Deogarh Mahal Room History
Room No. 233 – Keseria Mahal ( Saffron Palace )
Entering the Palace
It is the public face of the Deogarh rulers that we encounter first. The gateway(Ram Pol) into the front courtyard passes beneath the “Kacheri” where justice was administered – reminding us immediately that they held powers of life and limb over their subjects. Then the richly painted palace entrance leads us up, past a couple of small family shrines, through a series of narrow passages and staircases. (A grander entrance route would have been harder to defend!)
But notice how well-worn the steps are here, compared with other parts of the palace. Because this is the area that saw the heavy traffic, the villagers coming to pay obeisance or seek some judicial remedy. Their business took them only as far as the first floor where the revenue and general administration departments were located at the front of the building.
Beyond and above is the private part of the palace which now forms the hotel.
The Central Courtyard
Emerging onto the second floor with a large picture of Lord Ganesha to your left; it is difficult to imagine that this little “piazza”, proudly displaying the white marble Deogarh throne, was a relatively late addition to the palace. Not the surrounding buildings but the actual floor on which you are standing. It used to drop straight down to a garden on the level below. There is another room on the first floor, exactly like the dining hall immediately above it on this level, giving the building a symmetry that has now been obscured. But originally, if you had wanted to cross from here to the dining hall on the other side, you would have had to use one of the narrow’ galleries that once. encircled this space. .
Perhaps more intriguingly, the back wall used to be a shallow, almost two-dimensional “screen”, .
with many more than the handful of “jali’ windows that you can see today. It must have been remarkably like a rustic variant of the famous Hawa Mahal (or Palace of the Winds) in Jaipur that extraordinary building, little more than a facade, that was designed to give the Maharanis in the City Palace a discreet view of the outside world from its dozens of jalis. .
According to one version of events; this similarity is no coincidence. Pratap, the younger son of
Maharaja Madho Singh I of Jaipur and Princess Kundan Kunwar of Deogarh, came here as a child to escape the dangerous plottings of the nobility in Jaipur. And his decision to build the Hawa Mahal in 1799 is said to have been directly inspired by his happy memories spent at Deogarh.
The bar opening off this courtyard, is a former reception hall. It is hung with numerous. portraits, including those of Maharana Raj Singhji of Udaipur (1754-1761) on the left wall, Rawat Gokuldas ji II (see Room 210 below) on the left-hand side of the back wall and Rawat Ranjit Singh ji (see Room201) on the right wall.
There are also some interesting photographs here. On the left wall, top left is Sangram Singh ji II (see Room219) with his two sisters – looking exactly like three brothers, except that the girls are given away by their ankle bracelets. Bijay Singhji also appears bottom left, top right (with his staff) and bottom centre (with the two regents who were posted from Udaipur to “supervise” him when he overstepped the mark. On the right wall are two more photographs of Bijay Singh ji, top left and centre, and one of Sangram Singh ji, bottom centre.
A Hidden Treasury
Tucked away in the back left-hand corner of the bar is a small room(room no. 223) which was part of the “kapardara” (a room for keeping jewellery and clothes). But this is no ordinary closet. It contains what are thought to be the oldest paintings in the palace probably dating from around 1710-1720 in the reign of Sangram Singh ji I, no more than 50 years after the foundation of Deogarh.
There are scenes of hunting and elephant fights, court scenes and episodes from the Krishna Lila decorating the dado and upper walls. Close similarities have been noted between these arid the paintings inside the domes of the Jagmandir in Udaipur’s Lake Pichola suggesting that painters from the capital were commissioned to carry out this early work before the development of a more distinctive Deogarh school.
The Mardana Rooms
A narrow staircase to the left of the bar leads to an upper terrace and at the left hand end of this stands the Bada Mahal (literally “Big Palace”). It was the original “mardana” or men’s section of the palace and probably dates from the late 17th century. The windows in the central area now a delightful sitting room were originally open to the front courtyard far below. They were glazed much later by Bijay Singh ji, in the early twentieth century.
Through the doorway on the left is the dazzling Sheesh Mahal’ or Mirror Palace, The blaze of multi-coloured light from the stained glass windows is bounced from mirrored wall to mirrored wall with such exuberance that you might almost miss the more subtle presence of some miniature paintings from the Deogarh School, set into frames of yet more tinted glass.
One of these miniatures is a portrait of Anop.Singh ji, the son of Raghodas ji (see Room 215). Anop Singh ji died before he could inherit the throne himself but he is shown here hunting wild boar on horseback an activity that the Rajput aristocracy regarded as both excellent sport and an essential exercise for attaining equestrian proficiency.
Another painting shows the man who did succeed Raghodas ji – Anop Singh ji’s own son,
‘Gokuldasji II (see Room 210) – hunting sambhar deer at night. Gokuldasji II was not only one of , Deogarh’s greatest patrons, he was also one of its most enthusiastic portrait sitters. But then, he does seem to have had a particularly striking presence. Colonel Tod was a first-hand witness and described him vividly in his Annals and Antiquities of Rajasthan: “I knew him well. He’ stood six feet six inches, and was bulky in proportion. His limbs rivalled those of the Hercules Farnese. His father was nearly seven feet, and died at the early age of twenty-two, in a vain attempt to keep down, by regimen and medicine, his enormous bulk. “
‘Deogarh Miniature Painting
The Deogarh School was a breakaway from the major Mewar School in Udaipur. A saturation of artists in the capital encouraged some of them to strike out on their own in search of new patrons. In Deogarh, as in all of Rajasthan, their work was dominated by scenes from the private lives and court ceremonies of the ruling Rawats, with occasional sorties into territory such as the Krishna Lila for light relief
Inscriptions on the back of many of the paintings have enabled the majority to be identified with.
one particular family of artists Bagta who painted the miniature of Anop referred to above (active in Deogarh around 1769-1820); his son, Chokha to whom the miniature of Gokuldas ji II mentioned above is attributed (1770-1830) and Chokha’s son, Baijnath (1800-1845). Stylistic evidence suggests that the same artists may also have worked on some of the wall paintings
Outside and inside Room 210.
The decoration of the Sheesh Mahal( room 201 – Maharana suite) is much later than the building itself. A fragment of German newsprint from the 1850s, found on the back of one of mirror tiles at the time of its restoration, suggests that the room received this opulent decoration under Ranjit Singh ji (1847¬1867). And largely for that reason, Room 201 ‘Ranjit Prakash” – on the opposite side of the Bada Mahal, is dedicated to him, with his portrait hanging on the wall to the right of the bed.
Room 2 “Bijay Vihar” – honours the next Rawat but one, Bijay Singh ji (1900-1943). The room that is now the bedroom used to be an open arched “loggia” (glazed only at the time of the hotel conversion) where he used to bathe three times a day. He insisted on a hundred pitchers of
Water for each session and, when he travelled to Bihar for the wedding of his son, Sangram Singh, the journey took seven days because the train had to keep stopping for each of his extended, thrice-daily ablutions. The room that is now the bathroom was used by Bijay Singh ji for his early morning prayers to the rising sun which makes his installation of the railway-style sash windows and matching washbasin all the more incongruous.
