Tag Archives: Rajasthan

Ajmer: The abode of the holy shrine – Hazrat Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti

Last night while watching Travel XP, I noticed they were showing a Dargah, which looked very familiar to me and my joy knew no bounds when I came to know that it was none other than famed Dargah of Ajmer, Rajasthan, India.

I have very fond childhood memories of visiting Dargah when my chacha (father’s younger brother) use to take us while we visited him during our summer vacations in our school days. I was very fascinated by the shrine as it had very divine and serene atmosphere with a huge congregation of devotees always. Childhood memories became vivid as the show moved on, I recollected visiting all these places as a child but unfortunately could not visit in a long time, though I always long to visit the place especially for Dargah.

Any tourist visiting the state of Rajasthan cannot afford to miss the Hazrat Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti Dargah in Ajmer besides many other things which beautiful city of Ajmer has to offer. It is old saying that people who visit Ajmer Sharif and pray with pure faith and loyalty at his Dargah will free their soul. Hazrat Khawaja Moinuddin Hasan Chishti is also known by different names as, Khawaja Gharib Nawaz, “Sultan-Ul-Hind”, Khwaja Baba, Khwaja Gharib Nawaz Ajmeri, Khwaja Sahib, Khwaja Saheb, Khwaja Ajmeri Saint Moinuddin Chishty. The Dargah Khawaja Gharibnawaz ( R.A) has several tombs, buildings, Daalaans and courtyards are of  Mughal architecture. As a child, the big degchi fascinated me the most where tons of rice was cooked for Chadava and devotees. I always wondered how they would be cooking in such a huge vessel and that still remains a mystery.

Ajmer Sharif Dargah, Ajmer Dargah, Ajmer Sharif or Dargah Sharif is a Sufi shrine (Dargah) of a Sufi saint, Moinuddin Chishti located in Ajmer, Rajasthan, India. The shrine has the grave (Maqbara) of the revered saint, Moinuddin Chisti. The dargah of Moinuddin Chishti (Gharib Nawaz -Benefactor of the Poor), is an international waqf, an Islamic mortmain managed by the Dargah Khwaja Saheb Act, 1955 of the Government of India.

Ajmer Sharif Dargah is 2 kilometres (1.2 mi) away from the main central Ajmer Railway station and situated at the foot of the Taragarh hill, and consists of several white marble buildings arranged around two courtyards, including a massive gate donated by the Nizam of Hyderabad and the Akbari Mosque, built by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan. It contains the domed tomb of the saint.

Akbar and his queen used to come here by foot on pilgrimage from Agra every year in observance of a vow when he prayed for a son. The large pillars called “Kose (‘Mile’) Minar”, erected at intervals of two miles (3 km) along the entire way between Agra and Ajmer mark the places where the royal pilgrims halted every day. It has been estimated that around 150,000 pilgrims visit the site every day.

The main gate to the shrine is the Nizam Gate, followed by the Shahjahani Gate, erected by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan. In turn, it is followed by the Buland Darwaza, built by Sultan Mahmood Khilji, upon which is hoisted the urs flag, marking the beginning of the death anniversary rituals.

So if you are planning a trip to Rajasthan, do pay obeisance to the holy shrine in Ajmer and achieve that unique divine experience.

Source: Wikipedia

Magnificent Mehrangarh Fort, Memorable Trip, Jodhpur, Rajasthan India

We have very fond memories of attending my cousin Aarti’s wedding in Jodhpur some three years ago, which was a typical Rajasthani marriage in Jodhpur. When marriage got over, my phoophaji advised us to visit Mehrangarh Fort and Umaid Bhavan Palace which had already caught my fancy while coming to my dear Suman bua’s home for Aarti’s marriage…

