The decrepit roadways bus with crammed leg space dropped me at bus terminal of the Eastern Gateway of Rajasthan i.e. Bharatpur at around 3 pm. I slowly straightened my legs after a bumpy ride and got down to find some decent residence. The view of the bus terminal was no different from terminals other small town across India and neither did I expected much.
After struggling in the dusty winds of the city for an hour, I found a place that would not dig a hole in my pocket. The city is famous among the photographers and wildlife lovers for the diverse and vivid species of birds that can be spotted in the Keolado National Park (also World Heritage Site) formerly known as Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary. However, I had some different plans. I wanted to go beyond the notions of the Bird Sanctuary and discover the Bharatpur which is often ignored by the tourists.
During my probe, I discovered some remarkable places to explore in this old capital city of Jat Kingdom. My attempt to unravel Bharatpur beyond the realm of Bird Sanctuary made me snake through the old streets and lanes which presented a picture of Bharatpur not known to many tourist and outsiders.
I started off a bit early in the morning to avoid the roaring mercury levels. I meandered through the old streets of city eying for places of interest other than the sanctuary. The bygone lanes still had some old houses gemmed with intricate engravings and coloured doors akin to old Delhi. But what really caught my senses, was golden kachorris, glazed orange coloured jalebis and imarati (Indian snacks) dancing in hot oil and getting vanished as soon as it came out.
Even though the aroma and temptation of the golden Kachoris overpowering but still contained myself and braved it to reach the entrances of the Shri Ganga Maharani Ji temple. The temple is a perfect blend built from the rare and inviting almond coloured sandstone was a perfect blend of the Rajputana and Mughal architectural skills. The foundation was laid down in 1845 by Maharaja Balwant Singh and it almost took five generation of Jat Kings to complete this temple at astronomical cost.
The temple has an exquisite designing and detailing on pillars, roofs, parapets, arches and interiors also. The entrance to the main prayer hall has a beautiful chandelier of bells which jingled every time the sandy winds passed them. On quizzing the temple priest about the history of the temple-he replied that construction was commenced upon the fulfilment of one of the wish of Maharaja but I missed to inquire about the wish. The priest then blessed me by sprinkling holy Ganga water brought especially from Haridwar on my head and also advised to visit another nearby temple dedicated to Lord Laxman.
I rambled across the precincts of the temple clicking it from every angle I could and then I headed to the temple of Lord Laxman as advised by the priest. While heading to the next destination, I accidently bumped into another masterpiece of Rajputana times. It was the largest mosque of the small city- Jama Masjid. The ingress to the mosque was flanked by extremely prepossessing floral design pattern and minute artistic works. The architecture of the mosque with several Jharokhas (cantilevered openings), canopies, and extended pavilions showed imprints of Hindu culture in its aged walls. The designs engraved on the front façade were truly artistic displaying the meticulous skill and craftsmanship of those times. Although, it was a pure coincidence to visit to Jama Masjid but I loved this unplanned encounter.
I sauntered further on streets and reached the square overwhelming with labourers hunting for their daily work. On one end the square was the famous Shri Laxman Mandir of Bharatpur which was more or less similar to previous one in design and architecture. I spent some time in quietude praising the immaculate skills and precision of the creators of the temples.
The sun had reached its full power by now drenching me in my own waters and I decided to fall back to my room. On my way back, I saw the impregnable walls of one of the strongest fort of all times- Lohagarh Fort (Iron Fort). Although, it had signs of wrecks but still stood tall as always however its glory has somewhere faded in time.
On my way back, my eyes and all other senses again crashed with Kachoris, jalebis and imratis and this time temptation won over. Soon, I was feasting upon the blistering golden Kachoris served with the tangy and authentic yellowish Rajhasthani curry taking the taste buds to heaven.
Finally, I had discovered more reasons to visit Bharatpur apart from the already famed Bird Sanctuary.