Bharatpur Travel Guide
In 1733 AD, Raja Badan Singh 's son, Suraj Mal had shown signs of promise, when he captured the fort of Bharatpur from Khemkaran, the rival chief, whom he killed and thus laid the foundation of Bharatpur City.
Maharaja Suraj Mal displayed immense courage and carved a niche for himself in the midst of political disorder. Gathering around him fiercely martial Jat peasants, he went from one success to another. He accompanied Emperor Muhammed Shah against Ali Muhammed Ruhela and in 1748 AD, at the battle of Bagru, he led the Jaipur vanguard against the Marathas. He also defeated the commander-in-chief of the Mughal emperor. Despite being a very religious man he was secular.
The history of Bharatpur dates back to the epic age, when the Matsya Kingdom flourished here in the 5th century BC The matsya were allies of the Pandavas in the Mahabharata war. According to tradition the name of Bharatpur is traced to Bharat, the brother of lord Rama of Ayodhya whose other brother Laxman was given the high place of family deity of the ruling family of Bharatpur. His name also appears in the state seals and coat-of-arms.
Bharatpur is also called the Eastern gateway of Rajasthan. Maharaja Suraj Mal. Apart from being a brave General was also a great builder. He built numerous forts and palaces across the kingdom including the Pleasure Palace complex at Deeg. Bharatpur is today known the world over for its Keoladeo Ghana National Park.
Places of Tourist Interest in Bharatpur
It is a fine fusion of Mughal and Rajput styles of architecture and was built in various phases by different maharajas. The magnificent apartments are richly decorated with patterned floor tiles having exquisite and intricate designs. The museum occupies the main central wing displaying collections dating back to the 2nd century AD which demonstrates the art and skill of the region.
The building – Kamra Khas, within the fort, has been converted into a museum displaying a rich collection of antiquities, exquisite sculptures and some ancient inscription.
The sculptures speak volumes about the art and culture that flourished here in those times. The inscriptions are of immense historical value and help in tracing the royal lineage and local life.
GANGA MANDIR (TEMPLE)
Maharaja Balwant Singh started the construction of this big temple in 1845. The construction was carried out by a unique method, where all persons employed in the service of the state, were asked to donate one month’s salary of their service or any raise in pay towards the shrine. The temple is a beautiful piece of architecture.
This temple is famous for beautiful stone work with elaborate carvings from doorways to ceilings, pillars, walls and arches. The temple is dedicated to Laxman, brother of Lord Rama.
Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary
As the monsoon arrives, birds from every part of the country start flying into the Park. Migratory waterfowls – even though the Siberian Cranes, once the pride of Keoladeo – are not coming for the past few years – are a major attraction. These waterfowls visit the Park in hordes during the month of October. The rosy starling marks the beginning of the arrival of migratory birds. The most noticeable waterfowls coming to the Park are the bar- headed and grey lag geese. The ducks spotted here are pintail, common teal, ruddy shelduck, mallard, widgeon, shoveler, common shelduck, red crested pochard, gadwall etc. Predatory birds like the imperial eagle, steppe and tawny eagle, spotted eagle, marsh harrier and laggar falcon are attracted towards the Park, completing the avian food chain of the ecosystem. Some of them, like the short – toed eagle lesser spotted eagle and shikra, are the residents of the Park.
About 11sq. Kms of the Park is covered by water; the remaining portion is rich in birds like the kingfisher, red-vented and white-cheeked bulbuls, babblers, quails, partridges, sunbirds, sparrows, parakeets and orioles, which live in bushes and burrows. These winged beauties carry on their activities all the year round, thus making this Park a pilgrimage for bird lovers and an ornithologist’s delight. Animals like the black buck, sambar – largest Indian antelope, spotted deer and nilgais also show their presence here, though they are greatly outnumbered by the winged fraternity. Pythons can also be observed, at some places, lazing in the sun.
Saras cranes, the tallest flight birds, nest in exposed and open areas; both partners share the duty of hatching; while changing incubating duties, they come together, raise their neck and give out shrill trumpeting calls in unison, fanning their feathers at the same time .The newborn chicks are only 10 cm. in size but grow up to one metre in height within a year.
