Maharajas of India

Mariellen and sati prints, Mehrangarh Fort, Jodhpur, Rajasthan

Mariellen and sati prints, Mehrangarh Fort, Jodhpur, Rajasthan

If these walls could speak: Jodhpur Fort

[NOTE: I originally wrote this for the Art Gallery of Ontario’s Art Matters blog for Maharaja: The Splendour of India’s Royal Courts, the exhibit that runs from November 20, 2010 to April 3, 2011.]

When I was a child, I was obsessed with the 1,001 Tales of the Arabian Nights. I read every book in the library and painted huge colourful murals on my walls of genies coming out of bottles, turreted palaces and fairy tale forts. Many years later, as an adult, I went to India to recover from loss and depression, stemming largely from the sudden and unexpected death of my Mother.

Imagine my surprise when I went to the Maharaja’s Palace in Mysore, and to the land of Maharajas, Rajasthan – and saw my bedroom walls come to life! I cried many times touring these fantastic palaces as I remembered my Mother and how she had brought me up to believe in magic and the possibilities of life.

India turned out to be the land of my imagination, heart and soul. Traveling in India healed me, and gave me back my enthusiasm for life. And I am especially enthusiastic about Rajasthan.

In Rajasthan, there seems to be no end to the wonders. The golden city of Jaisalmer with its fairy tale fort; the riches of Udaipur and the shimmering lake surrounded by palace hotels; the massive Amber Fort overlooking the pink city of Jaipur.

But one of my favourites is the Mehrangarh Fort in the centre of Jodhpur. I was advised to rent the audio tour and I am so glad I did. The present-day Maharaja’s voice regales you with spell-binding tales as you walk through the huge fort-palace, past magnificently furnished rooms, a somber enclosed courtyard in the women’s quarters and ramparts that soar hundreds of feet above the Blue City.

The most moving stop on the tour was the site of rows of small handprints at the massive exit gates. These are the handprints of the wives of Maharaja Man Singh, who committed sati by throwing themselves on his funeral pyre in 1843. They made these marks on their way out of the fort to a certain death.

Rajasthan is not just about glorious art and architecture. It is also about stories – stories that come alive when you visit the Land of Kings.

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6 Responses to Maharajas of India

  1. Amanjeet November 8, 2010 at 2:04 am #

    Such a moving tale, Mariellen. Rajasthan has that effect on me, too. My first trip to the forts had an eerily familiar feel, as though I had been away and was coming home. After those visits, I still get chills when watching Rajasthan on-screen, especially during Paheli and Jodha Akbar.

  2. Dehradun December 6, 2010 at 10:10 am #

    A heart touching post full of fantasies. Rajasthan always leave an impact on one who visits it and i myself belong to those who are fascinated by it. Rajasthan, its forts, its traditions and its music makes for sure makes India Incredible.

  3. New Mobiles May 16, 2011 at 9:20 am #

    Indai is a land of great warriors and great maharajahs.Mehrangarh Fort is really a very nice place. Thanks a lots for this blog.

  4. Mariellen May 17, 2011 at 3:22 pm #

    Mehrangarh Fort is one of my favourite places in India. It’s so well preserved and well presented. Makes history come alive, truly.

  5. raj June 21, 2011 at 8:37 am #

    nice post.

  6. Rachit Aggarwal November 18, 2013 at 4:12 am #

    Do vist Golkonda fort in Hyderabad, city of Nizams.

    I am sure you will be intrigued.
    Rachit Aggarwal recently posted..MahaShivratri celebrations at Brahma Kumaris, Shanti SarovarMy Profile

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