By Lokendra Singh
Jaipur, March 30 : Visiting the famous Amber Fort near Jaipur has been made special with the introduction of Rajasthani folk and devotional music that will add to tourists' delight who otherwise enjoyed elephant rides and the captivating Sheesh Mahal here.
The Rajasthan government has assigned a few local artistes the task to entertain tourists visiting the Amber Fort with Bhopa and Bhopi singing and dances, the ancient performing art forms from the interiors of Rajasthan.
Bhopa-Bhopi singing and dancing involves a male artiste called "Bhopa" and another female artiste addressed as "Bhopi". It does not require too many artistes and has been performed by a particular community of Rajasthan for a long time.
Only two artistes can render the Bhopa-Bhopi programme of songs and dances. The two instruments used by the duo are Ravana Hattaa (a stringed instrument) and Dholaki (small drum).
Bhopa-Bhopi sing religious hymns in which prayers are offered to 33 crore (330 million Hindu deities) including the supreme God.
Though most of the other Rajasthani dances are performed by girls or women, they are forbidden to dance during the Bhopa-Bhopi programmes.
Artistes, who perform in the corridors of Amber, are a delighted lot as their art that was almost on the verge of fading into oblivion, has received a fresh lease of life.
"We sing the Bhajans (hymns). We form a group of three to four people. One plays the Dholki, one plays the Ravana Hatta, which is our instrument. Bhopi sings and tiny kid dance as such the programme is impressive," said Ram Swarup, a Bhopa.
Tourists visiting the fort are excited to witness the ancient art of Bhopa-Bhopi.
"It's absolutely fascinating. It's good to see history is still being kept alive here. We haven't seen any thing like this before. It's absolutely fantastic. The best part here I think it's been the surroundings in the fort, looking at everything and then hearing the music, it's wonderful," said Justin, a tourist from England.
"This is the most beneficial activity. Tourists appreciate it most. They (Bhopa-Bhopi) relate the history and the culture of the rural areas of Rajasthan by enacting the programmes of the interior areas," said Ashu Singh, a tourist guide.
Around 1.4 million international tourists visit Amber Fort each year.
The decoration of the Amber Fort is influenced by both, the Hindu and Muslim style of ornamentation. Exquisite paintings of hunting scenes on the walls depict the temperament of the Rajputs, who were adventurous, revolutionary and self-indulgent.
Intricate carvings on the walls and ceilings astonish the visitors. Besides, the minute mirror work adds to the grand appearance and royalty of the halls.