In the annals of Indian history, the name of Jaita Meena may not be known much. In 13th century on the edge of the Aravali Mountains Jaita ruled parts of Southeastern Rajasthan, which later came to be known as Hadoti. He was a Bhil, the Adivasis of Aravali and Satpura Mountains in West-Central India. Experts in guerrilla war the Bhils ruled much of eastern Rajasthan before the Rajputs.
At Bundi, his capital he built a talav in 1298 CE, known as Jait Sagar today, a large water-body of 1.5 km long surrounded by the Aravali Mountains on three sides. It was his realization of saving and distributing water to his subjects of the parched land. Water was used mainly for farming.
Its source was Bana Ganga, further east, a natural perennial stream that flows down from the Aravali and drains into the narrow valleys of the region. The area was thickly forested in the past. According to a legend, Rao Kolhan had stuck the ground with an arrow to extract the water and the river came gushing out. It is believed that taking a holy bath at Bana Ganga one is relieved from all miseries of life. A Shiva Temple is built at the spot.
When Bundi grew as a major Rajput Kingdom, the demand for water also increased. In 1625 CE, Rajmata Jayawati Devi, mother of Rao Surjan Singh enlarged it. Hence, it is also known as Jayawati Sagar.
The scenic lake sandwiched between the mountains of the Aravali even attracted the Mowgli man Rudyard Kipling in the 19th century. Sukh Mahal, a haveli built in the Rajput style on the edge of the lake where Kipling stayed a few days of his life to write parts of yet his another classic ‘Kim’.
With this much information about the place I reached here in a lovely September morning in 2016. It was before sunrise and there were hardly any people. The serenity of the lake against the backdrop of the Aravali Mountains was spectacular. If you are a poet your mind would be fully charged to get out of box thinking. If you are photographer, your hands and minds would play together on experimenting with different ISO and aperture speeds.
Slowly the sun rays spread over the water altering its colour from silvery white to orange-golden hue. You see thousands of lotuses blooming all over the water body. Here and there are crumbling ruins of chahttris, cenotaphs of erstwhile Hadoti rulers and their subjects. Now there were intense human activities, some feeding grains to fishes, a few sitting in deep meditation or practicing yoga/pranayam, there are morning walkers and villagers from countryside biking through the narrow alleys around the lake carrying milk or local produces.
Bana Ganga and Jait Sagar once formed the lifeline of Bundi. You see the depiction of water, probably of Jait Sagar even in the paintings of Chitrasala where water was celebrated with pomp and festivities. Being little away from the heart of the city it also attracted wild animals and birds providing an excellent base for shikar among the royals of erstwhile Bundi.
Today the lake of Jaita Meena serves different purpose. Its water is no more needed as there are other sources of water for drinking and agriculture. There is no community participation for its periodic cleaning. As a result of this parts of the lake has started becoming filthy. But the locals still have a lot of attachment to its sanctity, history and serenity.