Padhaaro Mhaare Des…


…or ‘welcome to our city’ exemplifies the spirit of Jodhpur — a canvas of Rajasthani culture

Ever thought the colour used by locals to paint their homes — in a bid to ward off insects —would become synonymous with the city? In the past, Jodhpur suffered from a major termite problem —so the residents started adding copper sulphate to their whitewashes, which lent the city its pristine blue-indigo hue. The Blue City is really blue!

Modem Jodhpur stretches well beyond the city walls, but it’s within the walled city that you find the Rajasthan of your imagination – the hustle-bustle, the colours, and the larger-than-life Mehrangarh Fort At the base of the mighty fort is a jumble of blue cubes that stretches out to the 10 km-long, 16th-century city wall. Inside are vibrant, entangled and bustling medieval streets — all of which never seem to lead where you want them to… The shops sell everything from vintage home decor items and temple decorations to colourful clothes and accessories. The colourful rickshaws here are super slim since they have to squeeze through the narrow streets. They make for a great travel option.

RAJPUTANA SPLENDOUR

The colossal and grand Mehrangarh Fort, which rises 400 sq ft above the city, looks nothing less than a page out of a fairy tale. The imprint of Jodhpur’s erstwhile royal family, built by Maharaja Jaswant Singh in the 17th century, it is the defining feature of this otherwise low-rise landscape. If you aren’t visiting Jodhpur in winter, make sure you reach the fort early to skip the midday sun. You don’t need a ticket to enter the fort; only the muse um section requires one. Packed with history, Mehran- garh Fort houses one of the best- kept collections of regal parapherna lia in the country. What you see is a mag nificent collection of silver elephant how dahs, gilded palanquins, carved ivory, weapons inlaid with gold and jewels, rare pieces of textile, and some of the world’s finest miniature paintings. You’ll be amazed to see elaborate cradles of infant princes and the extensive zenana (where maharanis lived) with dainty filigree win dows. Make sure to hire a guide to take you through the palatial labyrinth, great hall ways and long corridors and hear fascinating stories about the heroism of the leg endary Rajput warriors of Marwar. You can also consider spending the afternoon in its small cafe, sipping chilled beer or wine, lounge under shady trees reading a book or simply enjoy the spectacular views of the city. There are some curio shops too; you can take back valuable merchandise like a Jodhpuri earring or a maharaja pen as memento. For adventur seekers, there’s the flying fox zip- 1 line tour, which runs below the fort.

jashwath thada jodhpur

When in Jodhpur, a visit to Umaid Bhavan is a must. If your budget doesn’t permit you to stay there, go for dinner or drinks at its scenic restuarant where the verandah of fers a lavish view of the palace gardens. Indulge in some Rajasthani delicacies (ker sangri and laal maas) generously spread on silver platters. Visitors aren’t admitted dur ing all seasons, so call in advance to make a reservation. Again, casual visitors are not allowed inside the palace as the current royal bearer Gaj Singh II still lives in the premises. But you can certainly visit the museum by paying a nominal entry free. Pictures of artistic palace interiors, a collection of antique clocks and the maharaja’s vintage cars are eye-catching.

ALL THINGS ETHNIC

You’ll find steps leading to the marketplace all around the Ghanta Ghar. The area somehow creates an aura that is hard to resist. Though loud, dusty and a tad dirty, the bylanes sell wares, spices, metal bangles, Jodhpun jootis, Rajasthani turbans, and loads of mithais and snacky items you can munch on during a shopping spree. The city is popularly known for its antique fur niture emporiums. There are a few near Ghanta Ghar too. If you love investing in retro, unique home decor pieces and fur nishings in Indian prints, it’s impossible to leave empty-handed. From coloured-glass lanterns and vintage posters to jaali-work wooden frames and quirky painted metal trunks, you’ll find them all. As a souvenhi you can pick a signature Jodhpuri re versible block-print quilt that is known to have a cooling effect in summer and acts as an insulator against the cold in the harsh winter cold.

village market jodhpur.jpg

Village market, Jodhpur

FESTIVAL ALERT!

Lose yourself to the sacred sounds and dance performances by the best artiste line-up from across the globe at Mehrangarh Fort that is lit by the sparkling incandescence of a thousand candles.

World Sacred Spirit Festival (Feb 26-27, 2016); Flamenco & Gypsy Festival (Mar 18-20, 2016)

MUST-EAT

Your trip would be incomplete if you leave Jodhpur without biting into the fiery mirchi vadas (king-size green chili stuffed with spicy potato filling, dipped in gram flour batter and fried), kachoris and makhaniya lass!. The busy area around the Clock Tower market has a number of street stalls offering freshly-fried versions of the eatables. Try Janta Sweet Home at Na! Sarak, a favourite among the locals.

