Rajasthan was the chosen destination to ring in the celebrations of our wedding anniversary and it did not disappoint. Pardon me for using ‘colourful’ and words alike a few too many times in this post. Rajasthan captivates with it’s vibrant art and culture.
It was a five day vacation beginning with Udaipur and moving on to Kumbhalgarh, Dechu, Jodhpur and Jaipur. For my ease and yours I’m simply going to stick to a pointer system. So first on the list….Udaipur
The journey began at the Raas Leela Hotel by the Lake Pichola. Mornings began with Poha( flattened rice with tempering) & Masala Chai and a view of the marble walled Taj Lake Palace in the mist, an ancient palace now serving as a luxury hotel.
An auto rikshaw took us through the very narrow alleys (called gallis in Hindi) lined by tall houses as we made our way to the Udaipur City Palace.Exciting no doubt but be cautioned if you’re claustrophobic! A very helpful guide took us around the 400 year old palace built by the Maharanas, suffused with vibrant paintings, intricate carvings & cut glass work. We walked through the constricted staircases with entrances that demand you to bow down and proceed, a feature specially designed for the soldiers of the enemy.
A small store in the palace precincts rents out the traditional attire of Rajasthan in order to complete the royal experience. Ghargras & Jhumkas for the lady & a dhoti-kurta,sword & turban for the man. A chance to experience the authenticity of Udaipur and we were not about to shy away…
The Palace at night….
Outside the palace were countless artisans, specialising in Miniature paintings of aristocratic elephants, camels & royal processions, on old postcards & stamp papers. I had to get one as a keepsake.
A ferry ride from the palace took us to Jag Mandir, a palace on Lake Pichola, a common spot for weddings, Bollywood included! The golden marigold garlands suggested a wedding party for the same evening….
After a heavy lunch, a stop at the Vintage Collection of Classic Cars Museum, laden with Rolls Royce, Bentley & the likes of it, all belonging to the Maharanas of Mewar. Tempting to take a ride isn’t it?
About an hour’s drive from Udaipur, Kumbalgarh houses the Kumbhalgarh Fort, known to be the second longest wall after the Great Wall of China.
The same day after spending a few hours exploring the Fort, we were off to Dechu to experience the alluring desert sands of Rajasthan.A camel ride to the sunset, Rajasthani thali dinner while watching the traditional dance & a tent for a room in the midst of the desert….our Dechu in a gist.
‘The Blue City’
Driving through the roads encompassed by blue houses, which we were told are done to ensure that the homes are kept cool in the hot summer, we arrived at the Mehrangarh Fort. One of the largest forts in India, decked by the Moti Mahal ( Pearl Palace), Sheesha Mahal(Mirror palace) & the Phool Mahal(Flower Palace).They are not just names and are crafted, painted and carved to justify the names.
‘The Pink City’
Our final halt in Rajasthan for two whole days before heading home…Jaipur!
The city blushes with pink architecture made using red sandstone.Our guide mentioned that Maharaja Ram Singh had the entire city painted in pink to impress his guests, The Prince of Wales & Queen Victoria.
We sojourned at the Umaid Bhawan Heritage House Hotel, a place where every nook and corner boasts of a royal & traditional Rajasthani outlook.The walls and the ceilings were painstakingly hand painted with detailed designs in vibrant shades.
One day of course was reserved for my shopping spree on the streets of Bapu Market. Jaipur tempts with Rajasthani clothes & jewelry, pickles, papads & home decor. The next day we visited the Amer Palace overlooking the Maota Lake. A kind mahout & his faithful elephant friend took us through the Suraj Pol into the palace.
The shopping spree was not restricted to Bapu Market & I’m not kidding when I say that Rajasthan is an art lovers paradise. We were fortunate to have seen the Blue Pottery, Miniature paintings, Cut glass work, Minakari and they all display extreme skill in hand and I marvel & envy that.
The Blue Pottery of Jaipur deserves a special mention. We chanced upon a store close to the Palace where the owner was so nice as to explain the details of it as well.Unlike most pottery this one doesn’t use clay and instead uses materials like quartz & glass. The motifs are handpainted, intricate, bright & beautiful.
We are self proclaimed foodies and I kept the best for last.Be it the ghee fried Dal Dhokli in Dechu, hot jalebis in Udaipur or the thick Lassi in Jaipur… when it comes to food in Rajasthan, a single helping is never enough.