Saturday, November 20, 2010

Tonk, Rajasthan, India

Our next destination was Tonk. Visiting Tonk was an impromptu decision, 'cause we had some time in hand after the day two's morning safari, our train was at 9.30 that night, we had the whole day at our disposal. Tonk is around 86 kms from Ranthambore and 96 kms from Jaipur.We figured that it would take us around 1and a half to 2 hrs to reach Tonk, we could tour the town form 3-4 hours and still be able to catch our train at night.

We hired a car, packed up and checked out from the hotel. Tonk may not be the most popular tourist destination. It is dusty, crowded, but it is culturally and architecturally very rich. The magnificent mansions date back to the Mughal era. I had heard of Tonk before, but only in the passing I never guessed that this little town could house such beautiful gems. No wonder its is known as the "Lucknow of Rajasthan".

Tonk was an absolute delight. Some of the monuments we saw were Jama Masjid, Sunheri Kothi,
Tonk library, Arabic and Persian Institute and Hathi Bhata.

Tonk's Jama Masjid is which is one of the biggest mosques in India. It is massive, the construction of the Mosque was started in 1246 AD by the first Nawab of Tonk. The Jama Masjid as it stands today was completed in 1298 AD during the rule of Nawab Wzirudhoula.The doors of the Masjid represent the architecture of the Mughal era.

Intricate work Jama Masjid Tonk, Rajasthan, India
Jama Masjid Tonk, Rajasthan, India

Jama Masjid, Tonk, Rajasthan

We could not go inside Sunheri Kothi, I believe it has been closed for renovation. It has been declared as a historical monument by the Government. I wish we could have gone in. We got a few shots of the mansion from outside only. We later saw pictures of the inside in the Arabian and Persian Research Institute, We were told that the walls of the hall are decorated with glass work, flower paintings, and 'Meenakari' 'Pachhikari' work.

Sunheri Kothi, Tonk, Rajasthan

Right opposite to the Sunheri Kothi, is the Shariat Office, earlier it used to be the Arabic Persian Research Institute which has now shifted to another building. This is another gem of a building.

Shariat office Tonk Rajasthan

Shariat office Tonk Rajasthan

Shariat office Tonk Rajasthan
Shariat Office which was earlier the Arabic and Persian Research Institute

On our way to the APRI library, we came across quite a few old buildings.

Clock Tower Tonk, Rajasthan, India
Old building, Tonk, Rajasthan
Clock Tower and another beautiful old building in Tonk
We could tour so much of Tonk and see so many buildings because of the help we got from a person (Kalu bhai) who we met at the Jama Masjid. He was one of the key people working in the restoration of the mosque. Seeing our interest in old monuments, he offered to show us around the city. Tonk does require at least a couple of days. Kalu bhai told us that we had seen only a few gems, there were more such wonderful monuments in Tonk.

He asked us to not miss "Hathi Bhata" which would fall after around 10-15 kms from Tonk On our way back to Sawai Madhopur. This is a very unique monument. Believed to have been carved out of a single rock is the sculpture of an elephant. It is absolutely magnificent!

Hathi Bhata
Hathi Bhata

Our Tonk trip left us thirsting for more. What a wonderful day it had been! We plan to revisit this part of Rahjasthan, who knows what other gems we might uncover.

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