadu, India. Thanjavur named after the legendry asura "Tanjan", is one of the ancient temples in India. In ancient days, Thanjavur known as “The rice bowl of Tamil Nadu,” was an important city to the ancient Cholas. It was remade by the Cholas from a collection of villages into a major temple center 1000 years ago, with the construction of the Brihadisvara Temple in the center of the city, and the city then built up around it. Thanjavur had the distinction of being specifically constructed as a religious city with the temple centermost.
Brihadeeswara Temple

Brihadeeshwara temple or the Big temple in Tanjore is the best example of excellent workmanship, grandeur and it has stood the testimony of time with its magnificent central dome which is a great attraction for one and all. The Brihadeshwar Temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva, was built by King Rajaraja I in the 11th century to celebrate a military victory.  The temple is a tribute as well as a reflection of the power of RajaRaja Chola I. The temple is most famous due to its uniqueness as among the greatest glories of the Indian architecture. The complex that houses the main sanctum is known as the 'Periya Kovil'. It is located amidst the fortified walls that were added to the building in the 16th century. This architectural masterpiece has been designated as UNESCO World Heritage Site. The temple is built over 29 square base and is surrounded by moat on two sides and Grand Anaicut river on the other side. The walls of the complex are adorned by beautiful paintings belonging to the Chola and Nayak period.

The Siva Lingam here is gigantic, more than 12 feet tall. The Nandi facing the sanctum is also 12 feet in height and the dwarapalaks (the guardians deities of temple) and deities around the main shrine look elegant.. The main attraction here is the huge tower above the sanctum which is about 216 feet. The tower stands tall and one can see this fabulous structure even as one enters Tanjore. 
The temple architecutre marvel comprises of bundles of surpries:
  1. Shadow Disappears at noon: The most intersting part of this temple is the shadow of the temple, which surprisingly never falls on the ground at noon. The Brihadeshwar Temple is one of the tallest temples in the world and is so designed that the viman does not cast a shadow at noon during any part of the year.
  2. Brihadeeswara Temple at noon
  3. First All Granite Temple: Brihadeshwar Temple is the first complete granite temple in the world. Granite is not found in the surrounding areas. It is not known where this massive granite was brought from. The absence of a granite quarry within a 100km radius of the temple require logistics of epic proportions to get the stone to the construction site. As hard as it was to find, Granite is harder to carve. Yet the great Chola wanted a the temple to be covered with the most intricately designs; unlike the pyramid which possesses extraordinary dimensions but nary an artistry.
  4. Statue of Sun God
    Statue of Nandi
  5. Till Date its the tallest temple: The temple was built at a fair clip, completed in mere 7 years, amounting to moving and placing almost 50 tons of rock each and every day, not to forget carving and aligning it. When the Brihadeeswara temple was completed in 1003 CE, it was the tallest temple in India by an order of magnitude of 10. A thousand years later, standing at 216 feet, it is still the tallest temple in India. Atop the soaring vimaana –the tower above the main temple and a word that translates to “airplane”– is a capstone that weighs 80 tons. The best thing in the chola temples is that the tower lies over the sanctums has more elevation as compared to the towers set over the gopuram (tower) that could be found at the entrance. After dusk, when the temple is been illuminated, its topmost light over the dome seems not less than another planet glowing and coming closer to the earth. This attraction is the tallest in its line that draw thousands of people to its area.
  6. Brihadeeswara Temple at night
  7. Musical pillars: At the entrance of sanctum sanctorum, one can see the two idols of Ganesha in the corridor. On taping the two, you will feel the sound traveling through stone in one idol and through metal on the other.  The main hall of the temple is said to have been used by the dancers and musicians performing in service of Shiva. There are some musical pillars producing different sounds when tapped.

The day of the Ruling star, satabhishag is treated as a festival day every month as it symbolizes the ruling star at the time of birth of Rajaraja.
The temple is also the venue of the annual festival that is celebrated here for the period of nine days in the month of Visaka according to the Hindu calendar. The deity is bathed with the water soaked with the fragrant Champaka flower.

The temple demonstrates the Dravidian style of architecture, which was immensely popular during that time. The frescoes that adorn the ceilings of the temple are simply amazing, ornamenting the interior as well as exterior of the temple with its beauty. Today, the temple is a great and unique place where people come and worship Lord Shiva.

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Jal Mahal: Jewel in the Lake

In this world, India is the only country which has the rare combination of rich diverse cultural and geographical features. Every year, travellers from across the globle comes to India to explore mangificiant monuments each showcasing incredible artistic work, culture and architechure. One of the examples of Indian architecture is Jal Mahal of Jaipur.

JalMahal at night

Jaipur's JalMahal

 Jal Mahal, that means water palace in English, is a beautiful place that is located in the middle of the majestic lake Man Sagar, in Jaipur. Jal Mahal was built by Sawai Pratap Singh, the ruler of Jaipur from 1778 to 1803. Jal Mahal is considered as one of the most beautiful architectural palace that was built with the Mughal and Rajputana styles of construction. The 255 year old palace, built in red sandstone, is a five storied building out of which four floors remain under water when the lake is full and the top floor is exposed. Jal Mahal Palace of Jaipur is an extremely romantic place with its red sandstone intricate architecture casting beautiful reflections in the calm and seren waters of the Man Sagar Lake. The palace was built as a pleasure palace  for the royal family and was once used for the royal duck shooting parties. The lake eco system is a favorite home of a number of migratory and resident birds.

Inside JalMahal

Aravali View from JalMahl
Jal Mahal provides a charming view of the Man Sagar Lake and the Nahargarh hills that surround it.  The Mansagar Dam is situated on the eastern side of the lake and provides a good vantage point for viewing the lake and the valley. The original charm of the palace comes alive in the evening when the entire complex is bathed in flood lights. In evening Jal Mahal shines like a jewel nested in the picturesque Aravali valley.

Breathtaking View of JalMahal in night

Currently the entry in the palace is not allowed, as it is going to turn into the first palace hotel of Jaipur, tourists can see the beautiful palace from the Amber Road (National Highway-8). Visitors can also row to Palace on specially procured boats and though no one can stay in the palace, they are allowed to admire the extensive arts and crafts, if  the majestic monument and the natural charm of water and bird fail to entice them. A rooftop gardern, Chameli Bag, combines the city art tradition with fragment flowering trees ideal for summer evening.

October to March is the best time to visit the beauty of Jal Mahal or the Water Palace. After restoration Jal Mahal is slated to become a major tourist destination  and will be the answer the Pink City has to Jagmandir on Udaipur's Lake Pichola.

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