Phoophaji arranged a vehicle (read: luxury car) for us and very next morning we were out to visit Mehrangarh Fort. Though tired because of marriage ceremonies, I was quite excited to visit the fort which looked so imposing to me while driving round the beautiful Rajasthan city of Jodhpur. Moreover, I have a fetish for forts and I may be credited for visiting several forts of India across States. The palaces in Rajasthan are truly royal and magnificent and it is very difficult to rate them on these parameters. Every fort has its own charm and a story to tell, the only common thread being Rajasthani Culture and architecture. Every fort awe-inspiring, leaving you to spell – bound. The story is the same here, when accompanied by my husband Mukund, who was like – Oh another fort, another steep climb, guide telling Raja Rani Kahaniyan…

…but Mehrangarh was different, it has lifted for tourists to go various levels, one need not necessarily climb rather take the steep walk to visit the fort. I must say a visit to the fort was very enlightening and it opened many layers of Rajputana, Raja-Maharajas, their aesthetic sense, their valour and love of their land. No wonder Mehrangarh has a steady stream of Indian and foreign tourists, in every season. We were lucky to have visited in winter, which further added to our experience about Mehrangarh fort. Standing high above the plains on this isolated rock, the Fort covers an area 460 mts in length and 230 mts in width, with walls that vary in height from 6 to 36 mts.  Inside its ways, there are several palaces, which are known for their intricate carvings and sprawling courtyards. The foundation of the fort was laid on May 12, 1459 by Rao Jodha on a rocky hill nine kilometres to the south of Mandore.

The invincible fortifications are six meters thick. Some of the walls still bear cannon marks they had once withstood. The Chamunda Mataji was Rao Jodha’s favourite goddess, he brought her idol from the old capital of Mandore in 1460 and installed her in Mehrangarh. She remains the Maharaja’s and the royal family’s Isht Devi or adopted goddess and is worshipped by most of Jodhpur’s citizens as well. Crowds throng Mehrangarh during the Dussehra celebrations. It contains period rooms like Moti Mahal – The Pearl Palace, Sheesha Mahal – The Hall of Mirrors, Phool Mahal – The Palace of Flowers, Takhat Vilas -Maharaja Takhat Singh’s Chamber.

Burnished red sand stone, imposing, invincible and yet with a strange haunting beauty that beckons. The beauty and the grandeur of numerous palaces in the fort narrates a saga of hard sandstones yielding to the chisels of skilled Jodhpuri sculptures. To enter the Mehrangarh fort, seven gates have to be crossed.

The work of building the fort originally commenced in 1459 on the behest of the founder of Jodhpur – Rao Jodha but much of the fort as it stands today was built in the era of Jaswant Singh. This magnificent fort is spread over 5 kms. and is located on top of a hill which is all of 125 meters high.

The Mehrangarh Fort encloses many palaces, which are known for their intricate carvings and sprawling courtyards. The Moti Mahal which is made of elaborately carved stones is the dwelling place of the royal throne of Jodhpur which is popularly referred to as the Sringar Chowki in local parlance.

There is also the majestic Umaid Villas that showcases some remarkable Rajasthani miniature art work. The Ajit Villa is conspicuous with its rich collection of musical instruments and regal attires while the gorgeous Phool Mahal is where the legendary Jodhpur Coat of Arms is preserved.

The parapets of Phool Mahal are adorned with exquisite art works portraying various melodious scenes. There are seven gates, which include Jayapol (meaning ‘victory’) built by Maharaja Man Singh to commemorate his victories over Jaipur and Bikaner armies. Fattehpol (also meaning ‘victory’) gate was built by Maharaja Ajit Singh to mark the defeat of the Mughals. The palm imprints upon these still attract much attention even today.

The museum in the Mehrangarh fort is one of the most well-stocked museums in Rajasthan. In one section of the fort museum there is a selection of old royal palanquins, including the elaborate domed gilt Mahadol palanquin, which was won in a battle from the Governor of Gujarat in 1730.

The museum exhibits the heritage of the Rathores in arms, costumes, paintings and decorated period rooms. Mehrangarh fort has never ever been seized. The invincible fortifications are six meters thick.

Some of the walls still bear cannon marks and today this magnificent Jodhpur fort is a living testimony that recounts the chronicles and legends of Jodhpur’s rich past.

