People from the distant past foresaw a predictable future of men who easily forget. And when you’re king, fought a hundred battles, sacrificed a lot of kins to push some causes, you don’t want to be an inconsequential, albeit easily forgettable speck in history. Jaswant Singh maybe a faceless maharaja ruler to me, but his might and influence soar high in my consciousness when I see these immaculate architectural structures. It’s an uncanny deal for remembrances.
I must have sat on a spot for an hour, just enjoying the uphill breeze, helplessly cogitating about immortality. This is one of the pleasures of solitary travels, little pieces of sadness, little snippets of introspection. They help clear my mind, and though they may not make me a better person, I feel smarter and more informed. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
I could see the fortifications, the sturdy walls that enclose the old city. Boy, these people lived in a very paranoid period. I wouldn’t mind traveling back on a Time Machine, but I’ve no intentions of staying in such volatile atmosphere.
I stood from where I sat and made my way out. It was time to move on and head elsewhere. I couldn’t exactly decide how to get back to town. The sinewy walk I earlier took to climb up the hill looked daunting after seeing the hundreds of blue houses down the path. I knew I’d get lost, and I wasn’t too keen of happening since I still have an itinerary in mind: Umaid Bhawan Palace, touted as the last great palace ever built in India.
At the entrance of Jaswant Thada stood the same auto rickshaw driver who hounded me from Meherangarh Fort! Imagine him asking me 500 rupees for the 1 kilometer distance that covered from the fort to Jaswant Thada? It should be a mere 20 rupees! Such shameless commerce. And you wonder why I despised the guy? I was surprised to see him there. He knew he needed to offer a better deal this time because I would probably walk to the moon than ride in his rickshaw. He offered me 100 rupees back to my guest house, Ganpati Guest House near Sardar Market. I needed to freshen up, take a late lunch before proceeding to Umaid Bhawan Palace. I had to eventually say yes.
The ride down the east road was rather pleasant. It would have taken me forever to walk, and with the sun blazing its heat, it wouldn’t have been that pleasant either. The view down below was a pretty sight. I saw the Clock Tower from afar – and I saw, in smoggy vista, Umaid Bhawan Palace barely peeping though what could be dusty air, smog or pollution. I was excited.
Jaswant Thada: cenotaph and crematorium
Pigeons house themselves in slabs of marble.
After a fast shower, I went to have my lunch at Shivan Paying Guest House’s restaurant. It was relaxing. The waiter kept stealing glances at me. What am I, a movie star now? LOL. After placing my order, he bashfully asked if I was Korean. I laughed. It’s your eyes, he explained. My meal was half fried chicken (110 rupees), a plate of rice served in one of those delightful silver platters that’s typically Indian (35 rupees) and a bottle of Pepsi (15 rupees). At 160 rupees ($3.20 or P138.50), it would be one of my better meals. I carefully checked out the chicken and noticed it had brownish powders sprinkled on it; and its skin orangey. Interesting. I was glad it wasn’t too spicy.
I’m already living with my spicy adventure.
This is the Eye in the Sky!
Fortifications surrounding the Meherangarh Fort!
Serenity at the Jaswant Thada Lake
Umaid Bhawan Palace, The last great palace ever built in India.
Half chicken, rice and Pepsi at 160 rupees from Shivan Paying Guest House.