Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Jodhpur: The Historical Sun City of Thar Desarts

Jodhpur is the second largest city in the Indian state of Rajasthan. It was formerly the seat of a princely state of the same name, the capital of the kingdom known as Marwar. Jodhpur is a popular tourist destination, featuring many palaces, forts and temples, set in the stark landscape of the Thar desert

The city is known as the Sun City for the bright, sunny weather it enjoys all year. It is also referred to as the Blue City due to the blue-painted houses around the Mehrangarh Fort. Jodhpur lies near the geographic centre of Rajasthan state, which makes it a convenient base for travel in a region much frequented by tourists. The old city of Jodhpur is surrounded by a thick stone wall.

The area was part of the Gurjara - Pratihara empire and until 1100 CE was ruled by a powerful Bargujar King. Jodhpur was founded in 1459 by Rao Jodha, a Rajput chief of the Rathore clan. Jodha succeeded in conquering the surrounding territory and thus founded a state which came to be known as Marwar. As Jodha hailed from the nearby town of Mandore, that town initially served as the capital of this state; however, Jodhpur soon took over that role, even during the lifetime of Jodha. The city was located on the strategic road linking Delhi to Gujarat. This enabled it to profit from a flourishing trade in opium, copper, silk, sandals, date palms and coffee.

Early in its history, the state became a fief under the Mughal Empire, owing fealty to them while enjoying some internal autonomy. During this period, the state furnished the Mughals with several notable generals such as Maharaja Jaswant Singh. Jodhpur and its people benefited from this exposure to the wider world: new styles of art and architecture made their appearance and opportunities opened up for local tradesmen to make their mark across northern India.

Aurangzeb briefly sequestrated the state (c.1679) on the pretext of a minority, but the rightful ruler was restored to the throne after Aurangzeb died in 1707. The Mughal empire declined gradually after 1707, but the Jodhpur court was beset by intrigue; rather than benefiting from circumstances, Marwar descended into strife and invited the intervention of the Marathas, who soon supplanted the Mughals as overlords of the region. This did not make for stability or peace, however; 50 years of wars and treaties dissipated the wealth of the state, which sought and gratefully entered into subsidiary alliance with the British in 1818.

During the British Raj, the state of Jodhpur had the largest land area of any in Rajputana. Jodhpur prospered under the peace and stability that were a hallmark of this era.The land area of the state was 23543 mi² its population in 1901 was 44,73,759. It enjoyed an estimated revenue of £35,29,000/. Its merchants, the Marwaris, flourished without let or limit and came to occupy a position of dominance in trade across India. In 1947, when India became independent, the state merged into the union of India and Jodhpur became the second city of Rajasthan.

Oswal Jains were mainly concentrated in Gorwar Region which was again ruled by Maharaja of Jodhpur . And Oswal jains also played main role in strengthening foundation of Jodhpur by donating mass wealth , gems to Maharaja of Jodhpur & in turn Maharaja of Jodhpur used to honour these wealthy Oswal Jain Merchants as Nagar Seth or various other honourable titles.

At the time of partition, ruler of Jodhpur Hanwant Singh didn't want to join India, but finally due to the effective leadership of Sardar Vallab Patel the then Home Minister at centre princely state of Jodhpur was included in Indian Republic. Later after State Reorganization Act, 1956 it was made part of the state of Rajasthan.

The Umaid Bhawan Palace.

The Umaid Bhawan Palace is not only one of India's most imposing palaces but also among its most recent. This lavish art deco monument to royal living had an improbable conception: it was built as a public relief and employment project during a long period of drought. Over one million square feet (90,000 m²) of the finest marble was used in the construction of the palace. A special type of sandstone, called Chittar sandstone, has been used in constructing the palace and this gives it a special effect. For this reason, it is also referred to as Chittar Palace by the locals. Its style of construction, with beautiful balconies, charming courtyards, green gardens and stately rooms, makes it a fine example of Indo-Saracenic architecture. The project employed three thousand artisans over a period of 15 years (1929-1943). The palace is named after its builder, Maharaja Umaid Singh (1876-1947), who was incidentally the president of the British Royal Institute of Architects. In 1977, the palace was segmented into the royal residence, the Heritage Hotel and a museum. It has total 347 rooms.It is the biggest private residence in the world, out of which 98 air-conditioned rooms are elegantly decorated with antique furniture as well as all the other amenities for a five star hotel.

Mehrangarh Fort

The Mehrangarh Fort lies in the heart of the old city of Jodhpur and is located atop a 125 m high hill. The magnificent Mehrangarh Fort (Jodhpur ka kila) is the most majestic and one of the largest forts in India. It was originally started (c.1459) by Rao Jodha, founder of Jodhpur. However, most of the extant fort dates from the period of Jaswant Singh (1638-78). The walls of the fort are up to 36 m high and 21 m wide; they enclose some exquisite structures.

The fort museum houses an exquisite collection of palanquins, howdahs (elephant seat), royal cradles, miniatures, musical instruments, costumes and furniture. The ramparts of Mehrangarh Fort provide not only excellently preserved cannons but also a breath-taking view of the city.

The Jaswant Thada is architectural landmark found in Jodhpur. It is a white marble memorial built in 1899 in memory of Maharaja Jaswant Singh II. The monument, in its entirety, is built out of intricately carved sheets of marble. These stones are extremely thin and polished so that they emit a warm glow when the sun's rays dance across their surface. Within this cenotaph, there are also two more tombs.

Bookmark and Share

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts with Thumbnails