Posted in Architecture, History, Photography, Travel

Of crumbling convictions…

A substitute shines brightly as a king
Until a king be by, and then his state
Empties itself, as dot an inland brook
Into the main of waters.

– William Shakespeare (The Merchant of Venice)

Keshargarh Fort, Bissau, Jhunjhunu District, Shekhawati region, Rajasthan, India
The facade of Bissau fort resembles a decaying papyrus

In times when technology makes us feel that the future is not on the horizon but inside an electronics store, one often finds the monarchy of the yore busy trying to monetise royalty under the garb of hospitality… nowhere is this more evident than Rajasthan, where more hotels and havelis dot the landscape than, say, camels 

But as the saying goes — nearer the church, farther from god… for every section of the royal edifice that is able to make this transition, there are dozens of others that are left to stare blankly at the dusty canvas in a tattered disposition, stripped of all treasures and sounds, the groans stifled by termites and mice… and the rest strangulated by whatever dregs of humanity still congregates around its bastions…

The shanty town of Bissau is one such relic… named so in 1746 by Keshari Singh, one of the five sons of the famous Shekhawat ruler Thakur Shardul Singh, it’s undulating fortunes are quite evident, as is the case with any town where the sewers run open and the cows are unruly… 

The fort, Keshargarh, is a crumbling massif somehow managing to hold its architectural integrity despite an apparent lack of dignity… the supposed resident-cum-owner, or so was the claim, took us around the compound, dominated in the visual and olfactory by the bovine…

The frescoes, contrary to those in its precincts in Ramgarh or Mahansar, are rather basic in nature, although there was a lot of stained and painted glass work that was not so prevalent in some of the other parts of Shekhawati… the Havelis in the city are similar to this of their counterparts through when it comes to the resplendence of the frescoes though… 

I’d have wanted to loiter around more, but the owner refusing to get off your back is a discomforting proposition, the insecurities of an encroacher or a dejected owner are rather tough to wash off I guess… for a town whose benefactors even hired French mercenaries for inorganic expansion of the state’s treasury, these are still better days… and thus we wound our way back from the dingy lanes to the winter sun of the highway… 

Keshargarh Fort, Bissau, Jhunjhunu District, Shekhawati region, Rajasthan, India
The use of sunlight through the arches made for a very cosy sight in the winter afternoon…

 

Keshargarh Fort, Bissau, Jhunjhunu District, Shekhawati region, Rajasthan, India
The entrance leads one to an open courtyard with the main complex on the right…

 

Keshargarh Fort, Bissau, Jhunjhunu District, Shekhawati region, Rajasthan, India
Apart from the stained and painted glasses, most of the wall work has been painted over with…

 

Keshargarh Fort, Bissau, Jhunjhunu District, Shekhawati region, Rajasthan, India
The frescoes are more or less gone…

 

Keshargarh Fort, Bissau, Jhunjhunu District, Shekhawati region, Rajasthan, India
A dusty dominion…

 

Keshargarh Fort, Bissau, Jhunjhunu District, Shekhawati region, Rajasthan, India
One thing that did remain was a lot of atoned and painted glass, mostly with religious motifs…

 

Keshargarh Fort, Bissau, Jhunjhunu District, Shekhawati region, Rajasthan, India
Another element that had stood the test of time are the doors…

 

Keshargarh Fort, Bissau, Jhunjhunu District, Shekhawati region, Rajasthan, India
An elegy in sun and stone…

Tastylia italy Keshargarh Fort, Bissau, Jhunjhunu District, Shekhawati region, Rajasthan

Parth Joshi

Allured by the outdoors, the author is made up in parts of that quintessential lost soul wreathing under the pangs of biophilia in a desk job, a wannabe elegist mostly ending up in dungeons of poetasters and an optimist waiting for the senility of the modern world to fade away while sampling shoots and leaves.

In saner times, he has a keen interest in areas pertaining to tourism, history, agriculture and climate change, especially with respect to historical interpretations, emerging technologies and future livelihoods.

An avid trekker, runner, cyclist, birder and photographer, he is more often than not found gloating over anything hinterland, on foot or over computer monitors, and fantasizing solutions that can foster ‘inclusive’ growth and sustainable livelihoods for communities at the grassroots.

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