It was really a very memorable afternoon like icing on the cake. I wish we had more time to splurge on this Rajasthani marvel.

If Rajasthan visit is on your agenda, don’t give it a miss…Watch video for a great experience!

Fond memories of Ghoomar Dance then & Now Padmavati!

Most amazingly rendered by versatile actor and Dancing Diva (Indeed no other actor is close to her in this art) Deepika Padukone, Ghoomar Dance has lifted the mood of movie buffs like me, after a long time. (Read: Mastani song & mohe rang de laal in Bajirao Mastani). The slightly over three minutes song sees the diva performing the Rajasthani folk dance to the hilt. Buzz is that the actress did as many as 66 twirls in the duration of the entire song while donning her heavy attire and jewellery. The song is sung by Shreya Ghoshal and Swaroop Khan while the lyrics are penned by A M Turaz and Rajasthani lyrics are by Swaroop Khan. Kruti Mahesh Midya and Ghoomar training artist by Jyothi D Tommaar made Deepika learn the craft to perfection. Can’t wait for December 1. Would watch it for Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s histrionics and Deepika’s Ghoomer and bada phatakaa – Ranveer Singh!

Not to miss, unsurmountable Rajasthani Culture & History!

After watching the release of the first song of the highly anticipated movie of the year Padmavati,  directed by Sanjay Leela Bhansali and Produced by Viacom18 Motion Pictures and Bhansali Productions, slated to release on 1st December 2017, the memories of Ghoomar Dance danced before my eyes…

…Me as a kid performed Ghoomar Dance in Kala Milan Samaroh at my father’s Office Cultural Day celebrations in the presence of Late Prime Minister Smt. Indira Gandhi. The rehearsals lasted for over a month conducted by very strict dance teacher Rathore Sir (Term Choreographer was not known then).  Indeed the result was smashing! Everybody loved the dance performed by daughters of BHEL employees. I must admit that it was the most rehearsed dance I had done ever, so much so, that mummy asked me to quit mid-way as my studies suffered. But for me, Ghoomar was above everything then.

Ghoomar is a traditional folk dance of Rajasthan, India. The dance is chiefly performed by veiled women who wear flowing dresses called Ghaghara. It was ranked 4th in the list of “Top 10 local dances around the world” in 2013. The dance typically involves performers pirouetting while moving in and out of a wide circle. The word ghoomna describes the twirling movement of the dancers and is the basis of the word ghoomar. This dance form is mainly prevalent among the Rajput community and is chiefly performed by Rajput women during auspicious and joyous occasions in Rajasthan. Ghoomar is often performed on special occasions, such as at weddings and during weddings, festivals and religious occasions which sometimes lasts for hours.

In Ghoomar, women dance in circles with graceful moves and display their colourful ghagharas. Hence the dance form is aptly named as Ghoomar. The women dance with amazing precision, even as their face is covered with a veil, while they carry the lighted lamp. Innumerable twirls and turns mark this dance form, which is quite close to Jaipur Gharana of Kathak.

Goomar can be performed by women of any age group. This dance form also known by the name of ‘Jhumar’ involves swaying movements and is indeed simple to perform. The enthusiasm of the performer is the sole requirement of the dance as it can continue from few hours till late nights.

Ghoomar is usually done during the Teej festivities. However, it’s also performed during other festivals and important occasions. Ghoomar is extremely rhythmic to perform and the dancers have to move around in circular motion with clockwise and anticlockwise steps being taken in tandem. The tempo of Ghoomar reaches its peak as synchronization of steps with music is done.

Considered to be a traditional ritual of Rajasthan, this dance is also performed by the bride after she is welcomed at her husband’s home.

So for the enchatress Deepika Padukone performing Ghoomer, head to theatres on December 1.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Glimpse of Rajasthan’s rich culture at Chowki Dhaani, JAIPUR

While searching for some old photographs in my hard-drive, I landed at Jaipur folder of our trip, we undertook a few years ago, which will always be etched in our memory for various reasons. It was a long-awaited family trip and we were visiting Jaipur together for the first time as I was to present my magazine to Chief Minister Smt. Vasundhara Raje Scindia…( Edition dedicated to Vibrant Rajasthan).

