Tuesday, July 29, 2014

A Journey Across The Sand Dunes of Rajasthan 1

By Manuwant Choudhary

Jaipur, India's Pink City, is a precious gem but for me its even more so not because of its wealth but because of Gayatri Devi.

Unfortunately, I never met her but she is someone I respect and admire.

So walking around the City Palace I thought about how Jaipur must have been when she was around.

When she played polo or just sat in her chiffons at the polo ground, or drove around her city without a purdah.

Jaipur's Hawa Mahal was definitely not for her.

A princess loved by her people.

It must have been quite a moment when Gayatri Devi decided to join the Swatantra Party to oppose the socialist policies of the Congress Party and I imagined the celebrations at her victory.

Its no surprise that John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline headed straight for Jaipur to meet Gayatri Devi instead of Indira Gandhi.

Indira was jealous and so she jailed Gayatri Devi.

And I just read in The Economist how Gayatri Devi poured expensive perfume in the gutter at Tihar jail and the aroma spread to the entire prison, which was uninhabitable at the time.

I miss Gayatri Devi.

History fascinates me and I wonder why India's erstwhile royals are not honored enough.

They were truly great, even in their excesses.

The first time I visited Rajasthan was nearly 30 years ago. We travelled on single roads in an ambulance - a matador - if I remember clearly. And it was so slow...chugging up the slopes of might Chittorgarh Fort.

But what a climb and an amazing story....on either side were homes of  the gypsies settled by India's first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru who tried to convince them that they have won Delhi.

The gypsies were true supporters of Maharana Pratap and when he was defeated they swore never to settle down and lead a nomadic existence to build public opinion..until they defeated Delhi.

Jaipur in order to protect its fortunes supported Delhi and so was never respected but Gayatri Devi broke away from this tradition and she chose to oppose Delhi.

A visit to Jaipur can never be complete if you don't visit Amer Fort.

Now there is a sound and light show which is worth it.

Do not go for the Rs.200 English show because the Rs.100 Hindi show is better.

The voice-over is by non other than Amitabh Bachchan.

And he sounds so much better talking about the Kuchchawa clan and Amer than talking about Modi's Gujarat.

Just sit back and relax...and Amitabh will tell you how the Kuchcawaha clan migrated from Sasaram in Bihar to Madhya Pradesh and finally to Rajasthan where they built this fort.

Surrounded by hills on all sides...he takes you across 700 years and it all seems so like today.

And my mom got to see her Jodha-Akbar TV series Live !

Ekta Kapoor's Jodha Akbar serial is definitely more popular than Narendra Modi's banterings.

And Paridhi Sharma looks more like the real Jodha than Aishwariya Rai !

Just then a pleasing breeze blew across the mountains...amidst sounds of tinkling of temple bells and azaan from a mosque at Amer Fort.....just as it was....

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