 

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IN THE PINK OF THINGS – JAIPUR


Jaipur’s forts, palaces, colors and hospitality will make you feel like the royals that lived here centuries ago

Across the rocky plains encircled by desert hills, with bastion and fortified walls spiraling over their contours, lies the capital of Rajasthan. I rolled the window down as we drove through early morning rush hour at Bapu Bazaar. Vendors prepared their fresh supply of fruits, vegetables and bright orange marigolds for sale, children crowded together in cycle-rickshaws headed for school, and there was an extraordinary chaos in the air, as every possible mode of transport, from luxury cars to scooters, rickshaws, horse-drawn carts and camels, all found their place on the same road. The morning sun reflected on the stunning 18th century architecture of pink sand-stone, turning into a soft shade of honeycomb with a pinkish hue.

In stark contrast, our car soon wheeled into a royal landscape which was home to a fairytale princess, the fabulous Rambagh Palace that is now a luxury hotel. The imposing exterior was reminiscent of the regal style of the buildings in the city. We were greeted to a rose petal welcome and led to our suite by an attentive turbaned butler.

The palace interiors were no less impressive, with long, white-marbled verandahs that wound around the courtyards. As the third wife of HH Maharaja Sawai Man Singh II, this was Rajmata Gayatri Devi’s first home after marriage. Sipping tea on the manicured lawns, you get a sense of the kind of grandeur that she wrote so fondly of, what with all the elephant polo matches, lavish meals and the Rolls-Royces. The palace’s resident peacocks complete the picture.

The sights and sounds of Jaipur, like its people, are vibrant and exuberant. It is a world of Bandhani And Leheriyan Saris, Mojari Chappals, Puppet dolls and Daal Baati Churma and Makkai Muthiya meal that we had been anticipating since we left. But first, a brief history lesson: just outside the city, accessible by car – or better yet, by elephant – is the spectacular Amber Fort. Built four centuries ago by Raja Maan Singh I, Amber Fort is renowned as an architectural marvel with stunning artistic elements and stonework, which used the practical approach of the ancient Indian study of vaastu.

Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Amber Fort gets approximately 5000 visitors a day, most of whom seemed to be waiting for an elephant ride up to the Fort.

“Padharo Mare Desh!” yelled out short, pot-bellied turbaned tour guide Gyaan Singh, in his uncanny American accent. We cheated the serpentine queues to enter the Fort, thanks to his wasta (influence) and soon we were taking in enough history to fill an encyclopaedic volume. He walked us through the Suraj Pol, Jalebi Chowk (an Arabic word referring to a place for soldiers to gather), Ganesh Pol, Sila Devi Temple, the stately courtyards, and numerous other places of unimaginable intrigue all amongst this immaculately planned palatial fort of red sandstone and marble masonry, lattice-screens and mirror work walls.

After taking in all that history, we made our way to some retail therapy in the bustling markets of the city. Jaipur is famous for its textiles, block prints being made by local artisans, silver and of course the spectacular Jaipur gems.

The next morning, we bid farewell to the city and our not-so-humble abode and headed for the undulating Aravalli hills to pink sandstone and limestone-walled resort, reflecting Rajasthan’s famed architectural history. The Tree Of Life Resort and Spa offers a quiet tranquillity – it is an ideal place to unwind and rest. It inspired my very urban children to go off on a ‘nature walk’, so that is something. They reported back with an interesting list – “a real carrot garden, four monarch butterflies, three big squirrels and a large German Shepherd…..that belongs to the lady in the next villa.”

Up here in the Aravalli hills, under the clear blue skies, with no cellphones, no computers or schedules to uphold, you get a chance to be pensive and contemplative. Perhaps, that is my version of being Royal in Rajasthan.

Courtesy by K.T.

SPOTTING THE POTTED


More elusive than the tiger, leopards are one of the toughest big cats to spot. But if you are passionate about these enigmatic creatures, here are a few places in India to visit.

RAJASTHAN:-

Far from the madding crowd of tourists and safari canters, this is an uncharted leopard terrain, unknown even to the locals. A few dry, parched zones of Rajasthan have become thriving spots for leopard sightings. The journey starts from Taalvraksh (while coming from Delhi), which is just 20 km from Sariska Tiger Sanctuary in Rajasthan. The place has become a safe haven for leopards, which have migrated here from Sariska, thanks to territorial tiffs with the tigers. A small area of dense forest covering, with little water available, has made the place a good leopard habitat.