One evening, we planned to visit Chowki Dhaani, which was some kilometres away from our place of stay…we were little reluctant to go there as it was very cold wintry night. But as always Tanya insisted and we set out for Chowki Dhaani.  From outside I could not make out anything where we had landed, but inside…

…the Royal treatment awaited us and as we moved on…the FUN added on!

At Chowki Dhaani entrance

If you have not visited yet, you will surely visit the place after reading my blog post.

Right from welcome to exit, we were engulfed in lively and lovely Rajasthani culture where we enjoyed Rajasthani Thaali, Camel Rides, Mehendi, Kalbelia Dance, Nut Tamasha…what not! See it to believe it.

So, for the uninitiated, Chokhi Dhani in Jaipur, Rajasthan, India is a concept capturing the vibrant spirit of Rajasthan and ensuring a perfect Rajasthani experience.  Inbound and native tourists have a desire to experience the unique Rajasthani culture. The real Rajasthan, the villages, the paintings, Bani Thani art, the wall decorations, Dipak wall, the fresh air, the evening performances, the enthusiasm, the ‘manuhar’ (a delicate request to eat till your heart’s desire), the traditions, the costumes and at last but not least the Feelings.

It is aimed at preserving and encouraging the village art and culture, to get today’s generation closer to the roots and the globe trekkers to see Indian village life. The place is just away from the hustle of the city centre where nature is alive, natural scenic views are ready to serve you and where you can feel the fresh air of Indian rustic villages. A place which is not too far to reach, situated on a national highway booming with peace and quiet. You will instantly notice the friendliness and smiles; Chokhi Dhani reception, they have the best cooks from royal palaces and artisans from all over Rajasthan.

Enjoying authentic Rajasthani Jeeman

We had Jeeman at Chaupad – Dining Hall, especially known for its shape – Chaupad Jeeman Ghar. In India, Chaupad is an ancient game of Royal families like today’s Ludo, which has four straight paths joint in the center. This is what “Chaupad Jeeman Ghar” has in its shape. It has four straight rows meeting at the center. Each row has 20 persons’ sitting capacity where you find best of Rajasthani dishes like Batis sunk into pure ghee with Choorma, a traditional dish of Rajasthan and more.

After Jeeman, it was entertainment time, believe me you have that in plenty!

There are many folk dances in Rajasthan and all are performed here. Like Ghoomer, Potter Dance, Kalbeliya – the Snake Dance, Bhopa-Bhopi Dance and Terah Taali Manjira dance. We danced to our heart’s content.

Folk Dance And Music Show – Chaupal Nach Gan Re

Kalbeliya tribes of Rajasthan were once nomads of the desert are world famous for their Kalbeliya dance form. Its high beat music, fascinating serpent-like dance and fast body movements captivate all visitors.

In Bhopa-Bhopi dance artiste tells some old folk stories of Indian Folk God or king in sort of song and they dance on it.

The Chari dance a.k.a. the Bhavai folk artiste dances with 7 to 11 pots on her head or in some shows they dance with taking the lighted pot on their heads

Acrobatics On A Bamboo – Nat Ro Kartab

The brave artiste balances himself on a bamboo without the protection of a safety net beneath.

Traditional Fire Act

Watched the traditional fire play and it seems as the person is eating fire! The fire act is simply mesmerizing.

Thee Bioscope station at Chokhi Dhani Ethnic Village gives you a glimpse of Rajasthan and complete family can sit side by side around 6 people together watching the bioscope film.  The whole thing is a great simple experience of watching old reel film depicting Rajasthan scenes and people.

We were there right from 6 PM till the time it shut its doors!

Information courtesy: http://www.chokhidhani.com

 

 

Jain Temples of Dilwara – Architectural Marvel of the World!

