Marvelous Mehrengarh & The Blue City

At the center of the modern state of Rajasthan, on the eastern edge of the Great Thar Desert, lies Mehrengarh Fort surrounded by the blue city within the outer walls. Our travel books were quite correct when they told us that the Fort is magnificent – rising high above the surrounding city and plain, a beautiful and impenetrable fort that never once fell to an enemy army during centuries of Rajput fighting outsiders, and Rajput fighting Rajput. Sadly, after taking the first photo you see above, the battery in my camera died. I did borrow one of Gene & Howard’s cameras and seem to recall taking jillions of photos of the opulent and beautifully-decorated rooms and battelements throughout the palace. At the very end, Gene ensured I had their cameras to take photos, but by then my camera complication at Jodhpur had faded into the past after all those gorgeous experiences in Jaisalmer and Udaipur that you’ve been seeing…and so I only took those shots of myself or us that looked good: e.g. Howard and me by the art-exhibit poster below.

Oh well: take it as stated that the interior of the fort & palace is as impressive and beautiful as the exterior. And enjoy the shots that I took on an afternoon return trip, post-Jaisalmer, of the battlements and gardens at Mehrengarh. Though they already had the spectacular Fort, this particular royal family decided to build themselves an even more opulent and sumptuous palace called Umaid Bhavan – no military fort, this confection built in the 1930s as a ‘public works program’ for the waning days of British colonial rule in India. This is the palace I mentioned in my comments up above about the tension in my own mind between the beauty of these buildings and their history, and the enormous social inequality and maldistribution of resources that they represent. It’s good for Americans to be reminded that, in this epoch on the global scale, we’re the modern equivalent of these Rajahs building themselves pleasure palaces while the poor are starving. Not a sustainable system, my friends.

…that’s the above-mentioned, offending but opulently gorgeous Umaid Bhavan Palace; and yeah, the aim of the cannon below rather represents my feelings about such spending, beautfiul as it is, when I know there were folks starving and dying needlessly of disease. Further down (and some above as well, flora and fauna – the hanuman langur, a black-faced and playful primate whose relatives I first met in bouncing around on the roof of my hotel in Sri Lanka years ago – of the gardens & pleasure palace, a delightful oasis down below Mehrengarh, from which many of the looking-up-with-flowers-in-the-frame pictures were shot.

…every now and then my Ohio-boy roots show up despite the many voyages I’ve undertaken since those days on the banks of seven-mile creek — and any time I see these particular, beautifuly fragrant flowers, I’m always reminded of my first exposure to them in Key West on my very first adult semi-tropical-type vacation. And I just can’t help thinking how cool it all is, and how very far from the banks of seven-mile creek.

Above, courtyard restaurant at our hotel with Mehrengarh in the far distance (we were sort of across the street from the Umaid Bhavan palace compound), and below…well, we did this little desert village tour and part of that was seeing how long the turbans are that Rajashtani men wear. Is it my color?

One response

  1. Great look, Paul! Love it! Can I have one?These are fantastically beautiful pictures. And indeed a long way from Seven Mile Creek. Although that creek was pretty nice, too, wasn't it?Love,Steve

    November 30, 2009 at 16:34

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