Who is a hero? Is he the one who earns name and fame through valiant deeds? Is he the king renowned for his charity and his kindness toward his subjects? Or is he the unknown, unnamed man who works hard but has no songs written in his favor- the man who follows the hero into battle, the man who toils in the fields to create the wealth that the king donates, the man who is a good son and a father and a good husband and a good friend to his family and friends. The Hall of Heroes in Mandore Garden is dedicated to the Rajput kings and the gods, but I’d like to think it is written to all those men (and women) who lived honest lives and tried to do good to whoever they met.
Mandore was the capital of the Rathods before Rao Jodha shifted it to Jodhpur. There is little left of the original city, just a crumbling fortress wall, but what stand tall and strong today are the cenotaphs built for dead Rajput kings. At first, I thought they were tombs, and I was quite surprised that the Hindu Rajput kings chose to be buried, but I was told that it was actually where they were cremated. It’s a little creepy to be visiting what is essentially a cemetery, but the garden-like aspect of the place diluted the effect. The cenotaphs are beautiful, though, some looking like temples with their shikhara-like structure, others domed chhatris, all with the detailed lace-like stonework that is a hallmark of Rajasthani architecture.
How much gold leaf is too much gold leaf? However much you have is not enough, the Rajput kings would tell you. The Phool Mahal or the Palace of Flowers is a display in extravagance, with gilded columns and ceilings and enough gold to enable you to buy Lakshmi Mittal’s palatial Kensington Palace mansion. It is said that this was the pleasure room of the kings, where dancing girls danced and entertained the kings until they dropped down of exhaustion. I wish I could go back in time and give the kings two tight slaps for their excesses. That would be a fantastic scene, wouldn’t it? A mysterious girl appears out of nowhere, slaps the king and vanishes (of course I want to come back to my own timeline). Possible scene in Magadheera 2?
If you have seen the Glucon-D ad of the sun sucking out energy from people, you would know how it feels to be taking a trip around Tamil Nadu, in any season. By the time we were done seeing the Pancha Ratha and the Krishna Mantapa in Mahabalipuram, we were drained. The auto driver who was taking us around had left us at the gate near the Shore Temple, and the 200-metre trudge to the temple seemed like a 2km hike. Once we reached the temple, we found all the available shaded nooks occupied by foreigners recovering from sunburns. This temple is probably the only one still standing among a group that reportedly existed, but I must confess, in that blinding heat, history and mystery were furthest from our minds. Only now, as I look at my photos, I wonder if there really is a city under the sea, and if there is, why nobody has gone in search of it. Maybe if a sage dreamed there were gold in the city, someone would go digging.
This post is not actually about the brownie (dry, uninspiring) but the guy in the background. There was once a time I had a bit of a crush on Vir Das, and that photo of him in the paper, with his impish smile, brought back some of the butterflies in my stomach. This photo is basically double drool- you drool over the chocolate brownie, then you drool over the not-so-chocolate boy.