Saturday, August 28, 2010

Jaago Grahak Jaago!!

Have you ever felt dissatisfied with anything you have bought recently? Have you felt that the product did not live up to its promises? Have you felt that you have not got your money's worth?? Have you ever felt like complaining about your grievances, but not sure about how to go about it? Hope is here!! For any complaints or grievances you have as a consumer, or any questions or queries you have about your rights as a consumer, you can talk to the National Consumer Helpline at 1800-11-4000. This helpline will guide you regarding your rights as a consumer, whom to complain, how to go about the process of asking for a compensation etc.

Friday, August 27, 2010

My creations!

I keep doing stuff to keep myself, my mind, my thoughts, and my creativity busy. Earlier I did a lot of embroidery (I am just crazy about it) but eventually had to stop it because of my shoulder playing up. Now I have started making these small little bags with beadwork.

Beadwork bag with Malaysian beads
With Mexican beads

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Rajasthan by road - day 10

Our last day in Rajasthan was spent relaxing in our hotel rooms at Hotel Ram Pratap Palace, Udaipur.  Overlooking the Fateh Sagar Lake, the hotel combines old world charm with modern day comforts.  The staff was very helpful and food was good.  It is indeed a money's worth to stay at this hotel, away from the noise of the old city. An oil massage at the hotel spa was indeed very rejuvenating and perfect end to a great holiday!!
Later we took an afternoon flight back home from the Dabok Airport or the Maharana Pratap Airport.

Rajasthan by road - day 9, Chittorgarh

On day #9, we visited Chittorgarh which is about 105 km from Udaipur.  Chittorgarh, the first capital of the Mewar Sisodia clan, is famous for the largest fort in India, the Chittorgarh Fort. The fort is surrounded by a circular wall and one has to pass through seven gates to enter the main fort area.  It is also famous for the beauty of Rani Padmini, the devotion of Meerabai and her love for Lord Krishna, and the valour of Maharana Pratap Singh.

Legend has it that Rani Padmini, queen of Chittor, was so beautiful that Ala-ud-din Khilji lusted for her. He wanted to have one glimpse of the beautiful queen, and so he sent a message to Rana Rawal Ratan Singh that he looked upon Rani Padmini as his "sister" and wanted to meet her.  Rani Padmini refused to come face-to-face with an outsider.  So it was arranged that Ala-ud-din Khilji would see her reflection in a mirror. The mirror was so strategically placed that Khilji could look at the reflection only with his back towards the princess.  Rani Padmini was seated on the steps of her Lake Palace and even if Khilji turned to look in the direction of the Rani, he could not see her as her place of seating was below his frame of view. Guards were positioned behind him with orders to chop off his head if he even chanced to glance in the direction of the Rani.

Ruins of  Rana Kumbha's palace
The mirror used to show Rani Padmini's reflection to Ala-ud-din Khilji

Rani Padmini's Lake Palace

Ala-ud-din Khilji was so enamoured by Rani Padmini's beauty that he decided to make her his own and attacked Chittor.  When after a long-drawn battle, Chittor was on the verge of facing defeat, Rani Padmini along with all the womenfolk of Chittor, lit a pyre and committed Johaur or the divine suicide.  They preferred Jauhar to being dishonoured at the hands of the army of Ala-ud-din Khilji.

Chittorgarh is also famous for Meerabai and her love for Lord Krishna. Married to Prince Bhoj Raj, the eldest son of Rana Sanga of Chittor, Meerabai had eyes only for Lord Krishna and considered herself to be married only to the lord.  
Statue of Meerabai with Lord Krishna's idol
Meerabai's temple
Upon Bhoj Raj's death in a battle, Meerabai left the palace and started staying at a  temple, singing the praises of Lord Krishna.  Surviving various attempts of murder by her brother-in-law, Meerabai is said to have traveled all over North India, singing the praises of Lord Krishna.  She is said to have finally epitomized her love for Lord Krishna by entering the sanctum sanctorum of the temple in Dwarka in a singing ecstasy after which the doors of the sanctum are believed to have closed on their own.  When the doors were later opened, it is said that Meerabai's sari was seen enwrapped around the idol of Lord Krishna, denoting that she had entered the idol and culminated as one with the Lord.