Next, you can visit Siana in Jalore district, a small hamlet bordering the great Thar Desert. The village of Siana is featured in David Attenborough’s epic The life of Mammals. The rocky desert hills of Siana are still home to a number of leopards other than chinkaras, Indian striped hyenas, desert fox, civet cat and jungle cats. The place offers a farm stay with homegrown food, safaris and a tour of the village where you can see carpenters engaged in making wooden handicrafts, leather embroidery and potters wheels.

Last but not the least, on the list is a place called Bera near Jawai Bandh, one of western Rajasthan’s largest reservoirs, which is abuzz with flamingos, geese, cranes and other migratory birds. Equidistant from Udaipur and Jodhpur ( 4 -5 hours by road), it is an hour’s drive away from the Jain temple at Ranakpur. Unlike Taalvraksh, Bera is not home to a few nomadic leopards, the place is full of the cat, camouflaged under big rocks. The location boasts of quite a few comfortable camps, some in luxury category with private viewing decks! Most of them offer specialized safaris with experienced guides, who will help you track down the stealthy beast and other wildlife, like sloth bears, wolves and hyenas.

Best time to visit:- winter, since the cat strolls out and basks freely under the winder sun.

KARNATAKA

The iconic image of a leopard resting on a silent tea branch that we often see in magazines was perhaps shot in the lush backwaters of the river Kabini in southern India. Snaking its way through the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve, the Kabini forms a spectacular backdrop to abundant wildlife, especially leopards. The Kabini forest Reserve in Karnataka is rather unique since all three predators – Tigers, leopards and Dholes (Indian wild dogs) coexist here. The leopards spend a large part of the day on trees and come down mostly for hunting. They are so well-camouflaged that even the most trained eye misses them from a distance. The Kabini Forest Reserve is also partially the largest refuge of the endangered Asiatic elephant. On a boat safari of the reserve, one can spot them by the waterfront along with other animals like gaur (Indian bison), spotted deer and wild boar.

Best Time to Visit: Between October and May.

BORDER OF MP, MAHARASHTRA

The fabled forest immortalized in Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book, Mowgli Land in Pench, makes for intriguing jungle safaris. Located on the southern boundary of Madhya Pradesh, bordering Maharashtra, Pench National Park is known for a variety of wildlife and more famously for the Royal Bengal Tiger. However, leopard sightings in this park are stated to be among the best in India. Though known to operate mostly in the peripheral areas of the park, leopards are also seen in the deep forest area. So don’t always keep your vision fixed at ground level, keep a watch on treetops for unsuspecting leopards taking a nap. Birding enthusiasts must pack appropriate binoculars and amateurs should carry birding books since the forest boasts of around 200 different species of birds, including barbets, wagtails and blue kingfishers.

Best time to visit: November to June

MADHYAPRADESH

There is one more place in central India that brags of a high leopard density – Satpura Tiger Reserve. Most travelers, who’ve been here to seek tigers, have come back jubilant over chance leopard sightings, the possibility of which is terrific, both inside the park and in the buffer zone, which is accessible on night drives. This relatively new, little-known scenic reserve also has the distinction of being one of the few national parks offering walking and kayaking safaris! Other than offering abundant wildlife, its forest clad hills, steep gorges and creeks makes for a picturesque outing.

Best time to visit:- November to June

JAMMU AND KASHMIR

A trek to the higher regions of Ladakh has become synonymous with searching for the elusive snow leopard. Leopards are hard to spot and snow leopards top that list. These reticent creatures love their cold habitat and come into sight only during their mating months, when they are on the move. Various organizations have vowed to protect this endangered animal and have started treks in the area, led by a Ladakhi snow leopard expert who tracks the snow leopards movements with the help of local villagers. In support of community-based ecotourism, these organizations make travelers stay with the local herders in the warmth of their traditional Ladakhi homes with comfy beds and gratifying meals.

Best time to visit: February and March, the snow leopards mating season.

AROUND THE WORLD

Asiatic leopard sightseeing’s can be fantastic in Yala National Park, Sri Lanka. Boasting of one of the world’s densest leopard populations, Yala is also inhabited by herds of elephants, sloth bears and crocodiles.

Finding the elusive leopard can seem like a tall order, but not in Zambia’s South Luangwa National Park. Stay in one of the many gorgeous luxury camps and lodges with excellent guides at your service.