After our brief stay at Nakki Lake, we proceeded for Dilwara Jain temples, which was around 3 Kms away from the place…

…without any specifics in mind, just going by the mention made by Shri Balwant Jain who advised me to visit Dilwara temples while in Mt. Abu.  I have rarely missed his advice!

Couldn’t help my mind going back to school days when there was a chapter in our History book or Social Studies book ( Terms Social Sciences, Humanities were non – existent then) on Dilwara Temples and how much I wanted to visit then, but it had to happen years later…never mind!!

When we started moving towards Temple Gate, it looked to me quite unusual one from the temple perspective, why? Can’t say? But I couldn’t figure out, how far temples were located from the temple gate. Being it a hot day, Tanya insisted some Chaas (Butter-Milk) and she spotted an old woman making it and selling it. She made a rare sight, smiling face, spirited and pleasing to look at. She sits just at the entrance of parking to the temple. Tanyaa promptly hopped off to her and fondly addressed her as Daadi (Grand Mom) and over a sumptuous glass of Chaas they struck a bond. Daadi & Poti had some great conversation…till we settled down to  enter the temple.

As we entered the temple complex, we spotted some stores selling our favourite Rajasthani Costume Jewellery, and we could not resist ourselves buying some earrings, bangles, anklets what not to our heart’s content. Don’t miss out visiting these stores if you are a jewellery buff, you can pick up some great pieces at reasonable prices.

Now was the time to enter the temples. As per the norms, you had to deposit your mobile phones and other gadgets at the gate and I promptly deposited my hand bag as I wanted to freely visit the temples.  Oh Yes, don’t miss reading the entire dos and don’ts put up on the entry gate. We promptly complied with all the dos and don’ts and soon became part of the group which guide of the temple had comprised. I must say the guided tours were excellent, without any cost and we have explained everything very well. Our Group was also quite receptive where people often smiled at each other.

Now was the time to enter the temples and marvel at the architecture created in marbles for the generations to see. We really missed bringing along Tanya’s friend Jeanie who is studying Architecture at J J School of Architecture. Her takeaways would have been certainly different than mine. We were told by the guide that these were made around thousand years ago and marble from Kota was transported on elephants for 14 years.  Guide also showed us Devrani – Jethani Jahorka which took some 9 – Odd years to complete. Lord Mahavir’s Statue is made of Ashta Dhaatu where the major component is Gold weighing several Kgs which is in the main temple.  Architecture is so unique & uniform all over that you just can’t stop admiring all through. We marvel at modern architectures but they are not even a patch on the architecture of Dilwara temples.

I would like to share some specifics about the temples: The Dilwara temples are located about 2½ kilometers from Mount Abu. These Jain Temples were built by Vastapul Tejpal, Jain laymen between the 11th and 13th centuries AD and are world-famous for their stunning use of marble. The five legendary marble temples of Dilwara are a sacred pilgrimage place of the Jains. Some consider them to be one of the most beautiful Jain pilgrimage sites in the world. The marble temples have an opulent entranceway, the simplicity in architecture reflecting Jain values like honesty and frugality. The temples are in the midst of a range of forested hills. A high wall shrouds the temple complex.

Although the Jains built some beautiful temples at other places in Rajasthan, some believe that none come close to these in terms of architectural perfection. The ornamental detail spreading over the minutely carved ceilings, doorways, pillars, and panels is simply marvelous.

Facilities are available for bathing, which is mandatory before puja is performed for the idols. These facilities use passive solar power to heat up the water for bathing and other things.

There are five temples in all, each with its own unique identity. Each is named after the small village in which it is located. These are:

  • Vimal Vasahi, dedicated to the first Jain Tirthankara, Rishabha.
  • Luna Vasahi, dedicated to the 22nd Jain Tirthankara, Neminatha.
  • Pithalhar, dedicated to the first Jain Tirthankara, Rishabha.
  • Parshvanath, dedicated to the 23rd Jain Tirthankara, Parshvanatha.
  • Mahavir Swami, dedicated to the last Jain Tirthankara, Mahavira.

