Tag Archives: HadotiBundiNotings

Trivia: A visit to a Bhil village

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A Bhil home in the village we visited

During our Bundi trip we had a day long excursion to Bhimlat & Bijolia. On our way back in the evening we had stopped at one of the Bhil (community/tribe) village for a short while.

The interaction with them was effortless and they definitely loved the camera 🙂 I restrained myself to a very few clicks, as it seemed like objectifying them.

ABOUT THE BHILS

The word Bhil is derived from a Dravidian word meaning ‘bow‘ thus they are popularly known as the ‘bow men’. They are the second largest tribal community of India and mainly found in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Gujrat, Chattisgarh and Maharashtra.

As per legend, the Bhils trace their ancestry to Eklavya or the Nishada tribe though there are other several hypotheses about there origin. They were known to live in forests & mountains and were good huntsmen. Over many years now, they have either taken to agriculture or have migrated to cities for masonry and other manual labor. Their language is Bhili, which is an Indo Aryan language though now most speak the language of the state they reside in.

Drawings by this Bhil boy adorn the walls of his house

BHIL & TRIBAL ART

Art is integral to the Bhil community. They have rich cultural history and give much importance to dance and music. Ghoomar (traditional folk dance of Rajasthan & Sindh) is the most famous dance among the Bhils while Gair is the religious dance drama performed by the men in the Shravan month of July & August. The Bhils are talented in the sculptured work too, making beautiful horses, elephants, tigers, deities out of clay.

A Bhil’s life is expressed through his/her paintings. The Bhils, like all adivasis, live close to nature, so most of their drawings / paintings relate to it. Upon visiting a Bhil household, one will discover a myriad of simple images of everyday life of the tribe adorning their mitti (mud) huts & walls.

Balu Lal, a young Bhil lad, we met at the village, uses his house wall as canvas and proudly calls himself a budding artist. He loves painting and the above photographs are a proof of it 🙂

The distinguishing feature of Bhil art are dots. Pic: Google Searched

The dots used are the distinct identity of Bhil art and is symbolic. It is inspired by the maize kernels which is their staple food and crop. Each group of dots often represents a particular ancestor or deity. Also every artist composes the dots in distinctive patterns encoding each artwork with their signature visible to the trained eye.

Onset of sunset in the Bhil village

While we chatted with the Bhils we got to see the onset of a beautiful sunset. In fact we witnessed a bright, fiery sunset that day which till date is deeply etched in my mind!

 

The pretty line up of Bhil girls

The girls were pretty & chirpy and as we bid them adieu I was happy that I could to capture this wonderful memorable photograph of theirs 🙂

In Rajasthan, certain cities are named after the Bhil kings who once ruled the region. Kota, for instance got its name from Kotya Bhil; Bansara is derived from Bansiya Bhil; and Dungarpur is named after Dungariya Bhil.

 

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HAPPY  TRAVELLING!
Monika Ohson / TravelerInMe

 

 

Crumbling heritage : Bundi’s Taragarh Fort

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View of the fort complex from the Rani Mahal’s balcony

Taragarh Fort has a structure like a star (Tara’ means ‘Star’) and was constructed in 1354, by Rao Bar Singh. Unlike most forts (made of sandstone) it is built with serpentine stone (green colored) and is situated vertically on a steep hill side. It is considered to be one of the oldest forts in Rajasthan and has no elements of Mughal or any other architectural influence. It has seen many rulers like the Rajputs, Marathas, Mughals and many battles as well. The fort has another unique feature of many having tunnels built running across the hill. However, these are now inaccessible, one, due to lack of actual map and two, due to the miserable condition the fort is in.

Once we were through the beautiful Chitrashala we embarked on the steep climb to the top of the hill, to the Taragarh Fort. The guards at Chitrashala helped us refill our water bottles* and select solid sticks to keep the monkeys at bay and help in the trek.

The way to the Bundi Fort

Way to the fort: steep up hill climb, dry overgrown vegetation

Being a non trekker and not so fit I decided to take it slow with regular sips of water. The climb was steep** and like walking through a dry jungle with no signage! We met families of monkeys along the way and the sight & sound of stick kept them at bay.

