narnaul: of all-powerful medieval nobles and incredible wealth

Is this really the work of human hands? That is all I could think as I gazed up at the magnificent rose-pink and dove-grey edifice towering above me. I was in the courtyard of a 12th century Sufi saint’s khanqah and the sight in front of me would not have changed much in the past five centuries. I whispered to myself, lest I break the spell with my own voice: See, how wrong you were!

I have a confession to make, Dear Reader.

When I was putting together my travel bucket list for India, I had decided to demarcate it State-wise. Next to Haryana, I wrote ‘nil’ which translated to: there was nothing to see. Almost as if to prove me wrong, and that too with a vengeance, I got to explore four of its towns in recent weeks, towns which overflowed with historicity, heritage, and charm.

The most recent was Narnaul. Over the course of the day, I traversed stunning monuments spanning a millennium: tombs, stepwells, havelis, gateways, and palaces. The sheer number, their grandeur, and remarkable state of preservation seemed to mock my ignorance. Continue reading

travel shorts: the taj of haryana

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In all likelihood, you have already been to the Taj Mahal in Agra. And most probably, also made your way to Bibi ka Maqbara in Aurangabad, often referred to as the ‘Taj of the Deccan’.

What if I tell you, there is one more marble-encased Taj, and that too in the rather understated state of Haryana. But with a difference. Unlike its two other counterparts, the ‘Taj in Haryana’, as it’s often called, is not an expression of a man’s deep devotion to his wife, but instead a tomb for a saint and teacher who passed away in 1660. Continue reading

the treasures of farrukhnagar and jhajjar no guidebook tells you about

Farrukhnagar. Jhajjar.

The inevitable response should one mention these two places is, “where are they?”

As for the few who do know about their whereabouts [near Delhi’s satellite city Gurgaon in the neighbouring State of Haryana] the rejoinder is, “is there really anything to see there?”

Oh, yes, plenty! But despite having some of the loveliest monuments in Delhiā€™s vicinity, both towns lie in complete oblivion. There is no mention of them in guidebooks. Zilch. They are not even included in Delhi’s countless regular heritage tours. It is as if they simply did not exist.

Imagine my joy when I got a chance to explore the two. Not that I had ever heard of them before. I belonged to the first category. Then after some digging around, I was smitten. Completely. Continue reading