Last day at Jaipur, today we have kept ourselves more or less free for shopping. Had breakfast at hotel lawn for the first time. The buffet breakfast at Hotel Madhuvan worth only when you have time to enjoy it. We met one Indian family who were travelling from Gujrat for the Diwali weekend to Jaipur and wanted to join us at Chokhi Dhani later in the evening. Around 10 we left for shopping with Mr. Singh. Many shops were closed on account of after Diwali mood but still we managed to hop from one shop to another – Rajasthali, blue pottery shop etc. Then we tried the famous Ram Chandra Kulfi (Indian Ice Cream) in Tripolia Bazaar on way back to hotel for a siesta and left for Sanganer & Chokhi- Dhani around 5ish.
We took Jaipur-Tonk Highway and did more shopping at Sanganer famous for its block printing, screen printers, blue pottery and hand made papers. According to Mr. Singh many store/small factories do not let Indian inside as these stuffs are bit expensive for common Indian and mostly for export.
Choki Dhani basically gives picture of rural life of Rajasthan a miniature theme park. Bit expensive but worth going for the dinner alone. This resort is divided into two sections, one for daily visitors while the other for overnight stays. The first section charges an entrance (350 INR) fee that includes authentic veg Rajasthani dinner with traditional floor seating arrangement and allows the visitors to enjoy traditional rural activities such as tightrope walkers, camel cart rides for minimal fees. There is also an A/C section for food which charges around 700 INR.
Ram Ram Sa!!! Was first thing to hear. First we had dinner there which was wise decision as crowd was getting thicker with time. According to the ticket schedule our dinner time was 10 PM; but as it was around 8 there not much crowd and we got a seat quite easily. The elaborate Rajasthani thali have many varieties of Chapaties (bread) and vegetables which is served until you ask them to stop.
Took few rides to give Aarush exposure of all those village life; different type of Rajasthani folk dance and songs were performed live. The whole place is lighted with modern days lantern but as they are not very bright you get a feeling of going back in time. Over all had nice time and then we were back to hotel around 11.00pm
Next morning had flight back to banglore in the morning. A bientot!!!!
Early morning reached Jaipur from Jaisalmer by train. This time our cab driver from hotel (Madhuban) was waiting and on reaching hotel relaxed for while. Before leaving for Jodhpur, we have fixed with Mr. Singh (our reliable cab driver) for this trip to Ajmer-Pushkar. As usual, he was there on time; left hotel room around 8.00am. Had our breakfast on way at small neat and clean dhaba. Road being 6 lane; had very comfort drive and was hardly crowded.
We went first to Kishangarh fort, with Phool Mahal Palace, a heritage hotel along side and Gundalao Lake on the front. This heritage hotel was previously the residence of the Maharajas of Kishangarh. Major part of lake bed is now converted into verdant fields. Area is quite famous for miniature paintings. But being holiday we could not visit any art gallery. Took few snaps and headed towards our next destination.
Soniji Ki Nasiyan at Ajmer is a Digambar Jain temple. The main chamber, known as the Swarna Nagari (City of Gold), has several gold-plated wooden figures, depicting characters in the Jain tradition. The main prayer hall is a separate complex.
From there went to Dargah Sharif of Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti. Being a Diwali day and Friday it was overly crowded. We had to leave camera and shoes outside with a flower stall and head covering was mandatory. After paying our obeisance we asked for the way to Adhai Din Ka Jhopda, a Vaishnav Hindu temple constructed in 1153 and later converted into a mosque by Qutubudin Aybak in 1193. We went there by walk through a small lanes which are full of small eateries and sweet shops. If you are hygiene freak you might want to skip this part of Ajmer.
Mr. Singh took us to Anasagar Lake, man-made lake to relax and to take a break. It was really refreshing and helped us in gaining our breath break after all those pushing and Ochlophobia in-around Dargah.
Ajmer and Pushkar are two side of common mountain range and distance between them is only 15 KM. We first went to Brahma (the creator of the universe) temple at Pushkar. The best irony of Hindu mythology is Lord brahma is only worshiped in Pushkar in the whole universe as he was cursed by his 1st wife. Two temples of his two wives are at the top of two separate mountain tops and in between is his temple next to Pushkar lake.Unlike dargah, there was hardly any crowd here.
