Sunday, July 16, 2017

Khimsar - A Small Sand Dunes Village In The Midst of The Great Indian Desert

With the invasion of Mohammad Ghori in 1194, the Kanauj king, Jaichand was defeated whose grandson Sheoji in 1226 in search of a fresh battlefield moved to region around Mandore & conquered some parts of it until 1395 when the twelfth ruler of the dynasty, Chunda acquired full territorial rights of the region around Mandore and it was thereafter known famously as the Rathore Dynasty. In 1459, Rao Jodha was advised to shift his capital base to some hilltop to avoid rising war pressure from external enemies. Subsequently, he built the fort of Mehrangarh and named the human settlement which flourished around it as Jodhpur under the legacy of his own name. In 1465, Rao Bika, the eldest son of Rao Jodha left Jodhpur and built a small fort Rati Ghati in 1485 at a site near to the famous rat temple of Karni Mata which eventually developed itself into Bikaner. Another son of Rao Jodha, Rao Karamsji got encouraged by both his father’s and his brother’s endeavours of building forts and palaces and he moved towards Nagaur which lies somewhere in the middle of the two fort cities built by his family, Jodhpur and Bikaner and built a fort near to the presently lying sand dunes village of Khimsar. It didn’t had any ladies wing however till the middle of the eighteenth century when a zenana mahal was added to the existing structure and the royal family moved here thereafter. Another regal wing was added to it by Thakur Onkar Singh in 1940s. 

Different staggered and distant lying houses and other structures were rising into their existence simultaneously as the development of the fort was undergoing but it remained sparsely populated owing to the characteristics of the site - a state of geographical bewilderment and a small sand dunes village sprouted itself over the period of time in the form of Khismar. The fort was subsequently converted into a heritage hotel offering a chance to the visitors  to experience the lifestyle of the royal families of medieval times. 

Khimsar lies around 100 km North-East of Jodhpur on Jodhpur-Bikaner highway and beholds in itself contrasting images of a beautiful royal palace built to showcase power and wealth on one hand and village shelter houses on the other in the midst of the Great Indian Desert. The material used for construction of the houses is earth and thatch in general which are known to provide a cooling effect which is much needed in the heats of a desert. There also lies a BlackBuck Reserve in its vicinity which has three species of antelopes in itself - the BlackBuck, the Chinkara and the BlueBull. As defined by one of the writers, Khimsar is ‘rustic in appearance, in consonance with its surroundings & these luxurious huts which has been designed to remain eco-friendly’ adds to the overall beauty of the desert which provides in a glimpse of eternity and infinity like the sky above does for keen eyes. 

Images from khimsar, indianholiday, tourism-of-india, itchotels, itchotels, rajasthandirect, khimsar, bp, hotelsinjodhpur, tourismeveryone, trip advisor, goindiaholiday & bp (top to bottom)

Friday, July 14, 2017

Duong Lam - An Early Medieval Vietnamese Village Also Known As A Living Museum of Converted Laterite

Phùng Hưng got his birth with a prodigious physical strength in a rich family in 761 AD who at the age of thirty along with his brother Phùng Hải and Đỗ Anh Hàn, a military strategist led a rebellion against the long ruling Chinese Tang Dynasty in Vietnam since 111 BC and seized the headquarters of the An nam Protectorate which was being administered by a corrupt military leader Cao Chính Bình who shortly died himself due to an illness and power crisis. Phun Hung became the military governor of An nam and a semi-autonomous ruler of the region for a short span of 11 years & his son succeeded him but he couldn’t resist for long and the declining Tang Dynasty found its roots again in the region. The local population were only given a glimpse of independence for a shorter span until 939 when another villager from the same village Duong Lam, where Phun Hung was born, Ngo Quyen proclaimed himself as the King of An Nam, the southernmost province of China during the Tang Dynasty. He founded the first Vietnamese Dynasty in the form of Ngo Dynasty  and renamed the presently known Vietnam as Dai Viet.

Duong Lam is now a commune of Son Tay Town in the region of Hanoi - the national capital of Vietnam. It beholds in itself some houses dating back to as minimum as 300 years which are made up of laterite and clay, both found locally in abundance - the latter was available in the ponds and water bodies present in the vicinity. Its a living example presenting a case of a community and its lifestyle in early medieval times of human developmental story as an agriculture community (rice being the primary source). The structure of a normal ancient house of Duong Lam includes a main gate, a garden, a yard, a main living house, an out building, a kitchen and a livestock barn. Duong Lam has 956 traditional houses built out of blocks of laterite presenting itself to the world as a Museum of Converted Laterite & Clay - the newly built houses has only added to the overall cultural beauty by building in the similar fashion in general. Most of the old houses had a secret door connecting it to the communal house which is a place of worship of the community. All roads and alleys of the village were planned to prevent theft and crime. The roads and the form used in them were special in some parts in the shapes of the bones of a fish out of which few such are preserved till date. There used to be a common well for a group of people - each house has its own in present times but the former one is well preserved by the community as a sign of marked imprints of their ancestors. In 2005, Duong Lam was organised as a complex of national importance by Vietnam which also consist of a set five other villages of the same category - Mong Phu, Dong Sang, Cam Thinh, Doai Giap & Cam Lam.