My fable of Rajasthan foray

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Sunset at dunes , pc – Shilpa Sharma 

We were running, we were running with high hopes to catch the train to the Jaisalmer, which was about to leave from the platform no 9 at 5:35 pm.Still, I along with two friends were waiting outside the Purani Delhi railway station main entrance. Our hearts were throbbing as fast as it was just 5 minutes to train to depart. Eventually, rest two people arrived with their heavy luggage. Then we turned on our Bollywood scene of Jab we met where we started running towards the platform to catch train .

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Purani Delhi Railway Station 

The planning for this trip had started a month back while I was having conversation with my best one .where she shared her desire to see desert in 2017. I had started research to make her wish perfect and memorable. I pitched location pins at two places that are Jaisalmer and Jaipur.

Along with me and my chum, other four people had wanted to be the part of this experience. As they all were working professionals and according to their wish-list, I had to design an itinerary of three days with a twist of having all important locations covered with a tinge of unexplored ones.

We boarded train and it was 18 hrs long journey to Jaisalmer from Delhi. We shared our seats with some of the local passengers, we struggled to even step out of our berth to the toilet as till the Rewari the plight of train was so pathetic still we were enjoying every bit of it because we don’t see these activities daily.

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                                     Rajiya gundo meh phas gayi, inside train scene 

Early morning, I felt air whispering in my ear. I felt my chum cuddling me with true cheer. A layer of dust had made a natural cape around me.

The series of colourful turbans and fluorescent dupattas had started appearing at local station hence it took me half a second to confirm that yes we have reached the core of Rajasthan.

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The live play of turbans and colourful dupattas 

We were late by 1 hour. The moment, we stepped down the train on the platform and the first reaction of my trip-mates– “God it’s so hot”.

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Reaction shot of three musketeers at Jaisalmer railway station 

It was really hot even in the month of February where Delhi was just bidding adieu to winter. We reached there around 12:30 pm.

We started looking for autowalas and cab walas outside the station for roaming a bit around and to reach Desert camp. According to the itinerary, we saw Mandir Palace and Kuldhara on the way. To give it more regional touch; do not forget to say Kuldhara not Kul-dhara. Finally got a cab for Rs.1100 which was completely fine as it had included,

  • Mandir Palace
  • Halt at dhabba
  • Kuldhara – the empty village
  • Halt at Windmill farm
  • 40km Highway drive to desert camp

For Rs.1100 we booked Bolero for 6 people. Hence do not forget to bargain. Moreover, feel free to keep your inexpensive and heavy luggage inside the cab, while roaming around.

Experience at Mandir Palace

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 Mandir Palace , Jaisalmer city 

The moment you will enter inside the palace premises, first thing you will spot buffaloes munching husk and a lot of their dung. After paying Rs.80/person for tickets and Rs. 30 for either one camera or phone camera, we entered the main area.

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Mandir Palace , entrance 

The whole palace is a Heritage hotel cum museum where visitors have access only to the museum and one mandir inside.

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  Museum at Mandir palace 

It is worth a visit for once if you are fond of seeing the lifestyle of Maharajas and Maharani in old days.

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One section where I spotted old cameras like twin lens reflex and Kodascope kind of allured me a lot.

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We chose a dhabba very next to the Mandir palace to save time to roam rest. We ordered Idli Sambar, Kadi Chawal, Lassi, Veg-thali and the bill came out to be something like Rs.600. The food was below average but was good enough to fill our stomach.

Experience at Kuldhara

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Kuldhara, Jaisalmer 

Next place to spot on was The Kuldhara- empty village. It is 17km west of Jaisalmer. We paid Rs. 110 for the entry of vehicle inside. It was a stretch of 1-1.5km to reach the exact village from the toll booth.

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I had heard a lot of stories about this place. According to the people this village had been emptied 200 years ago by a community of Paliwal Brahmin as the king had fallen in love with the beauty of the Panchayats head’s daughter.  Secretly, the people on Amavasya night left this village. Before leaving this village, they had cursed this place as no one in the future will be able to settle this village. Kuldhara today is maintained by the Archaeological Survey of India as a heritage site. People there have reported of hearing random screeching sound in the night hence they do close door of this place after the sunset. Still it has got the title of Ghost village in Jaisalmer.

