Sunday, October 30, 2011

Mandore - Rich Historical Relics Neglected

Mandore is a mere 9 kilometers north of central Jodhpur. It is officially part of the district. But way before the accession of Jodhpur and the rise of the Rathore clan, the capital of the Marwari state was Mandore! It dates back to the 6th century. If there was ever an existing ancient town, this would be it. And the structures that still stand on its grounds have been sturdy witnesses to its past glory.

The name Mandore has an interesting origin. A Sri Lankan king named Ravan had a wife named Queen Mandodri. Their marital union happened here when it was then called Mandavyapur . It has been renamed as such to honor the queen. King Ravana was the most powerful Tamil king of Lankapuri in the Ramayana epic. It seems like a long way from Sri Lanka though, considering the antiquities of travel of the ancient past, but Ramayana is steeped with mysticism making such displacements possible!

My auto rickshaw drove past ordinary looking abodes. I’ve read about this ancient capital’s garden and rock terraces, but they all seem footnotes, lost in the voluble clutter of magnificent Rajasthan. In fact, it’s basically an inconsequential two-paragraph item in my old LP. But I wanted to see vestiges of what should be a glorious past. We parked in front of the gate leading to the Mandore Garden. Had this been treated with an iota of significance, there would have been payment for entrance. This one was free. There was no fan fare at all. In fact, what greeted me was a gardener down on his knees picking weeds; a monkey that was practically uninterested with my presence; a friendly horde of Boy Scouts (see photo above) and a little boy in white playing his ravanhatha (a guitar-like string instrument) for a few rupees.


A block or so from the gate, I gasped when I saw some of the most beautiful structures this side of India. Dark red stupas (sacred Buddhist spot) rise beside each other, most of which house cenotaphs (sepulchral monuments that honor deceased persons) of a few of the kings who ruled the region for 700 years or so. Seven hundred years can’t be inconsequential, as it is several lifetimes and piles of generations! Unfortunately, most of these solitary temples are left to “rot” and crumble, it made me wistful walking around seeing rubbles and proof of gradual disintegration. Such neglect feels like a mystery to me. If we had these temples in the Philippines, they’d all be declared cultural gems. Maybe India has lots of these, thus the Mandore structures are mere leftovers? Was there really a vibrant ancient kingdom here?


It was indeed the seat of a branch of the Parihar Dynasty which ruled the region in 6th century A.D. lead by King Nahar Rao Parihar. Sometime 1395, Mohil, a princess from the Parihar rulers of Mandore, married Chundaji, a scion of the Rathore clan of the Rajputs. In 1459, Rao Jodha (chief of the Rathore clan), in an effort to unite the irresolute region under his rule, shifted the capital to Jodhpur. Mandore has since been relegated as an afterthought, underlining the decline of an ancient capital.

Despite this, it’s hard to ignore the staggering beauty of these rock terraces, built on a stony hill. Yes, you’d need wide steps to climb up the temples. The pillars are imposing, and the designs are intricate – many of which depict plants, birds, animals and even interplanetary objects! The devals (cenotaphs) of Maharaja Jaswant Singh (of “Jaswant Thada”) and Maharaja Ajit Singh are housed here. Some of these reddish structures have turned almost black, further adding character to these domed edifices. There are no guards manning these “temples”, and visitors are few.

There is a Hall of Heroes somewhere in the garden, as well as a Hall of Demigods. There’s also a small Mandore Museum in the compound (photography not allowed) as well as a spare temple. We shall feature the Hall of Heroes in our succeeding posts. Right now, we shall bask in the ancient beauty of these rock terraces.

This is the Eye in the Sky!

Up next: More photos of temples in Mandore - Splendors of the Past -

My rickshaw driver poses for posterity.

Animal magnetism. Gray langurs are large and fairly terrestrial, inhabiting forest, open lightly wooded habitats, and urban areas on the Indian subcontinent. They are primarily herbivores, with leaves of trees and shrubs as their preferred choice of food. They have less aggressive behavior compared to other primates, thus they are not considered pests in India.

From the gate, this is the view towards the cluster of rock terraced temples.


Ramakrishnan said...

Fantastic pics of magnificent Mandore. Sad to see the state of neglect of these historically significant monuments. Nice pic of the Indian Langur !
Is that you in red shirt & sunglasses ?
Keep up the series of superb posts.

Trotter said...

Hi ! Sorry for the absence, but these last two months have been nasty! My mother (90) was in hospital for more than three weeks and the post-surgery was hard! My father (94) seemed to be orphan while my mother was out and felt into some kind of depression... The economy is a disaster and the media only bring bad news... The € Euro is rescued every day, only to be known that it needs to be rescued again and again... What else? Well, maybe «Midnight in Paris»... The problem is that the Gil there is a different one... ;)

My daughter just came back from India, but I think she missed Mandore. Shame!

Blogtrotter Two wanders currently around Porto Vecchio and the beaches in the region! Enjoy and have a wonderful week ahead!

eye in the sky said...

@ Ramakrishnan:

It is sad, but I am glad to have seen it. And thank you very much for the specific term - "langur" - I was looking up for a specific term. I shall use it in this post.

No, the guy in the red shirt is my CNG driver. I hardly use my photos in my posts. I like the universality of anonymity. Feels like people can relate to it more, especially those who get to travel like you. I am Asian - a Filipino. But I do have a love-"hate" relationship with India. LOL

Thanks for the kind words.

eye in the sky said...

@ Trotter:

I am sorry to hear about your parents, Gil, but I will include them in my prayers. The world seems to be in shambles, I agree; but if you're referring to "Midnight in Paris", I actually enjoyed it. The premise is almost ridiculous, but fun nevertheless! Woody Allen seems to be relaxing in his old age.

I have visited your last post and it was more than a month ago and have wondered why there were no new entries. I am glad you're well. Be safe. Cheers!

Ola said...

wow, when I saw the first picture I was already impressed by the architecture! I may be mistaken but I guess I saw a documentary movie about this place some time ago

eye in the sky said...

@ Ola:

The architecture is awesome; I'd have loved to watch that documentary.

PEACHY said...

i was browsing the net regarding Bangladesh when i saw your blog. It's amazing, with all the images and detailed captions/descriptions of the places. And I was surprised that it's by a Filipino. It got me curious (and envy too with all your travelings) do you travel for leisure & pleasure or is it your work to travel and catalogue them for some travel magazines?

happy trip!

Twin said...

Love the color of the temples, traces a unique historical past

eye in the sky said...

@ Peachy:

Thanks, Peachy. Most of my travels are for leisure (and "education"). I like knowing about these places and I like documenting my journeys for very selfish reasons, i.e. because it's gratifying to relive them through my blogs.

I usually plan my trips 1 year ahead (except the random local getaways) and really prepare/research to maximize my travels. I don't work for a magazine. My field is described in my profile page, and is too far removed from traveling. Yes, I am Filipino, and proudly so, di ba? Hehe

Thanks for the kind words.

eye in the sky said...

@ Twin:

Thanks. I love the structures; very intricately designed. Sayang they're mostly left to rot.

Trotter said...

Hi Eye!
Thanks for the comment and wishes here and at Blogtrotter Two. Woody is like Port(o) wine: the older the better... ;). Not the same for everybody...
Blogtrotter Two wanders currently around pre-historical Corsica, where it seems all this mess around will be leading us to... ;)
Enjoy and have a wonderful week!