Rawat Bijay Singh ji
For all his devotion to washing and prayer, Bijay Singh ji was in many ways quite westernised. He showed little more inclination to co-operate with the British than his opposite numbers in Udaipur but he was nonetheless the first of the family to travel to Europe, where he learned the love of trains that is so eccentrically reflected in the decor of Room 2’s bathroom.
Much as he loved trains, he loved the Deogarh lake rather more and he did not want to see the projected new Udaipur to Jodhpur railway line (1925-1930) going straight across the dam at the end of it. Fortunately the aptly named Mr. Iron who was all set to build it there, happened tQ be enormously keen to shoot a panther. By facilitating the fulfillment of this ambition, Bijay Singh ji was able to secure a satisfactory kink in the line – which is why Deogarh’s sleepy little station lies a few kilo metres from the town today. ¬
Bijay Singh ji was all engaging- eccentricity, which sometimes filtered through to his administration of justice. On one occasion he demanded that a convicted thief return the gold coins that he had stolen. Bijay Singh ji was not interested in just any Gold Coins, He was more keen to get the precise stolen coins as that would have been completed justice. But the man failed to comply because he had already melted them down.
Bijay Singh ji was fond of Country side camping hence the Iarge assortment of foldlng furniture scattered around the hotel.
Next door to Bijay Singhji’s centre of ritual bathing and prayer was the family temple, now Room 203 ‘Jogmaya”. The name is a general word for goddess and the room is in fact still used
as a temple dedicated to the family’s particular deity, the goddess Bann Mata (a local manifestation of Durga, the goddess of power – so essential to the success of any Rajput family’s endeavours). Behind a pair of carved wooden doors , there is a tiny alcove and in this a small shrine where the goddess is represented symbolically by a trident with nine dots. Apparently, a priest still attends here every day .
Just outside the temple room, is an arched area where lunch is sometimes served to small numbers of guests. This was a late addition to this upper courtyard – built as a study area for the young Nahar Singh ji II, when he was at school. The open terrace beyond provides an excellent view of the t9wn below, the Ragho Sagar lake beyond and the old Gokul Garh fort on the far side – one of five built in about 1810 by Rawat Gokuldas ji II to defend the town against raids from the marauding Maratha armies .
On the other side of this upper courtyard are Rooms 204 and205, built considerably later than those in the Bada Mahal. Room 204 “Nahar Niwas” is certainly old enough to have been occupied by Rawat Nahar Singh ji I (1821-1847), the heir adopted from another Sangawat family in Sangramgarh to succeed Rawat Gokuldas II who had no son of his own but in fact it has always served as guest accommodation. ‘.
Perhaps most illustriously it accommodated Maharana Bhopal Singh ji of Udaipur. The double doors-opening outwards from the raised sitting area give onto the metal walkway that you may have noticed, clinging to the south-east corner of the central courtyard. This crude triangular bridge was specially adapted to enable the crippled Maharana’s wheelchair to be carried up here when he visited Deogarh. (There was originally a separate metal staircase as well because the stone stairway leading up here today was too narrow.)
Room205 Anop Vihar” next door is dedicated to the heir that Rawat Kishan Singh (see Room.206) was forced to adopt after the poisoning of his own son Jaswant Singhji (see Room 211). Pratap Singh, the adoptee, came once again from the thikana of Sangramgarh. . He was always known by the more flattering name of Anop (meaning “incomparable”) but that incomparability was never really put to the test because Anop Singhji like his namesake a century earlier – also died prematurely before he could inherit. the throne. In fact he died of an illness that was sufficiently mysterious to give rise to rumours that poison must have been poured again. But at least he had produced a son of his own and it was that son who, on Rawat Kishan Singhji’s death, finally stepped forward as Rawat Bijay Singh .
The heart of the palace
Anop Singhji’s adoptive father, Kishan Singhji (1867-1900) is himself commemorated by Room 206 -“Kishan Kunj”. Kishan Singhji pictured here in a couple of photographs seems to have been a colourful man with several wives and numerous concubines. But he was also a great devotee of Lord Krishna and this is reflected in the decoration of this room, with various paintings of Lord Krishna and even a canopied ceiling of stars to evoke Kishan Singhji’s favourite deity. The room was never a bedroom in his own day, however. It was originally a broad passage, leading behind the “Hawa Mahal” look-alike. The room incorporates some of the few small ” jali ” windows that survive from this, with other original stained glass windows on the opposite side. It also enjoys the benefit of a small private terrace.
Close by we find a smaller room – Room 207 “Soovatiyo” which means “parrot” in Rajsthani. It is the room where Rawat Nahar Singh II and others played as children and more relevantly where they kept their pet parrots. There are no parrots here to share your conversation today but, to honour those that chattered here before you, a parrot motif has been delicately reflected. not only in the wall-paintings but even in the supports for the curtain poles. .
Room 208 “Laxmi Tibari” is named after Rawat Bijay Singhji’s daughter, Laxmi Kumari. Although she received very little formal education, she has written around 30 books all in Rajasthani and many of them dealing with Rajasthani folklore. She also came out of purdah to contest the local government seat in India’s first democratic elections in 1952 and, although she lost this, she won the next five for the Congress Party. More recently, she was nominated to serve in the Rajya Sabha, the upper house of the central government.
Opening off the bar, is Room 210 “Gokul Ajara” – named after Rawat Gokuldas ji II (1786-1821). Above the door is a wall painting with his own portrait on the centre left and that of his contemporary, Maharana Bhim Singh ji of Udaipur on the centre right. (Note that, although the Maharana is given the halo that befits the man enjoying sovereign power, Gokuldas ji is given the markedly superior stature that befits the man paying the artist’s fee.) The
figure on the far left represents his grandfather, Raghodas (see Room 215), while that on the far right is his great-grandfather, Jaswant Singh ji (1737-1’776). In the very centre, are the fIgures of . Krishna and Radha.
Rawat Gokul das ji II
In many ways, the reign of Gokuldas ji marks Deogarh’s heyday. Unlike Maharana Bhim Singh and many other members of the Mewar nobility who seem to have been reduced to beggary by the Maratha raids, Gokuldas ji seems to have successfully resisted the ‘Marathas and led Deogarh through a period of considerable prosperity. The five defensive forts that he built around the town must have done the trick!
His reign was also the peripd when many of the finest parts of the palace were built, along with the small summer palace on the lake side, known as (Gokul Vilas where the present Rawat has resided, since moving out of the palace in 1968. Although the summerhouse was substantially extended during the British period, the palace itself – with the exception of the large reception hall (Room 223) – saw very little fashion-conscious modification under British influence. The integrity of its original style has thus survived significantly more than in many other palaces in Rajasthan.
Probably built at the end of Rawat Gokuldas’s reign, the room has some of the most refined decoration in the palace. A low dado of richly coloured elephant processions skirts the room at floor level, whilst the walls Shimmer with delicate plant motifs created with inlaid reflective glass.
But perhaps not quite as striking as the ceiling to be found in Room 211 ‘Jaswant Niwas” – The suite is often referred to as the Crown Prince’s Room because it
was used for a number of generations as the private apartment of the heir apparent.
The particular Crown Prince after whom it is named was Jaswant Singhji, the son of Rawat Kishan Singhji (see Room 211). Unfortunately he had done that which no father-fearing young Rajput was supposed to do. He had married for love against his father wishes. The bride was Ajab Kunwar, a princess from Badnore – another of the Mewar thikanas – and a perfectly respectable consort for the future Rawat. But Kishan Singh ji and his courtiers had planned a more prestigious alliance with the daughter of Jodhpur’s Sir Pratap.
