Forts, Palaces and Teabags

I have come to relish the trail of castles and sea forts left by the Maratha armies in the two centuries to the mutiny of 1857. Luckily, all of these lie within a reasonable distance from Mumbai. You can visit these as tourists looking for new places to feast your eyes, or you can look at these as your interest in history. These places would serve both purposes. There is Sinhagad near Pune, Lohgad, Raigad, Rajmachi, Janjira, Sindhudurg, Panhala and many more.

Just across the domestic border, Gujarat boasts of many historic sites as well. There are beautiful places such as the palace of Junagad of the Babi Nawabs (remember Parveen Babi?).

What struck me was the near total absence of palaces in Maharashtra. What could be the reason? Did they never think of building beautiful palaces like the ones that dotted Surat in the seventeenth century?

I bought myself a new box of scented teabags last month. The idea was to make the afternoon tea at work more interesting. I loaded the box in my bag so that one could be used each day. The month turned out to be more hectic than I had imagined and now as I took stock, I find that only 2 bags were ever used from the box. In one of the earlier months, the entire box had been used up. That was probably a less hectic month at work. This has been a long weekend and I have been reading Sir Jadunath Sirkar's decline of the Mughal Empire. The book has, obviously, portions dedicated to the wars in the Deccan (read Maharashtra). The constant activity of warfare that the Marathas engaged in, to defend themselves and to extend further makes very interesting reading.

Probably this was also the answer. The Maratha powers remained engaged in battles within the boundaries of Maharashtra. In such tempestuous times they could not have had the leave to plan for palaces, which are purely the luxuries of peacetime. The Maratha powers within the boundaries of today's Maharashtra reckoned with the Mughals first, and later with the English. Most generals such as Sindhias and Gaekwads had cut off from Pune, presenting the English the opportunity to decimate the powers that ruled lands that are today's western Maharashtra and Konkan. There are palaces at Gwalior and Vadodara, but almost none in Konkan (the exception being the Siddi palace at Murud, who accepted being a vassal of the English). The Angres went down fighting the English and so also others.

May be that's why we don't have palaces here. The wars couldn't afford one.

1 comment:

Param said...

Good one! Perhaps this also explains why Dhirubhai Ambani did not build a palace for his wife the way Mukesh has done. Of course, the siesta in the luxury times for those in palaces will always come to an end, thanks to the ones building forts :)