Golden Temple

The ‘Pool of the nectar Immortality’ and this is home to the Harimandir Sahib, the Golden Temple. This sacred pool was used as the meditation place by early puritans and philosophers. Among them Buddha was the first one and much later Guru Nanak in 14th century AD lived here and drew strength from this peaceful site. Guru Nanak believed in equality regardless of caste, gender, religion and from this concept, Sikhism was born.

The foundation stone of the temple was laid in 1588 by the Sufi Saint, Mian Mir. Over time waters were continued within a lake and the temple complex grew around and into it. The Golden Temple itself sits on a platform over the water.

The temple’s architecture is a fusion of Hindu and Muslim styles yet it’s a coevolution of two. During the reign of Maharana Ranjit Singh in 17th century AD Hari Mandir was richly decorated with marble sculptures, golden gilding and number of precious stones. Within the sanctuary, lies the Guru Granth Sahib, the sacred scripture of the Sikhs. This scripture is a volume of devotional poems, prayers and hymns composed by the ten Sikh Gurus and many Muslim and Hindu saints. Beings at sunrise and up to sunset, everyday these hymns are chanted with exquisite flute and drums and string instruments along. It is a delicate but powerful state background for pilgrims strolling around lake. An underground spring feeds the sacred lake and pilgrims immense themselves for cleansing of soul.

Next to the temple complex are colossal dormitories and dining hall facilitating all pilgrims. All who visit the temple are invited to share a meal before they leave. Around 40,000 visitors are fed at Lungar each day out of temple funds. Please do watch episode from ‘Mega Kitchens’ telecasted on National Geographic Channel. The celebrity Chef Vikas Khanna staring in it and the procedure of Lungar at Golden Temple pictured so perfectly. It may inspire you to volunteer at Kitchen and contribute your share, as it did with me.

This is a place of intense of spiritual excitement for Sikhs and indeed anyone who visits from around the world.

 

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Jewel of Jaipur : Jal Mahal

171107_10150097382814121_7542007_oDSC01769DSC01770DSC01808DSC01811DSC01813DSC01814DSC01793DSC01803For nearly 300 years back, Jaipur’s visionary founder, the great ruler Sawai Jai Singh II built up the festive gathering place for generations of Jaipur’s royal families i.e. The jewel of Jaipur, Jal Mahal.

Jal Mahal which literally means the ‘’water palace’’ is a palace located in the center of the Man Sagar lake in Jaipur city. Jal Mahal is considered as one of the most beautiful architectural palaces that was built with the Mughal and Rajput craftsmanship. The palace provides a charming view of the Man Sagar lake and the Nahargarh hills that border it. The palace’s architectural beauty considered as a best example of combination of Mughal and Rajput architectural styles.

 

I visited this palace on 2nd February 2013. To attend the workshop of restoration and conservation of historical buildings by international expertise. It was hard to imagine that just a few years back the lake was an environmental disaster and palace a derelict ruin. Today, as Jal Mahal rediscovers its magic, it transforms into a pavilion of pleasure once again. It is a 100 acre mixed – use land tourism development project, which is environmentally, sustainable and regenerative. It has been meticulously restored as a part the on going restoration projects.

The complete palace is made of red stone and is 5 storey high. The 4 floors of the palace stay under the water and it is only the 5th floor that is visible. There are 4 chattris on all the four corners of the palace. These are octagonal in shape. The palace has some exquisite marble carvings which denotes the royal touch and the palace has twenty pillars which are the cenotaph of the royal family of Raja Jai Singh II.

For the first time, the Public and private sectors have joined hands to revive a Heritage site in Rajasthan. It provides a requiring environmental revitalisation, historic monument restoration and tourism development. The restoration of Jal mahal started by Jal Mahal resorts Pvt. Ltd. In 2005, has been a phenomenal effort involving the skills of international experts, traditional master craftsmen, architects, historians and authorities on art, culture and design. The research and study of structural elements, forms, details and ornamentation allowed the monument to reveal itself, which then began to rebuild its jetties and stairways, arches, corridors and alcoves with traditional knowledge, materials, techniques and artists.

Chameli Bagh, the lush garden on the terrace has been traced from surviving elements of the original patterns and recreated in the best of Rajput and Mughal traditions. The beauty of the white marble walkways and carved platform, to sit in the shade of tibaris gilded with exquisite miniature paintings or to be refreshed with a stroll through the fragrant garden.

Chameli bagh has been designed by the internationally renowned heritage garden expert and anthropologist, Mitchell Abdul Karim Crites. Built in the traditional charbagh style, each of its four quadrant flaunts a beautiful raised marble flower bed shaped like a scrolling floral arabesque and is planted with a fragrant flowering shrubs.

Water, the other hallmark of such gardens, cascades down thinly over the traditional chinikhana walls of the platform and flows through lotus lights and fountainheads to create a constant changing play of light and glitter.

The central feature of Chameli Bagh is raised octagonal platform with elaborate marble work that lights up to create a dramatic stage for dance and music performances. Under the open sky, the beautifully restored tibaries and even the chattris that stand sentinel over the Jal Mahal, is space to seat an audience of up to 225 guests.

The four different tibaries represents four different styles.

1st is the most opulent tibari at Jal Mahal is resplendent with graceful floral motifs in red, blue and gold.

2nd reveals the magical frescoes depicting Lord Krishna and his consorts romancing in a wooden grove abundant with fruit trees and framed by jaipur’s most celebrated landmarks.

3rd tibari is on process which will feature pink and white decorative stucco.

4th tibari , with its dark clouds swirling across the ceiling, raindrops patterning the walls and lily pools blossoming in the panels, will bring all the colours of monsoon of life.

The interiors of each chattris, located on four corners of Chameli bagh, is designed to be unique. Its is with the rare distinctive Jaipur technique of blue glazed finish pottery. One of created with complex jaipuri brasswork that involves embossing, cutting, enamelling and filigree work and dedicated to Hindu Sun god, Surya.

The conacept and design : Heritage garden expert and anthropologist, Mitchell A K Crites

Creation of Chameli Bagh : Expert marble carver, Kalu Ram Saini.

Tibari and Chhatri Artwork Curation : Eminent Historians Dr. Vibhuti Sachdev

A colourful, multimedia experience that celebrates Jaipur’s artistic heritage, Painted pleasures. Water palace, traditional style gardens, brings together the vision and works of Jaipur’s leading artists and craftspersons to take visitors on an increadible journey of the senses as they have never been on before.