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The analysis, I had done before visiting is (as I had to see the safety of all, before putting this place in the list) – The Kuldhara perfectly represent how the people in Jaisalmer especially Brahmins in JSM used to stay. This place symbolises their lifestyle, their quandary at that time. Recent studies by a group of geologists have proved that this place had been adversely affected by a strong earthquake which left the mud houses broken and unrecoverable. The terror had completely engulfed those who were staying here.

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For more info please read

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/jaipur/haunted-kuldhara-destroyed-by-earthquake-not-abandoned-study/articleshow/56880680.cms

http://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/decoded-why-people-fled-Jaisalmer-s-ghost-villages-200-years-ago/story-MRn8JcNQcIb9BClu0pZp1O.html

Moreover, I noticed the activities of few youngsters there, which includes drinking alcohol at the corner of destroyed part and puffing drugs.

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Hence one could easily guess the logic behind screeching sound and obviously who can stop animals to play with their voices in the night?

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On the way, we asked to stop the cab to capture few images with windmills as I was travelling with all bouncing buns.

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Be careful while capturing as on highway it is hard for the people to stop vehicle from 90 to 0 km/hr, all of the sudden.

We checked-in to desert tents around 3:30pm. The first expression I got from the girls who were travelling with me was- wow! It is going to be awesome.

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We had booked a package of Tent stay, Camel safari, Sunset at Dunes, Jeep ride, Rajasthani dinner, folk music and DJ night.

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 Camel Safari at Thar desert 

Around 5pm in the evening, we started our camel safari to watch sunset from Thar Desert sand dunes. This was around 2km far from the tents. It was a great fun riding camel, the fun begins when camel starts running fast to reach highest point of sand dune. Later, camel charmer asked us to give money for camel’s jaggery. Which is completely your wish whether you want to give it or not.  Later we had Trolley ride around the dunes for Rs.300 for 6 persons. You can bargain it up to Rs.10 per person. On the way coming back, we got gypsy to ride on.

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Trolley ride at Thar desert 

The cultural programme started around 7pm in the evening, where folk dancers were performing with a lot of charm or sensitivity and surely projecting best of their culture. Nowadays, I have noticed these dancers have attained a new form of dangerous act in their performance to attract more audience and to get money as a praising gift.

Like they perform holding needle with their eye lashes, using eye lashes to pull up blade. I personally do not support this and I request all to not support. Real traditional dance is more magnificent then these acts. We were served a plate of besan pakoras along with a cup of a tea while watching the performances.

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Meanwhile they had started serving Dinner at a dinner hall. We all decided to dance on DJ music rather. It was indeed a great night for us. Around 10:00pm we girls had our dinner after dancing. We had ker sangri, gatte ki sabzi, bajre ki roti, papad, paneer ki sabzi, salad, dal – baati, churma.

We gazed at stars for an hour, from sitting space just outside our tent.

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Who says- women are boring after certain age? Well, it is completely a false and baseless dictum because we all witnessed the each other’s crazy side though men were not allowed to hop in as they were busy snoring and coughing from the tent next to us.  We went to sleep around 3am in the night.

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Sorry for creased bed sheet 😀

I would personally suggest all those who are planning to explore Jaisalmer to not forget to stay at Desert Camps. For instance I was staying in Limra desert camp. This provides quality services from food till the stay. Even in an arena where finding water or any essentials is far difficult where these people will certainly help you in.

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 A photo with staffs of Limra desert camp

The staffs were very generous and friendly. Moreover, the tariff is perfectly in budget.

Next morning, according the plan we had to head towards Jaisalmer fort where we covered

  • Patwaon ki Haveli
  • Raja Ka Mahal
  • Streets and Shopping inside fort

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Juxtaposition of culture and history by Jitu Kashmira 

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  Front view of Golden fort 

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Raja Ka mahal 

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Shopping at jaisalmer street 

After getting tired from the vigorous explore and pose. We started searching for a new spree that is “Finding amazing food”. Finally, we crashed ourselves to a very nice looking roof top restaurant “Café Plus” (though they have the option to sit at ground floor also).

