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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Curtain of grey covering pain of these femmes

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Curtain of joy covering the skin which has got destroy. Women are always being kept inside the fence of perplexion especially in our nation. I always wonder why always women have to follow the code of behavior and etiquettes which our society has made for us. Why culture is served as a “main course”?

These pictures I had captured when I been to a “Birhor tribal area” in Jharkhand.

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I must agree on this adage that – “if you want to see the relation of human and nature, be a tribe”. The amiable nature they showed is indeed appreciable though I was afraid as I had heard a lot about their hunting skills. Those funny conversation and sarcastic ping I still remember when a group of women of the tribe said- “we love our culture and we love adorning our self, culture we follow not let it to hover over us as a Hitler-craft”.

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The head of the tribe gave some bucket full of interrogative words- why urban humans are attacking absolute being (the creator of life). Their motto of life is so true and simple – “be simple, eat simple and live life long”.

Experiences in the MTB event and the growing popularity of adventure sports

Those golden rays of sun, frosty whiff, left ashes and continuing fire splinters, those twines of deodar tree and psychedelic adventures were enough to make me feel yanked with excitement.

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(Camp site- Gadakuffar, day-1)

My journey to India’s famous mountain biking event “MTB-Himalaya-2013” had started alone in the calmness of night. Being a woman solo traveler, it was indeed difficult to even think about travelling in the night but that sense of afraid was not that impactful or one can say dominating to hover over my passion to ‘explore and click’. 

 

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(Picture from the real window while traveling in bus)

The level of enthusiasm did not let me sleep whole night. New place and new people to know, to work with all these thoughts were jagging my encephalon. Those imagined glances of “Shimla” making me smile like a day-dreamer. Being a part MTB-Himalaya was unforgettable. I still remember when I had got the media volunteer strap card for which I had waited so long, it was a melodramatic moment for me as I had mixed emotions of sentimental prick and smiling go like we usually see in 90s Bollywood films.

 

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(Morning view of Shimla)

It was not just an event rather it was an opportunity for me to understand and see the culture and tradition of a place where people share a common boat to disseminate their ideas, views and respect. I was like that frog who just got an opportunity to jump out of its guarded well to explore the surroundings as being a media person there I did the same – I interviewed people, I captured, I wrote, I explored at the end I got more encouraged and was more informative. 

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(Fun while working inside the cultural sphere of Himachal)

The best part of being as a team member of MTB-Himalaya was the new facet of India and people; I got to see one-on-one. As India has changed its strata from “underdeveloped” to “developing nation” in the same pace, the developing canoodle scooping citizens in the same modern eddy. Adventure sports nowadays have started flutter over Indians. People are getting more indulge in these die-or-survive scenarios and positive fact is that they are making a top space in the list of all for example “Narain Karthikeyan” in formula1 racing, “Bachendri Pal”– 1st women to climb up mount Everest etc. women are not less in showing their stronger side in this patriarchal sphere by participating in so called “Men’s game”.

Motorsports events like – “Raid de Himalaya”, “Autocross”, “RRR” are all outcome of the love which motorsports idolizers have. “Adventure sports are drug to me”- Mr.Raj Singh Rathore (famous Indian origin rally-master) I support this adage completely; once humans get infected with the cupid of adventure then the effect of it sustains lifelong. Even I am amongst those who got invaded hard by the virus of “am-risk”. Having been part of the “Thar Motorsports family” from few months, I’ve learned a lot about the racing world. However, there’s one thing I haven’t done – to see live “DAKAR” race. Those cute modified machinery with powerful and intoxicating sound always makes me jump like a tripping monkey who is mad about racing off road.

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 Feel of the rumbling of unrestricted engines always make me to think about desert monster created by the super fast machineries most of time in deserts. 

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(Desert Monster)

The addiction of adventure sports is itself not resistive. I still remember when I had got a call from the director of “The Thar Motorsports” and my insane reaction afterwards. It’s a true phrase “to reach your destination, you need milestones” – The great warriors (J.C Kishore), I strongly agree as in the world of motorsports, the person who being milestone for me was “Mr, Raj Singh Rathore” who taught every inch and jargons concerning rally and the motorsports. From there on I am still more delirious about reccez, rally, and click. The way adventure sports are invading environ all over the world soon it will spread its archegonial forge and positive hysteria with more impact and thrill to motivate newbie.