Bada Bagh

3.8 / 5 67 votes


Weather:

Time Required: 1-2 hrs

Timings:

9:00 AM - 6:00 PM

Entry Fee:

Indians: INR 20 - 50,
Foreign Tourists: INR 50 - 100,
Still Camera: INR 20 - 100,
Video Camera: INR 50 - 150
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Bada Bagh, Jaisalmer Overview

One of the relics of Rajasthan's illustrious past, Bada Bagh in Jaisalmer is primarily a series of cenotaphs set amidst a garden. The glorious golden cenotaphs gleam in the deserts of Jaisalmer and the adjoining garden. It is located about 6 kms north of Jaisalmer, on the way to Ramgarh. Bada Bagh, translated literally as 'Big Garden', is a garden complex nestled between Jaisalmer and Lodhruva in Rajasthan. This is a popular site because it is a garden that has the cenotaphs of all the Maharajas and other prestigious family members of Jaisalmer; all royal Rajputs kings of 6 centuries!

Bada Bagh is actually located on a small hillock and the entrance to the cenotaphs is set at the bottom of the hill. The setting of Bada Bagh is dramatically stunning. The chhatris are the same colour as the landscape around them, a dull brown of the sand, and hence, appear like a mirage in the desert. The towering windmills in the distance only add up to the beauty this site has to offer. The bases of the various chhatris at Bada Bagh are square or hexagonal. The domes, however, can be found in a variety of shapes, ranging from a simple circular, to squarish to a slight pyramid shape. These are free from any kind of artwork, and only depict some information about the Raja they depict in particular.

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Maharaja Maharawal Jai Singh was the one who originally commissioned the construction of Bada Bagh. He initiated the creation of a dam in the desert as a water tank, during his reign to service the subjects in his kingdom. The presence of the dam brought life to the entire periphery with flora and fauna booming with joy and brought into existence a green patch of natural beauty in the orange desert. Maharawal Jai Singh was delighted with the unexpected success of this venture.

When he passed away on September 21, 1743, his son Lunkaran built a 'chattri' in his memory next to the lake. This marked the beginning of a new tradition for the rulers of the Bhatti Dynasty, and a new cenotaph was added to this garden to commemorate the memory of each king of this dynasty. However, in 1947 when one of the princes passed away due to a mysterious disease in the first year of his succession, the tradition was discontinued because it was believed to be a bad omen.

The cenotaphs are lined in two different rows, each distinct in its own beautiful way. To add to the beauty of these structures is the fact that they are built along a hill. On entering the base of the hill, you start approaching cenotaphs in the order newest to oldest, well, oldest to ancient, to be realistic. The size of the cenotaph is congruent to the greatness of the ruler it was built for. The bigger the stature of the ruler, the bigger the cenotaph.

The cenotaph for Maharaja Jawahar Singh was in progress when the sudden death of the new ruler created doubt in the minds of the royal family. Hence, when they decided to discontinue the tradition of building these cenotaphs for the rulers that had passed away, they did not wait till the construction of the one for Maharaja Jawahar Singh was completed; and it stands unfinished till date. This is the cenotaph that greets you to Bada Bagh.

Each structure is designed with marvellous architecture and intricate carvings. What is amazing is that none of the stones on any cenotaph, even the tiniest carvings, have changed colour. They are all uniformly coloured and bring a sense of rhythm in the garden. Maharaja Jawahar Singh's structure has a portrait of him, placed on a pedestal, above which hangs an earthen pot. This signifies an attempt to quench his thirsty soul, to give peace to his soul.

Each erection has an inscription of the ruler's name at the entrance, and texts inscribed on them in stone. The roofs are designed to resemble shrines, representing the holiness and divinity of the structure. Even though a few of these cenotaphs are crumbling, it does not compromise their majesty in the least.

The first few rows of cenotaphs have a structure of a man on a horse inscribed in marble, sitting in the middle of the structure, representing the ruler. These were mainly for the more powerful and consequential rulers of their dynasty. There are smaller structures scattered between the larger cenotaphs, which were possibly built for the younger princes, princesses and queens.

1. Try to visit Bada Bagh during sunset hours, but make sure you are done casing the place before sunset so that you can enjoy the scenic ball drop with undivided attention.
2. Wear light weight and cotton clothes to freely enjoy your time here. Make sure your shoes are equipped to help climbing a little rocky terrain; the cenotaphs are scattered all over the hillside.
3. Use lots of sunscreen because you will be in unencumbered contact with the sun's heat.
4. Tourist guides are available, but you will have to invest time in finding them. There is no fixed rate of charge, so negotiating the best deal the appropriate option.
5. Don't forget your camera! The scenic and architectural beauty of this attraction acts as a perfect backdrop for your memories.

Bada Bagh is located about 6 km from Jaisalmer. One can either take a bus to Ramgarh and alight on the way or head to the place using their own vehicle.

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