Impressions of Rajasthan, India
Rajasthan in the North West of India probably embodies more than any part of the country its core authenticity. Things could have turned out differently, because – for instance - at the moment of Partition in 1947, the Maharaja of Jodhpur was initially inclined to join Pakistan and not India. It was Mountbatten who pointed out that Hindus were far more numerous in Jodhpur than Muslims, and that it was therefore wiser to join India. Maybe this is of anecdotal value at present, but it indicates how complex things were and are. It also illustrates that the arrival of the British in the early 1800s had not cut off Rajasthan, or any other part of India, from its centuries old continuum of history, with dynasties ruling for hundreds of years on end over large regional States, centred around major cities like Udaipur, Jodhpur, Jaipur and Jaisalmer. A history which leaves for us to discover an incredible inheritance of palaces, temple complexes and fortresses, many of them constructed in a typical style combining the local Rajput architecture and building fashions imported by the Moghuls from Central Asia, from across the Himalaya Mountains.
The fascination of Rajasthan does however not only come from splendour. The magic of Rajasthan is also rooted in much less sophisticated things. Its soul lies in the small villages around the cities, hidden in the dusty and arid Thar Desert; in villages which have grown through centuries next to sanctuaries or fortresses which have in the meantime been abandoned; in villages of adobe houses and huts, in tiny settlements of simple rural life with goats and camels, water wells and unpaved streets, in villages where time seems to have stood still since centuries.
Before visiting the place of your choice:
The Jaigarh Fort was constructed in 1726, a few years before Nahargarh and consists of a fortification with thick walls and a palace of halls, court rooms and gardens. From the fort one looks out over the Amber Palace and the artificial Maotha Lake, a large water reservoir. Jaigarh is above all known for the artillery production of the rajput (clan) rulers of Jaipur. On display in the fortress is still the Jaivana Cannon, cast in 1720 and in those days the largest cannon on wheels in the entire world. It was fired only once, for a test, allegedly launching a 100 kg bullet over a distance of 36 kilometres. Maybe we should draw the square root? A 10kg bullet over a distance of 6 kilometres would still be quite impressing... and also a bit more credible.