Vijay Stambh or Tower of Victory
Vijay Stambh or the Tower of Victory was built by Maharana Kumba in 1440 AD to commemorate the victory of the kingdom over the intruder Mohammed Khilji.

In 1533, when Bahadur Shah attacked Bikramjeet of Chittor, Rani Karnavati, a Bundi Princess, committed Jauhar along with her female consorts. Her own infant son, Udai Singh, was smuggled out by Panna Dai who sacrificed the life of her own son to save the infant king.  When Akbar seized Chittor in the 16th century, he razed the fort to rubble.  Chittor was never inhabited again but it always asserted the heroic spirit of Rajput warriors. Udai Singh built his new capital in Udaipur.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Rajasthan by road - day 8, Udaipur

On day 8, our first stop in Udaipur was at Saheliyon ki Badi.  It is an ornamental garden with fountains and kiosks with a lotus pool studded with water fountains and guarded by four marble elephants.  This was constructed for the female members of the royal family.
Saheliyon ki badi

Next stop was at Moti Magri. Moti Magri or Pearl Hill overlooking the Fateh Sagar Lake is a memorial dedicated to the Rajput hero, Maharana Pratap Singh.  It has a bronze statue of the Maharana astride his favourite horse, Chetak.  Chetak holds a special place in the Mewar history as he had loyally taken his master, the Maharana, to safety in spite of being fatally injured in the Haldi Ghati battle.  He proved his loyalty until his very last breath.

Maharana Pratap Singh Statue 
Special mention is given to Hakim Khan Sur who was a loyal assistant to Maharana Pratap Singh during the Haldi Ghati battle.  Hence there is a statue of Hakim Khan Sur at Moti Magri.

Hakim Khar Sur
Later we visited Shilpgram, a government initiative to promote rural and tribal culture and art from Rajasthan, Gujarat, Goa, and Maharashtra.  Talented artisans are given an opportunity to stay at Shilpgram for 15 days at a time with a stipend to promote their rural and tribal art and culture.  Various groups selling wares ranging from pottery, traditional jewellery, block-print textiles, footwear etc, and various folk music and dance groups form the essence of this village setting.  It is a delight to watch the puppet show, the gujarati folk dance, the rajasthani folk dance etc.

Later we visited the City Palace of Udaipur, a magnificent architectural piece which was developed over a period of 300 years and more.

City Palace, Udaipur

City Palace, Udaipur
Considered to be the largest palace complex in Rajasthan, this palace was the last capital of the ruling Sisodiya clan of Udaipur. The palace was built on the banks of Lake Pichola by Maharana Udai Singh Mewar on the advice of a hermit he met on one of his hunting expeditions.

Suraj Gokhda, Mor-Chowk, Sheesh Mahal, Moti Mahal, Krishna Vilas, Dilkush Mahal, Shambu Niwas, Bhim Vilas, Amar Vilas, Badi Mahal, Fateh Prakash Palace and Shiv Niwas Palace are some of the structures within this complex.  The Fateh Prakash Palace and Shiv Niwas Palace have been converted into luxury hotels.

The lake palace which is now a luxury hotel,  and Jag Mandir are two structures which have been constructed on islands on  Lake Pichola.

One can also enjoy the light and sound show which takes place at twilight at the City Palace, every evening.  The show encases the rich history of the royal family right from the founder, Maharana Bappa Rawal, to Princess Padmini's Johar at Chittor, Princess Karmavati's Johar, Panna Dayi's sacrifice, Maharana Pratap Singh's valour, to the present Maharana Sri Arvind Singhji Mewar.  It is a must-watch and do remember to opt for the terrace seats instead of the garden seats.

