Monday, December 28, 2015

Sonar Killa, the Living Fort of India

Sonar Killa, the Living Fort of India. 

Famous film director Shri Satyajeet Ray made the fort popular in 70s with only 10 minutes shot of it in the film "Sonar Kella (The Fortress)". Boby Deol's film "Nanhe Jaisalmer" was also shot here. Made from golden yellow sand stone, the shining fort has been inhabited by the descendant families of the warriors, the brahmins and the Jain families as well as by the shop keepers, service providers, hoteliers, hawkers, etc. And the tourists in thousands. It's a world heritage site. It is one of the largest fortification on Trikuta Hill in Thar Desert. It attracts the tourists with its shiny look under the bright Sun rays, evening look of Sun set light. The display lights illuminate its spectacular golden look in night. 

Got it? It is the only living killa of India, the Jaisalmer Fort of Rajasthan. The Bhati Rajput King Jaisal laid its foundation stone during his rule in 1146-56 AD. His successors completed the construction of the fort. More than 800 years have been passed but the fort has maintained its shine, colour and newness. Sandstone is soft, therefore, the sculptors prefer it for beautiful carving, making window, archway, doors, balconies etc, in different shapes and make the buildings royal. 

There is a Well in the fort. It is said that when Lord Krishna and Arjuna were passing through, Arjuna become thirsty, therefore Lord Krishna made the well with his Sudarshana Chakra. The Bhati rajputs are yaduvanshis and known as descendants of Lord Krishna. 

The Raj Mahal (Royal Palace) of the King has many rooms. The Bed room of the King is probably 20'x15'. One can imagine the size of one of the kings through the size (length and width) of the robe hanged over the hanger. However, the cot has only 5.5' length. As the King had to live always under the tension of attacks by the enemies, he might had been sleeping by keeping half of his body on the cot and resting the legs on the floor!

The life of the Queen in the palace may be royal but it was like a house arrest. The poor lady couldn't move with the freedom of her mind. As she has to live her entire life in the fort, she had to pass her time playing some games of chopat.

The King, the warriors and the Brahmin families lived here. Brahmins were performing multiple roles. They were the teachers, advisors and well wishers of the King. The combination of Rajputs and Brahmins, one with a sword in the hand and another with a rule book in the hand was unique. A warrior and a guide working together to rule over people to protect the "Dharma"!!! And without finance, nothing moves, therefore, the jains, the financiers of the King, the merchants, also live inside the fort. 

Shak Dwip Mak Bhojak Brahmins do worship of Lord Vishnu in the Laxminath Temple. The idols of Lord Vishnu and Laxmi, decorated with Diamonds and Gold ornaments are very attractive. The atmosphere inside the temple is very peaceful. There is a beautiful Jain Temple in the fort. 

Havelis of merchants carry very  attractive carvings. There is a Haveli of Salam Singh. He was the divan of the King. During the draught period, he used to land money to Paliwals at high interest rates and when the Paliwals failed to repay, he used to exploit their girls and women. But when he demanded the wife of the Chief of the Paliwals, the Paliwals vacated all the 84 villages in one night and left the Kingdom.

We started our journey to Jaisalmer at 8AM from Gandhinagar, had our lunch of delicious Rajasthani Thali (Ker Sangri, gatta, dal tadka, raita, bajra rotala with labalab pure ghee, jaggery, curd, fried green chilli, salad, papad) at Brahman lodge Barmer at 2PM and reached Circuit House, Jaiselmer at 5.30 PM. 

The rooms were booked but it was cancelled due to HC judges visit and some guests of present and ex CM. The Collector was on HQ leave for 2 days. 

The manager opened a room for us for waiting like RAC. At the counter, one MLA from Haryana, a member of the Housing Committee, was fighting with the manager for settlement of his bill. He had Occupied 3 rooms and wanted to pay the rent of only 1 room. But the manager didn't surrender and took the payment of all 3 rooms.

At last our reservation issue was sorted out after two hours and we were given 2 rooms in Forest guest house, at Gajrup Sagar village, little away from the city. It has 4 rooms and support staff of Forest. But the mess up of booking helped us in liaison support of the Tehsildar during the tour. 

After dumping our luggage, we took a tour of the Fort in the night. Healthy and beautiful Children were playing in the streets. Some shops and restaurants were open for the customers. We saw the well made by Lord Krishna. There is open space in front of the Raj Mahal and Chamunda Devi temple. On Dashhara day, the King used to sit in public on the chair kept up on the right side stairs of the palace, the open space occupied by the people and the puja of Chamunda Devi was performed with the sacrifice of he buffalo. We took a round of babaji ka dhuna, laxminnath temple. We could see the city view and the Gadisar lake in dark from a corner of the fort. 

When we were on the way to the Jain Temple, heard a sad news of an accidental death of a Jain man. His dead body was coming. He went for a delivery of his wife to Jodhpur and met with an accident, collided with a truck. The pregnant lady survived but her loving husband died. The distance between Jaisalmer to Jodhpur is 270 kms. There is maternity services available in the city but some people prefer to go to Jodhpur for better care. Some corners of the fort were crying after this very sad demise. In another street, some people were cooking food for the "barma vidhi" of one decreased person of their family. The sadness of the family multiplied next day with one more death of another brother and the eldest brother went into shock was shifted to hospital by a Chhakda rickshaw (fort 108). 

After completing a walk of the fort, we had our dinner of vegetables, tandoori roti, khichadi-kari at Desert Bite Restaurant, and before closing the day, we had our dessert of kadhai milk at Prabhu Tea Stall and a Pan mithai of Vasu Pan Shop at Hanuman Choraya.

Tired of the day journey and visit of the fort we went into the deep sound sleep in a very peaceful night at Forest Guest House, where the only sound was of earth spinning! 

When we woke up on Christmas morning, the nature welcomed us with the dawn chorus and golden white spray of morning colours in the sky of the eastern horizon. 

Punamchand
25 December 2015
Jaisalmer

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