According to legend, in 1443, the Maharana of Kumbhalgarh, Rana Kumbha, initially failed to build the fort even after repeated attempts. A spiritual preceptor was consulted about the construction problems and advised the ruler that a voluntary human sacrifice would solve whatever was causing the impediment. The spiritual advisor advised building a temple where the head should fall, and to build the wall and the fort where the rest of his body lay. As can be expected, for some time no one volunteered, but one day, a pilgrim / soldier / spiritual preceptor volunteered and was ritually decapitated. Today the main gate of the fortress, Hanuman Pol, contains a shrine and a temple to commemorate the great sacrifice. According to popular folklore, Maharana Kumbha used to burn massive lamps that consumed fifty kilograms of ghee and a hundred kilograms of cotton to provide light for the farmers who worked during the nights in the valley.
Now back to our experience. We decided to explore the temples before visiting the main fort. We started with the Shiva temple, which was the nearest to the right side of the gate. The temple was closed, however we got so mesmerised by the architecture that we ended spending almost 45 minutes in the temple vicinity.
From there we went to Neelknath Mahadev temple (image A) which enshrines a Shivlinga in the garbhagriha. It has an open pillared mandapam all around the garbhagriha.
Next were the Nirandhara Jaina temples (image B) which were built on high jagati having garbhagriha, antarala and mandapa. The temple is rectangular entered through a plain doorway crowned with a domical ceiling which is restored. Again architecturally it was beautiful and jaw dropping.
Visiting all the temples would take about 3 days as per the guides. On visiting few temples, we decided to have lunch, post which we visited the main place. The palace is a two storied structure. It consists of two rooms, a corridor in the middle and open spaces. The rooms are provided with jharokas and windows in stones. Our entire day was spent there and still we felt that we haven’t seen anything. So you guys now understand how beautiful the place would be. I wish to spend more time in that place so I will definitely go back there to explore how much ever I can. On our way back, we spent sometime riverside.
On 17th, we decided to hire a bike and visit Eklingji Temple which is positioned at a distance of 22 km in the north of Udaipur, on the national highway no. 8.
We returned back to Udaipur and then went to Monsoon Palace. Perched on the top of a distant mountain range like a fairy-tale castle, this neglected late-19th-century palace was constructed by Maharaja Sajjan Singh. Originally an astronomical centre, it later became a monsoon palace and hunting lodge. I went there, with great expectations, but was disappointed. There is nothing to see apart from empty rooms. However the sunset view is beautiful.
In the temple there is one beautiful carvings made out of a single marble rock for eg, the 108 heads of snakes and numerous tail with Adinath standing below it. A masterpiece not found elsewhere and in it you will not find the end of the tails and their face is seen pointing in all four directions.
The temple is a masterpiece of architecture and boasts of not less than four additional shrines. It has 24 pillared halls with 80 domes that are supported by 400 columns. The upper and lower parts of the domes are linked by brackets that have deities' sculptures. Above all, you would be amazed to see at a height of 45 feet engraved nymphs playing the flute in various dance postures. Each column is intricately carved and it is surprising to know that no two columns have the similar design.
In the mandap (prayer hall), the two big bells of 108 kg each produce a harmonious sound on the movement. Chaumukha temple is formed like a Nalinigulm Vimana (heavenly aircraft) and provides this whole structure a celestial appearance. Conceivably, it is due to the intricacy of the structure that the temple took approximately 65 years to complete.
According to the legend, there was a minister in the court of Rana Kumbha named Sety Dharnasha. A devi appeared in Dharnasha’s dreams and showed him the Nalinigulm Viman, a celestial vehicle of the twelfth heaven. From that day onwards, the seth was driven by a desire to build a temple in the shape of that Viman. He hired an architect named deepaka who made the dream of seth come true. He built the temple structurally symmetrical. Instead of earning money he requested sethji to allow him to sculpt a palm size image of himself. He sculpted himself in such a way that he could see Adinath bhagwan all the time. Sethji’s fame touched the sky as a result of which the king got jealous and decided to build a pillar more beautiful and intricately sculpted inside the temple. The pillar never got completed because everytime he decided to build it, the pillar broke. The pillar now is known as ‘Ardhastambh’
We got lost appreciating and soaking the beauty and intricacy of the pillars. There is no electricity inside the temple. The temple is built in such a way that the sunlight enters the temple during the day and in the evening the temple is lit up with diyas. After spending time here we headed for Surya temple. The temple has innumerable wall projections with circular structure. The sight of Lord Surya driven in his chariot of seven horses is truly pleasing.
Visiting Ranakpur was the most spiritual and beautiful experience ever.
The next day i.e. on 19th August, we decided to visit City Palace. The palace is enormously big and beautiful. But I must suggest something, please visit city palace before visiting Kumbalgarh and Ranakpur, because the city palace loses its charm. The same thing happened with me as well. After visiting the other two places, I didn’t find city palace very beautifully constructed, although it has its own charm. Located with the picturesque backdrop of rugged mountains, beside the Pichola lake on its shore, the city palace complex painted in gleaming white colour looks beautiful.
The city Palace was built concurrently with establishment of the Udaipur city by Maharana Udai Singh II, in 1559 and his successor Maharanas over a period of the next 300 years. According to the legend, the selection of the site for the palace was done on meeting a hermit whily on hunting trail in the Udaipur hills. The hermit was meditating on top of a hill above the Pichola Lake and Maharaja sought the hermit’s blessings. The hermit advised the Maharana to build his palace at that very spot and that is where the palace complex came to be established at Udaipur.
The palace complex has been built entirely in granite and marble. The interiors of the palace complex with its balconies, towers and cupolas exhibit delicate mirror-work, marble-work, murals, wall paintings, silver-work, inlay-work and leftover of coloured glass.
Erected in the complex, after entering through the main Tripolia (triple) gate, are the Suraj Gokhda (public address facade), the Mor-chowk (Peacock courtyard), the Dilkhush Mahal (heart’s delight), the Surya Chopar, the Sheesh Mahal (Palace of glass and mirrors), the Moti Mahal (Palace of Pearls), the Krishna Vilas (named after Lord Krishna), Shambu Niwas (royal residence now), the Bhim Vilas, the Amar Vilas (with a raised garden) that faces the Badi Mahal (the big palace), the Fateprakash Palace and the Shiv Niwas Palace (the latest addition to the complex); the last two have been converted into heritage hotels.
The meeting room and the views are breathtaking. Be prepared to spend a couple of hours inside as there are loads to see. It is impossible to get lost, despite the size of the building, as there are arrows pointing to the right direction and the route is well planned. One thing is for sure, exquisite work of City Palace cannot be bounded in words, one must visit this palace to understand and capture the real picture of the palace.
We did a little shop and returned back to the hotel to pick up our luggage and go to the airport. We visited this place for 4 days and we are craving for more. Very soon we will visit this place again and soak more of this royal tradition and architecture.
Here’s me signing off.. Bubye!!!! Wait for my next travelogue.....