Sunday, July 10, 2011

The Sterling Castle at 'Stirling'..

We stopped at the beautiful castle at Stirling, the second on our trip here. As with the one in Edinburgh, I was immediately struck by the strategic positioning and the view it commandeered; in times of peace the totally gorgeous Scottish countryside, and in times of war a hawk's eye view of the enemies approach if they were ever to get so close..
View the castle overlooks..
Outside stands a statue of Robert the Bruce. He seems to be overseeing the land beyond.
The iconic Robert the Bruce..
We walk into the palace. The next tour is about to start. ( The tours are free). We join in. Our rendezvous with the sunshine seems to endure. As we walk through this beautiful piece of 15th century Renaissance Art, history unravels. Here lived James V and it was under his reign that the palace was complete at around 1595. The rooms and halls are exquisitely decorated. James 5 was married to Mary of Guise. But his newborn daughter who would one day rule , Mary Queen of Scots did not see her father for long, for  James V died five days after she was born.
The Bowling Grounds..
We walk into the beautiful bowling grounds.  The beautiful maintained green lawns is an accurate reflection of how it would how looked in its days of royal splendor.

The walls are adorned with beautiful structures. It is ironic that I use the word beautiful for each of these grotesque creations some of whose faces are contorted in pain are ugly. But the carving is so painstakingly detailed that their pain seems to make the stone come alive in their suffering.

Inside the Great Hall..
The great hall that we walk into is massive, the largest banqueting hall of it time in Scotland. We see the dias where the king and queen once sat. At the far end of the hall hangs the symbol of the Unicorn, representing The Scottish Royal court of Arms. The beams stands high above us. The hall saw two great events, the baptism of the first born of Mary Queen of Scots and he in turn celebrated the baptism of his son prince Henry here. After a restoration project spanning 35 years the hall was finally restored to its former glory.

The inner hall of the queen has the magnificent Stirling tapestries. James V had two tapestries bearing the  symbol of the unicorn. The Stirling tapestries are a set of 7 and are a more recent project commissioned by Historic Scotland. The seven tell the story of the Unicorn and are meant to be viewed as some sort of a parable.
The Unicorn..

Monument to the 75th Stirlingshire regiment : Says.. India, Seringapattanam, Delhi, Relief of Lucknow..
We walk around and out of the castle and something catches my eye, a monument which looks like a cross with the words Seringapatnam caved on it. Its a tribute to the regiment which fought in the Mysore campaign from 1792 to 1799. I stand and contemplate how stories can be told and retold. For us who studied Indian history, the wars were the heroic fight of Tipu Sultan, The Tiger of Mysore  against the colonizing English.  For some others it was symbolic of the English conquest in foreign lands.
I remember  Chimananda Adichie and what she says about 'The danger of a single story.  Standing here I feel am part of both stories and I can see the scale of death and destruction on both sides and I feel a deep sense of sadness for all the lives lost not just Indian.

Meena Venkataraman

1 comment:

  1. The countryside is so serene.

    And to think I had meandered at the very spot where Tipu Sultan was slain in the very campaign for Mysore.

    There'll always be two stories, but only one will qualify for the righteous.



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