A Tryst with Royalty - Bikaner & Jaisalmer - Day 2 - Junagarh Fort - Part 2

           So the journey which made our jaws drop in awe continued. Would like to share one incident here. As told earlier, a guide accompanies the visitors in small groups and takes them through the palaces. As he is in a hurry to rush the group through the entire complex, he was moving very fast. Since we were busy clicking pictures, we were always the last ones and were delaying the entire group. Jyotsna came up with an idea "let's not click any pictures and go with the flow and we will take another round without guide and click pictures". Okay with this new resolve, we sparingly clicked photos on the first go. But when the tour ended, the exit was not in the same hall from where we had entered, so again I had to use some charm to make the guard agree to let us in through the same route. 

                Anyways in the last episode, we were enjoying the cool breeze of Badal Mahal amidst the scorching Sun of Rajasthan. After this a narrow flight of stairs leads us to the second floor, having a beautiful courtyard palace.

Gaj Mandir  This Palace used to serve as private quarters for Maharaja Gaj Singh Ji. This is a beautiful and cosy palace, which is beautifully done in white and gold.

 A panoramic view of the Gaj Mandir palace.

Beautifully painted pillars, walls, Jharokhas and arches all in a single photograph. This fort and the palaces inside took 350 years to complete. Total of 16 generations of the Royal Family of Bikaner added to the grandeur of this Fort. The decor of all palaces stands witness to this fact. The walls of Phool Mahal have been done in white and a bit of gold and have a lot of frescos painted. Anoop Mahal the most opulent one id sone in red and a lot of gold. Whereas the Gaj Mandir has beautiful Floral prints in various colours on white walls. When we visit sur Mahal, we witness yet another style of decor, though I found it very odd.

                                          A peep into the main room of Gaj Mandir

                                 Another view of the Gaj Mandir Palace. See the impressive gold work on the roof. Another beautiful article on display was a small swing for Lord Krishna. 
  लड्डू गोपाल का झूला 

                                      This swing was used for Krishan Ji and is a masterpiece. There are various dancers made on the posts of this crib. When the crib is rocked the figurines of the dancers move up-down right - left giving the effect of gopis dancing around Lord Krishna. Now, this crib is out of order and the Gopis are not dancing anymore.

                                   Another beautiful Jharokha in this Palace also deserves a special mention. It opened to the Palace grounds and had beautiful latticework done in marble. The beauty of this lattice is further accentuated by the beautiful coloured glasswork. Though a lot of glass pieces were missing, but whatever was left was enough to give the idea of its grandeur in hay days.

After admiring the beauty of Gaj Mandir, we moved to the beautiful courtyard.

             The courtyard had Tulsi in the middle and had a walking gallery on the sides supported by beautiful pillars in red sandstone. Gaj Mandir gave me an impression that the occupants of this palace must have been very strong believers of Lord Krishna. The indicators were the name of the palace as Mandir, Tulsi in the courtyard, Krishan Ji ka Jhoola.

      Beautiful view of the pillars in the courtyard

Another view of the pillars in the courtyard

                 We took another flight of stairs to reach another landing, which offered splendid views of the Fort complex and beyond. This is The Highest point in entire Bikaner.

A panoramic view from the highest point 

           Also visible from this point was a Shivling installed in midst of a water body. Alongside was another structure, which might have been used by the queens or other Royal family members during religious ceremonies.

                            On one side we could see beautifully laid lawns. Seeing such a greenery amidst desert was a pleasant surprise.

                  A view on the other side offered a view of Bikaner city and the Palace complex, where the barracks of the soldiers were there. Our Guide also pointed towards the Jail and also the stable for Horses.

    After this, we came down and proceeded to another palace called Sur Mahal. I did not like this palace much, rather found its architecture to be very odd. Here a lot of blue coloured tiles were used in conjunction with the red sandstone. 

                 A Jharokha made out of these blue tiles and is visible from the ground floor itself when we enter the Palace complex. Inner portion also had a use of a lot of tiles. All the tiles had different figures on them

                       Maybe ceramic tiles were a novelty at that time. I remember seeing them used in a very old Synagogue in Parsi street in Kochi also. 

