2011-02-22

Jodhpur 1st Nov 2010


31st midnight boarded train to Jodhpur from Jaipur after a long day we were very tired . The train was late as it arrived from Delhi. On the train meet Subhojit who was also in Rajasthan for one long week break just like us from Bangalore. Their itinerary was bit different compared to us and they were going to Jaiselmer. On the wee hours of 1st November reached the platform of Jodhpur and thankgod for ensuring that hotel provided a cab for pickup. Otherwise bargaining and negotiating with cab and auto drivers would be very difficult when you are half sleepy in a new town.
Reached our hotel Kuchamann haveli and slept as much we can.  Some how pulled ourselves out of the bed at 7.30am had breakfast. And at 8.20am started for bishnoi village day trip. Aarush was still sleeping when we reached the Jeep.
Our driver cum guide gave a brief description about Bishnoi community (29 bish: twenty, noi: nine) and was dressed in traditional attire and picked us in a old Willy Jeep. Although these people are Hindu, they bury their dead to give the body back to the nature and save woods for cremation. They are considered to be very eco friendly in order to protect trees even Khejarli Massacre (where 363 bishnoi people sacrificed to protect the trees) took place. Idea behind this tour is that it helps you escape from the modernity and rush of the city and takes you to “off beaten path” - small villages where the locals live.
On the way, from Jodhpur to Guda village we spotted some wild life (spotted deer, blue bulls and antelopes) which seems bishnoi people being close to nature they don't kill them.  Famous case of Salman Khan shooting a dear happened around here. Our guide was driving in bit speed and failed to  maneuver which caused our Jeep to topple side wise. Luckily nothing happened to any one and around 6-7 people came by to lift the jeep from the trench. Aarush was bit shocked and still remembers this incident clearly.
Our reception was warm and friendly starting with a visit to traditional opium ceremony. Although, Opium is illegal in India but the locals have special rights preserved for them to continue with their traditional practices. Very strange thing here is penniless women flaunt heavy silver jewelry. One more thing to notice was women being the symbol of creation they wear vibrant colors such as red and orange while men wear white as a symbol of cleanliness and austerity.
Then we saw many shepherds on the way to singhasni (Muslim religion Potter's village). We were instructed on how to spin the wheel, form clay and set the pots out to dry. The village looks like a battlefield with its drying pots resembling piles of cannonballs. Santanu did try his hand but it seems it’s not that easy as it looks to be. When they take you to such trip they expect you to buy their products.
To round out our trip we stopped at Salawas (Weavers village) where we had our lunch. Before lunch we were shown how durries (mat) are weaved; when he starts to speak he knows business, literally. Then traditional lunch was offered to us. After meal, although mat(durry) was costly but we bought one and bid them bye. Its place where life still goes on like the days of the past. The sun was quite hot and we came back around 3 PM back to hotel,

Aarush was sleepy but he did not sleep and as soon we boarded a auto he was sleeping. We went to C-Road, sardarpura which is a lively part of Jodhpur with many shops and eatery. The main purpose for going out was to dine at Gypsy. As we reached  quite early  Aarush was sleeping all along; we roamed around did little shopping before entering Gypsy a  superb clean place to be for pure veg. rajasthani thali with one condition food taken on plate can't be thrown. Food is served umpteen number of times. And they keep asking for more serving which we really enjoyed it. If you are a true connoisseur of food, then do not miss this place it only cost 150 INR per plate.