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Ambience wise it was so calm and it was very modernly adorned with junks.  They have very nice option of sitting on floor and on the concrete benches.  There we ordered Lemon soda, Coffee lassi, and sweet lassi and in food we ordered Veg noodles, fried rice and manchurian, Aalu Gobhi and naan, and some mix veg. The food was pretty good but I would not suggest having any beverages there. The moment I ordered Lemon soda they literally kept lemon juice and soda bottle in front of me.  My one trip-mate corrected it.

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             Corrected one 

We were enough charged to wander around to catch one vehicle to railway station as it was hardly 1.5 km from the Cafe plus. We got auto for Rs.50. We had train to catch at 5:30 pm to start another chapter of Rajasthan trip that is to Jaipur.

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Do not forget to have enough water along with you in the train as finding water later especially in the night would be difficult.

We reached Jaipur at 4:30 am, unfortunately we had not book a hotel for us as it was mentioned by the mates to not book it. Hence we suffered a bit. Whereas, we were 5 in totals so we thought of taking risk by asking cab people to take us to any budget hotel.  Finally we got a budget hotel named Hotel Hindustani near Railway station it had sufficient space and beds for us.  They had provided us sufficient number of Washrooms and Toilets to freshen up.  After resting a bit, we ordered breakfast at hotel only. We commenced our journey to roam here and there.

The trip-mates, had wanted to spend much time in shopping rather visiting monuments.  Hence I had kept my list so quick and small. That is,

  • Nahargarh fort
  • Street food explore
  • Jal Mahal
  • Hawa Mahal
  • Bapu Market
  • Dinner

Cab to Nahargarh charged us Rs.310 according to Ola.

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Later, in return we booked an auto for 5 people in Rs.200.

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The whole way is full of twists and turns; hence it was road adventure for most of us.

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After reaching Jal mahal, we started craving for street food as all the hawkers had crafted and adorned their stalls so beautiful.

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We ate Burger, Bhel puri, raw coconut water, Jal jeera. The food was OK not that good. This time, I spotted few men around who were into teasing girls there and commenting. Moreover they were capturing them secretly. I request all of you, if in case you will face any one teasing or seeing you inappropriately please do confront and raise your voice.  From there, we headed towards Bapu market and for that we got an auto for Rs. 100.

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We had needed more power to be on shopping coaster. So, we had sugarcane juice for Rs.10 each glass.  The view of the market was surely quirky and beautiful as always. My mates purchased a lot from there like Cotton Kurte, Show pieces, Lord Ganesha, door hanging Trinkets.  We also had famous ice cream Sunday according to the list ‘traffic sundae’ for Rs.40 at Bijwasi.

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For dinner we landed to “Thaliwala” near Jaipur Bus depot. We had Paneer Lababdar and Roti, sweet lassi.  Though they had cooked Lababdar more of like paneer butter masala.  Hence, It is a big no if you are a great foodie and in search of real taste and flavors.  For group of 5 people it cost Rs.612.

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Though the travel in the metro is so common in Metropolitan cities in India but it’s completely a different experience state wise. We travelled in Jaipur Metro from Bus depot to Railway Station. The information we collected is

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  • The last train is available at 9:30 pm
  • They are running metro at the loss of Rs.10 Lakh/day.
  • Limited to only 6 stations.

After roaming a lot and covering most of the distance on foot, had left us so tired. Hence the moment we crashed in the hotel room, we all slept. We all woke up just 10 minutes before to 1 am. Ergo we had to rush. The amazing journey had come to halt as we had our train to catch at 1:00 pm in the night from Jaipur railway station.  After travelling 6 hours in train we reached Purani Delhi from where we started our journey.  This trip was very important for me and surely it has helped me to gain more confidence. Now, I can take my travel buds along with me to explore this beautiful globe for sure.

