Rajasthan's heritage - worlds apart
---------- Rajasthan's grand past comes alive in the architecture of its dwellings.------------------
The kings of today are cricketers. That position in India has transitioned from erstwhile monarchs through cine stars and now rests with sportspersons.
The Jai Mahal hotel in Jaipur, the ‘abode’ for both the Royal Challengers and Rajasthan Royals during IPL is exactly what its name indicates. A palace in a real sense and giving a whiff of the Rajas or yore! Oh for that golden age. Well, these were actual kings’ palaces and come 1947, the overthrowing of the British government in India which had kept them in good humour for 150 years of rule and about 400 years totally, these heads of kingdoms were stripped of their titles. They could continue only in nominal title so to speak.
It was logical therefore that they use their huge properties to get revenue to maintain their expensive lifestyles. Only such money would allow them to continue a lifestyle close to the one experienced by their forefathers. Also, with the burgeoning of the Indian economy and tourism, the erstwhile Rajas must be enjoying another golden period.
However, back in time some three hundred years ago, for that matter, even about 80 years ago, nobody would have earned public adulation and respect like these kings and queens. Over time in the twentieth century, a new kind of ‘king’ or ‘queen’ was born – the movie star. Would it not be fair to say that riches and adulation to them was even close to that of a king or queen? Dilip Kumar, Madhubala, then Rajesh Khanna and Amitabh Bachchan in Bollywood. In Karnataka Dr Rajkumar ruled the roost while MG Ramachandran and Jayalalita commanded this respect in Tamilnadu and so on and so forth. Some of them were definitely worshipped like monarchs, some even like gods. Take NT Rama Rao in Andhra for instance. The big screen created a new king or queen among the various linguistic regions in India.
However, come the 2000s and this movie star ‘king’ would be challenged by the cricketer in India. By the time Sourabh Ganguly took over as Indian captain the entertainment hungry Indian public had embraced top cricketers like they were deities. Most Indians, middle and even lower class had prosperous jobs and now thanks to that affordable medium the television, the popularity of cricketers who played a ‘royal game’ shot up. Therefore another ‘screen’ created the new age king, namely the ‘small screen.’ Ironic.
One can scarcely argue that India’s captain MS Dhoni would command a following probably larger than that of a movie star, even if his large income would be lesser. So these new ‘royals,’ read Chris Gayle, Dilshan, de Villiers, Zaheer Khan, Virat Kohli and several others, are today staying at the ‘mahal’ of the kings. How appropriate. We hope of course that sportswomen will be regarded in the same light and will displace movie heroines. After all it’s good competition for both and a burgeoning scenario for entertainment in India.
Anyway, back to the Jai Mahal, one can be forgiven in his or her rush for forgetting that there are no lifts. It’s all widely spread out. At first, one feels somewhat disconnected from that core area, the lobby and reception, but gradually the feeling is that of uniqueness. The gardens around are unbelievable to describe for the sheer area they command. It’s a king’s life again!