Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Friday, June 6, 2008

Bikaner! Land of the martial Rathores

Rao Bhikhaji Rathore, a younger son of Rao Jodha, founder of Jodhpur, on a single incident of paternal rebuke(!), left his father's kingdom with a contingent of 500 men and 100 cavalry, went on an adventure foray in the desserts north of Jodhpur and eventually founded his own kingdom, Bikaner in 1465. For a colourful history of the Princely State of Bikaner go here

Bikaner, roughly in the north west region of Rajasthan is 257 kms north of Jodhpur, and 500 kms west of Delhi, and in western proximity (240kms) to the Shekhawati region (see post below.)
Bikaner is one of the three major towns set in the western desserts of Rajasthan, the other two Jodhpur and Jaisalmer.
Bikaner is famous for its Bikaner Camel Corps, an elite camel cavalry of the Indian army, the corps formed first by the Maharaja Ganga Singh.
Unlike Jaipur where the defensive forts are on the outskirts of the city (the Jaigarh and Amber forts), in Bikaner the massive fort, Lallgarh, sits in the centre of the old town.
Top picture -the Camel Corps.
The great bearded royalty is His Highness Sri Raj Rajeshwar Maharaja-dhi-raja Narendra Maharaja Shiromani Sri Sardar Singh, Maharaja (1851-72)( full title given here for effect!!!) soon after ascending the gadi (throne)-(gold room above) issued orders banning the practise of sati (where a widow self immolates on the funeral pyre of her husband.) The Bikaner Maharajas were, like most other rulers of Rajasthan, feerless warriors, leading their armies from up front. Second picture is the royal family tree of Bikaner.
This town is famous for its savoury snack called Bikaner sev and bhujia, spicy and crisp and worth the try!
More Info on Bikaner

Getting there:

This link gives you the best heritage hotels in Bikaner

link for more hotels. and hotels here

and this link (see photo above)tells you a little about the last "Maharaja" of Bikaner, Dr Karni Singh, Phd. and Member of Parliament, India- an outstanding acheiver!
"As an outstanding player, he participated in many Olympic and Asian Games in clay pigeon shooting and brought name and fame to India by winning gold and silver medals. At the IX Asiad in New Delhi in 1982, Dr. Karni Singh was the proud flag bearer of the Indian contingent at the open and the closing ceremony. He has been the unbeaten NATIONAL CHAMPION in Clay Pigeon Trap for 17 years, i.e. from 1960 to 1977. He competed in five Olympic namely- Rome, Tokyo, Mexico, Munich and Moscow."
see this link (above photo)for Princess-Rajyashree Kumari of Bikaner, in her father's footsteps!!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Picture Gallery of Princes of Rajasthan.

No travel blog has pictured the colourful Princes of places you visit in Rajasthan or India, hence this won't be lost on the viewer how very exotic and colourful these Princes, who created the mystery and magic of an India of palaces, forts, havelis, dance forms and ballads, food and hospitality, ancient history, battles,, and much more........these or their ancestors ably fought off invaders or, as circumstances demanded, courted the new rulers from either Central Asia or Europe; some amassed great wealth but many did care for their subjects........but almost all left their mark on the culture and history of their princedoms, and on India; the pictures are courtesy of this link

The Princes pictured here are (from the top) the Maharajas of Kota (2 pics), group photo of senior Indian Princes at the Delhi Darbar to welcome King George V (1 pic), Maharajas of Jodhpur (4 pics), Mah. of Dholpur (1 pic), Mahs. of Bharatpur (2pics.), Mahs. of Bikaner (2 pics) and Mahs. of Alwar (3pics.)

some very colourful, strange and eccentric stories of these Princes:
(1.) a previous Maharaja of Jaipur, for his trip overseas to England, ordered two huge silver urns( see post on Jaipur below for picture) to carry with him, filled with water from the holy Ganges river, so he would not "pollute" himself with drinking plain waters of alien lands!
(2.) a Maharaja of North India, very pious and orthodox, was shown a sacred cow each morning outside his bedroom window as he rose from his stately bed- an act of piety and worship he would never miss!! On a visit to a neighbour princedom, he was accommodated in a first floor room for the night..........the next morning, knowing of his sacred obligations, the host Maharaja had arranged that a cow would be hauled up by a pulley to face the first floor bedroom window so the visiting Maharaja would not miss his morning worship!!!
(3.) The Maharaja of a princely state in the Punjab, on a visit to England, went shopping for Rolls Royce cars. A salesman at the car palaise/showroom was a little indifferent to his Majesty........the Maharaja bought several Rolls cars, ordered them packed off to India, and requested the indifferent salesman to work for him in India at an handsome salary...................when both were in India, with the salesman at his new job, the Maharaja strolled up to the salesman one day, ordered all the Rolls purchased be scrapped, and converted to be used as garbage-collection trucks!!!

But stories of bravery and valour were far more stirring and awesome: The Maharaja of Udaipur, Maharana Pratap Singh, a very brave and fearless warrior, with innumerable battles against the Mughals, with several injuries including the loss of one eye- he firmly decided he would never bow to Akbar, Moghul Emperor, ........see link on Pratap Singh .

There are several cases of "jauhar" in Rajasthan's history, where all the women, including the royal ladies would commit mass suicide by self immolation(!!!) rather than fall in the hands of invading/victorious Muslims- for example, in 1303, after losing the battle against Ala-ud-din Khilji, the Muslim ruler of Delhi, the womenfolk with Rani Padmini, widow of the slain Rajput king, Rana Ratan Singh, committed mass self immolation in the fort of Chittoor, then capital of the Udaipur act of valour that has formed the defiant attitudes of the Kings of Udaipur to foreign rule. see link