|Rajasthan, through my eyes|
It is said that imagination can travel at a speed faster than that of light. So, one can so easily travel to faraway places like the Moon and that fictitious planet where monstrous aliens run the affairs. But I don’t think that I need to leave my planet, or even my country for that matter, since India itself is full of surprises. So, if I need to take my family, friends or my future spouse to one place on Earth for an unforgettable sojourn, then I know that I have got to choose Rajasthan. The state is a true reservoir of India’s history, almost in its unspoiled virgin form. Plus, it is its culture and the tradition which can make even a small silly writer like me into a photographer (albeit a silly one :P).
After all, flying away to this glorious destination is a hassle-free task these days. All you need to do is book your flight and hotel through Yatra.com and hip hip hurray!
Let me give you a virtual tour of Rajasthan to give you an idea why you must must must visit this place at least once before you die. Just hold on to my memories tightly!
Let us begin with the ship of the desert. Camels are as common in Rajasthan as are item songs in Bollywood films and almost as grumpy as some of my readers. One of the most thrilling things to do in life is to board a Camel Express (it certainly is cheaper than Chennai Express and far more ‘paisa vasool’).
But be wary of the heart-in-your-throat moment when the animal stands up or when it gets down.
|The frightened expression of my sister Chitra as the camel gets up|
The locals out there are very friendly. So, the ‘camel wallah’ was very compliant when I requested him to let us pose individually with the animal. So, here is my mom holding the camel on her own. She is a lot cooler than I thought. Ain’t it?
|My cool mom with the ruminating camel|
Since the ‘camel wallah’ won my heart with his simplicity, innocence and friendliness, I thought that I should take his picture to add to the memories. He was a very small boy of 10 (he told us in English) and is the secret possessor of a killer smile as you will find out soon.
The capital city Jaipur has many aces up its sleeve. To give you a teaser, this is the ‘Jal Mahal’. It is a monument built right in the middle of a small lake. Unfortunately, it cannot be accessed anymore and one has to stay contented with a view from the shores. Though, the lake is littered with fishes and we had a whale of a time feeding them with crumbles of bread which are sold there for Rs 10.
|Jal Mahal in Jaipur|
It would be fair to say that Jaipur has a pack of cards which has no joker, and most of them are aces. The biggest ace, undoubtedly, is the Amer or Amber Fort. It is colossal and full of intriguing passageways, chambers and surprises. Make sure to hire a guide who will regale you with anecdotes from the past.
|Inside the Amer Fort|
So, this is the bath tub where the ‘maharaani’ of those days used to take her royal bath. Of course, only female sentinels were stationed in this area.
|Maharaani bathed here :O|
And this is the dingy room where the kings and queens of that era would do their morning toilet. I had a secret desire to pee here, so as to leave my mark in the pages of history :P
|The royal 'shauchaalay' or bathroom|
There were a number of secret passageways and dungeons and the stairs were elephantine. Just take a look at the height of each step. It is that OMFG moment :O
|My mom feeling scared negotiating the stairs|
Once you recover from the secrets and thrills of the Amer Fort, you need to visit the Jaigarh Fort. It is another remarkable landmark, sprawled handsomely over the hills looking down mightily at Jaipur. It is best known for its cannon machine, the largest ‘tope’ ever made in India.
And the view from this fort is simply megafoxyawesome :O
|That wow moment|
Coming back to that ‘tope’, the guides informed us that more than 7 men can lie flat inside its belly and there will still be room for me :O
|So, we decided to pose before this giant|
As for tangible history, I would say head over to the Albert Hall Museum. It is full of history and even houses an Egyptian mummy. I mean, really a mummy. A real one.Yes yes, a real real one! Sachi mein!
They said that an expert from Egypt arrives every 2 years to do some chemical thingy to preserve this mummy.
And this is the headless Buddha and a few other candies for your eyes.
|The headless Buddha|
|See, they had wine taste..i mean fine taste|
|My sister Chitra thought let's pose with the Pharaoh|
|Kinda old coins, now obsolete under inflation :P|
And for a wildlife lover like me, Rajasthan has a lot to offer. Here are few snapshots I took at the Jaipur Zoo. I love zoos and whenever I travel to a destination, I jump at the prospect of a zoo or a sanctuary :P
|A tiger tearing off a morsel of meat|
|Locking horns, eh|
|Jaws where I would put you if you trouble me :P|
|Looks arrogant and fat, huh|
|It looks like this guy is into yoga :P|
Ranthambhore National Park is a coveted destination which has been sitting tight on my wish list for quite some time. I haven’t visited it yet and will love to take my loved ones there. For the time being, my memories can feed you with a vignette of the Bharatpur Bird Park. So, here we go:
|Beautiful, ain't it|
|I loved this parrot|
|A gorgeous sight|
|Another wonderful bird, I'm forgetting the name|
|That's a boar|
|Jackals were openly roaming ahead of our rickshaw|
And the highways and the bylanes of Rajasthan present a lovely cocktail of quaint and natural beauty. You really cannot have enough of this destination. The long unwinding road trips can give you a high which even Katrina Kaif in her ‘aamsutra’ ad cannot match.
|And then it RAINED|
|Rashee feels the drops and the dew|
Rajasthan is also for the religious minded and the spiritualism seekers. While the towns of Mathura and Vrindavan are noted for their temples, you cannot escape the cute/naughty/impish/devilish monkeys. So, I fed them with bananas. And with a promise that I shall come again some day to feed them with more bananas.
|This cute baby posed for me, Aww|
The real thrill of a Rajasthan rendezvous lies in exploring its culture. From the turban-clad men to the rustic belles to the traditional dances to the ‘been wala sapera’ to the folk singers- the basket is full of unlimited fruits. And none of them tastes bitter. That’s the magic of Rajasthan.
|At the entrance of Amer Fort|
|At Chowki Dhaani|
|The Puppet Dance|
|Ooola la la la hooh|
|'Been wala sapera' outside City Palace, Jaipur. I touched this cobra's hood|
|View from Hawa Mahal|
|All images are mine. Please do not copy ><|
And you know what is the true and ultimate secret to 'happy traveling'?
It is to let go of your fears......
|Scared Sister Rashee and my brother-in-law Sumit battling their own demons|
It is to eat in authentic Rajasthani style.....
|Chitra and Rashee gobbling at Chouki Dhaani :P|
It is to befriend foreign tourists, despite the cultural and linguistic differences......
|Sonya and her friend- Belgian tourists whom I befriended at Hawa Mahal|
It is to click a poor child slurping at the melting happiness…….
|Ice cream knows no class boundaries|
It is to become a child again……..
|Rashee, at 24, rediscovers the bliss of childhood|
And that, my friend, is Rajasthan for you....Smeared with history, replete in traditions, sunk in thrill, encircled by adventure and wrapped around true, pristine pure childhood joy. That's the secret of happy traveling. That's the secret of life...........
[This post is a personal memoir plucked out from the tree of memories for the 'Creating Happy Travellers' contest in association with IndiBlogger and Yatra.com, a backpacker's best buddy]