“I’m an artist. I’d like to show you my works”.
Isn’t it a much better interpretation of the infamous “come to see my shop”? Needless to say, I wanted to see the works of art. Quite predictably, I ended up in a dreary shop full of lousy, mass-produced paintings of elephants, horses, tigers, peacocks and camels on silk pieces. Each of these “artworks” was “Rupees two thousand only, and you can pay in USD, euros or whatever currency you happen to have”:) In my mid 30s, I still haven’t mastered the art of saying a strict “no, I’m not interested”. Yes, I managed to get out of the shop without buying a thing, but what a waste of time it was, considering I initially came to see the astounding hand carved stone of the Jagdish Temple.
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The intricate stonework of the temple
Located near the City Palace of Udaipur, Jagdish temple is not only a major place of worship for countless devotees, but also a popular touristic attraction. A few roads lead to the temple from different directions, as if inviting people to pay a visit to the monument no matter where in the city they are. The square in front of the structure (known as Jagdish Chowk) is always busy.
Built in traditional Indo-Aryan architectural style, the temple was completed in the middle of the 17th century when Maharana Jagat Singh ruled the state. The opulent shrine was erected in honor of Lord Vishnu, the protector and maintainer of the world. With a 24m shikhar, or steeple, the temple defines the skyline of the city. The whole monument is a visual treat, with its three-storey structure being covered with exquisite stone carvings, designs, figurines. In front of the temple there is a separate shrine for Garuda – a bird-like creature, used by Lord Vishnu as a mount (or vahana, a kind of vehicle).
The outer walls had been carved with sculptures of deities and apsaras, elephants, lions, warriors, musicians and dancers. The number of them was so impressive that it made my head spin. Perhaps the kaleidoscopic effect was intended? This way one could almost see the stone dancers swirling, and horses prancing, and playful elephants stamping their heavy feet in order to keep to the rhythm. By the way, it was at this moment when I was approached by the “artist”. The magic was broken:)
Sadly, lots of these carvings are badly disfigured due to exposure to the elements and acts of vandalism during the turbulent periods in history of India. You’ll find many elephants’ trunks being chipped off and warriors’ heads bashed in.
Jagdish Temple Photos
~ The temple is situated only 150 m from the City Palace, so you can easily visit both places in one go.
~ After climbing the marble stairs you’re expected to take off your shoes. Caretakers will look after your footwear, and a small monetary reward will be appreciated.
~ Avoid taking photos inside the temple when prayers and religious rituals take place.
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