Badnore


FESTIVALS

The Maharajas have all gone and so have the times. What remains are ruins from the past, legacies of a bygone era. Yet, history was made here and for those who recognize this, much still remains to be seen. The little village of Badnore in Rajasthan is one such testimony.

LOCATION

Badnore is situated in the Indian state of Rajasthan around 90 km from Ajmer. This little village is associated with many legends and stories of bravery and sacrifice. The place is connected by a good network of roads to other places in the region.

PAST

Nestling amidst one of the oldest mountain ranges in the world, the Aravalis, at a height of 2,100 feet, Badnore was originally known as Vardhanpur. Though established eons back, it is still uncertain as to whose initiative it was. From the local ballads, one gathers that a particular Parmar king, by the name of Badna, had founded the village of Badnapur in 845 BC, which later came to be known as Badnore. However, this is perhaps only folklore with no element of truth in is as there is no written evidence to support it. As derived from ancient texts, it is more likely to have been founded by Raja Harsha Vardhan of Kannauj.


Surrounded by the Chauhans in the east, the Parmars in the south, and the Solankis in the west who remained constantly at war with each other, Badnore obviously remained in the hands of the victor, till captured by the Mughals.

Maharana Kumbha gained supremacy over the land in 1490 and to commemorate his victory, he built the temple of Kushala Mata and the Kushal Sagar Lake, now known as Vinodsagar. A perpetual ground for the clash of different clans, it was ultimately the Rathores who held permanent sway over Badnore.

Rao Jaimal, grandson of Rao Dudaji and brother of the legendary poetess Mirabai, is the most revered name in the history of this region. He was granted Badnore in 1554 by Maharana Udai Singh of Udaipur with 1,000 other villages. His short though extremely eventful reign was marked by many decisive battles and jubilant victories. In the year 1567, when Akbar decided to attack Chittor, the fort was guarded by Rao Jaimal himself, the Maharana having shifted to Udaipur. It was a gory battle that lasted for several months, where very often Akbar himself came close to death. Jaimal, wounded in the course of battle, was unable to mount a horse. Instead, astride a soldier's shoulders with swords flashing in both his hands, he put up a fine show of bravery and finally succumbed to his fatal wounds.

It is an established fact that Akbar, extremely impressed by Jaimal and Patta (another soldier of similar repute), installed their life-size statues at the main entrance of Agra fort. The statues were shifted to Delhi when Akbar changed his capital where later they were destroyed by Aurangzeb's virulent fanaticism.

In a recent excavation, a more than 2,000-year-old inscription has been found very near the village, proving the strategic location of the region on an ancient trade route. The engraved letters on the rock are of Ashoka-Brahmi script, prevalent around the third century BC.

SIGHTSEEING

Built atop a hillock is the majestic seven-storied fort that commands a view of the village below. On the banks of Vinodsagar, one of the lakes, is Jalmahal (used for residential purpose now), which affords a superb view of crystal waters, mirroring the myriad culture in its unfathomable depth.

Below the Jalmahal, is Grishma Niwas or the Summer House, overlooking a huge garden. In its midst is a step-well (baoli)-a rare ubiquity in this region, as step-wells are mostly found in Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh. Constructed by Thakur Govind Singh in 1897, the square enclosure has steps leading right down on three sides and an eight-pillared balcony extends on the fourth side.

The entrance to the fort, called the Bada Darwaza, has two archaic temples on both sides. Inside, the stables were on either side and there was an ancient temple, which was constructed in 1584. Further ahead, were the prisons, with separate cells for incarceration of men and women.

The road that leads up to the fort or Garh is motorable. Looming large, the Garh seems a perfect blend of strength and beauty, bearing the indisputable mantle of pride. This mammoth bastion that could house an entire battalion still has over 130 rooms, which can be used.

The rugged, yet the delicately proportioned stories, belie the architectural skill of a genre where imagination remained the only source of esthetics. The quaint balconies and the countless domed jharokhas that previously offered ventilation now offer a peep into the Arcadian lives of a bygone era and the sublime past seems encapsulated in the ambience, even today.

Badnore has several temples-of which few require special mention-that could easily be a antiquarian's delight. Towards the west is an old temple (the date of its construction is unknown), dedicated to Vairat (Chamunda) Devi. In the heart of the village, near the fort, is an age-old Jain temple that has statues of 12 tirthankaras. From the inscriptions, it is evident that it was constructed in AD 1135. Just a kilometer away, is Kushala Mata's temple, which is believed to have been constructed by Maharana Kumbha of Mewar.

SITES NEARBY

A mile away from Badnore, towards the west is Araam Bhawan (also called the Shooting Lodge), easily accessible by a metallic road. Situated among dense foliage, it was built for espying wild animals, without so much as disturbing them and also taking an easy aim from one of the many shooting boxes. The walls and the ceiling inside are embellished with patterns made from colored glass. A particular jharokha is adorned meticulously with miniscule pieces of glass of varied colors, giving it the appearance of meenakari work. The human figures on the sides are painted with natural colors.

HOW TO REACH

A little off the National Highway, between Jaipur-Udaipur, near Beawar town, lies the ancient village Badnore, a principality of the erstwhile Mewar state. Buses are available for this place from Ajmer, Jaipur, and Udaipur. Taxis are also available on hire. The place is at a distance of 90 km from the town of Ajmer.


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