Monday, 13 November 2017

Astounding Rajasthan cenotaphs - a legacy of past Rajput rulers

The construction of cenotaphs or chhatris by the Royal families of erstwhile kingdoms in Rajasthan and elsewhere had been in vogue for many centuries. The chhatri literally meaning umbrella  became an integral part of building designs and it was a well-established feature in building cenotaphs. The  chhatris were built as an umbrella  with four pillars over the burial place or cremation ground in honor of  great kings and queens who ruled their respective kingdoms with  fairness, equal justice and dignity. Mind you, with some exceptions,  Chhatris are basically  tombs that do not contain the mortal remains of that person and they were  built  as a tribute to their greatness. The tradition of building chhatris was common among the Rajput families of Rajasthan and in many cities and town you can see artistically built chhatris. Such chhatris bring out the ethos and culture of Rajasthan in the past and the legacy of past rulers.  

Jaisalmer-cenotaph:

In 1156 Maharawal Jaisal founded Jaisalmer  which became a well-known kingdom over centuries. During the british Raj, it became a princely state until independence. In the 16th century old Bada Bagh (meaning  a large garden), one will find  a series of ornate chhatris made  of yellow sandstone that is available here in plenty. Being a sedimentary rock, it is easy to dress the sandstone as per our needs. 


Jaisalmar. chhatris 123RF Stock Photos
These chhatris are dedicated to kings such as Maharawal Jait Singh who built this bagh.

Jodhpur-cenotaph:


cenotaph of Maharaja Jaswant Singh animeshray.com/

Above image: The image shows the Cenotaph of Maharajah Jaswant Singh (ruled from 1638 AD to 1678 AD). Mandore gardens near Jodhpur,.............
 
ruler Gaj singh of marwar animeshray.com


 Above image:  Mandore gardens near Jodhpur, Rajasthan. Cenotaph of Maharaja Gaj Singh of Marwar who ruled from 1619 AD to 1638 AD ..............

Located near Jodpur, the famous
sprawling Mandore gardens has chhatris along with  beautiful temples,  a fountain, a museum, etc. Mandore is a small town a few kilometers to the north of Jodhpur and was the ancient capital of the rulers of Jodhpur before they shifted to Jodhpur in the 15th century. So, the history of Mandore easily stretches back more than 1000 years! Here you will find the dewals or cenotaphs of Jodhpur’s former rulers and the ruins of the former fort of the Rathores of Jodhpur. About a kilometre to the north-west of the Mandore Gardens are the cenotaphs of the queens and the princesses of Jodhpur. Apart from these, there is also a Government museum and a famous temple (a temple with  33 Gods!

Here the chhatri made of red sandstone  is built in honor of such rulers as  Maharaja Ajit Singh (reigned 1678-1724).
 
The Jaswant Thada cenotaph,Jodhpur en.wikipedia.org


At yet another place in Jodhpur called  Jaswant Thada, there is a mausoleum  built in honor of Maharaja Jaswant Singh II and the structure is made of thin sheets of polished marble that  glows  when hit by the sun ray.  It was built by Maharajah Sardar Singh of Jodhpur State in 1899 in memory of his father, Jaswant Singh II. This place served as the cremation ground for the Royal family of Marwar. There are portraits of Maharajahs in the cenotaph. One also find many other cenotaphs as well.

