White Beauty

Last night while driving back from a meeting in Jaipur , I was suddenly reminded of a post that I read somewhere about the cenotaphs near the Mehrangarh fort in Jodhpur. Popularly known as the Jaswant Thada, this is a memorial to the erstwhile Maharajas of Jodhpur. Although exploring places in Rajasthan is an activity best suited to winters, the lure of the place could not hold me back despite the scorching sun and the earlier part of the Sunday was dedicated to discovering this magnificent piece of Rajput architecture.

Located close to the Mehrangarh fort overlooking a lake this quiet memorial built in white marble was built by Maharaja  Sardar Singh in memory of his father Maharaja Jaswant Singh in 1899.Rocky hills surround the mausoleum with its finally carved  walls, chattris and jaalis. Laburnums were in full bloom adding to the already gleaming marble in the early morning summer sunshine. There was a film crew at work on the route to Jaswant Thada. They looked like they were from Korea , they had hired a vintage car for the scene they were filming and the whole “set” appeared to be quite chaotic as we drove in.

In the garden surrounding the main building there was silence broken occasionally by the sound of pigeons flying off the domes and then settling down again. The good thing about going in summer was that we had the entire place to ourselves to take in the stillness, the pristine white walls and the air of mysticism inside.

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Jaswant Thada

There is a brilliant view of the  majestic Mehrangarh fort from the courtyard here and I found myself marvelling at the sheer architectural brilliance of those who executed it in this hot , dusty and rocky terrain. The multilevel garden was green and well maintained even in the hot summer.Soft strains of local folk songs on a sarangi could be heard in the distance. Adding to the mystic feel about the place were the portraits of the maharajas inside.An old man in a turban oblivious to our presence stood sweeping the already clean floor. Incense sticks burnt inside among the portraits as the rays of the sun poured inside from among the jaalis inside the windows.Near a prayer platform on a rope were tied strings of different colours and bangles as well. Local people pray here and the strings are tied when they make a wish waiting for it to come true.

Almost the entire expanse of the city can be seen from here. In the distance the Umaid Bhawan palace seems to rise out of a cloud of dust and the city of Jodhpur sits peacefully being watched by the Mehrangarh Fort.

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The glowing marble gives the place an almost Taj Mahal-ish feel. My toes did get burnt though as you are required to remove your shoes while in this place and marble does get heated up in these months!

Before me the city stretched out and from this vantage point the sheer area of the city seemed to extend for miles into the horizon. Jaswant Thada stood silently, serene and calm , the spirit of the ancestors looking on at the  city they had helped create

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