One can also visit Jagdish Mandir and Bagore ki Haveli which are at walking distance from the City Palace.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Rajasthan by road - day 7, Jodhpur to Mount Abu

On day #7, we left for Mount Abu, the only hill stations in Rajasthan.  A small idyllic town, it was known as Arbudaanchal in the ancient days.  It is home to Dilwara Temple, a beautiful temple complex consisting of five Jain temples the first of which was built by Vimal Shah in 1031 AD and dedicated to the first of the Jain Thirthankaras.  The first four temples have beautiful marble carvings in the shape of elephants, lotus buds, petals, flowers, and depictions of Jain mythology. The fifth temple was built by the labourers who worked on the first four temples. The fifth temple is a token of their love and built from the left-over marble pieces and building material.  The term "Dilwara" comes from this token of love. For more information regarding Dilwara temples, refer to Wikipedia.

Mount Abu is also famous for the Nakki Lake which according to legend is said to have been dug out by the Gods using their fingernails and hence the name Nakki.  One can also go for boating in this picturesque lake.

Mount Abu is filled with tiny restaurants catering to tourists from all over the world.  Our recommendation is 'Hollywood Bollywood' which is a pure veg restaurant offering good food and clean surroundings. Do not forget to check out the lac bangles and earrings with enameled Meenakari work which Rajasthan is famous for.  Also do not forget to bargain. Mount Abu and Jodhpur are the best places to shop in because the goods are reasonably priced.

Mount Abu is also home to the world headquarters of Brahma Kumaris, known as Madhuban or Pandav Bhavan.  The main hall of the complex is called Om Shanthi Bhavan.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Rajasthan by road - day 6, Jodhpur - The blue city

Day 6 of our Rajasthan trip was reserved for local sightseeing in Jodhpur.  Courtesy Travelguru, Shakti Singh, a well-learned, informative, and a former private assistant to the Rajmata of Jodhpur, accompanied us on our sightseeing.
Jodhpur - The blue city

First we visited Umaid Bhavan.  According to Wikipedia, Umaid Bhavan is one of the largest private residences in the world. The entire palace is divided into three parts.  One part of the palace is now a museum which houses various paintings, crystal collection, rare photographs, etc. belonging to the royal family of Jodhpur.  One part has now been converted into a luxury hotel while the third part still houses the royal family.  Mr. Singh told us the history behind the construction of Umaid Bhavan.  In the earlier part of the 20th century, Maharaja Umaid Singh and his Maharani were on a tour of Europe.  Being a simple man of ordinary looks, the Maharaja happened to enter a Rolls Royce showroom, where the owner refused to entertain him and had him removed from the premises without knowing his real identity.  Next day, the Maharaja sent his private assistant, a 6-foot tall man, along with a blank cheque and purchased all the 12 Rolls Royce cars occupying the showroom.  These cars were transported to Jodhpur and converted into garbage carriers.  Sometime later when a Rolls Royce mechanic visited Jodhpur to service the cars, he was shocked to see the poor state of the cars and informed his boss back home. The Rolls Royce owner promptly chartered a plane to Jodhpur but was given an appointment to meet Maharaja Umaid Singh only after three days of his arrival.  The owner who was shocked to learn that the Maharaja of Jodhpur was the same person he had evicted from his showroom, tried to convince the Maharaja to return the cars in exchange of the total money paid for them.  When Maharaja Umaid Singh refused to do so, the European tried to bring in other Maharajas of Rajasthan to try to convince Maharaja Umaid Singh. Finally Maharaja Umaid Singh agreed to part with the cars but on  two conditions.  One, he wanted the Rolls Royce company to pay him four times the total money paid for the cars, and two, he wanted the Rolls Royce company to make a gold plated car for him which would be the one and only such car in the world and never replicated.  The Rolls Royce company readily agreed and paid a total of 16 lakhs for each of the 12 cars.  It is learnt that the Rolls Royce company also swore never to sell any of its cars to the Maharaja even if offered 2 crores of rupees, while the Maharaja is alleged to have pledged never to ride a Rolls Royce again!!
This money was used the Maharaja to construct the Umaid Bhavan in an effort to provide employment to the citizens of Jodhpur who were reeling under severe famine conditions.  Each labourer was paid 25 paise per day, and on completion of the Umaid Bhavan, each labourer was gifted a bronze medal with the Maharaja's picture stamped on it.  The receiver could meet the Maharaja at any time just by presenting this medal and the medal also meant subsidized rates on rail travel etc.
Umaid Bhavan, Jodhpur
Umaid Bhavan as seen from Mehrangarh Fort

