Sunday, October 18, 2015

Haldighati - From Valley of Battle to Roses

Like Arjuna’s steadfast focus on the eye of the fish, our Udaipur trip was focused on everything Maharana Pratap, rest all was ancillary. On Day 1, after a breakfast fit for the kings at Devigarh by Lebua, we started on our journey to Kumbhalgarh fort via Haldighati.
On our way to Haldighati museum we stopped at the first Maharan Pratap bill board that we spotted and yes got ourselves clicked with it. The son was super excited and this trip was actually planned for his adoration of “Pratap”. Watching the tele serial of the same name infact it feels that Maharana Pratap is not only a part of the family he could be our son’s bff.

Anyways moving onwards we came across a small Maharana Pratap cave and stopped the taxi with flailing arms all over; it was an unplanned stopover, and yes we did have a very tight planned itinerary. The stop revealed a cave and a temple built around it, we were told that Maharana Pratap used to have his secret meetings with his allies here and that this cave that was once a secret passage has been blocked now. Its quaintness was what made it so beautiful.

Hopping back into the taxi, on our way to Maharana Pratap museum we noticed many vendors sitting under small make shift tents selling rose sherbet, gulkand and rose water. Not visible from the main road, we learnt that there are large farms where “Chaitri Gulab” variety of rose is cultivated.
Driving through the Haldighati range fills you up with sadness and pride at the same time, thinking of the bloody battle that ravaged so many families, the parks and monuments made in the memories of the valiant and the fact that one is standing at that same spot, can become a bit unnerving. Haldihgati got its name from the yellow haldi-like colour if the sand.  Rakht Talai, known such cause of the blood pool that formed as the result of the battle, is the exact spot where the battle was fought between Maharana Pratap and Akbar’s Man Singh. We could not go there because of time crunch but visited Badshah Bagh on the main road before the Haldighati pass where the Mughal armies had pitched their tents and on june 21st 1576 Pratap’s army had their first encounter. Today it is an ASI protected monument with a beautifully developed park.
Off the road, slightly uphill is Maharana Pratap Memorial. Beautifully built and maintained the black statue of the king on his horse with “surya” emblem on the sides of the platform evokes respect for all that the Maharana stood for. 

From here we proceeded to the museum and were surprised to see a heavy crowd thronging the place. They have a guided sound and light show every 15 minutes, and a short documentary film on Pratap. Walking through the dark gallery the tableaus have been created on both sides and light up accompanied by the recorded information on the life and milestone achievements of the Maharana. The museum has been developed and is maintained all by the efforts of an individual promoter Mohan Lal Shrimali.

Haldighati battle (1576) was also the one where Maharana Pratap lost his loyal horse, Chetak. A chattri buit in the memory of the mount where he died is called Chetak Samarak. A couple of meters away from the Maharana Pratap Museum, it does deserve a short stopover just to soak in the courageous feat and think of a beautiful man-animal relationship.
गिरता कभी चेतकतन पर¸ 
राणा प्रताप का कोड़ा था। 
वह दोड़ रहा अरिमस्तक पर¸ 
या आसमान पर घोड़ा था।
A poem by Shyam Narayan Pandey

From here we moved on to Kumbhalgarh fort, where Maharana Pratap was born. I told you, didn’t I, ours was a packed day. 

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