Bada Bagh, also called Barabagh (literally Big Garden) is a
garden complex which is about 6 km north of Jaisalmer on way
to Ramgarh, and halfway between Jaisalmer and Lodhruva in the
state of Rajasthan in India. This is not really a garden but a
place of royal canotaphs, built in the memory of Kings and
Queens who rules this land. It contains a set of royal
monuments, or chhatris of Maharajas of Jaisalmer state,
starting with Jai Singh II. Each of the memorial 'chattris'
has a central column with a bas relief of its owner. Many are
followed by figures- one for each wife or consort who
committed 'sati' on his funeral pyre.
One can see a definite sequence of style from the angular
shapes of the early Hindu monuments at the back that are over
300 years old, to the round arches of later Mughal influence
on architecture. Bada Bagh is an oasis at the bank of a
man-made dam. It has greenery all around to provide relief, to
the local people, from the unrelenting sun. In the cloudy
sunset, this is a popular place to watch the setting sun turn
Jaisalmer into a beautiful golden brown land.
Bada Bagh is an abundant oasis in the fascinating backdrop of
a pretty rain fed lake and a dam in the middle of the plateau.
Bada Bagh was founded by Maharaja Jai Singh II, most of the
city's fruit and vegetables are grown here and above it are
royal monuments with elegantly carved ceiling and equestrian
statues of former rulers. The royal cremation grounds are set
between the desert and a rain fed lake, built by Maharaja Jai
Singh II. A wheat crop is planted as the lake dries up each
Main Attractions of Bada Bagh
Bagh which literally means ‘Big Garden’ is located on the
Ramgarh road. It was commissioned by Maharawal Jait Singh in the
early 16th century and completed by his son Lunakaran after his
death. The site itself consists of a tank, a dam and a garden.
Nearby you will find the Govardhan Stambh ( pillar ) on which
are engraved the names of the dam and the water tank which are
called the Jait Bandh and the Jaitsar respectively, dedicated to
the man who constructed them. The Jait Bandh is a huge
structure, about 1,200 feet in length and 350 feet in width and
built out of solid blocks of stone, as are the stepwells.
The Magnificent Drainage System
The interesting feature of the dam is the five tier drainage
system which is known locally as Bhanvaria which extends by a
bridge. The split-level drains ensure that when the tank fills
up there is a natural outflow of water which minimises the risk
of flooding. The drains on the other side are called Ramnal. The
piece de resistance of Bada Bagh is the Shrine of Bhaironji
believed to be a folk manifestation of Lord Shiva The popular
image depicting him with his legendary dog is worshipped all
over Rajasthan and is particularly visited by childless or
infertile women who make offerings to him of their kanchlis.
Maharawal Bairisal's Chhatri
One of the most prominent monuments till recently at Bada Bagh
was Maharawal Bairisal’s chhatri (reigned 1863-1901) until it
collapsed. Each chhatri contains inscribed tablets and a statue
of the Maharawal on a horse along with his queen standing
nearby. The size of the chhatris is indicative of the
individual’s status, with the king’s memorial obviously larger
than any of his brothers. If a maharaja and his maharani are
depicted together on a tablet it indicates that she committed
sati on the death of her husband, while smaller tablets
depicting women are generally of their concubines called paswans.
The memorials represent an amalgamation of the Paliwal, Mughal
and Rajput styles of architecture and Badi Bagh is the typical
oasis in the desert.
History of Bada Bagh
descendant of Maharawal Jaisal Singh, the founder of the state
and Maharaja of Jaisalmer, Jai Singh II (1688–1743), specially
made a dam to create a water tank during his reign in the 16th
century. This made the desert green in this area.After his death
on September 21, 1743, his son Lunkaran built a beautiful garden
next to the lake and a chhatri (Hindi for cenotaph) for his
father on a hill next to the lake. The site itself consists of a
tank, a dam and a garden.
Later on many more cenotaphs were constructed here by the Bhatti
descendants.Atop a hill just minutes away from the desert city
of Jaisalmer, tourists will find the eerily calm setting of Bada
Bagh or Big Garden. Wind whips through crumbling cenotaphs, made
of the famous golden stone of Jaisalmer, built in memory of the
city’s rulers. Huge wind turbines hum in unison are scatterd
around the domed roofs shading the sandstone and marble markers.
The sand dunes at Sam are a well revealed destination,
especially for sunset views, and the cenotaphs at Sunset Point
(closer to the city) are pushed by drivers too lazy to drive a
few miles further. The last Chhatri is meant for maharaja
Jawahar Singh which dates from the 20th century and remains
unfinished after Indian independence.
The imperial chhatris or cenotaphs of the rulers were a tribute
to the Bhatti dynasty. The oldest among them are the cenotaphs
of Maharawal Jait Singh and his predecessor Devidas who reigned
from 1470-1506. The newest cenotaph is that of Jawahar Singh who
was Maharawal at the time of Indian independence. Jawahar
Singh’s chhatri was left incomplete as his son died within a
year of his attainment to the throne which was considered a bad
sign by the family. From then on the practice of building a
valedictory memorial to the ruling clan has been discontinued.
A whitel marble plaque inside the cenoptaph, below the dome
tells about whom it belongs to and most of them are shown riding
on the horse. There are plates outside, may be put by tourism
department to tell which one belongs to whom. The latest one
dated sometime in early 20th century is incomplete and the
tradition was stopped after independence.
There was a garden built here next to a dam. The gardens are
largely neglected, but the hill with the cenotaphs is still
quite an interesting sight.There was a surreal feeling at this
place, even though it was crowded with tourists.Visitors will
enjoy the beautifully carved structures at sunrise or sunset
when picture perfect light flourishes.
How to Reach Bada Bagh
Jaisalmer is connected to major cities of India through
broad gauge as well as meter gauge railway tracks. Direct
trains to Jaisalmer are available from Jodhpur as well as
Delhi. Jaisalmer is connected through both 'Broad gauge'
as well as 'Meter gauge' tracks. One can also travel to
Jaisalmer by Palace on Wheels.
Jaisalmer is well connected to the rest of state by
well-maintained roads. Deluxe & Ordinary buses of
Rajasthan Roadways & Private companies operate form
Jaisalmer to Jodhpur, Jaipur, Bikaner, Barmer, Mount Abu,
Jalore, Ahmedabad etc, Roadways main bus stand opposite
Railway station & Golden bus terminal near State Bank of
Bikaner and Jaipur, Shiv road, Jaisalmer are the two major
Jaisalmer is not directly connected to Airways as such,
Jodhpur airport which is about 300 kms away is the nearest
airport. Jodhpur is connected to all the major metros of
India by government owned as well as private airlines.
From Jodhpur you can hire Cabs or take a train journey
according to one’s wish and preference.