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A Holiday in the Happy Valley with Pen and Pencil

We can trace the losses of Mewar


We

had no more thrills. Resuming our motor 'bus, in due course, we were landed opposite the top of our host's verandah, whereupon the beast shut himself up like a three-foot rule, and we got to ground.

The inexorable flight of time brought us all too soon to the limit of our stay at Udaipur. Early on Wednesday the 1st November, therefore, we bade adieu to the capital of the State of Mewar, and, accompanied by our kind host and hostess, set out to spend a day in exploring the ruined city of Chitor before taking train for Bombay.

As we drove to the station, we passed the group of ancient "chatries" or tombs of dead and gone Ranas of Mewar, and halted for a short inspection, as, the train by which we were to travel to Chitorgarh being a "special," we were not bound to a precise moment for our appearance on the platform.

Jane, who is perfectly Athenian in her passion for novelty, decided to travel on the engine, and proceeded to do so; until, at the first halting-place, a grimy and somewhat dishevelled female climbed into our carriage, and the next half-hour was fully occupied in scooping smuts out of her eyes with teaspoons.

It had been arranged that an elephant should await our arrival at Chitorgarh to take us up to the ancient city, but a careful search into every nook and cranny failed to reveal the missing animal.

So

my host and I set out on foot to cross a mile or so of plain which spread in deceptive smoothness between us and the ascent to the city. What seemed a serene and level track became quickly entangled in a maze of rough little knobs and nullahs, and we took a vast amount of exercise before arriving at the old bridge which spans the Gamberi River.

Meanwhile, towering over the scrubby bushes and surrounded by a dusty halo, the dilatory pachyderm bore down upon us, and, after the mahout had been interviewed in unmeasured terms by my host, went rolling slowly to the station to pick up the ladies.

The ancient city of Chitor lies crumbling and desolate on the back of a long, level-topped hill, which rises solitary to the height of some five hundred feet above the far-stretching plain. Kipling likens it to a great ship, up the sides of which the steep road slopes like a gangway. At the foot lies the modern village, squalid but picturesque.

As we toil, perspiring, up the long ramp which for a weary mile slopes sidelong up the scarped flank of the mountain, and pass through the seven gates which guarded the way, and every one of which was the scene of many a grim and bloody struggle, I will try to sketch the outline of the history of the famous fort, for many centuries the headquarters of the royal race of Mewar.

The Gehlotes, or (as they were afterwards styled) the Sesodias, claim descent from the Sun through Manu, Icshwaca, and Rama Chandra, as indeed do the other Rajput potentates of Jaipur, Marwar, and Bikanir, the Rana of Mewar, however, taking precedence owing to his descent from Lava, the eldest son of Rama.

The ancient dynasty of Mewar has fallen from its high estate, but the history of its rise is lost in the mists of grey antiquity.

"We can trace the losses of Mewar, but with difficulty her acquisitions.... She was an old-established dynasty when all the other States were in embryo." Long before Richard of the Lion-heart fared to Palestine to wrest the Holy City from the infidel, "a hundred kings, its (Mewar's) allies and dependants, had their thrones raised in Chitor," to defend it against the sword of the Mohammedan; while overhead floated the banner displaying the golden sun of Mewar on a crimson field.


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