Monday, November 7, 2022

The Rajasthan Diaries - Day 2, Panchkund ki Chatri

Sometime before Umaid Bhavan  Palace I got a call from Sagar saying that we must visit Panch kund ki Chatri - some 20 km from Jodhpur where several chatris (umbrellas) were constructed in memory of queens and nobles who died. The chatris are cenotaphs, which means that they are memorials for the deceased whose remains are elsewhere. Some believe that these are also mediums to carry the souls or bodies to heaven. Vasu and Abhinay were game for the detour because it meant we are heading right back towards Mehrangarh Fort where we came from. We traveled back another 45 minutes to see the Chatris. 

Just below the Umaid Bhavan we saw this most opulent of townships - something like it came out of a first world country - design and all. Like some of those Hollywood villas we see. Then reality as rest of Jodhpur was traversed and we wound up at the other end. We had to pass through a railway crossing -which was interesting.

 When we reached the crossing it was open but this guy in front of us was carrying a bunch of some stuff on his bike and some stuff fell. By the time he picked that up, the gate fell. And then a series of incidents happened - this stuff on his bike was too heavy so he could not hold his bike in place and started backing up and hitting another bike behind. Then another chap somehow tried to come through the gate and got stuck and it took a while for others to get him out. Many such incidents happened until the bike guy before us almost fell off unable to hold the weight and an old Muslim gentleman stepped in to help him.

Anyway we told Abhinay of the many experiences we had at railway crossings - I remembered one where a chap had a narrow escape and jumped off. He survived but his cycle was smashed. On we wet until we hit out spot - the chatris. Surprisingly no one was there but one guard, Narayan Singh, who told us that several films were shot there and were still being shot. One Gulaab he remembered. I asked him if he saw the shooting as a youngster and he said yes. Anyway there's no entry fee and we had free reign.

There were quite a few of them - 25-30 or maybe more, all in different shapes and sizes and detail. A bit like the Bahamani kings and their tombs but on a smaller scale. Vasu was upset that the boundary wall for these cenotaphs was very small - no scope for expansion. It could be made into a tourist spot if someone felt like doing it. Right now wild plants grow and its open to all minus a fee. 

I saw several birds mostly pigeons. But my first sighting was a parrot and I saw a  couple of them and told Ram Singh who finally showed some interest in history and had tailed us. 'Those are not parrots,' he said. 'They are pigeons.' I had no clue where my two parrots had gone so I let that lie. Ram Singh looked at me like I had no clue what parrots and pigeons looked like.  

We took some pictures. Obviously one cannot jump all around the cenotaphs with slippers and shoes so if you have to get into them, you need to take your footwear off. We checked them all out, tooksome more pictures and headed out. Narayan Singh said something about how Mandodari, queen of Ravan, was from this place. It took a while for us to get that - anyway we left. He also told us another snippet - that Salman Khan's black buck incident happened not too far from this place. Suddenly reminded me that we did see some big bucks, smabhar or neelgai, or something like that on the edge of the road while driving into Jodhpur.

Courtesy Abhinay (I think this is one of the chatris)

That was Jodhpur then - we decided to head back to Pushkar for the night, a four hour drive. It was close to 3 when we started back and Abhinay played some fine music while we chatted and napped. At around 4-430 we stopped someplace for lunch where Vasu wanted Daal bhati churma. I stayed with roti and daal and chaas. It was a good meal and we headed back to Ajmer through the twilight. A four hour journey would land us there by 730. 

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