Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Road to Rajasthan

Jaipur was like a childhood dream come true for me. The forts, rajas, ranis, pagdis and not to forget the amazing malpuas. Every second in the pink city was a new experience in itself. The splash of colours all around, intricate and breathtaking works of local artisans and delectable cuisine – in all, it is everything that one does not expect a desert land to be – refreshing, bustling and always welcoming.

For the traveller interested in the rich heritage of the city, Jaipur has an array of forts that are not only architectural marvels but also visual treats. 

The visit to the three forts – Amber, Jaigarh and Nahargarh – took us an entire day and was totally worth it. The magnificent structures, tales of the erstwhile rulers and the vast landscape would definitely sweep any traveller off his feet. At one of the forts, I even managed to become a Rajasthani chori for a brief while and got a photo clicked in the traditional attire. 

There are also puppetry shows that are quirky and fun. The dolls in the show that we saw were dancing to the tune of ‘Waka Waka’. 

The Sheesh Mahal (Palace of glass), Jal Mahal (Palace on water), baoris (step wells) and wax museum are a feast to the eyes like never before.

Then there is Hawa Mahal (Palace of winds), the beauty of which is inexplicable. The intricate lattice windows offer a beautiful view of the bustling city right below. Anyone who goes inside the numerous rooms would be pleasantly surprised by the cool breeze circulating inside even in the heat of the blazing sun. Let me remind you that there is no other way to believe it than by experiencing it all by yourself. 

City palace, the residence of the erstwhile maharajas, gives the traveller a first-hand experience of what the lives of royals are like. They have on display the various fashionable outfits worn by the rajas and the ranis, the cutlery they use, their weapons as well as the other finesse in the everyday lives of the rulers. 

Right next to it is the Jantar Mantar, an astronomic marvel, that delights those with scientific interests.

For the shopaholics, there are several bazaars like Johri bazaar, Bapu bazaar and Tripolia bazaar. We managed to pick up a few bed sheets with amazing Rajasthani block prints, Lahriya saris, razais, a bandhni suit and a few trinkets, all of it at affordable prices. You need to make the most of your bargaining skills and constantly be on the watch out for touts who try to trick you into buying cheap stuff at exorbitant rates.

Another unforgettable experience was the village resort ‘Choki Dhani’. The scrumptious Rajasthani thali they offer with generous helpings of desi ghee and butter is one that you will not forget for ages. Every time you think twice about having that extra roti or choorma, the Marwari waiters mock you in good humour and remind you of the traditional ways of eating well and eating healthy. Not only that, they even encourage you to have another glass of Rajasthani cola aka chaas or savour another bit of the yummy malpua. And for the albums, they let you wear their pagdis and help you click photographs.

For all the city folks like us who have had no chance to visit a real Rajasthani hamlet, Choki Dhani provides a glimpse of all things rural. Be it the traditional folk dancers or the magician, the resort has it all. All they ask you is to be their audience for the evening.

If you are too lazy and tired for anything after the sumptuous meal, you can just lie down in one of the numerous khaats and gaze at the evening sky.  Let me remind you that the village offers plenty to explore till your feet turn sore.

On the third day morning, we set out on our return journey with a heavy heart. More than the places we visited, we missed many. We also knew that the hundreds of new things we learned in two days was more than what we had learned from any teacher. Jaipur had just laid bare before us the vibrant soul of Rajasthan. 

With its warm people and colourful walls, 
the Pink City had really become ‘Aapno Rajasthan’ for us. 

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