For the few who succeeded in climbing the hill under the flow of lethal arrows and passing through the unbreakable door, one first courtyard reveals the rough appearance of stones relinquished to centuries.
The man stands, strong and frank, unpretentious. Behind him, a beautiful woman unveils, door-by-door, corridor-by-corridor, her secret garden to the most privileged. In days gone by, only women could cross the threshold of the zenana. Inside, all whiteness. Flawless marble cools down the bare feet as a carpet opened out to stroke the sole.
"Beyond Sardargarh’s rough masculine appearance, the inner world of women is full of surprises."
Domes and balconies offer desired shades, sometimes punctuated by a light breeze. In the uncluttered gardens, groves flirt with bright pink roses, a pure aesthetic pleasure. On the terrace and from any bow window giving on the village side, behind the few tall houses of Lawa, the green of trees dominates as far as the eye can see.
On the southern side is a small hill with a temple on top; in the opposite direction, the lake. By September, it reaches its highest level, then it progressively shrinks until the cycle starts all over again in a yearly routine. Villagers use the water collected in the lake during the rainy season for the irrigation of their land. For them, the lake means the wealth of the village.
The simple beauty of water and the world reflecting on its sheer surface is the traveller’s gift. Today, the amusing K.S. Mahipal Singh and his charming wife Dharitri Kumari reign over the forgotten palace and its nearby villages.
Their lack of pretension and strict work ethic has gained them the respect of the villagers. A surprising complicity unites them. They care about each other and their motto has always been: “Work is thy duty, reward is not thy concern”..
The family put an end to the Purdah tradition years ago, after the independence, and today, Dharitri moves in and outside the house with a delightful freedom. She speaks her mind, laughs frankly and is always curious to learn about other cultures. An educated woman, she offers a true home for her guests and plans to create a small library to share her passion for books.
In her house, she is proud to say that all the staff, despite the traditional caste system strictly respected in the village, drinks purified water from the same tap and eats fresh organic vegetables. Beyond Sardargarh’s rough masculine appearance, the inner world of women is full of surprises.