‘Cenotaphs of the Jaipur Maharanis’ by A. P. S. Dhiman

Located between Jaipur and Amber, 5 kms from the centre, the cenotaphs of the maharanis of Jaipur are worth a visit for a stroll. One of the most exquisite attractions in the city of Jaipur, Maharani ki Chhatri is a special area for funeral for the maharanis or the royal ladies. This historical site is located on the Amber Road near the Jal Mahal, making it accessible from all parts of the city. A number of beautifully carved chhatris or cenotaphs, built in the fond memory of the royal ladies of Jaipur, are fostered at this site.

12489380_10205335391928148_3774031665390936142_o 640 50The cenotaphs were the status symbol for the women belonging to the royal families and were, therefore, constructed from diverse materials. While some were made from pure white marbles, the others were constructed with local stones depending upon the importance of the women in the nobility. As a popular belief, a cenotaph was finished with a roof structure only if the queen died before her king. In case she died after the death of the king, it would remain unfinished.

12440333_10205335397248281_4664770323854182491_o 640 5012471865_10205335402768419_6436672758877817804_o 640 5012484650_10205335401448386_3859286670873076061_o 622 5012496418_10205335393968199_7206088036966015164_o 640 5012466013_10205335395288232_934826998821942515_o 640 50(Text & photos provided by A.P.S.Dhiman) 

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‘My life, my thoughts’ by Clement Ilango

CEM2224345_1449394581 640 60Photo by Rebecca Mcintosh

‘Springvale Botanical Gardens , Melbourne https://sbc.smct.org.au/ , is arguably the most beautiful cemetery in Australia . Covering an area of 169 hectares it boasts of a red gum tree that is reportedly 400 years old and no less than 30,000 roses of over 300 varieties . The gravestones and headstones that you see here are of outstanding quality .The monuments are set in manicured lawns and adorned by artificial and natural flowers- ‘ the last gift of the living to the dead ‘ as Kahlil Gibran would have called them . Can you believe this – wedding ceremonies take place in this cemetery and people , like their Victorian predecessors , socialise among gravestones and promenade along its wide pathways and gorgeous gardens . It has a chapel , a cafe , florists and a large function room .

Among the people interred here are hundreds of prominent citizens including forty eight First World War and 87 Second World War participants .

My wife is buried here too .

An erstwhile colleague of mine visits cemeteries all over the globe and writes brilliant notes about them . He has a personal website dedicated to this subject . I too have visited a few fascinating graveyards outside Australia . One of them is Mirogoj Cemetery in Zagreb , Croatia .With arcades and pavilions and a superb vine-covered wall going around it this burial place looks like an openair art gallery . The one in Moscow is also interesting . Boris Yeltsin and the wife of Gorbachev are resting here , along with innumerable grandees of the former Soviet Union , under exquisite monuments and sumptuous sculptures . The graveyard in Buenos Aires where Eva Peron was buried in a family vault of the Duartes is also worth a visit . Incredibly lifelike statues of angels and the Virgin Mother guard the dead here .

When I was in college I was taught a poem written by Thomas Gray – ‘ Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard ‘ . The most famous line in that poem is ‘The paths of glory lead but to the grave ‘ . I recall asking my professor as to why glory must end in a grave and could not be stretched beyond . Back then I was an unquestioning catholic christian and a firm believer in an after-life .

My views have changed since my salad days . I have trained myself to live as if there is nothing beyond the grave and this material world . Even if there is something I cannot comprehend it . I believe that we each create a heaven or hell inside us . The fact of death will destroy me but the idea of death has saved me . I know that I am an ephemeral inhabitant of an insignificant planet but , to me , life is beautiful despite the fact – or because of it – that it is temporary and short . I am aware of life’s terrors , not just its joys and pleasures . Still I have affirmed life without angst and resentment .

On many occasions during the past fourteen years whenever I visited my wife’s grave i have been seeing a young lady in an adjacent row of monuments . She comes alone with a bunch of flowers, kneels in front of an unpretentious pebble-strewn grave and closes her eyes for a few minutes in an attitude of praying . I have seen the portrait of a young man on the headstone of that simple grave . It is very likely she has remained single all these years and her love for the young man has remained as fresh as the flowers she brings to his grave . What can death do to such lovers ?

Ah , that reminds me . I too shall face the inevitable hour . I have lived well , so I hope to die well . I would like my epitaph to read – I LIVED , I LOVED . – RCI’

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