Hark! She Speaks

This week for Becca’s Sunday Trees I bring one that has probably witnessed history that continues to hold significance today – from the precincts of the famous Chittor fort. I have previously shared several visuals from this place earlier as well but this particular tree overlooks the Sati sthal on one side and Jauhar kund on the other. I could not bear to take photos of the place where women burnt themselves along with the dead bodies of their husbands or jumped into it for fear of rape and slavery by plunderers and victors of wars.

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Hark! She Speaks

I can tell you

tales of brave

helpless women

Sending off their men

to wage battles

of honor and pride

Fasting and praying

for his victory

and

his long life

They were but

One soul,

one body.

If he died, she would

burn with him

if he lost, it was Jauhar,

for her

and her children

As the spoils of war

it behooved her

to embrace death

to protect her

dignity and honor

and

save them

the dishonor

of failing to protecting her.

Times have changed

The world has progressed

They educate her

indulge her

pamper her and

cheer for her as she shatters

One glass ceiling after another

But under the sheen

lurks a beast

that seeks to

subjugate her with

attitudes and mentalities

that are passed off

as our culture and

sanskriti

All said and done

it is still her duty

to uphold their honor

And his right to defile hers

it is her duty to bear it silently

to shield their bestiality

so that they can continue to

hold up their heads in society

She is still blamed

and shamed

Be silent

Or be silenced

remains the

unsaid mantra

Since the beginning of time

they have

hacked my branches

stripped me bare

And with cruel knives

carved out love notes

on my body

over and over

again

but did I die?

Did I hide nakedness?

Did I hide my face?

Why do you?

 

Silent

unyielding

unflinching

unapologetic

existence

is my DNA

 

What is yours?

 

CB&W: Structured

The theme for this week’s Black and White Photo Challenge is Structure. And as usual Cee gives us license and freedom to enjoy – who can resist that right?

TempleKalika Mata Temple an 8th-century temple at Chittorgarh Rajasthan India. The upper parts of the structure are more recent.

VijayVijaya Stambh is an imposing victory monument built in 1448 AD. Constructed of red sandstone and white marble, Vijay Stambh is nine storeys tall with a height of 37.19 meters and a base height of 3.0 meters. Another version and other details are in an earlier post.

CafeThe inner structure of a modern day cafe

Bike

Couldnt resist a quick covert snap of the innards of this bike. Not only had I never seen the inside of a bike from such close quarters but the man (whose hands are visible) was/is a fascinating character. Apparently some part for the bike wasn’t available (or too expensive) and he was trying to get it repaired through some jugaad tactics. And Steve Woz says “where’s the creativity?” Possibly he is not familiar with the Indian jugaad :- a flexible approach to problem-solving that uses limited resources in an innovative way.

LeafAnd now time for my latest craze – the teak leaf. It’s massive with such well defined structure don’t you think?

MicroHowzz that for intricate structure?

No strA leaf decaying but the structure, unlike for other stuff, is the last to go.

stoolThe neat structure of a handmade woven stool made of reed and rayon strings

RoseI am, in all honesty, not a big fan of roses but this one’s near perfect structure and symmetrical asymmetry was captivating.

So which one is your favorite – or didn’t you like any?

CWW: Fortified Paths

After a really long time it’s time for Cee’s Which Way challenge. As I mentioned I had visited Udaipur with the explicit purpose of replenishing my dwindling photo archives 😛

Oh well anyway here are some glimpses from this historic seat of Rajput pride and honor Maharana Pratap Singh who refused to bow to the mighty Mughal emperor, Akbar despite all odds and the famous Haldighati battle (fought on 18 June 1576) with over a thousand casualties. It is interesting that the local guides and Wikipedia reiterate what I have suspected.

Haldighati is often claimed to have been a battle for Rajput or even Hindu honour against the Muslim Mughals. However, interestingly Akbar’s commander-in-chief was Man Singh I of Amber, another Hindu and Rajput to boot. On the other side, Maharana Pratap’s army was also served by Hakim Khan Sur’s Muslim Afghans, and hence any arguments concerning religious conflict have little credence. And quoting from Wikipedia “Honor was certainly involved. But it was the honor of Maharana Pratap at stake, not Rajput or Hindu honor.”

But enough of history (never a favorite subject) and let’s go touring!

HghatiThis is the famous Haldighati pass that we all read about in school. Ghati all along I thought meant a valley but actually (in the local language) it means a pass or a narrow neck. This was the only way for the Mughals to pass over to the other side where the Rajput army was ready and waiting to cut down the single file entry of one person at a time. It was only when they used explosives to blow up the mountain were they able to pass through successfully and go on to win the battle and then lose to Maharana Pratap at the Battle of Dewar. Oh well that’s how it is usually with battles isn’t it? Win some lose some. And another interesting bit before I leave – Haldi (or turmeric) is the color of its rocks which, when crushed, produced a bright yellow sand. And hence the name Yellow pass.

Haldighai fort

The view of the entry to the Maharana Pratap’s memorial. And if you can see in the distance a horse, that’s Chetak, Maharana Pratap’s famous, and equally brave and revered battle companion. He is believed to have saved his master’s life and jumped over an elephant and a wide gorge at the cost of his own life.

PratapThat’s the way to the Memorial of the brave and upright warrior Maharana Pratap still much loved and held in high esteem.