              After completing the trip of palaces, we were back in the courtyard and our photo session was going on. We saw a lot of hooks installed in the roof at equal distances. We were discussing in Punjabi and everybody was making a wild guess as to what for these for, then a gentleman who was standing nearby came in and told that these hooks were for tying curtains during functions. These served two purposed, added to the festivities and served the purpose of Purdah for the queens as Rajputana observed Purdah at that time. We thanked him for this info. He was a Punjabi and was a private guide, and used to take clients coming through various conducted tours.

                          I asked him why would someone hire him when trust is giving conducted tours. he said come along to Ganga Niwas, where we were heading. This part served as a museum. We had already been through this section. He showed us a lot of exhibits, which earlier guide did not show

             A manual Telephone exchange used in earlier days. The various extensions are written there by name or rank instead of nos. Also was a soup spoon made in silver designed especially for Maharaja Ganga Singh. It was half covered to avoid spoiling moustaches as he supported huge moustaches. - Do not have the pic of it

                    A beautiful figure of Krishan Ji playing the flute carved inside the sell of an almond.

                          A photograph of the Rajas of Rajputana to which colours were added later on and the beauty of the pictures were actual precious stones studded in the Kalgis of all the Kings. He also showed us a lot of other things, which palace guide had not shown us. When we offered him money for his services, he politely refused.

                             Let us go through other things on display.

     Dinner table and leather couches

           Hunting was the most popular sport for the royalty at that time and also the symbol of bravery. The bigger or fiercer, the kill, the more respect the person commanded.

                 There were a lot of such photographs of kings and princes with their trophies. 

The most interesting display was the A plane a DH - 9E Haviland. This plane was gifted to Maharaja Ganga Singh Ji by the British, for his support to them during World war 1. This plane was brought in parts via sea route and assembled here. 

                   This plane occupies one full hall of the museum. Around this on display are various palanquins and Bagghis

Used Mainly by Princes and princesses
A Covered one used by queens. Has beautiful paintings on it.

Horse-drawn Carriage

Another one 
Sandalwood Throne for the King

                After finishing the round of the museum, we reach Darbar Hall. It was a huge hall, where the king used to have meetings with his council of ministers and common people. Image qualities of the museums and hall are poor due to very less lighting, 

Durbar Hall

After Durbar hall, we are led to the beautiful facade of Gangaa mahal through an incline. Sarthak had a lot of fun running up and down this incline

Beautiful facade of Gangaa Mahal

                    After Coming out, we went to see Pracheena Museum, within the same complex. This small museum has an impressive display of an array of dresses and other artefacts of Royal Family. There is a small cafe outside known as Pracheena cafe offering the regular cafe stuff. We always prefer to go in for local food whenever we travel, so everybody voted against burgers, fries and sandwiches.

             There were some old canons displayed in the parking area in front of a very impressive gate. I do not know whether thay have ever been used or not. Sarthak gave the Firing orders standing there.

                     Everybody was tired a bit so we sat on a lawn for some time in front of this beautiful building. This building was out of bound for visitors as this fort is still a private property.

                      We rested for a while here. This fort had filled our mind with lot of information and sweet memories, but had left our tummies empty. Now it was time to fill them also. So we left the fort to attack some Bikaneri delicacies.


A Tryst with Royalty - Bikaner and Jaisalmer - Day 1- Ludhiana to Bikaner
A Tryst with Royalty - Bikaner & Jaisalmer - Day 1 - Karni Mata Mandir
A tryst with Royalty - Bikaner and Jaisalmer - Day 1 - Camel Research Farm , Royal Cenotaps
A Tryst with Royalty - Bikaner & Jaisalmer - Day 2 - Laxmi Niwas Palace
A Tryst with Royalty - Bikaner & Jaisalmer - Day 2 - Junagarh Fort - Part 1
A Tryst with Royalty - Bikaner & Jaisalmer - Day 4 - Sun and Sand
A Tryst with Royalty - Bikaner & Jaisalmer - Day 5 - The Border Run                       

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