Umaid Bhavan museum also houses some rare Swiss clocks and watches.  Legend has it that when the Maharaja and the Maharani were in Europe, they happened to learn about a lady who was very ill and was in dire need of money.  The Maharani of Jodhpur exchanged her necklace for a sum total of 3 lakh rupees and had it sent to the lady for medical care.  When the lady recovered, she offered her collection of Swiss-made watches and clocks to the royals as a mark of respect and gratitude.  This Swiss collection is still displayed proudly in the museum.  
Some of the Swiss clocks

The Shyam Benegal movie, Zubeida, is based on the life of Maharaja Umaid Singh's son Maharaja Hanumanth Singh and his love affair. His wife, Maharani Krishna Kumari, who is now the Rajmata, a very beautiful lady even at the ripe age of 83, still resides at the Umaid Bhavan with the family of her son, Maharaja Gaj Singh, who was a minor when he lost his father.  

Next we visited the Mehrangarh Fort of Jodhpur.  Situated on a steep hill, this fort is one of the largest forts in India.  It is a well preserved fort which houses a collection of musical instruments, royal costumes, furniture, cannons etc.  Legend has it that Princess Krishna Kumari of Udaipur, renowned to be the most beautiful lady in this part of the world was engaged to be married to the Maharaja of Jodhpur.  On learning this, the Maharaja of Jaipur attacked the Mehrangarh Fort in order to defeat the Maharaja of Jodhpur and to claim Princess Krishna Kumari as his own.  The Jaipur army attacked the fort from atop a nearby hill and in spite of the war which went on for nearly six months, Jodhpur remained unconquered. The cannon ball marks are still visible on the walls of the fort.  When the princess learnt about this war, she held herself and her beauty responsible for the loss of so many lives, and committed suicide.  
Mehrangarh Fort
Mehrangarh Fort
Mehrangarh Fort atop a hill

This fort is one of the best in India with its exquisitely latticed windows, carved panels, elaborately adorned windows and walls of Moti Mahal, Phool Mahal, Sheesh Mahal.

Sheesh Mahal
Phool Mahal

Moti Mahal

On one of the walls of the fort, one can see the hand prints of the various Maharanis and Ranis of the palace who committed sati on the death pyres of their husbands.

Before embarking on their final journey, the royal ladies left a mark of their hand prints on the wall, as a final parting gift to the people to remember them by.

Jaswant Thada

Close to the fort complex, lies Jaswant Thada, a royal cenotaph which was built in white marble in memory of Maharaja Jaswant Singh II by his Maharani.  It is now the royal crematorium.
In Jodhpur, one can shop at the various National Handloom Emporiums which are present at almost every turn and corner of the city.  One can find an assortment of cosmetics, gifts, accessories, show pieces, photo frames, etc at reasonable prices.  Jodhpur is indeed a shopper's paradise as compared to the high prices in Jaipur and Jaisalmer.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Rajasthan by road - day 5, Jaisalmer to Jodhpur

Gadisar Lake

On day 5, we went about Jaisalmer visiting the local tourist spots which included the Gadisar Lake, the Jaisalmer Fort, the Jain temples etc.