The current inhabitants

The fort once described by Rudyard Kipling as “the work of Goblins than of men”  is now home to several families of apes.

Dry, overgrown wild vegetation is a common sight

There are three massive gateways to the fort, Lakshmi Pol; Phuta Darwaza and Gagudi ki Phatak but sadly they are on their way to be ruins soon. The first one we came across was somehow holding itself together (probably Phuta Darwaza)

The first gate that leads to the fort from Chitrashala.  Maybe Phuta Darwaza

Once inside the compound we wondered which way to go; whether the path we take has a dead end or is connected? Nevertheless we took a route that led us to some unidentified structures and a baori. We also came across some interesting flighty birds. Further up we were lost as it looked like a dead end!

We came back to the point we started and went on another route that led us to another fort entrance. The first solid structure we saw was that of Chota Jiv Rakha.

L-R: Maybe Lakshmi Pol; Gagudi ki Phatak from outside

Gagudi ki Phatak has a massive and very interesting lock. The only way in was through its small pedestrian gate.

Gagudi ki Phatak from inside. Look at the interesting gate lock!

We had heard about the 16th century bastionBhim Burj‘ where once upon a time a large cannon called ‘Garbh Gunjam‘ or ‘Thunder from the Womb‘ was mounted. The place was so isolated and unkempt that we really did not venture around too much or to the bastion.

View of the 16th century bastion ‘Bhim Burj’

The fort has many water reservoirs called baoris/stepwell carved out of the rocks. The water stored in them was used to supply during time of crisis & otherwise.

Taragarh or Dudha Mahal baori

Rani Mahal baori

There are a couple of, or maybe more, mahal (palaces) in the fort and a probable baradari. Had the place been maintained one would have had a better idea. At least a map of the fort with broad layout displayed somewhere or given as a handout combined with signage would be of great help to tourists.

Rani Mahal, is a small palace built for the wives and concubines of the kings.

Gate into Rani Mahal

Chota Jiv Rakha

Inside Chota Jiv Rakha

Taragarh or Dudha Mahal inside the fort which has beautiful fresco paintings. Its sad to see the walls and paintings fading and disfigured with writings and smudging

Fading paintings

This portion of the complex had colorful painting all over

Fresco paintings smudged and fading

One of the Mahals / palaces. Note the carving on the pillars and top skirting of the walls

Unkempt & uncared, Taragarh Fort’s probable baradari

There was a foreigner couple trying to figure out the fort but I guess they got panicky as there was no direction and vegetation growing wild. We helped them step out of the fort from where they were confident they could head back!

A portion of the fort complex

Inside the fort complex — portion of its mahals / palaces

L-R: Rani Mahal’s pretty balcony with arches ; Pillar carvings

The fort being on top of the hill offers fantastic view of the Bundi City; Garh Palace and lakes. We rested for a while enjoying the view from the top before the downhill descent. We were soon joined by a lone traveler who seemed to be enjoying the view and the solace the place offered in plenty!

Fantastic view of the Bundi Palace; blue city of ‘Bundi’ ; Nawal Sagar/Lake from the fort

View of Garh Palace & Chitrashala from further up the hill, enroute Taragarh Fort

Except for Chitrashala, the Garh/Bundi Palace and Taragarh/Bundi Fort are still under the control of the erstwhile Royal family of Bundi. Lack of fund or disinterest seems to be the reason for them being neglected. Garh Palace seems to be somewhat kempt as its the entry to the entire complex; Chitrashala is the most maintained and under ASI; Taragarh Fort is the forgotten, crumbling heritage. I hope the entire Palace & Fort complex is given to a body that works on restoring and maintaining of heritage!


*Please note and carry sufficient water for self when touring the Taragarh Fort & Palace as the place does not have provision
**Be careful when walking down from the fort. The rough , cobbled path is quite slippery and difficult to walk down and it being steep does not help much!

 

Read more about my Bundi Trip…..