A plot was hatched to poison the bride and thus restore Jaswant Singhji’s eligibility. The instigators of the plot appear to have been Jaswant Singhji’s stepmothers and the manager of the Deogarh estate rather than Kishan Singhji’s himself. But whoever may or may not have been implicated, the plan misfired. In the best of melodramatic traditions, Jaswant Singhji’s arrived unexpectedly just as his wife was making a start on the poisoned food and helped himself to a fatal portion of his own.
Against which background, it may seem ironic that the room is so often allocated to newly-weds on their honeymoon. But maybe the secret lies in that ceiling. Because not only are each of the bedroom, sitting room and bathroom ceilings flamboyantly mirrored, but the one in the bedroom is also bordered with a frieze of vividly etched erotic drawings showing a generous assortment of copulating couples, both human and animal!
In contrast with all of this, the more restrained elegance of Room 212 “Ajab Ovary” immediately underneath and of almost identical size – seems positively chaste. But somehow, that seems appropriate to the room that commemorates Jaswant Singhji’s innocent and ill-fated bride.
Rooms 214 and 215 are located on the south Side of the palace, a floor below the level of the central courtyard and thus clearly some of the older rooms in the palace. They share a shaded terrace, with a swing and a curtained window seat overlooking one of the gardens. Together they are dedicated to Rawat Raghodasji (1776-1786) and his wife. Raghodasji’s major contribution to life in Deogarh was the making of the lakel-the RaghoSagar that bears his name – a project financed with money paid on the marriage of his sister, Kundan Kunwarto the Maharaja of Jaipur (see Room 218).
Room 214 “Medtaniji Ko mahal”. is named after Raghodasji’s wife. It has numerous old wall paintings, discovered beneath many layers of whitewash at the time of the room’s restoration. The best-preserved are those of the low dado at floor level, with various lively scenes of pigsticking, elephant fights and the like. Room 215 “Ragho Revas” with a similar dado, albeit slightly less well-preserved, is named after Raghodas ji himself.
Also on this same level is Room 216 “Dwarka Chopaad” with another shaded terrace looking down onto the garden. It is named after Dwarkadasji, the Rawat who founded the present town in 1670.
In the back right-hand corner of the central courtyard, you will find Rooms 217 and 218 which.
were used together as private apartments by Rawat Nahar Singh II and his new wife, Rani Bhooratna Prabh’a Kumari when they were first married. But both of these rooms are named after brides who married out of rather than into the Deogarh dynasty. Room 217 “Shringar Ovary” commemorates Shringar Kunwar, the daughter of Gokuldas II (see Room 210) who. married Maharao Kishore Singh of Kota, while Room 218 “Kundan Kunj” honours Kundan Kunwar.
. KundanKunwar was the daughter of Rawat Jaswant Singh and sister of Raghodas. She secured huge prestige for Deogarh when she married Maharaja Madho Singh ji of Jaipur. When Madho died in 1768, she assumed the role of regent to his successor, their five year-old son Prithvi Singh. When Prithvi was killed in a riding accident in 1778, his younger brother, Pratap Singh succeeded him, aged 14.
A wrought iron gallery leads along the western side of the central courtyard at first floor level and the first of the rooms encountered here is Room 219 “Sangram Sadan” – the room where Rawat Sangram Singh (1943-1965) lived throughout his adult life. The niches on the side used to open directly into the Durbar Hall next door.
Rawat Sangram Singh ji
Rawat Sangram Singh ji was a much more impressive ruler than his father. Where Bijay Singhji often seems to have lived rather remote from reality, Sangram Singh ji appears to have been exceptionally focussed and clear thinking on all matters legal, administrative and financial. He was also determined to reject many of his father’s westernised ways. He did away with the use of cutlery, took down the palace’s European chandeliers and, sitting cross-legged on cushions, always spurned the quintessentially western use of chairs.
His simple lifestyle may not quite have reached Gandhian austerity but he was, nonetheless, a great supporter of the Gandhi movement and made it a gift of one of Deogarh’s five forts. He was also a staunch supporter of the Congress Party after Independence and personally won two electionsfor them.
Sangram Singh ji married Krishna Kumari, the daughter of the Maharaja of Dumrao in Bihar and Room2 20 “Krishna Vihar” is where she lived throughout her marriage. Like Room 219. , it has blocked-off niches which once gave directly onto the Durbar Hall next door.
Immediately above the Krishna Vihar is Room 221 “Hawa Mahal”. The name means “Wind . Palace”, reflecting the fact that the .room was originally open to the sky, for sleeping on hot summer nights. The reciprocal room, above the Sangram Sadan, is Room2 22 “Badal Mahal”, meaning “Cloud Palace”. The spacious private terrace outside offers one of the palace’s best views of the surrounding landscape and it has always come into its own in the rainy season. The whole family used to migrate to this terrace to enjoy the dramatic skies, eating and sleeping there until the start of the rains drove them inside, where they could continue to watch the storms from this room.
Both rooms have further blocked-off niches where windows used to look down onto the elegant sitting room that is now the sitting room. This room , a large two-storey-high reception room was used for ceremonial functions and dances. The large oil paintings on the left are portraits of Rawat Bijay Singh ji and his young son, Sangram Singh ji. The canvases facing them are two of the Maharanas of Udaipur, Bhopal Singh ji on the right and Fateh Singhji.
The next few rooms (Room 229, 230, 231, and 232) are part of the Garden wing. The luscious Gulmohar Tree (called Flame of the forest, in America) contrasts beautifully with the rugged Fort walls. This secluded part of the fort at the back was part of the Zenana or ladies section and they could enjoy their freedom here. A shrouded coach would come up to the little ramp to the right of the main Mahal entrance on the ground level.The ladies in purdah would use this winding gate to enter the Derar (ladies temple) area and then on to the garden wing. At the far end, near the corner of the wall is a gate which was a secret passage to help the women and children escape in the event of a siege, via a under-ground tunnel which connected to the little red fortress one sees from the terraces. The newly constructed village houses have built their foundations into the tunnel and so it no longer exists. The garden wing is ideal for families with little children, as there is ample space to play and protection all around.
One of the most beautiful and striking things that is noticeable as you enter Rajasthan is the abundance of colours. Since nature provided the state with sand rock and barren landscapes, the resillent people contrast it with various shades of colours. The next two rooms No.233 Keseria Mahal (Saffron Palace) and No 234 Kasumal Mahal (Magentha Palace) reflect the colours of valour and bravery, two very significant attributes of Rajputs. Kesaria turbans were worn at the time of battle and Kasumal was generally at the time of rejoicing.Even now saffron turbans can be seen worn on proud heads. Happily married women too would be prominent in their shades of red, saffron and pink, also known as shades of the Queen.
It was a common practice for the rurals in India, as well as in other countries to have more than one wife. This was generally to maintain peace and friendly relationship in the area through marriage alliances. This system was agreeable all around, untill the time of naming the next heir to the throne. It was usualy then that jealousy raised its ugly head.