Gadisar Lake, built by Maharwal Gadsi Singh around 1400 AD is a water conservation tank.  This structure once controlled the entire water supply to the arid city.  There are many temples are shrines surrounding the lake.   The main gate called Tillon ki Pol was built by the royal courtesan named Tillon towards the end of the 19th century.  Lord Vishnu's statue was installed at the gate so as to protect it from demolition. Here you will find lots of cat fish who hungrily devour all the bread pieces thrown at them.

catfish in the Gadisar lake
Next we visited the Jaisalmer Fort.  Made of the yellow sand stone and locally called as Sonar Quilla, the Jaisalmer Fort is said to be the second oldest in Rajasthan. The inside of the fort is very congested with over one-fourth of the city's population residing within the fort.  The alleys are narrow and are bordered by quaint little shops selling everything from crystals to antiques to clothes to jewellery.  But the prices are very high and it is not advisable to purchase anything from here.  There are a couple of Jain temples within the fort which are open to visitors only till 12 noon.  The insides of the temples are beautiful with intricate marble carvings and numerous idols of the Jain Tirthankaras.
There is also an old palace inside the fort which has been converted into a museum.  This houses various artillery, costumes, jewellery of the ancient times. The intricately carved balconies and pavillions of the numerous houses within the fort, are worth seeing.

Jaisalmer Fort

As is the case with most part of Rajasthan, Jaisalmer too has its share of havelis, the most prominent being the Patwon Ki Haveli, Salim Ji ki Haveli, Natmal ji ki Haveli etc.

Patwon Ki Haveli was the first haveli erected in Jaisalmer and it is not a single haveli but a cluster of five havelis.  Legend has it that Guman Chand Patwa, a rich trader of his time, constructed the first of the havelis in the early 1800s.  He then constructed the rest of the five havelis for his sons.  It took 50 years for the completion of these havelis.  The first of the havelis has been turned into a museum.  It exhibits the various rooms like the drawing room, dining room, kitchen, bedrooms, dressing rooms etc as they were in the olden days.  The havelis have beautiful craved windows and balconies, the beauty of which is unparalleled and not seen even in the king's palace.  It is said that the Patwa family dealt with gold and silver embroidery and also made considerable amount of money in opium smuggling and money-lending.  The first haveli is well preserved and is worth visiting.

Patwon Ki Haveli

The second and the fifth havelis have been taken over by the government and are in very bad condition. One cannot escape the musty stinking smell within the haveli and the numerous bats hanging in the dark gloomy rooms.  It is a complete contrast to the first haveli. The third haveli is badly damaged and the fourth one still houses some relatives of the Patwa family.  The Patwon ki haveli is a must-visit.

Rajasthani cuisine is unique.  Some of the famous dishes are Gobind gatta, Ker Sangri, Bajre ki roti, kadhi, jalebis, matka kulfi, laal maans, rogan gosh etc.  We had lunch at "The Trio".  The food was good.  It is near the Gandhi Chowk in Jaisalmer.

After lunch, we drove to the Akal Wood Fossil Park on Barmer Road, about 17 km from Jaisalmer.  It is a vast 21-acre land which contains some wood fossils which are about 180 million years old. But the sad part is that the park does not have any facilities to impart knowledge regarding the fossils.  After driving for about  half a mile, we were asked to follow a mud trail to reach the fossils.  The wood fossils are placed in fenced enclosures but nothing is written about them, and one feels that the fossils are in a state of neglect.  There are no hoardings or persons who will educate the visitor more about these fossils.  Without any proper knowledge or information about these fossils, it is but a waste of time to travel all the way to this fossil park.

Later we drove down to Jodhpur which is about 290 km from Jaisalmer.  The roads are very well maintained and we were lucky to see quite a lot of peacocks on both sides of the road, along the way.