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The Jodhpur: the Histro-cultural land

In search of finding blue, I found myself lost in this histro-cultural land

79.jpgView of blue streets from Mehrangarh fort

The research had started a way before and bag packs were already packed a week afore with a list of to-do things in my travel diary. I had to choose very keenly, what to see, what not to as unfortunately I had only one and the half days to explore this culturally rich city.

I took Mandore express to reach Jodhpur from Purani Delhi railway station at 9:15pm, on Friday night.Find the pic here  .

IMG_20160422_204019.jpgPurani Delhi railway station

It took 9 hours to reach there. Around 4am, I felt strong chilled gust hitting my epidermal and Goosebumps worked as an alarm clock. I woke up to see out of the window to find the reason behind this amusing chilliness and I found small sand dunes all around with the green patches of thorny shrubs all over it. On the same note do not forget to carry thin woollen robe if you travelling by sleeper class or general.

The moment I stepped down from the train, the strong rays of rising sun hit my cornea.

15.jpgJodpur Railway station

After clicking a bit here and there at station I headed towards hotel and my whole way to the hotel  I felt that its replica of Bhuj.  (http://www.caleidoscope.in/offbeat-travel/bhuj)

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The whole area was dry and most of the women were wearing red dupattas and most of the men there were in bright coloured turban and dhoti, but if you are fond of culture, tradition and architecture then you will fall in love with this city at a very first glance.

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With an itch of not wasting my whole day lying like a royal bee, I had first place to hit on that was the “Umaid Bhavan Palace”.

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Finding auto or local transport could be difficult for novices, though you can opt for lift but little scary to do that. Ola cabs are so frequently available there but keep GPS active on your multimedia box i.e. mobile. Fortunately in scorching heat I got an auto which took me to the palace and charged Rs.180.

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The whole way I was amazed to see all twists and turns of grey path to the palace, I know most of you will fall in love with same.

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After reaching on the top of this imperial settlement, I paid Rs.30 as an entrance fee to the museum no charges for the still camera.

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The museum shows the royal life in modern era with well conserve royal stances even from the basic to the high rendition like dining table, imported culinary, carpets, dresses and you will feel proud the moment you will see the achievements of great majesties of Jodhpur.

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They have got luxurious hotel rooms also to stay which is kind of impossible to see for common public as it highly chargeable and allowed to enter without prior booking. Do not forget to visit “Vintage Car Museum”. This place I would say 5 out 5, hence must visit. Perfect place for “DP ke liye photo” and to consider yourself as a part of royal world for a while.

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After wards I headed towards the “The Nai Sarak”, kind of heaven for shopaholic and foodies.

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One can find amazing leather work there. Various quirky bags, sling bags, mojaris (traditional shoes), yummy eateries.

So, must to-do list there?

  • Try “Makhaniya Lassi” for sure from Janta sweet Home which is at a very starting of the market, costs Rs.40 each (available in Rs.30 also).

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  • Leather bags ( do not forget to bargain as it’s not camel’s leather which they assure, moreover do not buy any animal skin product)
  • Try Lahsunia Bonda
  • Bhel-puri and Sev puri of Janta Sweet home is also must to try, costs Rs.40 each.
  • Jodhpuri Jutis alias Mojaris

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  • Buy Sangri and Jodhpuri Mirch
  • Try Mirch vada
  • Buy Sangri and Ker pickle
  • Jodhpuri crepe fabric made saari or dupattas (from handlooms).

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After that heads towards the “Sardar Market Cirdikot”, it’s a place where Clock towers has been placed like a mounted guard to keep Jodhpuris on punctual track.

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This place is under the regal provinces too as from the top of the fort one can easily see the all activities happening inside this royal fence. This place allows localite to showcase their culture and tradition to the tourists or travelers.

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Must to do list here

  • Buy Jhumkas (for Rs.100)
  • Buy Jodhpuri Bangles (Rs. 150-200)

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  • Be aware of hooligans
  • Do not forget to click (panorama) market and clock tower.