The Hidden Jewel of Rajasthan, Blue City Bundi!
Stay @Bundi Haveli –Traditional yet contemporary
Visit to the Bhimlat Prehistoric Rock Painting Site @Bundi

 

….and, if you like what you just read, do ‘like it’ & ‘share it’. Non WordPress users please ‘rate’ it to express your appreciation 🙂 Also do not forget to ‘follow the blog’ to remain updated about newer posts ❤ 

 

HAPPY  TRAVELLING!
Monika Ohson / TravelerInMe

P.S. I had to do a lot of reference work to be able to identify portions of the fort complex. Unfortunately there is nothing concrete so I have used the word ‘probable’ & ‘maybe’ frequently. If anyone for sure knows the fort can help correct wherever erred. Though I hope the photographs will help visualize the fort & its complex!

 

Stay @Bundi Haveli –Traditional yet contemporary

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Our first experience of staying in a haveli was in Udaipur and it taught us certain things. 1. Most of them would be housed in the narrow by lanes of the city 2. They may look simple from outside but the real essence is once you step in and go wow 3. Most of the popular tourists sites are close by (at times walking distance) 4. They have wonderful views of some of the monuments 5. You feel you are “at home”

So Bundi Haveli was no different. Just what we wanted — heritage property, traditional, comfortable, peaceful, clean, warm and good food. After a long day full of climbs, walks we felt tiredness leaving us as soon as we entered our room and made ourselves comfortable.

My favorite spot was the jharokha or window sit out. Watching sunrise along with the view of the Garh / Bundi Palace.

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I simply love these jharokha (window) sit outs. Don’t you? ❤

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Sip coffee/tea and enjoy the sunrise from the jharokha sit out

The rooms are clean, spacious and snug. They are have a beautiful traditional look and feel with all basic modern amenities. The haveli houses 2 suites, 8 deluxe rooms and 2 standard rooms. Each one with a different look but same essence.

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Suite 1

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Suite 2

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Deluxe Rooms 8 nos

 

One can have a leisurely walk down the aisles or even some rooms, if unoccupied, to admire the display of traditional Rajasthani art and culture through decors tastefully selected.

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They have an in-house restaurant, again tastefully decorated, where you can have scrumptious food preparations. The menu is a good mix of Indian (including Rajasthani) and continental cuisines. For breakfast we were lucky to have some delicious aloo parathas on request. The chef and his team do a wonderful job in preparing tasty food, presenting it well and serving on time. I am a little choosy about how my coffee is made ….. but I was happy to get one as desired 🙂 The restaurant has a green space seating as well.

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There is shop inside the haveli that sells jewelry, clothes and souvenirs that showcase Indian tradition. One must remember that Bundi is famous for miniature ‘Rajasthani’ murals. You can pick up some amazing miniature paintings by artist Yug (seen the photo below) right inside Bundi Haveli. He also has some beautiful work replicating the ones you will be admiring in Chitrashala. The miniature paintings of Bundi is a must buy for self and as gifts to carry back for friends and family.

shopping

 

The Nawal Sagar is right across the road, so you can go to one of the eateries out there and relax amidst the old city life or just take a stroll around the lake. Most of the places like Garh (Bundi) Palace, Chitrashala, Taragarh Fort too are close by. The by lanes that lead you to them are strewn with some interesting cafes. One can either opt to walk or take a tuk tuk (three wheeler auto) to these places from Bundi Haveli.  Their rooftop terrace offers a 360 degree view of the town.

The staff here are polite, prompt and ever smiling. One of them, Vikram Rawat, had attended and served us well. They even helped us arrange a car to drive us down to Jhalawar post our Bundi stay. So in case there is any help you need you know you can approach the staff!

You can read about my Bundi trip here . Get to know a little about the city and what all you can do there.

 


Even though the accommodation was sponsored by the owner Surenderji, this in no way effect my views / opinions shared above. (Bundi Haveli website)

 

….and, if you like what you just read, do ‘like it’ & ‘share it’. Non WordPress users please ‘rate’ it to express your appreciation 🙂 Also do not forget to ‘follow the blog’ to remain updated about newer posts ❤ 


HAPPY  TRAVELLING!
Monika Ohson / TravelerInMe