March 07, 2018

From fairy tale palaces and epic forts to colourful festivals and wildlife encounters, Rajasthan offered me
glimpses of its tales of war, romance, valour, sacrifice and beauty.

I embarked on an exciting journey to the land of the kings or ‘Rajasthan’ on a train that pulled into the
station at midnight. We reached Jodhpur after a day to the bustling noise of vendors and hawkers and I was welcomed by the cold morning breeze that knocked all my sensitivity. I spent the next 15 days exploring the place by car.

Jodhpur is a delightful blend of the modern and the traditional; known as the ‘Blue City’, its architecture
is predominantly marked by vivid shades of blue. Known to be built in place of the ancient capital, Mandore of the state of Manwar, Jodhpur is home to many havelis, temples, palaces and forts. The people of Jodhpur and surrounding areas are commonly known as Marwaris. The city mesmerized me with its history, heritage and royalty.

Ancient architects had made ample use of stones and marbles in their designs while expressing their innovation and creativity. Some of the places I visited were Mehrangarh Fort, Khejarla Fort, Umaid Bhawan Palace, Moti Mahal, Ranisar Padamsar, Phool Mahal, Jaswant Thada, Ghanta Ghar, Mahamandir Temple, Mandaleshwar
Mahadev, Masuria Hills, Mandore.

In Jaipur, the ‘Pink City’, I perceived the allure of ancient history in the convenience of a metropolis. The
bustling modern city is one of the three corners of the ‘Golden Triangle’ that includes Delhi, Agra and Jaipur.
Some of the places I visited in Jaipur were the Jaipur Palace, Jantar Mantar, Amber Palace, Hawa Mahal,
Albert Hall Museum, Nahargarh Fort, Jal Mahal, Digamber Jain Mandir, Galtaji, Kanak Vrindavan, Amar
Jawan Jyoti, Jaipur Wax Museum, Samode, Madhvendra Palace and Nahargarh.

In most of the palaces here, the contrast between the exterior and the inviting interior left me surprised. Magnificent carvings and precious stones and mirrors adorned the interiors.

My next journey was to Udaipur, the ‘City of Lakes and Palaces’. It is also known as the Venice of the East.The
city is known for the profuse use of zinc and marble in its architecture. I was lucky to be a part of the Shilpgram Festival at the time of my visit. The festival happens for 10 days every year in December. My eyes reflected blue shades as I traversed the lakes and visited the Udaipur Palace, Lake Palace, Jag Mandir, Monsoon Palace, Ahar
Museum, Jagdish temple, Fateh Sagar Lake, Lake Pichola, Bagore ki Haveli, Udai Sagar Lake, Doodh Talai Lake, Jaisamand Lake, Navalakha Mahal and the wax museum.

Wearing traditional costumes and dancing along with Rajasthani people left me with very sweet memories. The traditional shops sell all kinds of costumes, carvings, food items, stones, etc.

My final stop was Jaisalmer. Unlike most forts in India, the Jaisalmer fort is not just a tourist attraction. It houses, shops, hotels and ancient havelis (homes) where generations of people continue to live. In Jaisalmer, I also visited Nathmal Ji Ki Haveli, Salim Singh Ki Haveli, Patwon Ki Haveli, Mandir Palace, Jain temples, Gadisar Lake, Bada Bagh, Desert National Park, Kuldhara, Jaisalmer War Museium, Laungewala War Memorial, Akal
Wood Fossil Park, Vyas Chhatri and the Amar Sagar Lake.

On the way near the desert, we passed through the India-Pakistan border guarded by the armed forces. The desert halt was the icing on the cake for me. I enjoyed the sunset, safari ride on the camel, camp fire with traditional performances and local food.

I left the destination with vivid impressions of its artistic and cultural lifestyle that permeates every aspect of the life of the locals. Cherished moments captured in my camera urge me to visit the place once again.

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