Rawat Jaswant Singh ji had two wives, who were expecting at the same time. The younger wife was obviously the favorite, and the amazing fore sight she choose her apartments next to that of the Rawat. As fortune would have it, Both wives were blassed with sons, on the same day, with the elder wife delivering earlier. But since the yonger wife had her room closer, it was her child that Jaswant Singh ji saw first, and so Ragho Das ji ( the younger wife’s son) was proclaimed the heir apparent, while Gopal Dasji (the elder son) was adopted to Karera. Room No. 235, 236 and 237 have been named after Rawat Jaswant Singh ji and his wives.
Jaswant Singh ji had two sons, from two separate wives, Ragho Das ji (the elder, who ascended the Deogarh throne) and Gopal Das ji who was given the territory of Karera to preside over. Room 248 is dedicated to him. Gopal Das ji was very close to the Jaipur palace as his sister, Kundan Kumari, was married to Maharaja Sawai Madho Singh of Jaipur, and was given the title of Raja Bahadur by the Maharaja.
Gopal Das ji was a cultured and skilful craftsman. There are paintings of him playing the tamboura (string instrument) in a prayer, and also some showing him at work using his personal collection of wood and metal working tools. His interests and hobbies would have made him a rather unusual (and respected) patron of the arts in his circle.
Another Rajput passion was shikar as it was a way to be prepared for battle at all times. The Machan (Room no. 238) is decorated like a tent in dedication to those days when hunting was done in an honorable manner, with a complete sense of understanding of preservation of wildlife. It is an oft related story that the Raja’s and the rulers killed indiscriminately, but that is myth as at the time of independence/handing over of power from the Raja’s to the people’s Govt, there were 44,000 tigers in the country which later dwindled to a mere 2000. Now with efforts at conservation, the figures are up again at 4000 tigers, when last surveyed. Each Rular would protect the wildlife in his own aera and prevent poaching. The Ruler too would only shoot male tigers above a certain age and never kill females or cubs and young ones. None of the nobles under a ruler were allowed to shoot without permission of the over lord. There were rules for conservation of the flora also. In the room there are the photographs of these shikar days.
Room 239, 240, 241, 242 and 244 are called the temple wings as the rooms are situated around the Shrinath ji (Lord Krishna) temple. Individually they have all been named in connection with the Lord. Udhav Kuteer (Room 239) has been named after Lord Krishna’s very close friend Udhav, who consold the Gopis (village belles) as they were full of remorse after Krishna left for Mathura, to secure peace in the region from the evil rular Kans. Radhika Raman (Room 240) has been named after Lord Krishna’s favorite consort Ridhika, and as the name suggest he was totally enchanted by her. One hopes the magic of enchantment lingers on for the couples occupying this pretty suite. She helped Lord Krishna rule the kingdom of Dwaraka with great gentleness, and the wall frescoes pay tribute to the beautiful friendship that they shared.
NOTE ON SHRINATH JI
The story of Shrinath ji starts in the early 16” century A.D. with the advent of Ballabhacharya, a Vaishnav Brahman of Andhra. Legend has it that he was guided by divine inspriation to the spot where the present swaroop of Shrinathji lay on Mt. Goverdhan in Braj. Ballabhacharya had two sons, and it was the younger son Vittaleshwar who further codified the seva pooja (method of worship) of Shrinathji. The swaroop of Shrinath ji shows Lord Krishna as a young boy of seven years. To the devotee he is a living divine child, who does not reside in a temple, but infact in a beautiful haveli with trappings of royalty. There are eight darshans of the lord, where devotees can offers prayers.
Flowers and jewels adorn the lord. Behind him hangs the pichwai, a beautiful back curtain which changes according to time and season. The famous large diamond sparkling in Shrinath ji’s chin is said to be offered by Emperor Akbar, and a such grants were continued by Jahangir and Shah Jahan. But with the advent of Aurangzeb’s reign and growing intolerance towards Hinduism, the decision for Shrinath ji to leave Braj area was taken. The Lords entourage left Braj quietly on 18 September 1670 A.D. southwards to Rajasthan. But there was no sureity of the safety . The entourage seeked sanctuary under Maharaja Raj Singh ji of Mewar. However as the chariot carrying Shrinath ji was on its way to Udaipur, it got stuck at Nathdwara, where it now stands. All efforts to dislodge the chariot were unsuccessful, and seeing this as the Lords wish to reside here itself, , it was taken to be the final abode of Shrinath ji. A haveli was soon built at the spot and the image was installed on 10 February 1672 A D. In time a village grew around this holy spot which came to be known as ‘Nathdwara’- the gateway to the Lord. Nathdwara is 80 km from Deogarh en route to Udaipur. The swaroops have been enshrined at various centres. Mathureshji at Kota, Vittalnathji at Nathdwara, Dwarkadhishji at Kankroli, Gokulnathji at Gokul, Gokalchandramaji at Kaman, Balkrishnaji at Surat, and Madanmohanji at Kaman also.
Room No 241 has been named after the village of Barsana, the birthplace of Radhika, near Brindawan across the river Yamuna where Shri Krishna grew up. This room has an interesting floor with designs of glass bangles. One of the doors leads to a private balcony over-looking the swimming pool. Another door leads down to the remaining rooms of the temple wing. #242 Parikrama is a part of the original corridor encircling the temple. ”Parikrama’ is the custom of going around the deity in order to gain strength and blessings from the residing deity. Shriji Gokhra (No. 244) is the room facing the temple. The covered balcony (gokhra) is aptly named as from here one can get a direct darshan (viewing) to the temple and seek the Lords blessings. This was the original guest room used for noble men and Thakurs under Deogarh Rule.
Room No. 243 Madho Mahal has been named after its original occupant Shri Madho ji the valiant son of the Rawat Gokul Das ji I (1641-1659). Many of the Deogarh Rawats had lost their lives fighting the fearful tribals who caused consistent unrest in Deogarh. Shri Madho ji vowed to avenge the family by killing atleast one of the tribesmen daily Madho ji thus helped to bring peace in Deogarh by ridding the area of troublesome elements, and even brought he revenue up to 9 Lakh rupees (0.9 million), a sizeable sum at the time.
The story goes that one day Madho ji was about to take a man’s life when a lady went up to him, pleading for that mans life to be spared as he would be her seventh husband that Madhoji would be beheading. The ever-forgiving Madhoji had a red cloth tied to the mans shoulder so that he would be able to identify the man and spare his life, in the future Thereafter anyone with a red cloth patch tied to his shoulder or her saree would be spared and treated kindly as this became a mark of acceptance of Deogarh rule.
Madhoji was a man of honour, and honour was more important than family. As Madhoji was not sure if his sons would be able to carry forward his name, he decided not to have any children at all. He took the advice of the pundits, who recommended that should he have a shivling (symbol of Shiva) removed from one place to another and he would be spared the pain of having irresponsible sons, and have no children at all. Madho ji had a shivling from Bassi removed to a place just below the Fort, near the present bus stand. There he built a beautiful temple and Baori (step well). The legend goes that if any one with skin dIsease has a bath in this Baori, he will miraculously get cured.
Indian culture is a melting pot full of traditions, history and mythology. It is through this amazing universe of myths and legends and historical facts that we base our beliefs. And it is to our painters and historians that we must give credit. Therefore, below the dining area, the rooms of the Chitrashala, (art gallery) are dedicated to the artists who helped keep our culture alive, through their art.
