Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Rajasthan road trip

Pushkar ghatChttorgarh fortSarsoon khets view from udaipur city palaceshikarbadiRajasthan is beautiful. A million people must have said that, but when you experience it you know that they are so right. Maybe it’s the feeling of going back into time, the palaces, the lakes, and the color that comes out so well in the dull sandy background or maybe it’s the history that is so enchanting and full of mystery.

A road trip through Rajasthan is what makes you really taste the flavor of the place, especially when it is done in a span of two days!!

We started our journey on early Saturday morning. The highway to Udaipur is beautiful the roads are amazing; all throughout there are bright bougainvillea flowers, which is a treat for sore eyes!
The terrain changes from dull and boring to rocky hillocks. The air was chilly this time of the year making it more enjoyable.

There is a resort called the Shikarbadi resort around 5 km before one enters Udaipur, I recommend a good English breakfast by the pool side overlooking a great landscape, just be careful of monkeys! The resort is actually the stud farm of a Maharaja and as one enters the place one can see great looking horses galloping around the place. We had made it to Udaipur in good time and could relax and have a good breakfast before we went to see the city palace. Located right in the middle of the busy city is the city palace, but as soon as you enter the gigantic gates the world transforms. The view is amazing of Udaipur city on one side and the lakes on the other.
They have a museum and one can roam around the palace and its tiny corridors.

I was amused, amazed and in wonder, every one dreams of a royal life and I guess that’s what I was also thinking looking at the palace.

The small lanes that lead to the palace have shops for jewelry, bags, stationary, and a lot of knick knacks. I got great bargains on lehriya dupattas and stationary which is great for gifts. After all the shopping we decided to visit the Fateh Sagar lake. We went boating at one in the afternoon, the breeze was chilly, and there was no one in the lake at that time, just us, the shikara and a very sweet shikara wala who was so concerned why we were not spending more time boating.
That was the most peaceful content and happy part of the trip; moments like this don’t come along everyday.

On our way to Chttorgarh, our next destination we stopped at Chattris, the burial places for Maharajas and Maharanis.
The terrain changes to just saroon ke khet on both sides and a nice blue sky in the background. We stopped and I fulfilled my wish of running through the sarsoon ke khet like in DDLJ singing tujhe dekha ….
We reached Chittor just before sunset and went straight to the fort where we met Luv sharma, our host for the night. We got a guide to take us around, the fort is huge and in a lot of parts, it has more than a hundred temples all of them either broken or defaced by Mughal and British rulers. But they are still beautiful and they still stand tall. There is a beautiful Kali temple, a sun temple with the Trimurti idol. We visited the main palace, the padmani mahal, vijay stambh and the site where the jauhar was done. We spent 3 hours there and the guide spoke non stop in one tone but he did take us back into history, culture and tradition.

It was around 8 when we left the fort and went to the Sharma house, I have not seen many or infact any joint families and this was great because they are really close knit. They have a certain respect for each other which is so nice to see. They are above all great hosts, they will make you eat till you don’t put your hands on your plate and beg NO! Neelam, Luv’s wife was about to deliver her baby any day yet she was the perfect host taking care of our every need.
The next freezing morning we took a walk around the house, every thing is organic here because they have their very own vegetable farm in the backyard and their own cows for milk! Butter is made fresh everyday and vegetables and fruits are plucked fresh too!!
After a heavy breakfast (I didn’t eat, was full with the previous nights meal) we left for Ajmer. I wanted to visit the Dargah, I had visited it 12 years ago and had great memories, but I was wrong this time.
It took us an hour to get through the traffic and get there. The place is a mess, everyone is asking for money, be it the parking guy, the guy selling Prasad, chadar or even a beggar. They are just out there calling for you and running for money. It was a Sunday and there were not less than five thousand people over there, we managed to keep our shoes in a shop and the security stopped us, apparently you cant take cameras inside anymore. Another thirty minutes and money is spent to deposit the camera. We went in hoping for some peace but all we found was people pushing us screaming and a lot of pickpockets. Scared and suffocated we got out tied a thread as tradition and literally ran out of that place. I prefer to remember the visit 12 years ago which was peaceful and beautiful, not this one.

Ajmer to pushkar is around a half hours drive, the drive is beautiful, Pushkar remains peaceful despite of guides and the likes of them wanting to make money from each and every tourist.
We spent around an hour there, sitting not talking.. just being with ourselves.

The last leg of the journey was to Jaipur, I had to take a flight back to Ahmedabad at six and for once it was on time! We stopped for lunch at jo hukum recommended by Luv. The place serves amazing dal and chappatis.
Being a Sunday Jiapur was shut so we didn’t see much there. The Airport is fascinating its small and the airplane comes and stands right next to the gate!

Listening to bawara mann a million times, laughing, crying…. Two days of numerous emotions and bonding’s that will last a lifetime.
People were skeptical if we would ever manage to see five places in two days, I would discount jaipur so we ended up seeing four beautiful places, met great people and strengthened our friendship for life.

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