Friday, December 21, 2007
The Rise and Fall of a Great Nation
After having my breakfast at the loft of a villa at Mandawa, I said a reluctant goodbye to the wall paintings that adorned the place.
It takes just three to four hours to travel to Bikaner from Mandawa through Thar Desert. The blankets of sand that covered the skies were a resounding answer to my query as to why the rich and the noble of Mandawa forsake their resplendent villas for Mumbai.
Such a situation mirrors that of the Shan-xi and Xi-an provinces of China, where after long periods of sandstorms, the Song Dynasty shifted their capital away from Xi-an. Up to now, Central China and Henan's development are still greatly hindered by the issue of water supplies. Desertification often occurs at the foot of great mountains and spread their reach by the day. Currently, Beijing is also under siege by sandstorms, with underground water sources under great threat. Therefore, environmental change not only affects living things, but also the fate of a nation. If the world does not treat the problems of environmental change seriously, it is only a matter of time before they bring their own countries and people indescribable disasters.
North India is suffering from this right now, implicating its livestock and agricultural industries. If the situation worsens, they will have to resort to importing food from other areas.
I heard from the driver that temperatures here can reach up to 40 to 50 degree Celsius in summer and many humans and animals fail to survive this. As such they have to find water sources, with every well getting drier as the dig gets deeper. The weather changes and the unpredictable Bangledeshi and Indian rivers are flooded almost annually. I guess India can learn from China's South-to-North water diversion strategies.
In the afternoon we checked into a mock relic villa hotel, where there were only two rooms in one building. Three buildings merged into one group, and there were around ten of such groups. The surroundings were ambient.
We had a very young tour guide today called Mr Lucky. He brought us to the Junagarh Fort that was built in 1588, around the same era as that of China's Imperial Palaces of the Ming and Qing Dynasty (故宫).
This palace is built of red sandstone and white granite, and the handicraft is unparalleled. All the doors and windows are stone carvings that look like they are made of wood or bronze. You cannot tell that they are carved by hand, and they are made of pale red sandstone, giving one the feeling of superb craftsmanship.
Every wall painting of the summer palace is a work of art. Even though they might not be as luxuriant as those of the Vatican, but they are comparable, if not better, than many of Europe's palaces and churches of Europe. Many are made with pure gold or silver. All the inner and outer courtyards of the places are magnificent and unique in design. Other than that, there are some galleries displaying the intricate weaponry and articles for daily use in their past, all eye-opening records of the glory, rise and fall of a dynasty.
This palace was claimed by the current Indian government in 1950 and re-designated as a museum, attracting numerous curious visitors daily.
Do red walls represent imperial authority? I ever took two hours to wander around the grounds of Russia's Grand Kremlin Palace, which has stretches of red wall akin to that of China's Imperial Palaces. Junagarh Fort also has red walls.
Red belongs to the Water element, so it can only enjoy momentous glory.
You must visit this place. The interiors or the exteriors of the Palace and its layouts will leave you in awe.
Posted by Tan Khoon Yong