Jaipur-cenotaph:

Jaipur- royal cenotaph. Dreamstime.com

Among the tourist attractions of Jaipur, the most significant  is  at Gaitore. Here lies the  royal cremation ground for the Kachhwaha Rajput kings and the members of the royal family. The word 'Gaitore' is wrongly misspelled and the right word in Hindi is  'Gaye ka Thor' which means 'resting place of the departed souls'. Located in a narrow valley on Jaipur-Amer road, Gaitore is 15 km away from Jaipur. In the valley are constructed fascinating cenotaphs (chhatri) made of marble and sandstone, displaying beautiful and rich stone carvings in Rajasthani style.  These Cenotaphs of grandeur and artistic excellence are dedicated to legendary kings who ruled Jaipur with dedication and equal justice. Blended with  Islamic and Hindu temple architecture, Gaitore has cenotaphs of Sawai Ram Singh, Sawai Madho Singh and Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II and so on. Among  them, the cenotaph of Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II  can be easily marked out for its quite impressive  and intricate peacock carvings and designs on beautiful white marble structure. The carvings on each cenotaph  were done, matching  the taste of the respective king.  It was here that many rulers of Jaipur were cremated  over which their chhatris were constructed. The  ornate chhatri of Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II is also  made of white marble.
 

Udaipur-cenotaph:

Very close to Udaipur (just 2 km) lies  a group of royal cenotaphs  in Ahar and the site contains more than 250 cenotaphs of the Maharajahs of Mewar that were built over a period of about 350 years. Also included are  19 chhatris and  the great kings 


cenotaphs in Ahar, near Udaipur, en.wikipedia. org
were cremated here and one of them is of Maharana Amar Singh.  Ahar used to be the ancient capital of the Sisodia clan. The Sisodia’s here ruled for 1200 years and this makes them one of the oldest dynasties in the world to have ruled a kingdom for such a lengthy period without a break whatsoever.
Bikaner-cenotaph:
 

Bikaner - royal cenotaphs of Devikund Virtourist

The royal cenotaphs of Devikund Sagar located near Bikaner are popular and here the royal family members of  the Rathore clan were cremated. The cenotaphs are made up of both white marble and red sandstone whereas the chhatris for women, men and children of the royal families are different. Each chattri has nice paintings or fresco inside and they gradually get faded due to poor upkeep of this great monument. Unless restoration of such fresco, is taken up soon, a fine example of an important artistic representation  and legacy of Bikaner’s history will be lost for ever beyond redemption.

Alwar-cenotaph:
 

enotaph of Bakhtawar Singh of Alwar Climber & Explorer - blogger

The intricate and exquisite Moosi Maharani Chhatri is dedicated to Maharaja Bhaktawar Singh and his queen, Maharani Moosi. The upper level is made up of white marble and the base is made up of red sandstone. There is a tank just next to it and it is a sight to behold.  The  big and beautiful  double-story structure has a blend of Mughal and Rajasthani architecture. The memorial was built by his son Maharaja Vinay Singh in 1815. The ground floor building  is made of Karauli sandstone.  whereas the upper floor is white marble. The ceiling of the main cenotaph is decorated with scenes depicting themes from Ramayana and Bhagawad Geeta, indeed, a rare sight.
                                    
Bundi-cenotaph
Bundi,Rajasthan Chaurasi Khambon ki Chhatri,wikipedia
The Chaurasi Khambon ki Chhatri literally meaning  chhatri with 84 pillars is an amazing architectural feat offering a spectacular sight to the visitors. This is so beautifully designed it will make the visitors' jaw drop. It was constructed in 1683 by the Maharajah of Bundi, Rao Raja Anirudh, as a memorial to his foster brother, Deva. It is also called "Music Maharani's Chatri. The chhatri even has a shivlinga of Lord Shiva with a roof over it supported by 84 stone pillars.
 

Besides above, there are  are too many notable cenotaphs of rulers such as Maharana Pratap, Amar Singh Rathore, Maharaj Suraj Mal of Bharatpur  and others in Rajasthan. These  ornate cenotaphs bring out the by-gone rulers' style of living, affluence and their regal status. But, at the end of their life's eventful journey,  their glory and greatness lie buried in the grave where they have become a mound of mud and stones. We can not escape from the fact of life that this transient world has been functioning this way since time immemorial and is not stoppable just like the unstoppable waves pounding the seashores. 

https://gobeyondbounds.com/2016/12/03/cenotaphs-rajasthan/