GhatiCan you see the way? But actually I wanted to show you this because as a child I imagined the battlefield of Haldighati to be something like this rather than that in the first photo 😀

FortTime to move on to a real fort – the Chittor fort or the Chittorgarh one of India’s largest forts. It sprawls over a hill 180 m (590.6 ft) in height spread over an area of 280 ha (691.9 acres) above the plains of the valley drained by the Berach River. The fort precinct has several historical palaces, gates, temples and two prominent commemorative towers. Some of these pictures I have shared in my earlier posts. The fort was built in the 7th Century it was the stronghold of Rajputs. From 13th century onwards several attacks were made on the fort including that by the Turk king Allaudin Khilji, Bahadur Shah and Akbar. And each time the defenders lost and their wives committed jauhar or burnt themselves in a pyre to avoid being captured. Yes, this fort is of Padmaavat fame and I visited the jauhar kund as well but didnt feel inspired enough to take a picture. This particular section of the fort is in ruins.

StairsBut at some places, I liked the placement of the stairs.

Stairs2Stairway at Meerabai’s palace. Yes she too lived here married to Bhojraj, the son of Rana Sangha the powerful king of Mewar. But her devotion to Lord Krishna led to her being banished to the servant section.

Stairs3Fascinating isn’t it? I wonder how they climbed these stairs or was there some other structure beside it?

VijayThe Vijay Stambh or the victory tower at another section of the Chittor fort. It was built in in 1448 by Rana Kumbha to commemorate his victory over Mahmud Khilji. So they did win some battles! This tower is dedicated to Lord Vishnu yet the topmost storey features a Jain Goddess Padmavati while the word Allah is inscribed nine times in the third storey and eight times in the eighth. Where are all those people, those days, those philosophies?

TreeI couldn’t have a Cee’s which way challenge without a witch tree could I? 😀

VeiledAnd finally at Rani Padmini’s Summer Palace. This is one of my prized photos of how despite deeply ingrained traditions Indians effortlessly adopt modern technology regardless and oblivious to any conflict or what the moment. Did you get my point? Raise your hands before I elaborate. Sure? Got it? No?

On the near right is the photographer hired to click a group photograph of the visitors more than half of whom are completely veiled. I left them herding them into position and urging them to at least shift the ghunghat (veil) a bit, muttering in a long suffering tone: how will you know who’s who?

Thank you for visiting and a special thank you to Cee for inspiring me, freeing me and letting me get away with it 😀

CFFC: Y? But Then Why Not?

Yep! That’s the challenge this week – Letter Y – Needs to start or end with the letter Y or in the caption for the photo “Why” needs to be present. Cee’s Fun Foto Challenges are getting funner and funner 😀

Let’s see what I can come up with 😉

Smoggy cloudyA smoggy or is it foggy winter morning at 9.30 am! Thank God the worst seems to be over but it’s already time to brace up for the heat and dust 😉

skyComing out from being cooped up in the office the whole day long, I snapped a quick pic of the sky where the feathery clouds had been busy painting it white.

20180206_175342On another day, when a demonstration turned a 10-min drive into a 30-min one I made the most of my time clicking pictures sure that Cee would certainly give me an opportunity to display them sooner or later 😀 Yet, I couldn’t get what I really wanted – off the birds flying home in beautiful formations. But don’t you think the sky looks lovely? Okay! Enough of skies for now – lets move on to something else before you accuse me of repetitive stuff.

YellowAn exquisitely hand carved temple. Can you imagine the vision, the planning and the workmanship that went into building such a marvelous piece of art so many centuries ago? I could simply look at the perfectly designed symmetry for hours and hours. Couldn’t you?

YonderCan you see the yellowing leaves on the yellow-brown path? Actually I wanted to draw your attention to the yonder tree 😀

ShimmyIt was a very interesting and exciting tree (like most trees!) See those roots dropping down – just something Tarzan would love to shimmy down right?

YogaWait! There’s more. The roots got tired of just standing around so one particularly antsy one decided to indulge in some yoga on the way down 😀

ButterflyA yellow butterfly from our garden at home captured by my sister.

WhyWhy? Well like I said Why Not? This photo was shared by my friend Svkuki while on her trip the States and has been crying for some screen space for quite a while now. Besides surely you can see the Y created by the shadow and the cacti in the background?

Oh well, fine be that way…

CB&W: Of Walls From Another Era

Cee’s Black and White photo challenge is about Walls – Indoors and Outdoors and this time I am quite spoilt for choice. Nothing but walls in my kitty but fear not I won’t drive you up the wall with too extensive a selection 😀

RanaPThis is not actually from another era but recently built in honor of Maharana Pratap (9 May 1540 – January 1597) a popular Rajput King of Mewar or modern day Rajasthan in Udaipur.

 

Wall

The inner wall of the Chittorgarh Fort, Rajasthan

Fort am

Entry to the Chittorgarh Fort for horses

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The outer walls of a temple with intricate carvings built in the 16th Century.

TempleAnother angle of the temple with intricate carvings.

Screen Shot 2018-01-30 at 9.22.45 pmMost, if not all of the human figurines have been painstakingly damaged and trashed by the invaders of those times. They took what they could and destroyed what they couldn’t. But still their beauty shines through.

MurtiAnother temple, another wall, another tragedy and another triumph.

Murti2

There were so many wall carvings and sculptures that I am quite bedazzled and befuddled which to display and which to keep for anther day.

 

Screen Shot 2018-02-01 at 6.11.25 pmI end this series with a picture of the Bagore ki Haveli at Udaipur flicked from my son’s collection (psst plijj dont tell him!). Last year he had visited Udaipur which inspired us to visit it this year. But unfortunately despite active efforts due to various reasons we couldnt visit this particular fort. Much to our absent son’s delight 😀

Hope you liked! Thanks for visiting and look forward to your comments 🙂

PS. I had a tough time editing and posting pictures for this series. No matter where the photo is stored, it always opens in my browser and I find it difficult to edit there. Any suggestions on what settings to change for the open is set to Firefox (default) but earlier I could view and edit on my screen without any browser. It doesnt help if I turn off the internet either 😦 Any help, suggestions?