Ganesh Gokra, (249) has beautifully carved stone arches of the Mughal era. The room has an idol of Ganesh, the most benevolent and easiest to please of all Indian Gods.
According to the Shiva Purana, Ganesh was created by Parvati, Lord Shiva’s wife, to stand guard and make sure no one disturbed her during her bath. No one. So when Lord Shiva returned home and went in search of his wife, he found a young boy barring his way. This annoyed him and without a second thought Shiva cut the boys head off. When Parvati realized what had happened she was furious and refused to listen to her husband’s apologies, and would only forgive him if he brought her son back to life. To avoid his woman’s wrath Shiva found a young elephant with one tusk and placed his head on that of the boy’s, and named him Ganesha.
The next two rooms are twin rooms with a deck area, over looking the garage . Both rooms also have Mughal arches with dainty carvings. These arches are so delicate that one wonders how they were created without impairment. These rooms are furnished in true Rajput colours of saffron and red. The sitting area in Nala Damayanti (250) has Raja Ravi Verma’s beautiful painting of Goddess Saraswati, who is the Hindu goddess of speech, and represents the union of power and intelligence from which organized creation arises. Saraswati possesses all the learning of the Vedas, scriptures, dances, music and poetry. Her origin is the lost river Saraswati. This is the source of her profound connection to fluidity in any aspect (water, speech, art, though). She is wisdom, fortune, splendour and devotion. The river flowed in the 3rd and 4th Millennium BC, from the Gulf of Khambat (Lothal) justify through the Marusthali desert (one of the largest deserts in the world), up to Mathura. An extensive civilization lived along its banks. Although considered part of the Indus Valley Civilization, they did have different customs. All the sacrifices and worship practices were primarily done on the banks of this river, and is known as the “mother of all rivers”. The drying up of River Saraswati in many ways was the turning point and is noted in the Upanishads. The mythological story states that the Gods wanted “fire” to be transported to the sea, and they requested River Saraswati to do this task. To do this the river had to gather all her waters and hence the land was left dry. In this event, Saraswati was enhanced from a sacred river, to a Goddess.
Most of Raja Ravi Verma’s works depict scenes of Ramayana and of Mahabharata, the longest epic of the world, which has about 100,000 verses. Most of his paintings are centered on the five brothers (Pandavas) and their wife Draupadi. The Pandavas were living in the forest for 12 years, banished from their kingdom by their cousins, and during those years they protected Rishis (holy sages) from evil spirits that would have ruined their prayers and rituals. In return, the sages would educate the Pandavas with their spiritual knowledge and stories. One such story is that of Nala Damayanti and Raja Ravi Verma has captured it beautifully. Nala was one of the sathchakravartias (seven great emperors) in Hindu mythology. He was king of Nishadh kingdom. Nala was chosen by the most lovely Damayanti as her husband in the ‘swayamvar” (the bride chooses her own husband from amongst the invitees present) in preference to even the Gods who had come to marry her. The King of Swans was instrumental in their alliance. Everyone was happy with the choice and blessed the couple except Kali, (the evil one) who vowed to take revenge by diverting Nala from the path of righteousness and thus separating the couple. However such was the purity of Nala that it took Kali 7 years to find a single fault in him, and bring him under the influence of gambling, in which Nala lost all his wealth and kingdom. But by remaining on the righteousnes path he managed to regain his kingdom. Nala and Damayanti were reunited and lived happily thereafter.
In the same room is an alluring painting of Arjun (the 3rd Pandava brother) and his beloved Subhadra (Lord Krishna’s sister), before their marriage. The two had fallen in love although Subhadra was to be engaged to another king, and her eldest brother (Balram), who was a stickler for rules, would never hear of it, even though the rest of her family was joyous. So one day, when Balram had gone for his full day prayer, a plot was hatched, and with Krishna’s blessings the two of them decided to elope. However, it was the bride who drove the chariot away and not the groom, to avoid later complications of whether Subhadra had consented or was taken against her will, in which case a battle would have had to commence. When Balram returned, and found his little sister missing, he was livid with Arjun, but on learning that it was his sister who had driven away the chariot, he had to relent.
The second of the twin rooms Krishna Kunj (251), is bathed in saffron and gold. Its stone arches are also delicate and refined. The bathrooms in both these rooms are luxurious in size and fittings.
The sitting room boasts of two beautiful paintings on Shri Krishna’s life, and one on a compelling love story. The large painting of Kans and Maya (divine Jogmaya), is based around Krishna’s birth. According to Krishna Purana, Kans was an evil king of Mathura who had overthrown his father and imprisoned him. His atrocities drove the Lord Vishnu to incarnate for the 8th time as Krishna. Kans’s dearest cousin was married to Vasudeva, his friend. However an oracle foretold Kans that Devaki’s 8th child would be responsible for his death. An enraged Kans had them locked in prison and killed each child that Devaki bore. He had killed 6 of them at their birth by smashing them on the prison stone walls, but the 7th child was transferred to Rohini, another wife of Vasudeva, leading Kans to believe that Devaki had had a miscarriage. At midnight on the birth of the 8th child, the guards fell asleep and the prison doors automatically opened. Vasudeva, as instructed by a heavenly voice, took his new born son and replaced him in the crib of his sister’s newborn daughter. As soon as he returned to the prison with the baby girl, the guards woke up and the locks bolted. The sound of a baby brought Kans to the prison, and as he was about to smash the little girl, she, Maya, rose towards the sky, and warned Kans that the one responsible for his death was alive and safe. Thus saying, she flew to heaven.
Krishna grew up safe, killed his evil uncle and restored the throne to his grandfather. During his childhood Krishna was the darling of the village. He endeared himself to all the elders and especially to the young maidens. Madhav (Krishna) had everyone swooning and dancing to his enrapturing flute melodies. Madhav is available in any manner or form to his devotees. Many gopis (maidens), wanted to be his beloved, but it is the divine love of Radha – Madhav, (depicted in the smaller painting), that many songs and hymns have their derivation.
The painting of a lovely lady sitting in the forest and writing a letter to her husband is that of Shakuntala, the daughter of sage Vishwamitra and the celestial maiden Menaka, who was sent by the lord of heaven to enchant the sage and break his tapa (prayer). Once her work was done Menaka returned to heaven and left the sage with their daughter Shakuntala. But he had to return to his prayers and so Shakuntala was brought up by Karva, the head of the ashram in the forest. She was well looked after well educated. Shakuntala grew into an exquisite beauty and had plenty of forest friends.
One day King Dushyant was riding through the forest when he happened to chance upon a beautiful girl playing with deer and birds. He instantly fell in love with Shakuntala. Soon they were secretly married with only Shakuntala’s few close friends as witnesses. The king had to leave soon after as there were matters needing his attention, but he promised to call for Shakuntala as soon as he reached his palace and left his ring as a token of remembrance. However the king got caught up in various affairs and days turned to months. One day while Shakuntala was dreaming of her husband, a sage came to ask for alms, but she was so deep in her thoughts that she did not hear the sage. The enraged sage cursed Shakuntala that whoever she was remembering would never remember her. However, when the sage heard her story, he relented, and amended his curse, saying that if she showed the ring to her husband, he would remember her. Shakuntala decided to go to the palace, with Karva and her friends. She started to get ready her journey, but while washing in the river her ring slipped off without her knowledge, and when they arrived at the palace she found her husband had forgotten her completely, and she had no ring to remind him with. A heart broken Shakuntala returned to the forest and their child. He was named Bharat, and grew up to be a handsome boy with skills in archery, reading, riding etc.