Among all the five legendary marble temples of Dilwara, the most famous of those are the Vimal Vasahi and the Luna Vasahi temples.

I have no words and photos to share with you, for these architectural marvel, just see it believe it!

Even after stressing my mind, what I read about the temples in my Social Studies book, I could recollect only the title: Dilwara ke Jain Mandir, & here I was!

Rajasthan Tourism needs to promote Dilwara Temples like no place so that people are benefitted more from their visit to Rajasthan.

 

 

 

 

Honey Moon Point, Mt. Abu, most serene point!

 I liked that place the most & found it to be the best in entire Mt. Abu!

The reason, it is most picturesque point and on a huge height from where entire city looks just awesome!! & me and my daughter had ball of a time there!

Perched at an elevation of 4000 feet, with the backdrop of Nakki Lake and Old Gateway to Mount Abu; Honeymoon point is a must-visit if you wish to catch an exquisite view of the sun setting down the horizon. It has been named so mainly because of the Love Rock that is located here. It is often known as Anadara Point as well. This is an ideal spot if you are looking for a rather serene spot to spend your time at. This area’s untwining vibe and scenic beauty owing to the fact that this is one of the most popular attractions of Mount Abu. Hold hands, enjoy the pleasant weather and treat your eyes to the mesmerizing beauty spread all around you.

Don’t forget to spend some time there, however senior you are while in Mt. Abu!!!

See it to believe it!

I share here some beautiful clicks taken at Honeymoon point.

 

Ambaji Temple, Gujarat – Our next spiritual sojourn!

Mata Ne Bulaya hai!

This year when we decided to spend some part of our summer vacation in Rajasthan Hill Station, Mount Abu, I was driven by the drive of visiting and paying obeisance to one of the 51 Shakti Peeth’s – Ambaji temple. Ambaji ( Gujarati: અંબાજી, Hindi: अम्बाजी, Ambājī) is a census town in Banaskantha district in the state of Gujarat, India. It is known for its historical and mythological connections with sites of cultural heritage. The research on Ambaji town brought to the fore some important revelations, which I would like to share with my readers. You must be wondering that my year 2017 is taking me on a spiritual journey, believe me, it is just not by design, it is happening on its own. From many years, I have been planning to visit Ambaji temple, without knowing much about it, now I am looking forward to it.

Ambaji is an important temple town with millions of devotees visiting the Ambaji temple every year. It is one of the 51 Shakti Peethas. Ambaji Mata temple is a major Shakti Peeth of India. It is situated at a distance of approximately 65 kilometers from Palanpur, 45 kilometers from Mount Abu, and 20 kilometers from Abu Road, and 185 kilometers from Ahmedabad, 50 kilometers from Kadiyadra near the Gujarat and Rajasthan border.

In the holy temple of “Arasuri Ambaji”, there is no image or statue of goddess the holy “Shree Visa Yantra” is worshiped as the main deity. No one can see the Yantra with the naked eye. The photography of the Yantra is prohibited.

The original seat of Ambaji Mata is on Gabbar hilltop in the town. A large number of devotees visit the temple every year, especially on Purnima days. A large mela on Bhadarvi Poornima (full moon day) is held. Every Year from all over the country people come here walking all over from their native place just to worship MAA AMBE in September. The whole Ambaji town is lit up as the nation celebrates the festive time of Diwali.

The temple is open from 7.00 am to 11.30 am, 12.30 pm to 4.30 pm and 6.30 pm to 9.00 pm.

The shrine of hi Amba is regarded as a revered shrine by the Shakta Shaktism sect of Hinduism. It is believed that the Heart of Sati Devi has fallen here. The origin of the Shakti Peetha status temple is from the mythology of Daksha Yaga and Sati’s self-immolation. Shakti Peethas were believed to have been formed when the body parts of the corpse of Sati Devi fell into different regions when Lord Shiva carried her corpse in sorrow after her death. The shrines are considered as highly revered by Shaivist (Shaivism) sect in Hinduism. The Shakti Peethas are mostly worshiped by tantra practitioners. Each Shakti Peetha has a Kalabhairava shrine associated with it the Kalabhairava of The Amba Matha Temple is Batuk Bhairav.

