Saturday, February 21, 2009

Mandore India - A Child and His One-String Instrument

IT TOOK me less than 20 minutes to get to Mandore. It’s roughly 9 kilometers from Jodhpur. But as a solo traveler, I had to carefully consider every side trips and detours. After all, I don’t have anybody to share the cost of hiring a CNG with me – which is really one of the very few disadvantages of traveling alone. You basically shoulder the whole financial burden of items that are otherwise shared by a group of passengers.

Upon reaching the grounds of the
Mandore Gardens, which is really a park more than a garden, I made my way into the almost-deserted grounds. It was such a breather. Far from the madding crowd of fellow tourists. Not a second later, a little boy, clad in long white shirt and pants, started to hover before me. He was carrying this elongated one-string instrument, flipping its single string into an inaudible monotone. I was jaded and realistic enough not to expect an orchestral masterpiece coming from this boy of 8 or 9. One thing was sure, he wasn’t going to leave me alone until I hand him some dinero.

I reached down my pocket and found loose change of 10 rupees. He vigorously flicked through his string, as though flicking more notes would translate into more rupees. But hey, I have forgotten my money tree in some derelict train car! I walked faster until I seem to have lost him. An hour later, I was back near the park entrance. He ran up to me and once again hovered.
“Didn’t we just do this earlier?” I said. A hearty laugh escaped me. Unfortunately, not all of persistence will pay off.

As I stepped into my CNG, I glanced back at the park gate. The
barefoot fiddling child stood by the empty guardhouse, staring right back at me. His instrument perched against his left rib cage, standing almost vertically. I feel sorry for the little souls who are robbed of the joys of their childhood. I was a child once and i was a happy one. Aren’t we all defined by our past?

Spectacular detail in a neglected Mandore temple. Why neglected? Tourists don't even pay an entrance to visit this place, which is odd considering that foreigners ALWAYS pay extravagant amount to see anything in India. Even stock rooms and toilets within paid sites fetch considerable fees.


The town of Mandore used to be a seat of grandeur and power between the 5th to 11th century – the crowning glory in the kingdom of the glittery Marwar rule. This was until its king - in his moment of illumination - decided to transfer the seat of power to the “blue city” of Jodhpur! As a result of this, Mandore has been relegated to historical relics and neglect. These days, Mandore - take a CNG! - serves as a mere afterthought from a busy backpacker’s itinerary. Whenever there’s a lull or an extra hour to spare, the few wanderlusts find themselves a pleasantly surprising off-the-beaten track. Even Lonely Planet writes very few items about Mandore.


CNG - stands for compressed natural gas, the environment-friendly petrol used to run these 3-wheeled motorized version of tuktuks found all over India and Bangladesh. There are 2 types found in India. In big cities like Delhi, half of its population of CNGs runs with meters. Unfortunately, these drivers hardly use them when with foreigners, so you might as well forget the existence of such meters. For your own good.

This is the Eye in the Sky.

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