Meanwhile king Dushyant was pining for something that even he could not understand. He attended to the workings in the kingdom but was always missing something. One day a fisherman caught a huge fish, and amazed at its size, decided it would only be fit for a king. So he gave it to the palace cook, who started carving it immediately. To his surprise he saw the king’s ring in the stomach of the fish, and knowing he would be well rewarded he rushed to show him. On seeing his ring, the king recalled every detail of his days at the forest, and of his dearest wife Shakuntala, and lost no more time in bringing his beloved, and their son Bharat, home. Their son grew up to be a strong and intelligent man, and India is also called Bharat in honour of him.
Many of the paintings depict scenes from the life of the five Pandav brothers. And in the bed room, there is an exceptionally beautiful one. After losing a game of dice, to their cousins, the Pandavas were banished to the forest for 12 years. When the 12 years were completed, one year of incognito exile had to be spent. The brothers and their wife Draupadi, decided to spend the last year at the court of king Virata, the king of Matsya. Each brother disguised himself as a staff in the palace. One was a counsellor, the others a cook, a dance teacher, a horse in charge and lastly a cowherd. Draupadi became the Queen’s maid and changed her name to Sairandhri. Ten months passed without any problems, till one day, the Queen’s evil and perpetually drunk brother, Kichak, fell in love with Sairandhri. She, naturally, was least interested, and repelled by his advances. But when matters got out of hand, she went to complain to her strongest husband, Bhim, who advised her to set up a meeting at midnight. Bhim lay in wait for the scoundrel to appear and killed him by crushing him with his arms. Sairandhri was saved, but the news of Kichaks death reached the evil cousins, who immediately realized that such strength could only belong to Bhim. The final year of incognito would have been a failure, but with some cunning strategy they managed to last out the remaining months, but that’s another story!
In the next room, Nagaarkhana (252), there are some more stone arches belonging to the Mughal era, ingeniously designed to frame the dressing room mirrors. It is in this room that the drums of festivities and also battle would be stored. They would then be taken to the top terrace, (253) and sounded out for the whole village to hear. Nagaarkhana has a charming painting of the radiant Goddess Ganga standing in her waters, with her son Devrath, arguably the back bone behind the epic Mahabharata. As legend goes, one day king Shantanu, the ruler of Hastinapur, felt thirsty while hunting. As he stopped to drink at the river, he chanced upon a beautiful damsel. She was so radiant that he decided he had to marry her. The maiden agreed but with one request, that no matter what she did he would never question her motives. Shantanu could not imagine this maiden attempting anything ghastly and hence agreed to her demands. However, every year his bride bore him a child, and then she would go to the same river and drown them. The mortified king dared not show his grief or complain least he loose his otherwise most perfect soul mate. But when his 8th child, a son, was being taken to the river he could no longer stay quiet and complained to his wife about her horrifying cruelty, and pleaded that she gave him his son back. His wife turned and tearfully smiled at the king. She explained that she was indeed the Goddess Ganga, the river, and she was actually sending the children to salvation (moksh).However, now that the king had broken his promise, she would have to leave him and bring up their son (Devrath) in the forest. And he did grow up to be a most pious, brave and respected person.
Chitrashala Wing or the Artists’ Wing
The miniature paintings of Deogarh are a highly distinctive art form. Many chiefs employed a painter to decorate walls, make illustrations for religious texts and to record the personalities and events of court life. Politically as well as in their artistic interests, the Deogarh rulers maintained considerable independence for themselves. In the 1760`s when Rawat Jaswant Singhji (1734-1776) developed a sustained interest in paintings, he hired the artist Bagta ,whose earlier works had been made for the Udaipur Maharana Just as the political world of Deogarh was defined by events at the Maharanas court, its cultural character too was determined by the standards set at Udaipur. In the mid-eighteenth century, paintings at the capital were working within well-organized studios with imposing traditions of style and workmanship for the Mewar rulers had a long history of artistic patronage. But the most interesting and original workmanship often appeared in outlying areas where artists and patrons were less inhibited by expectations or by long established traditions . This is particularly true of Deogarh. It has been noted that 1769 was not a good year for the Maharana of Udaipur with his defeat at Ksipra by the rebellious Chundawat nobles and the subsequent six month siege of Udaipur by the Marathas. It was probably at this time that Bagta effected a change of patron .
The four most prominent artists at Deogarh have been brilliantly documented in Rawat NaharSinghji 11 book on the Deogarh school of paintings. The Chitrashala wing has a room dedicated to each of these artists: Bagta, his two sons Chokha and Kavala and Chohka’s son Baijnath. Copies of their works adorn the walls and given below are excerpts from the book on these painters who flourished under the Deogarh Rawats’ patronage at the time.
Room 254 – The artist Bagta (around 1769-1820)
That Bagta had aspirations and talents beyond the tight restrictions of the codified Udaipur court style, however, is shown by Kunwar Anop Singhji Hunting Boar. According to an inscription, it was painted in 1769 and the patron was no longer an Udaipur Maharana. Bagta left Udaipur to work for one of the nobles of Ari Singhjis court Rawat Jaswant Singh ji of Deogarh. The picture of Kunwar Anop Singhji Hunting Boar shows an artistic energy and a technical bravado nowhere apparent in the finely painted, but relatively routine works which Bagta executed at Udaipur.
Bagta and his second son Chokha, produced the most brilliant paintings made anywhere in Rajasthan in the early nineteenth century. Whereas Bagta’s earlier works showed complicated, often densely rich compositions, the painting of Rawat Gokuldasji with a falcon is a work of seeming simplicity, in which the touch of the artist is more prominent and expressive than the disposition of forms.
Room no 253 – The artist Baijnath (1800-1845).
Chokha’s son Baijnath succeeded his father as the court painter. Bagta was still alive in 1822 when he was presented a painting by his grandson. The then young ruler, Rawat Nahar Singh 1st
(1821-47) who was adopted from Sangramgarh, had wanted a painter of his own, and not simply a man who had worked for his predecessor. Then Baijnath – who must have been approximately his age – was the ideal choice. It was probably at this time that Bagta effected a change of patron.
Baijnaths style lacked an observance of human mannerisms as compared to his father Chokha. But he quickly learned his trade and in the painting of Rawat Nahar Singh 1st with Champawatji, he has developed a mature style and shares a love of bjustify colours and patterns.
Baijnaths first known painting, a courtbeauty repeated a popular motif. A panel on the walls of Moti Mahal(room 228) in Deogarh Mahal was a part of decorations which according to palace records, were commissioned from Baijnath. Rawat Nahar Singh 1 seems to be an interested patron of painting from the time of accession, and his support must have played a part in the steadily increasing maturity and distinctiveness of Baijnaths style.
Following Rawat Nahar Singh’s death in 1847 and the accession of Rawat Ranjit Singhji(1847-1867), there was only occasional painting at Deogarh. Rawat Ranjit Singhji in a Gangaur procession by Baijnath painted in 1850 is the last known illustration by the artist. While the composition delineates the main events of the narrative, the individual detail shows none of the precision and care seen in Baijnath’s paintings two decades earlier.