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Fortunately, in the evening I got the opportunity to attend one Jodhpur marriage which allowed me to experiment and explore with the local food and tradition. Gatte Ki Sabzi, Ker Sangri Sabzi (also known as Pachkutaa), Kaju Draksh ki Sabji, Traditional Kadhi, Gulab Jamun ki Sabzi, Saiv Tamatar ki Sabji, Lasan Ki Chutney, Besan barfi and much more. Moreover, I tried to be a quirky turban women like rest of the people there.

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You can also opt for visiting Bishnoi village and you can have the true vegetarian Jodhpuri food, though it will be a time taking process to satisfy the taste buds.

On second day, the sun was putting all heating blaze on our skin so do not forget to keep full sleeves clothes and a sun block.With few friends of mine, we headed towards a Dhabba (eating joint) to have breakfast.

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We all decided to try Jodhpuri Aalu ka Paratha, after 20 minutes of ‘starving and carving’ halt the parathas arrived and most of us were yanked to see the way they had made it. It was fried paratha and for about 15 minutes I struggled to get all oil soaked inside the tissue paper. Tasting the first bite of aalu paratha allowed my taste buds to expand as it was surely a yum treat for them though it was spicy but unforgettable till now.

We all landed up to see “Mehrangarh Fort” and “Jaswant Thada”.

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The history and culture have always allured me hence the fort was quiet humongous and magnificent at the first gaze. As an entrance charge, I end up paying Rs 60 plus Rs.100 for still camera. This place is perfect for a history lover and culture enthusiasts and architecture lover, might be heaven for some.

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All those Jharokhas and mirror palace reminded me of “Baji Rao Mastani” so do not forget to pose like a Princess.

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The best part of this fort is that they have categorized everything so well like they have cradle palace alias Palki Khana,

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entertainment yard where I met 97 years old personality , he is so good in demonstrating afeem and Hookah, moreover he poses when camera clicks.

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The stairs and the huge edifice structure were so beautiful. In only this part of fort and nearby area you will find blue coloured streets and houses so in tot you might not call Jodhpur, The blue city.

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To see all with much of interest and clicking you need at least 3 hours and do not forget to carry water with glucon D.

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“Csowkalao Mehal Terrace Restaurant”, do not forget to visit this place as sitting here and having glimpse of the fort is something you don’t want to miss for sure, though might be expensive for the pockets of some.

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We had to kind of rush as we had train to catch at 6:15pm towards Delhi.

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Do not forget to click Jodhpur Railway station because it completely embodies the state crowned heads and till now the phases of Jodhpur is still breathing in my travelling beam.

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Trip to the city of weeds- “Jangladesh”

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Bikaner is a place, enough to capture your heart to let it flow in the gasp of desert.The largest fifth city of Rajasthan- “Bikaner” alias “Jangladesh”. This amazing hot place is located in the middle of the Thar desert and its hotness is enough to make you look alike bournville chocolate.

d.jpg(Asia’s largest camel farm- Bikaner (though I dint go to the exact location rather I found the whole herd of camels on the way)

This picture, I consider as one of the best click from my ‘travel pyxis’. I got the nice opportunity to capture these posers (camel) on the way to Bikaner. Asia’s largest camel farm is in Bikaner, though I did not go to the exact location rather I found the whole herd of camels on the way.The candor and unity in survival either with animals or with humans are so clear in this picture.

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In my supposition, the word “road trip” is like “glucon D” for a travel obsessed creature and ergo the same happened with me I got full charged up like my camera battery. These picture tells a lot about ‘life in Bikaner’.

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The memory attached with this picture makes me fall in love with Rajasthan again and again.

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Those imagined glances of Bikaner start appearing in front of my rapacious eyes.

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Those colorful markets, heritage buildings, desert, freedom, camels aint these words add more excitement? Well for me it’s enough to make me a bouncing ball with the eye of lens.

g.jpgThe staple source of economic gain for most of the people in Bikaner is from camel. In conversation with a camel charmer- “we love them and they love us”. “Ship of desert”- umm, series of gramercy to the absolute being for gifting our globe with amazing creatures like these.

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