The moment I hear the word Jhansi, the first image that comes to my mind is of Jhansi ki Rani, and the famous poem that I studied in school
‘Khoob ladi mardani woh to Jhansi wali rani thi’.
As I landed at the Jhansi station, image of warrior queen came in my eyes, and I tried to feel the ground on which she had fought the first battle of Indian Independence. Jhansi is a huge railway junction and is primarily used as a transit point to go to Khajuraho, which is its primary link to tourism. Geographically, it is unique as it technically falls in UP, but all roads from it lead to MP. Even the guidebooks cover it under MP instead of UP.
There are two major attractions that you can see in Jhansi, one is the Rani Mahal, which was the residence of Rani Laxmi Bai, and Jhansi fort, from where she fought the battle she is known for. Rani Mahal today is in the middle of city and from the outside looks like a large old house. It has been converted into a museum of artifacts that have been excavated from various areas around Jhansi. Some of pieces that would get to see here are better preserved than anywhere else, but sadly they are just lying around neglected and there is no one to explain them to you.
As you enter the courtyard of the palace, you see the artifacts all around you on the ground floor and the place looks just like an old haveli, nothing special about it. But then as you follow the board directing you to Rani’s bedroom, you feel the specialty of the place. The stairs leading to the room are colorfully painted with floral designs. The walls of the palace are painted in traditional yellow and the windows painted with red and white scratch paintings. The color red stands out and so do the beautifully painted peacocks, a mix of Mughal motifs and Hindu colors. In its hay days it must have been an extravaganza of colors. The bedroom has some of the most exquisite paintings that you would ever see. I stood there and wondered at a life so short and yet so complete.
Jhansi fort is a typical fort, built on top of a hillock, gives a bird’s eye view of the city around it. The fort was built by the Bundela kings of Orchha, and it was faintly visible from there and the queen when she saw it first said it looks like ‘jhain sa’, which means like a shadow, and that’s how this place got its name Jhansi, after this fort. The famous battle that Rani Laxmi Bai fought against the British was fought from this fort after her husband expired and her brother in law conspired against her. She jumped from the top of the fort with her famous horse Badal and reached Gwalior, where Scindias also betrayed her and she died while fighting there.
The fort has anecdotes from her life, the five storied Sheesh Mahal where she came as a bride and lived with her husband, temples where she got married and prayed, gardens where she played and the spot from where she jumped off on her horseback. Our guide told us all the stories with a lot of pride and emotion. There is a light and sound program that happens every evening in this fort that we had to miss, but my guess is it would be worth watching. There is a museum also that was closed on the day we were there.
I would say, if you are there, you must explore Jhansi as well. Guidebooks do not do justice to this lovely city.
Image Credit: Anuradha Goyal
- The Boyles And The Underdogs
- Where Is The Spirit Of India?
- Modi-fying Gujarat–Is Narendra Modi leading by example?
- Will Slumdog Millionaire Win The Oscar awards?
- Two Birds, No Stone!