Rajasthan by road - day 4, Bikaner to Jaisalmer

Today, we traveled to Jaisalmer, in the heart of the Thar desert. Also known as the Golden City, most monuments in Jaisalmer are made out of the yellow sandstone which looks golden in the sunlight. Even the sand in the desert is golden in colour giving the desert an almost ethereal look. From Jaisalmer we drove to the Sam sand dunes which is about 40 km away from the city. This is the place where movies like Border, Refugee etc were filmed. One can hire a camel to discover the sand dunes.  The sand dunes look very pretty especially during the sunset. We had a great experience travelling on the camels to the vast expanse of the desert.
Sam sand dunes

One can also stay overnight at the dunes.  There are many campsites which provide tent-like accommodation for a night.   The package includes overnight stay in a tent, folk dance and cultural show at night, dinner, camel ride, breakfast etc. Do not book the tents online because the picture that is presented online is far from the truth.  If you are travelling to the desert in the off-season, you will have enough number of options to choose from once you reach the sand dunes.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Rajasthan by road - day 3, Jaipur to Bikaner

Bikaner is at a distance of 330 km from Jaipur and it took us nearly 6 hours to reach Bikaner from Jaipur. Bikaner is a part of the Marwad region of Rajasthan. It is a small town in the desert area of Rajasthan. Junagarh fort is a fort in the city of Bikaner which was originally named Chintamani and then renamed to Junagarh or Old Fort in the early 20th century when the ruling family moved to Lalgarh Palace built on the outskirts of the fort.  Junagarh is one of the few major forts in Rajasthan which is not on top of a hill.

Junagarh Fort, Bikaner

The large fort precinct is studded with palaces, temples, and pavilions.  Karan Mahal or the Public Audience Hall has stained glass windows and intricately carved balconies built in stone. Phool Mahal or the Flower Palace is the oldest part of the palace. Anup Mahal is a multi-storey structure which functioned as the administrative headquarters of the kingdom.  Chandra Mahal houses gold-plated deities and paintings inlaid with precious stones.  In the royal bedroom, mirrors have been strategically placed so that no intruder could escape the eyes of the Maharaja. Ganga Mahal has a large durbar hall which houses the museum.  The museum has exhibits of war weaponry and also an aeroplane from the World War I which is said to be still functional and well maintained. Badal Mahal  or the Weather Palace houses various paintings.  The Fort also has a fort museum which houses various paintings, royal costumes, headgears, jewels, cutlery, crystals, etc.

Another attraction of Bikaner is the Deshnok Karni Mata Temple which is at a distance of 30 km from Bikaner along Jodhpur road. It is also famous as the Rat Temple. Here, one will find hundreds of rats running about almost every part of the temple.  Rats are considered to be the incarnations of the Mata's followers. Legend has it that Karni Mata who lived sometime in the 14th century, performed many a miracle during her life-time.  When her youngest son died, Karni Mata asked Yamraj, the God of death, to bring him back to life.

Deshnok Temple
Yamraj replied that he was unable to do so, but Karni Mata who was an incarnation of Durga, could restore her son's life. Thus not only did she restore her son's life but also decreed that her followers would be reincarnated as kabas or rats and these kabas would return as members of her family. The many families residing in Deshnok claim both decent from Karni Mata and that they will be reincarnated as kabas.  It is considered very auspicious to have a kaba run over your feet, but I ran out of the temple at the first possible opportunity. It was very scary to find rats in every nook and corner of the temple, running about, ready to jump on you!!

In Bikaner we were put up at a heritage hotel called the Basant Vihar Palace. The rooms were very well done, very comfortable, making one feel like a part of the ancient royal family, but the food was so-so.

Do not miss the quaint little shop on Station Road, from where Haldiram first started his venture into the food business.

Friday, August 06, 2010

Rajasthan by road - day 2 - Jaipur - Pink City

Today, after breakfast, we left for Amer, about 11 km from Jaipur to visit the Amber Fort.  Towering over the waters of the Maota lake, the fort is one of the major tourist attractions of Rajasthan.  This was the former capital of the ruling clan of Amber, before shifting to present-day Jaipur.

