19.February, Deogarh – RANAKAPUR JAIN TEMPLE from the 15th. century
The departure ceremony of a bridegroom leaving on horseback to journey to his bride’s house for the wedding provided an unexpected attraction in front of our modern hotel before our departure. Otherwise our long journey to Deogarh did not have much of interest to offer, although one does gain an impression of everyday life in India. We did pass through Mawar seat of the Rana’s who were involved in many conflicts with the Mughal forces. On arrival we found the hotel was an ex Rana’s (one level below Mahrajah in the Indian nobility) palace and was quite spectacular, on top of a small hill with high walls and lots of onion towers in very irregular combinations. My room had a shrine in what I expected to be the wardrobe! Some of us met the owners from the original Rana family in one of the courtyards for a drink in front of an open fire and I was told that the doors on the shrine were not original but the large carved figures on them were. However the computer would not work. It was probably like the hotel, from the 17th. century.
The bus journey the next morning was more interesting than that of the day before since we were out in the country and in some hills making it more attractive. There were even waterwheels powered by oxen still in use for irrigation. We visited Ranakapur an amazing Jain temple with fantastic stone carvings before lunch and then continued to Udaipur where we stayed for 2 nights.
Akbar (1542 – 1605) later Akbar the Great, was the third Mughal emperor, who reigned from 1556 to 1605. Akbar succeeded his father, Humayun, under a regent, Bairam Khan, who helped the young emperor expand and consolidate Mughal domains in India. A strong personality and a successful general, Akbar gradually enlarged the Mughal Empire to include nearly all of the Indian Subcontinent north of the Godavari river. His power and influence, however, extended over the entire country because of Mughal military, political, cultural, and economic dominance. To unify the vast Mughal state, Akbar established a centralised system of administration throughout his empire and adopted a policy of conciliating conquered rulers through marriage and diplomacy. To preserve peace and order in a religiously and culturally diverse empire, he adopted policies that won him the support of his non-Muslim subjects. Eschewing tribal bonds and Islamic state identity, Akbar strove to unite far-flung lands of his realm through loyalty, expressed through an Indo-Persian culture, to himself as an emperor who had near-divine status.
Mughal India developed a strong and stable economy, leading to commercial expansion and greater patronage of culture. Akbar himself was a patron of art and culture. He was fond of literature, and created a library of over 24,000 volumes written in Sanskrit, Urdu, Persian, Greek, Latin, Arabic and Kashmiri, staffed by many scholars, translators, artists, and scribes. Akbar also established the library of Fatehpur Sikri exclusively for women, and he decreed that schools for the education of both Muslims and Hindus should be established throughout the realm. Holy men of many faiths, poets, architects, and artisans adorned his court from all over the world for study and discussion. Akbar’s courts at Delhi, Agra, and Fatehpur Sikri became centres of the arts, letters, and learning. Perso-Islamic culture began to merge and blend with indigenous Indian elements, and a distinct Indo-Persian culture emerged characterized by Mughal style arts, painting, and architecture. Disillusioned with orthodox Islam and perhaps hoping to bring about religious unity within his empire, Akbar promulgated Din-i-Ilahi, a syncretic creed derived mainly from Islam and Hinduism as well as some parts of Zoroastrianism and Christianity. A simple, monotheistic cult, tolerant in outlook, it centered on Akbar as a prophet, for which he drew the ire of the ulema and orthodox Muslims. Many of his courtiers followed Din-i-Ilahi as their religion as well, as many believed that Akbar was a prophet.