Saturday, April 12, 2008

KUTCH - Day 4 (to be continued...)

Day 4
13 November, 2007

Route: Bhuj (sight-seeing) – Siv paras-Koday-Mandvi-Bhuj

Exploring Bhuj

After the long and exciting yesterday, we decided to explore Bhuj. Funny we'd been in Bhuj for 2 days and hadn't yet toured it. One reason for that was the extended diwali holiday tahat I talked about previously.Our little research told us that it'd take us not more than half a day to enjoy what Bhuj hasto offer. So we headed out at 9:00 AM-the time when most touristy places open-for our first stop, Aina Mahal in Old Bhuj.
Aina Mahal remains open from 9:00AM-12:00 noon and 3:00AM-6:00PM on all days except Saturday. The entry ticket is Rs. 10/person and an extra charge for camera.It was built in the 18th century by Maharao Shri Madansinghji Saheb of Kutch who was the last king of the 18th century for this kingdom. Only one wing and one floor of the Aina Mahal is open to the public for the rest of it is under renovation or been closed down as the damage done by the 2001 quake is irrepairable.

Aina Mahal

Aina Mahal's first floor houses a museum. Some of the artifacts that caught m,y attention were-
· An 80 year old weighing machine,
· Gold painted chineses cupboards/jewellery cases,
· Paintings with robes and jewellery done up in real gold,
· Elephant tusk door,
· Glass in shades of green and violet made with Silica from Mandvi beach,
· Sinhasan made of marble,
· Ari work(embroidery) now found only in the museum for the art has died,
· Glass chandeliers etc.

History says that Earl Mountbatten of Burma, who wasthe last viceboy of India and a great friendof Maharaasri Madansinghji Saheb helped Madansinghji in making Kutch a part 'C' state at the time of integartion of Kutch state of India.

The museum has 3 main parts viz. Aina Mahal (mirror palace), Hira Mahal (diamond/precious stone palace) and Fuvara Mahal (fountain palace). Aina Mahal and Hira Mahal both host various artifacts, while Fuvara Mahal is under repair.

Aina Mahal is a 250 year wonder built by Maharoa Shri Lakhpat. It is a large two storey mansion built in 1750. The first floor is an audience hall which is a hall of mirrors whete guests were entertained. It cost near about Rs. 20 lakhs to built at that point of time. The Mahal floor has blue tiles which were made right here in Kutch. Today the mirros in the Aina Mahal are old and have lost their sheen, but juist imagining the grandeur made me feel like a princess in a mirror palace.

Hira Mahal

Hira Mahal which was the state bedroom and has a wooden ceiling with gold inlay work. It has mirrors all over too, so one candle was enough to light up the entire room. (we should use this trick to save electricity! :P) It holds Lakhpatji's bed whioch has gold legs. Also the silver hooka, gold mirrors, diamond studded talwar presented to him by Moughal empror, khadau(footwear) with a lotus placedwhere the thumb and the next toe is which opens and closes as you walk are all awesome!! By far, this wasmy favourite segment of the museum for the sheer grandeur which is so far and between in this Kutchi Kindgom. One piece of advise though, don't expect the grandeur of Rajasthan while visiting Kutch palaces cause then you sure will be disappointed!

Rani Vyas and Prag Mahal

Aina Mahal complex also houses the Rani Vyas as well as the Prag Mahal. Rani Vyas built 350 years ag, was-as the name suggests-the queen's palace. Here the windows are stone carved so that no one can glimpse insidethe palace, but those insidecan look out through the holes in the carving. Leaving asidesome windows, this palace is certainly in poor shape. Prag Mahal was built in 150 yearsago, quite recent considering it's got a place in the history. Afew song sequences of th movie Lagaan, like the ballroom dance sequence and when the firang gils sings the song 'my heart it sings a thousand words i feel eternal bliss...' in the balcony were shot here. The outer structure of the prag mahal is a beauty, while inside it's so poorly maintained that you can save your Rs. 12 entry fee and you won't miss out of anything, for that matter you'll be safe from the stench and pigeon shit! See, this is what I don't like, they collect entry fee from us and yet don't maintain it!

The slight disappointment at the Prag Mahal museum did not dampen our spirits and gulping down a big glass of sugar-cane juice, we drove to the Swami Narayan Temple which is merely 5 minutes from the Aina Mahal. The temple was almost empty and very peaceful despite of it's location at a junction of 2 roads. The complex was colourful- a characteristic of Kutch temples. We took a quick darshan and drove to The Sharad Bag Palace.

Breath of fresh air..Sharad Bag Palace

Sharad Bag palace is no bigger than a bunglow. But the garden surrounding the palace makes it so special! Sharad Bag palace/museum is open from 9:00AM-12Noon and from 3:00AM-6:00PM on all days except fridays. Sharad Bag belongs to Madan Singhji whose ancestors now live in Mumbai. The moment we walked into the palace complex and into the garden, the cool environment welcomed us and the breath of fresh air felt- fresh!

The garden is perfectly mowed, and the palace is small, but beautiful. The main palace is closed down for the quake shook its very foundation, however the dining area cum kitchen complex is open for public and is presently is a museum. Most artefacts in this museum are very recent and very well preserved. The one's that caught my eye were two huge elephants tusks, silver basin, dining table chairs, coffin etc. I think the authorities of Aina Mahal must lear something about preserving artefacts from those of the Sharad Baag one's!

Hunting for Lunch

By the time we were done with Bhuj sight-seeing it was 12:30 PM and the pefect time to shop! We roamed the streets of the old Bhuj area looking in particular for bandhej suits, knives and mud-art paintings. Of the three we bought only a suit-as the other too were out of our sight and we were in a sort-of a hurry to search the market in the FBI way-and proceeded to have lunch.

(day be continued....)

No comments:


Related Posts with Thumbnails