Room No. 256 – The artist Chokha(1770-1830)
The early years of Chokha’s career were spent in Udaipur, as there was no interest in hiring another painter in Deogarh at the time. Chokhas composition is more densely packed with figures and landscape details, which was different from his father, Bagtas style. And while the elder Bagta seldom repeated himself, the compositional format of an equestrian ruler led and followed by attendants on foot, was quickly taken over by Chokha (as well as other Udaipur painters) who adapted and used it repeatedly over many years.
Around 1811, it seems Chokha again like his father, left the employ of the Maharana, and over the next few years gradually took over his fathers’ diminishing role as a court painter to the Deogarh Rawats. Bagta had been painting for more than 50 years. Chokha’s primary subject now is Rawat Gokul Dasji and his style in general quickly becomes bolder and less constrained as depicted in the paintings of Rawat Gokul Dasji and his courtiers playing Holi. While Chokhas earlier paintings fit into the Udaipur court style with its vivid reds, blues, yellow and whites; his initial portraits of Gokul Dasji employ a darker paette closer to that of his father. The paintings also depict the Rawat as a massive figure confirming Col.Tod’s description of him. Chokha’s move to Deogarh seems to have endowed him with an artistic energy where the stark, angular, dark forms tonal shading and trees at the top of the wild horses seem to be a major expressive element.
In many ways, the reign of Gokuldas ji marks Deogarh’s heyday. Having successfully repelled the Maratha invasion, there was time for art to flourish
Room No. 255 – TheArtist Kavala
Bagta’s son Kavala’s earliest noted inscription was on the reverse of a portrait, of Rawat Ragho Dasji riding, in 1778. The style is very close to that of Bagta, for example, he repeats the witty composition of Bagta’s equestrian portrait where one attendant is indicated only by legs seen behind the front legs of the horse while the other is barely visible behind the animal’s rump. Rawat Ragho Das in procession, inscribed to Kavala and dated 1783, is quite astonishingly similar to such later works by the same artist as Thakur Jait Singh of Badnore Hunting Boar, inscribed with Kavala’s name and inscribed 1813.
The formula for the landscape, the un-modulated flatness of the textile patterns, and the cartoon-like sharply silhouetted forms of the horses and human fingers are identically conceived.
The paintings of Rawat Ragho Das in procession by Kavala also depicts the clothing of hierarchically important figures emphasized by the heaviness and layering of the fabric and the clothing of the attendant figures is treated with a simplicity of line which denies them equivalent weight and substance
Sarva Ritu Vilas
This portion of the palace with 6 suites is named after the different seasons (Ritu) in the Indian calendar ; with each room being named after one of the seasons. Originally this portion of the palace was the residence of Chauhan ji, one of the former queens of the palace. The seasons, festivals, mythology and religion that may have been an important part of the going ons at the palace at the time are described below. Some of the festival practices of the time are even followed in a similar manner to this day.
The Indian calendar is ingeniously based on both the sun and the moon; it uses a solar year but divides it into 12 lunar months. Twelve such months constitute a lunar year of 354 days 8 hours 48 minutes and 36 seconds. To help the lunar months coincide with the solar year, the practice of inserting an intercalary (extra) month arose. Hence an extra month, called the Adhik Mas, is inserted every 30 months i.e. every 2 ½ years.
Indian astrologers compute astrological calculations with a very high degree of accuracy. Needless to say, our own horoscope calculations are based on these traditional principles of Indian astrology. The Hindu calendar used in Vedic times has undergone many changes in the process of regionalization, and today there are several regional Indian calendars.
Each of the seasons is celebrated in its own unique manner all over the country and as a result there are more festivals than days of the year in India. The seasons overlap each other and hence we have tried to give a division according to the English/Gregorian calendar.
|February / March
|April / May
May / June
July / August
|August / September
September / October
|December / January
January / February
Most Hindus, especially those in Nepal and North India follow the Bikram Sambat Calendar which marks the Gregorian year 2001, as B.S 2057. Bikram Sambat has 57 years more than the A D year. New Vikram Sambat starts from the Chaitra Purnima i.e the 13th of April in the Julien Calendar.
Vasant Ritu (Room 257)
In this land of numerous deities, not only are festivals celebrated in remembrance of these gods and goddesses, but also on the advent of even commencement of a season. One such festival is Basant Panchami, which heralds the coming of Basant ritu of spring. On a more religious note, the festival is celebrated in honour of Saraswati, the goddess of wisdom and knowledge. Celebrated on the onset of spring, it marks the beginning of new life with yellow mustard flowers starting to bloom and nature displaying her majestic best. Thus the colour of the festival is yellow and women can be seen wearing saffron dresses. The puja on this day is devoted to Saraswati and people pray for wisdom and understanding.
The room with it’s view of the garden would have played an important role in this month where one could feel so close to nature. Also the festival of Holi which is the Hindu festival of colour, is normally celebrated in the spring (phagun festival ) which means the new life and energy of the season. It is a harvest celebration marking the climax of spring. Bonfires are lit, marking both the end of winter and the death of evil, and proceeds from the seasonal harvest-grains, coconuts etc- offered to the flames. The next day, “dhulendi” involves plenty of colour throwing, prayers, fasting and feasting. People have fun throwing coloured powder and coloured water at each other. In the zenana(ladies section of the palace), the ladies temple in the central courtyard would have been the focal point at all these festivals.
The story of Holi centres around an arrogant king who resents his son Prahlada for worshipping Lord Vishnu. He attempts to kill his son but fails each time. Finally, the king’s sister Holika who is said to be immune to burning, sits with the boy in a huge fire. However, the prince Prahlada emerges unscathed, while his aunt burns to death. Holi commemorates this event from mythology, and huge bonfires are burnt on the eve of Holi as its symbolic representation.In the Mahal precincts too the first bonfire is lit after a little prayer ceremony by a member of the family. The flame is carried to the surrounding villages where they light their bonfires as well.
Grishma Ritu (Room 258)
The months of Jyaishta and Vaishaka are the hottest when the entire country is reeling under a heat wave. Grishma-Ritu is the season of dehydration, exhaustion, lack of energy and lethargy. The poetic description of the sizzling hot summer month of Jyaishta is rendered in the traditional manner. It shows that in a period of extreme heat, even mutual foes, forgetting their animosities take refuge together from the burning sun. The torrid heat makes everyone sluggish and lethargic.
Even the ayurvedic principles follow that since the sun’s rays are the strongest at this time one should stay indoors and eat light and easily digestible foods.
The room with its cool dark interiors would have been the ideal place to take refuge from the summer sun. The thick walls (sometimes almost a metre wide) offered protection from the heat as well. Having been built keeping the principles of “vaastu”in mind, the wind direction in the summer too is such that all the rooms have a cool breeze flowing through in the hot summer, thereby lowering the temperatures.
Varsha Ritu(Room 259)
The monsoon season is much awaited after the extreme heat conditions. The advent of the monsoon is closely followed by one and all as it affects the farmers and subsequently the country’s economy.
As the rains are awaited there are many festivals that revolve around it. The ladies don their favourite Leheriya sarees ( a stripe worn during the monsoon)to celebrate the monsoon.