2011-02-01

Jaipur


We woke around 7ish and left by the same Cab with Mr. Singh (who took us to Shekhawati) around 8:30 from hotel. As Mr. Singh said jokingly lets start the day in auspicious way – which mean Birla Temple was first on the list and we reached the parking lot at dot 9. The journey took us trough the posh residential area of Jaipur with huge bungalows which have similarities with the Lutyens’ Delhi but a rarity in modern India.
Birla Temple of Jaipur like any other Birla Temple is made with pure white marble. There is Moti Dungri Fort in the back ground. Next to the Birla Temple is most famous Ganesh Temple which we skipped. After the quick tour of Birla Temple Mr. Singh took us for Breakfast. The choice was very simple Jalebi and Samosa as coming from Bangalore we were craving for it. The street we stopped  was full of traditional sweet makers. The Samosa was just made in front of us and it was so fricking hot that we both burnt our tongue but both were too good.
Hawa Mahal was our next stop  - the iconic building of Jaipur. We entered from the side and bought a combo ticket that allows entering 5 Government maintained attractions. At ticket counter, we were told Audio Guide wasn’t available but which was not right as we saw the counter once inside. We hired a guide for 150(posted price was 200 we were  his first client).The guide was a gentle person who knew the history and the Kodak-spots very well.
From the back Hawa Mahal does not look that appealing, it has two big courtyards.  The building was made for the royal ladies so that they can view the world without being seen. There are around thousands (937) of windows which over looks the Delhi-Jaipur highway. In those days, all the big parades or activites used to happen on this road. And that allowed ladies to watch royal processions and festivities. In this five storey building , top floor was for the maids and small children. The outer wall is not 90° rather inclined at 70° to give much better visibility from the top. The small windows on the façade gives it a honey comb look. From the top we could see city palace, Jantar Mantar clearly and the whole Aravalli (one of the oldest mountain range in the word) range which gives a natural protection to the city of Jaipur.
From here went to Jantar Mantar; this time we were not that lucky as there were no concession in terms of hiring a guide. The Founder king of Jaipur was great in astronomy, he built five such Jantar Instruments & Mantar(calculation) in India. Jaipur has the largest and best preserved of all. The largest sundial of the word has an accuracy of 2 seconds. The other instruments are more complex and innovative. There always a small replica made before the big ones are constructed to ensure the accuracy is maintained. The Jantar Matar is quite well maintained but as usual there were few Indian who don’t follow rules and step into the constructions for their photos.
The Sun was getting hotter in each passing minutes and so the naughtiness of Aarush. Not sure it was due to Sun or just like that. But after running around in Jantar Mantar we crossed road and entered City Palace. The city palace is divided into two parts one for the public and other where the current ruler still stays. The administration is private here. The ticket is quite expensive but the monument is very well maintained. Chandra Mahal is part of the private part of current Royal family a seven storey building which host the royal flag of Jaipur. Almost after 90 minutes we made our exit from City palace and by that time the heat was too much. We got some curd and fruits for Aarush on way towards Amber ford.
On the way we did stopped for few minutes at Maharani ki Chhatri and Jal Mahal. Jal Mahal is  on man made Man Sagar Lake.
Amber Fort was the royal fort and Amber was capital before Man Singh moved his capital and Royal Palace to the modern Jaipur. It has plenty of history and details for which a guide is must. Amber fort is build over centuries and the cost of the building is unknown but some say it might cost 3 to 4 times the cost of Taj Mahal.  The palace has the famous Sheesh Mahal (palace of mirrors) which lights up with a single candle.  There are many passage which carries water and air to ensure there is enough cooling for the hot summer month. The concept  of sustainable architecture is at it best.  I must admit the architects ensured every drops of monsoon rain is saved and properly used so they can survive a harsh drought if needed.
It took us more than an hour to walk around different parts of the palace.We had a simple vegetarian lunch (very late one) before moving to Jaigarh Fort. You can walk between Amber and Jaigarh fort if your legs and lungs permit; with car one needs to take a long detour. Aarush fall asleep as car started to roll. We paid extra so we can take our cab inside which was a great idea with sleeping Aaursh. Jaigarh Fort is situated on a higher hill and that gives it a complete view of Amber fort. Jaigarh fort was a army station  so in case of an emergency it can save Royal Family located at Amber fort. It was closing time when we came out of Jaigarh fort.
Last on the list was Nahargarh Fort, it is on the edge of the hills and overlooks Jaipur city. We were lucky enough to catch Sunset but  sky was not very clear.  By the time we finished Nahargarh Fort and headed back to Jaipur city it was dark.
We stopped at one shop for some shopping before returning to hotel where we had a simple dinner after getting freshened up. That midnight,we had our train to Jodhpur. It was a very long day indeed.

Day 3 - Rishikesh

The weather looked gloomy with an overcast sky as we woke up. We had breakfast at the hotel and decided to visit Rishikesh today. Again we...