PM Narendra Modi performing puja at Ambaji Temple

Mythical History

Ambaji is one of the 51 ancient Shakti Peetha Tirth in India. There are 12 main Shakti Pith Tirth, significant places of pilgrimage for the worship of Shakti, namely, Ma Bhagwati Mahakali Maha Shakti at Ujjain, Ma Kamakshi at Kanchipuram, Mata Bramaramba at Srisailam, Shri Kumarika at Kanyakumari, Mataji Ambaji at AnarGujarat, Mata Mahalaxmidevi at Kolhapur, Devi Lalita at Prayag, Vindhya Vasini at Vindhya, Vishalakshi at Varanasi, Mangalavati at Gaya and Sundari at Bengal & Guhyeshwari Temple in Nepal.

There is no idol or picture in the temple but a simple cave like Gokh in the inner wall, in which A Gold Plated Holy Shakti Visa Shree Yantra having kurma back convex shape and 51 Bij letters therein, connected with that of the original Yantras of Nepal and Ujjain Shakti Piths, is also ritually installed in such a way it can be visible for devotion, but never photographed in past nor can be so done in future. The worship of this Visa Shree Yantra is done only after tying a bandage on the eyes.

More on return from Ambaji temple!! Watch this space for more!!!

 

 

Fascinating Rajasthan! Symphony created by Diversity!!

रंगीलो राजस्थान: पधारो म्हारे देस!

An exclusive photo-essay!

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This land is a colourful melange of massive forts, stunning palaces, diverse cultures, delectable cuisines and warm people, set amidst a rugged yet inviting landscape.

Rajasthan is a land that has inspired me and countless others. Come tread on the sands of time. In Rajasthan you will find every hue in Nature’s grand palette – the red sands, the blue of royalty, the pink cities or the amber sunsets. Surrender yourself to the sounds of trinkets or the sounds of the all conquering wind. Sight and sounds that are far removed from any city. Sights and sounds that will transport you into a folk lore.

The contour of Rajasthan is varied and well divided by the Aravalli Range that spreads across the state from the southwest to the northeast. With an unproductive region in the northwest to a comparatively fertile land in the east. Rajasthan’s topography is a potpourri of the sandy deserts and prolific vegetation. It is home to the Great Indian Thar Desert and the Chambal River which is solely responsible for the water supply in the region.

Music, art and dance is woven into every inch of this land  called paradise. You will find it carved in every grain of sand. Here you will find the past, the present and the future. You will find passion. You will find adventure. And you will find yourself.

Irrespective of rich cultural roots, Rajasthan is equally modern and flourishing as any other urban city. The state roads flaunt the most expensive vehicles and at the same time run camel carts, horse drawn tongas and scooter rickshaws. The region is well connected by a network of roads and a steadily improving transport system.

Come, walk into the unforgettable embrace of Rajasthan.

In an attempt to reinvent and celebrate the extraordinary strengths of RAJASTHAN, these projects and events created especially for the larger domain of the people and their inherent traditional and contemporary skills, connecting with similar international interventions showcased in the State, the Chief Minister, Vasundhra Raje, has infused a new, fresh and contemporary energy into the inherited

Topography

When it comes to accommodation, Rajasthan welcomes royal tourists and backpacking travellers equally. Your choices range from luxurious hotels to economical yet comfortable dormitories. The State owned Rajasthan Tourism Development Corporation also run a chain of hotels in the major destinations. These tourist bungalows provide reasonably priced accommodation in the form of dormitories, single rooms, air-cooled and air-conditioned rooms.

Courtesy: पधारो म्हारे देस & RajasthanTourism.gov.in

Udaipur: Bhartiya Lok Kala Mandal, unsung destination!