Amber fort is known for its unique artistic style and for the blend of both Hindu and Mughal elements in its architecture.   Just at the palace entrance, there is a narrow staircase leading to the Kali Temple, also known as the Shila Devi Temple.  There is an image of Lord Ganesha on the temple entrance carved entirely from a single piece of coral.  There is also a 50-kg silver drum which is still being used during pujas.
The Palace Complex consists of various sections such as the Sheesh Mahal, Summer apartments, Diwan-e-aam, Diwan-e-Khas, zenana apartments etc.
The Sheesh Mahal has various mirrors of different shapes and sizes encrusted in the walls, pillars, and the ceiling of the complex. It is said that during ancient days, when the royal family resided within this complex, a single candle would be enough to light up the entire complex because of the numerous mirrors present. Also, as the guide explained to us, this complex was used as the winter complex, because the numerous mirrors helped to trap light and heat up the complex.
The summer complex has unique cooling system. The windows are covered with numerous latices.  The  lower section of the windows have larger openings which allow air to come in.  There is a water system which sent the water into the upper part of the windows and as the water dropped from the upper part of the windows, the air coming in from the lower section cooled the water and blew it, cooling the entire complex, thereby acting as an air conditioner!!

The dark panel running along the center of the above photo is the water system.

After spending a couple of hours at the Amber Fort, we went to Jaigarh Fort which is situated on a hill above the Amber Fort. Jaigarh Fort has the world's largest cannon, Jaivana, which required 100 kg of gun powder for a single shot!! There is a moat present in front of the canon, which is filled with water. Legend has it that when the cannon was lit, the sentry had to jump into the moat of water to save himself from becoming deaf due to the booming sound of the cannon.  

Later we visited the City Palace, Jantar Mantar, and the Hawa Mahal.
Hawa Mahal

Jantar Mantar, one of the finest observatories in the world, still in tip-top working condition, was truly  amazing.  It is home to the world's largest sun dial.  Using these instruments, one can determine the time of the day,  the zodiac signs, the rotation of the earth, the location of the north star, the position of the constellations, etc.  A must-visit!!

World's Largest Sun Dial

Birla Laxmi Narayan Mandir and Ganesh Mandir at Moti Dongri are the other places of interest. Moti Doongri, which is said to be a replica of a Scottish castle, lies perched on top of a hillock behind the Birla Temple.  It was home to Maharani Gayathri Devi.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Rajasthan by road - day 1

Today, we embarked on our "Rajasthan Discovery", planning to cover all the major destinations of Rajasthan in the next 10 days. We reached Jaipur by air in the evening at around 7.  All our accommodation and hotel bookings have been done by Travelguru. The driver of our hired vehicle picked us up from the airport and we drove straight to Choki Dhani, an ethnic village setting with the Rajasthani magic. At Rs 350 per person, one gets  to enjoy the folk music and dance performances by local artists, puppet shows, magic shows, camel ride, elephant ride and so on.   There are various stalls of Rajasthani food, clothes, jewellery etc. The ticket also includes a traditional Marwadi dinner consisting of various delicacies of the region such as ghatte ki sabzi, aloo dum, palak daal, kadhi, daal bhaati, various chutneys, bajre ki roti smeared liberally with fresh butter, moong dal ka kichda topped with desi ghee and powdered sugar, chaas, raw vegetables, rice and so on, all served in eco-friendly leaf plates and mud tumblers. To top it all, we were also served hot crispy tiny Jalebis that were so delicious that we relished it without feeling guilty about the high number of calories of that one single dinner.

Looking forward to seeing the historical monuments of Jaipur, the pink city, tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Mera Piya Ghar Aaya!!

Finally after 2 months and 13 days, hubby dearest is back home from Mexico!! For a person, who has never had to cook or clean for himself, who almost never had to stay alone....he did a great job being on his own for those 70+ days that he was away from home!! I am so proud of him, I truly am!!!


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