Finally, went to Pushkar lake where all the house next to lake are painted in blue to symbolize the Brahmin owner. Just opposite to lake there is one resto where we had scrumptious Pasta (which was awesome) as lunch. On way back went to see Chota Pushkar nearby and by early evening we were at Jaipur city to celebrate Diwali. Took a walk on residential area nearby our hotel and had dinner thereafter.This was Aarush’s first hand experience of Diwali in North India where sounds from crackers are louder compared to South.
We reached Jaisalmer early morning around 4.00am.Going from station to hotel is another headache if you don’t have pick-up service particularly at wee hours. We didn’t had that service from hotel as it was extra 100INR so on reaching station we found, 10 people surrounded us even they don’t allow couples to talk among themselves. Finally hired one for 40 INR to go to Deoki Niwas hotel. When we reached, we literally had to wake them up. It’s newly started so spic n span with good service and breakfast.
After rest around 10.00am we went to Satyajit Ray’s “sonar kella” - Jaisalmer fort where we hired a guide who took us around. This palace is made of yellowish sandstone, crowned by several ornate Jain temples. Many of the houses and temples are finely sculptured. It is only living fort and about a quarter of city’s population still live inside the fort. The main attractions inside the fort are: Raj Mahal (Royal palace), Jain temples and the Laxminath temple and four massive gates. It is filled with many artistic structures and monuments of historical importance.
Other then this there are havelis like: Patwon-ki-Haveli is ornate five-storey complex took fifty years to complete. This is the largest, magnificent and the most elaborate of Jaisalmer havelis. Among others are Nathmalji-ki-Haveli, Salam Singh-ki-Haveli, Haveli Shreenath. We covered this havelis by walk as they are very close by. Some of the doors and ceilings are wonderful examples of old carved wood from many hundreds years ago. Some of the doors have brass or iron fittings. Certain facade is a riot of ornamentation: flowers, birds, elephants, soldiers, a bicycle and even a steam engine. These havelis have countless rooms, with decorated windows, archways, doors and balconies and some have still lived in by the families that built them.
We had our late lunch near entrance to fort at Little Italy(nothing great). Then in afternoon 4PM we booked for desert safari they took us to Lodhurva. Lodhurva is famous for its Jain temples which are build with same yellow stones. There is a Kalpavriksha or the celestial tree build with metals which replaced the original tree died. Since we didn’t book for any camel safari beforehand (I mean it was on spot) so kind of they cheated us by stopping quite before the actual Sam sand dune and they wanted us to go by camel. 2-3 KMs before reaching actual point of san dune we saw sun set and on reaching spot it was already dusk I was very depressed being cheated in this way as we went to see sunset only but Santanu-Aarush had nice time with first experience on camel ride.
With heavy heart we returned to Jaisalmer fort and had dinner at 8th July run by an Indian who resides in Australia. The highly personalized service of Mrs. Rama Bhatia ensuring that you get absolutely home cooked food hygienically prepared. Jags has an in-depth knowledge of shayri and old Hindi film music. Although it is slightly expensive but I guess one needs to pay a little extra for clean and tasty food.
Next morning Santanu went alone to see Gadisar Lake as Aarush was sleeping. Then after breakfast leisurely we checked out around 10.30am and went again to fort after taking one round of fort; went to 8th July restaurant where Mrs. Rama Bhatia was already in work we took the best location with wonderful views of the palace under shade (its Veg resto and offers fresh alphanzo mango juice- tall glass). The restaurant is near Dussera pol gate and opposite the Palace. We ended up having lunch and packed food for dinner and returned to hotel to pick our luggage as he had our tain back to Jaipur at 4.00pm.It was our 2 day one night trip.
TIP: Only one night is enough for Jaisalmer or or at the most 2 night stay if one likes to stay in sand dunes. Sam sand-unes is highly commercialised. In last 10 years, it has changed a lot. Some suggested Khuri a village 45 km south west of Jaisalmer as better location for Sand dunes. Train (#4060) does not have a pantry car so please pick your dinner before leaving Jaisalmer.