The Quila Mubarak (The Fort)

After my midday class, Dr. Shveta, Aarza, Seerat, and I went off to the Quila [Fort] Mubarak. We could not park near the Fort so we took bicycle rickshaws to the entry. That alone was an interesting adventure– through the potholed and curvy alleys of the old market. I rode with Aarza and Shveta and Seerat took another rickshaw.

IMG_1148The approach to the Quila was dramatic.

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In the middle of the chaos stands the 300-year-old residential palace of the royal family of Patiala. IMG_1151The now serene grounds of the Quila Mubarak cover 10 acres inside a walled fortress and include a guest house and a number of other buildings.

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The scale of palace life was impressive. Through some windows we could see remnants of painted ceilings. We also saw patterned brick ceilings. There was even an underground sewerage system in the Quila.

The contrast between the noisy, cramped and chaotic streets outside and this quiet, deserted fortress was striking.

Sadly, now the buildings are crumbling. IMG_1155

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You can imagine the former splendor of the courtyards and lawns behind.

Birds, including brilliant green parrots, and chipmunks nest in the facades and scamper across the lawns and dry brick debris.

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Unfortunately, the museum was closed so all we could do was tour the grounds….

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Until we negotiated our way (okay, Dr. Shveta did the negotiating!) into a couple of rooms, beginning with the Queen’s bathing rooms.

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I want a bath tub this big! Filled with steaming hot water! You could almost swim in this one.IMG_1184IMG_1181

Shveta told me that the Kings of Patiala were [in]famous for their opulent and promiscuous lifestyles. The number of baths and fountains got me thinking about the parties they must have enjoyed!

In 2004, the World Monuments Fund placed Quila Mubarak on the list of world’s 100 “most endangered monuments.” We saw slow progress being made toward renovation while we were there. Unfortunately, progress was so slow, I fear that the monument will be irreparable before long.

Women carry the bricks and fallen plaster and stones on their heads to clear an area. Two young men pushed a cart lined with plastic and filled with red clay to reinforce brick where mortar is eroding.

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The workers live on the Quila Mubarak grounds. Aarza manned the cannon in front of the dwelling of a worker family.

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Contrast, the chaos of Patiala and the tranquility of this deserted fort. My existence versus that of kings versus that of the workers who would restore the splendor of the kings. I felt mildly embarrassed posing for this picture in front of the closed museum.

IMG_1188I hope that India can save all of its treasures, human and architectural.

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About Jennifer Drobac

R. Bruce Townsend Professor of Law Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law~ I began my journey in the San Francisco Bay area. A student at CPS in Oakland and then at Stanford University, I worked for several years before attending law school, again at Stanford. A trip around the world after taking the California Bar introduced me to more distant lands than I had seen during school days. I returned to clerk for Judge Barefoot Sanders in Dallas, Texas where I gave birth to Michal McDowell-- the best first born daughter and future doctor one can imagine. When she was two, we moved to Santa Cruz, California where I opened my own law practice. After I earned my doctoral degree (in law) at Stanford, I hit the road again and settled here in Indiana where I teach at IU McKinney. As I anticipate exploring the world again as a Fulbright Specialist (starting in India), I start this blog. A travel log of adventures in midlife!
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