The month of Shravan is the fifth month of the Hindu calendar, and is one of the the most auspicious months. On Purnima or full-moon day, or during the course of the month, the star ‘Shravan’ rules the sky, hence the month is called Shravan. This month is spread out with innumerably religious festivals and ceremonies and almost all the days of this month are auspicious.
It is also regarded as a “divine” month in the Hindu pantheon, when the faithful go to offer holy (Ganga) water to Lord Vaidyanath(Lord Shiva). Those who don’t or can’t go to the divine city, observe austerity. It is a common sight to see many people dressed in red/saffron carrying water pitchers on their shoulders walking along the highways.
Raksha Bandhan or Rakhi Purnima is perhaps the most sublime and sentimental of festivals which also falls on Purnima day. A Rakhi or amulet, may be of silk thread, or of more costly make according to one’s means, is tied round the wrist of brothers by their sisters as a charm protecting them from evil or harm and, consequently in return seeking their help when in trouble. The Rakhi name derives from the word ‘raksha’ that is to protect. It symbolizes the abiding and chaste bond of love between the brothers and the sisters and on the last day of Shravan.
Sitala Saptami: Sitala (the cool one) is the goddess who is associated with disease particularly smallpox and there are many temples and shrines in her honour.. During the day of her worship one is supposed to abstain from all hot, or cooked, food and drink. The reason may be to avoid hot things and is more likely to be the longing for cold water on the part of smallpox patients. At Deogarh one would see a long line of people dressed in colourful clothes walking along the dam to the east of the village; which is where the Sitala Mata shrine is situated.
Janmashtami: This well-known festival, the birthday of Lord Krishna falls on the eight day of Shravan. The day is celebrated in honour of Lord Krishna, the eighth Divine Incarnation of Hindus. A twentyfour hours fast is observed on this day which is broken only at midnight because Lord Krishna was born at midnight. This is one of the greatest of all Hindu festivals. The Kunj Behari temple(Lord Krishna temple) situated at the square just at the base of the Mahal is abuzz with activity and there are special timings for the “darshan” or viewing of the deity as decided by the priests of the temple.
Jal Jhilani Ekadashi: The mid-point of the ‘chaturmas’ and the Lord is taken out for a boat ride. This festival is also celebrated in Deogarh and one can see the villagers all flocking to the lake side bearing the idols on little palanquins.
Sharat Ritu(Room No.260)
Bhadarva follows the month of Shravan which kicks off the first of the four consecutive months of religious festivities and rituals.
The month of Bhadarwa there are usually no festivals held. There is a logical reason rather than relgious reasoning behind this. This month in India can be very hot and dry so it makes sense not to celebrate something with the risk of making yourself ill. In the last two weeks of the month, Shraad is observed. Basically this is when we remember various ancestors of our families or anyone really close to you and has some importance in your life, like leaders of certain sects etc. There is also a day when one observes a general Shraad for the ancestors of our families or clans.
The next festival is when Goddess Durga is venerated in all her nine form and it is called the festival of the nine nights or Navratri. It celebrates her victory over the demons like Mahishasur, Raktabeej, etc.. Among the warrior clans, the Goddess holds special sway as before a war people would pray to her for strength and courage. Even now you will notice the priest at the entrance to the Mahal, performing the prayers during the Navratri festival. The family invokes the deity to let peace reign supreme, and keeps rigorous fasts and spend a lot of time in remembering the deity known as Mataji. There is an annual cattle fair which is held around the main Mataji temple in the village and the whole village is abuzz with activity. The fair culminates on Dusshera which is celebrated with the victory of Lord Ram over Ravanna, the demon –king of Lanka. A huge effigy of Ravanna is burnt at the fair ground amid loud peels of laughter and rejoicing.
Hemanta Ritu(Room No.261)
During The Kartik and Marsgshirsh months, the temperatures are cooler and a lot of the functions and pujas are performed during the evening and night time. The month of Kartik is also a very auspicious month in the Hindu calendar and a lot of important festivals are celebrated then. The Kartik Poornima or the night of the full moon of the Kartik month is the bjustifyest full moon night of the year and is considered especially auspicious. It is celebrated in the month of November-December and is the sacred day, when the ghats of Varanasi come alive with thousands of bjustifyly lit earthen lamps. Visitors throng in large numbers to watch this spectacular event, famous as ‘Dev Deepawali. Baths in the holy rivers, visits to temples and prayers are the common features of this Ekadashi day all over the country.
The festival of lights (Diwali), which follows 21 days after Dusshera is celebrated as the day Lord Ram with his wife, goddess Sita returned to his kingdom of Ayodhya after defeating Ravanna and after 14 years of living in exile. Diwali symbolizes the victory of Good over Evil; of Lord Ram’s victory over Ravanna, the king of Lanka. The goddess of wealth, Lakshmi, is also worshipped on this day to receive blessings for future prosperity. As is allover India, the village at Deogarh also has all the houses with lamps on their parapets and people celebrate with bursting of crackers and rejoicing. It is also the night of no-moon (Amavasya) and hence the room is decorated in shades of blues to symbolize the dark night.
Sisir (Room No. 262)
This room at the uppermost portion of the Sarva Ritu Vilas has a large collection of family photographs where one can get a glimpse into the past. They are of the Deogarh family members as well as of families related by marriages.
Makar Sankranti which is a mid-winter festival of India celebrates the northward journey of the Sun is characterised by increasing daylight.
The celebration is similar to winter solstice celebrations in other ancient cultures. Instead of the celebrating on the day of the Winter Solstice – Makar Sankranti is celebrated on January 14th. It is also the kite festival and people all over Northern India celebrate by flying kites. One can try ones kite-flying skills from the Mahal terraces. The skies come alive with kites of all shapes, sizes and colours and families spend their day on the roof-tops.
Maha Shivaratri falls on the 13th day of Krishana Paksha of Maagha Maasa (February-March). It is a night of fasting and prayer in honour of Lord Shiva. The night is called Shivamaya, i.e. a night to spend with thoughts of Lord Shiva.
As the legend goes, during Samudra Manthan (churning of the oceans) by the gods and demons, a highly toxic poison came out of the ocean. As per the advice of Lord Vishnu, the gods approached Lord Shiva and prayed to him to protect life by consuming this poison. Pleased with their prayers, out of compassion for living beings, Lord Shiva drank this poison and held it in his throat by binding it with a snake. The throat became blue due to the poison (Thus Lord Shiva is also know as Neelakantha) and Shiva remained unharmed. The wise men advised gods to keep Lord Shiva awake during the night. To keep him awake, the gods took turn performing various dances and playing music. A vigil was thus kept by the gods in contemplation of Shiva. As the day broke out, Shiva, pleased with their devotion blessed them all, and also said that whosoever worshipped and contemplated on him on this day shall be blessed with the fulfilment of his or her wishes. Since then, on this day and night devotees fast, keep vigil, sing glories of the Lord and meditate.
At the cave temple at Anjana, just 4 kilometres from Deogarh, one will find large groups of people coming to offer prayers and also those who sit all night long singing songs in praise of Lord Shiva.
Hence all the rooms symbolize a period/season of the year and the ladieswere kept busy with celebrations and prayers during times when peace reigned their kingdoms.