The Kalahari Gemsbok National Park in Botswana is a place full of predators, roughly 200 cheetahs, 450 lions and 150 leopards dominate the sand dune-ridden landscape!

Great Indian Bustard (GIB) census starts in Rajasthan, India


The state level winter census of the Great Indian Bustard (GIB) started from February 10th in the state. The GIB is a bird which is on the verge of extinction.

Chief forest conservator, wildlife, Jodhpur, (Rajasthan, India) Govind Sagar Bhardwaj, has been appointed the nodal officer for the census. Only 100 Great Indian Bustard (GIB) is alive in the country and nearly 50 of them are in Jaisalmer(Rajasthan, India).

GIB_campaign_final

A workshop for the census was organized at a Hotel in Jaisalmer (Rajasthan, India) on Friday, in which six forest divisions, voluntary organizations and army jawans participated.

Deputy conservator of forests, ML Sonal informed the participants about the wildlife census. State wildlife board, Jaipur, Rajasthan, India member Rajpal Singh was the guest of honor.

Information about the preparations for the census, deputy forest conservator Karan Singh said that this time the transit lines have been increased and five new tracks have been laid outside the Desert National Park. A control room has been set up at the wildlife office. The team constituted for census work will be provided with a wireless set, head set, GPS, binoculars, etc. the census will be carried out on the scheduled track on camels and on foot.

Deputy forest conservator, Desert national Park, GK Verma, regional forest officer Pankaj Gupta, assistant forest conservator Rewat Singh Godara and regional forest officers also took part in the workshop. Assistant forest conservator (wildlife) VK Bissa, who conducted the workshop, gave a vote of thanks.

Great Indian Bustard

During December last year, a Great Indian Bustard (GIB) was poached; bit till date there is no clue of the poachers. Human interference is responsible for the diminishing numbers of these birds as it prevents the shy bird from breeding.

The state government and the centre appear indifferent towards saving the bird. Although, a plan for GIB conservation has been sent to the centre, but no action has been taken so far.

Courtesy:- Times Of India (Monday, 11th, February, 2013)

An undeniable photography heaven “Rajasthan”


An undeniable photography heaven, stepped in royal history, Rajasthan showcases colorful locals rivaled only by their attire, grand palaces, havelis, celebrations and a landscape as barren and harsh as it is beautiful. Jaisalmer’s canvas of sand is dotted with camels, the floating Lake Palace of Udaipur, forts in Jodhpur and Jaipur with sentries standing guard in traditional attire and the Pushkar fair all offer rich pickings for your camera. The hazy morning and twilight light lends itself to surreal images, but then this holds true for most of Rajasthan.
Good time to visit: Late October – February

Grand Palaces

Mehrangarh Fort, Jodhpur, Rajasthan

Gajner Palace, Bikaner, Rajasthan

City Palace, Jaipur

Jaisalmer Fort, Rajasthan

Lake Palace Hotel, Udaipur

City Palace Complex, Udaipur

NaharGarh Fort, Ranthambore, Rajasthan

Ranthambore Fort

 

Bundi Fort, Rajasthan

Haveli’s

 

 

 

 

Fresco Paintings, Mandawa, Rajasthan

Fresco Paintings, Mandawa, Rajasthan

Haveli with Fresco Paintings, Mandawa, Rajasthan

Fresco Paintings, Mandawa, Rajasthan

Haveli in Mandawa, Rajasthan

 

 

Puppetteer showing off his skills at Khimsar Fort, Rajasthan

Miniature Painting at Bundi School of Painting

Miniature Painting at Bundi School of Painting

Lord Shiva sitting on Nandi with Parvati and son Ganesha Opposite Godess Annapurna on Elephnat giving grain to lord Shiva at Bundi School of Painting

Wall Painting in Mandawa

Colorful people & Celebrations

 

Traditional Welcome at Desert Resort, Rajasthan

Women in Gaiety at City Palace Complex, Udaipur, Rajasthan

Colorful Village market of Jodhpur, Rajasthan

Selling Trinkets at Jaisalmer Fort, Rajasthan

Marriage Procession

Off to temple

Musician at Jaisalmer Fort, Rajasthan

Colorful Elephnat’s during Great India Travel Bazaar, Jaipur

 

Beautiful Arid Land

 

 

Dwelling’s of Shepherds along Thar Desert, Rajasthan

 

Sunset at Pushar, Rajasthan

Dwelling’s of Shepherds along Thar Desert, Rajasthan

View of Gajner Palace, Bikaner from Wildlife Sanctuary

 

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