Vehicles are only permitted up to Shanti Kutir inside the Park. The Electra Van of the Forest Department in the Sanctuary can be engaged, although the best way to explore the Park is on foot, bicycle or cycle rickshaws which are available on hire.
LOHAGARH FORT OR THE ‘IRON FORT’
Conceived and designed to last for years-Lohagarh Fort, true to its name, stood solidly against many attacks by the British, frustrating them to no end. It faced the British onslaught four times and after a long siege they had to withdraw, but finally it was captured by Lord Lake for the British.
It is very different from the other forts in the State. There is no flamboyance associated with this fort but it radiates an aura of strength and magnificence. The fort is surrounded by a moat, which was filled with water to ward off the enemy attacks. Sandy battlements strengthened the sandy ramparts, thus the enemy guns proved of no avail.
Some interesting monuments in the fort are Kishori Mahal, Mahal Khas, Moti Mahal and Kothi Khas. Jawahar Burj and Fateh Burj, inside the fort, were built by Suraj Mal to commemorate the victories over the Mughals and the British. The Ashtadhatu (eight-metal) gateway has paintings of huge elephants.
Bayana is 45 kms. from Bharatpur between the two ranges of the Aravali hills running more or less parallel to each other close to the left bank of Gambhir river, formerly a tributary of Banganga. The famous fort known as Bijay Garh (Vijay Garh) was built by the famous King Banasur, in the time of Lord Krishna and was renovated by Maharaja Vijai Pal. The fort here is considered to be the 3rd largest in India. The palace, a high tower and Bhim Lath stand out as landmarks. The fort was held by Muhammad Ghori (1196 AD ) Sikandar Lodi(1492) and Humayun (1535 AD ). In 1526 AD the first Mughal emperor Babar described it as one of the most famous forts in India. Ain-I-Akbari mentions that in former times Bayana was the capital of a province of which Agra was a dependant village. Emperor Akbar witnessed a march past of his troops from a place near Bayana town known as “Chardare” which has an inscription on it. The noble and litterateur of the Mughal court, Mir Mohammed Masum, engraved this.
This fort built by Raja Suraj Mal, stands majestically over a slightly elevated point. It is surrounded by impressive moats, ramparts and gateways. The interiors are mostly in ruins now, but the watch tower still stands keeping an eye over the city and the palace. A gun captured from Agra Fort is placed here. Another defunct cannon, which was captured from Ahmad Shah Abdali ( 1761 AD) – who seized the fort for six months guards the vantage point.
Band Baretha, old wildlife reserve of the rulers of Bharatpur State is about 65 km from Bharatpur city. There is a dam on “Kakund” River. The foundation stone of this dam was laid in 1866 by Maharaja Jaswant Singh and completed in 1897-88 during Maharaja Ram Singh’s period. There is an old palace, which is still the private property of Bharatpur Royal family. Animals like sambhar, chital, blue bull, wild boar, hyena and leopard inhabit Bandh Baretha. It is also inhabited by 200 rare species of birds. A number of bird watchers inhabit this place.
Kaman is a very old town, also known as Kamawan situated in the north of Bharatpur. It is a sacred town of Hindus as it forms a part of Braj area where Lord Krishna spent his early life. Its former name is said to have been Brahampore, but Raja Kama Sen, the maternal grandfather of Krishna, changed it to Kaman after his own name. Kaman is the short name of Kadambawana for numerous Kadhamba trees are found here. Kaman is a place of pilgrimage, which is visited by a large number of Vaishnavas in the month of Bhadon as a part of Banyatra. The remains of a temple /mosque consisting of 84 pillars, named Chourasi Khamaba’ still exist here. The pillars are ornamented and sculpted. Kaman has long been under the rule of Jaipur but was conquered and annexed by Maharaja Jawahar Singh. Some palaces of Jaipur Chiefs still exist here. Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh took the ilols of Madan Mohanji and Gokul Chandraman to his newly built city of Jaipur but due to some reasons the idols were brought back to Kaman.
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