I had never come across this place even while researching about Udaipur or while talking to people who had been there. Our Cabbie just stopped at a colourful gate and said “Aap andar jayeeye”. I Questioned: “Which is this place”? He replied: Lok Kala Mandal and continued: you will like it very much. How true he was!

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Bhartiya Lok Kala Mandal is a museum of Rajasthani Folk Art which displays rich collection of folk dresses, paintings, pagris, ornaments, puppets, masks, dolls and folk musical instruments. Besides there is a section on Tribal Art. The world renowned puppeteers of Udaipur put up shows on regular intervals which we enjoyed very much.

The museum was just awesome, the collection was reflection of Rajasthani Art Forms and student of art/ architecture/ design would just love it. It would provide great learning to these students of Rajasthani Art Forms.

Rajasthan Tourism needs to promote this Centre amidst foreign tourists also who as it love everything about Rajasthan!

The unsung hero of Udaipur should get Hero’s welcome!

Need to say more? Watch it to believe me!

An exclusive Photo-Essay of Bhartiya Lok Kala Mandal.

Pics Courtesy: Mukund Rai

Udaipur, Lake Pichola: Calm, Serene & Picturesque

Next morning we set out for our trip to Udaipur’s Lake Pichola…

…what an amazing place it turned out to be!

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No wonder, Rudyard Kipling mentioned this lake in his Letters of Marque (1899), “If the Venetian owned the Pichola Lake, they might say with justice, `see it and die’. The beauty of Lake Pichola attracts people from all over the world. One can undeniably say for Pichola that once, if you see this lake, you would definitely fall in love with it. The mesmerizing beauty of Lake Pichola makes it worth visiting Udaipur. The pristine blue waters of the left a soothing impact on us. I wondered how much stressed lives are we leading in Mumbai.

If Fateh Sagar Lake was vibrant, well-lit, scenic, slightly commercialised, more of a family destination, Lake Pichola was in sharp contrast. It would be any writer’s or poet’s dream destination. Lake Pichola, surrounded by lush green lining, sitting benches, big banyan trees, lofty palaces – Jagmandir Palace and hilly backdrop made ideal setting for a romantic Rajesh Khanna Movie. Sitting there and just watching the lake was an experience in itself. Living in Mumbai makes you accustomed to very fast life, whereas sitting beside the lake Pichola and just watching it, I felt that time had just stopped, but it hadn’t, how I wish it had. Time passed in boating, roaming and chit – chatting and it was time for us to move to new destination.

Let me add here, located in the heart of the city, Pichola Lake is the oldest and one of the largest lakes of Udaipur. In 1362, the beautiful lake was built by Pichhu Banjara during the ruling period of Maharana Lakha. Talking about the dimensions of Pichola Lake, it is extended to 3 miles in length, 2 miles in width and has depth of 30 feet.

Lake Pichola comprises several islands that accompany the calm waters of the lake. The world-renowned Lake Palace is perfectly located on the Jag Island of this tranquil lake. Even the Jag Mandir, another destination of tourists, is located on an island of this lake. Above all, a trip to Pichola Lake would be incomplete with a boat ride. At the time sun-set, a boat ride in this lake is would be wonderful, but we did it in the morning.

The beauty of this lake has not spared anyone to attract towards it. The lake looks more enchanting with its scenic surroundings. Maharana Udai Singh must have been certainly captivated by the charm of this pristine lake with the perfect backdrop of lush green hills as when he founded the city of Udaipur. He also constructed a dam made in stone that falls under the ‘Badipol’ region on the shore of this lake.

Pichola Lake is enveloped by lofty Palaces, temples, bathing ghats and elevated hills on all its sides. In the southern part of this lake, there is a hill that is known as Machhala Magra and one can see glimpse of Eklinggarh Fort from here. The City Palace of Udaipur broadens along the eastern banks of this lake.

Rajasthan Tourism need to promote these two lakes as their prime tourist destination.

Pictures Courtesy: Mukund Rai