Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Chokhi Daani - Jaipur

Welcome to Chokhi Daani - the Kala Gram or Craftsmen's Village.
While at Jaipur, don't miss this crafts resort.  You will hear it from the locals too as a must visit place in the city.

Try the lavish dinner spread on environmental friendly dried leaf plates being served in an open area. It is a sit-down dinner. The food is arranged and served neatly on small cups placed on a small, wooden table. The 'lassi' or buttermilk is served in an earthen pot.

One thing I really like about traditional Indian food is the recyclable plate on which it is served. In the coastal belt of Karnataka (where I come from), we still use plantain leaves.

It is a pleasure to eat on fresh banana leaves or as in most Soutn Indian temples on dried plants leaves strewn together. They are easy to dispose off too. What the world woke up to in the 21st century India has been doing since centuries.

The meal though was totally and boringly
vegetarian. The famous 'daal-baati' was so hard we couldn't break it.

90% of Rajasthanis are vegetarian. The locals told us not to eat non-vegetarian dishes because it is usually not fresh.

The funny part was the circulation of the Rajasthani petas! Everyone got to wear it and got their 'look like locals' moment.

The resort has all kinds of entertainment.
Camel rides, elephant rides, bullock cart rides,

There is tight-rope walking too and a live dance performance of Rajasthani folk dance.

You can join the dancers swirling around in their long, round skirts full of bead and mirror work, the 'ghunghat' nicely placed on their heads.

There are lots of places to shop and eat
But one thing you will realize is almost everyone is prompting you to tip them generously - whether it is the waiter at the open meal counters or the dancers or any of the other entertainers.

The ethnic atmosphere of the village - whether it is in the buildings or the costumes of the different staff or the overall ambiance makes you feel like you are right in the middle of a typical Rajasthani village.

The beautiful model houses dotting the entire property of the Kala Gram is a visual treat to the eyes. You can spend the whole day here - clicking pics, eating, shopping or just relaxing watching others.

And while you are there, don't forget to have a shot of hookah with this wise, old man.

Monday, June 5, 2017

The Nahar Garh Fort - Jaipur

Manaharaja Sawai Jai Singh, the founder of Jaipur built the fort in 1734. 
Among the three forts in Jaipur, the Nahargarh Fort is said to be the smallest. And yet it took us a good half day to explore it! 

It gives you a wonderful view of the Man Sagar Lake in the distance. And that is the famed Jal Mahal in the center of the lake. 

From the fort, you can also catch a sight of the vibrant city of Jaipur and its pastel buildings. 

Along with Amer Fort and Jaigarh Fort, Nahargarh provided a good defense for the city. Luckily the fort was not attacked during the course of its history.
Below are the pictures of the insides of the fort. 

Every 5 steps there is a door that opens into a room.  

The rooms are all linked by corridors and still have some beautiful frescoes on its walls.

All rooms are connected and lead to the other.

The fort was first named Sudarshangarh.

Later it came to be known as Nahar Garh which means home of tigers.

Movies such as Rang De Basanti and Shuddh Desi Romance have been shot here.

The large terrace of the fort with the domes. 

Below is the water reservoir with the steps leading down to it.
The planning that went into the construction of the fort, the years it took to complete it, the immense labour involved and the end result so majestic, and all this some three hundred years ago - it fills you with awe and admiration for the Kings who built it. As you walk around the fort, you know you are taking a little bit of history with you.

The Jal Mahal Palace, also called the Pleasure Palace. Jal means water in Hindi and Mahal is Palace.

Palace and the lake surrounding it were renovated in the 18th century by Maharaja Jai Singh. It is built in red sandstone as is common in Rajasthan. It is actually five storied but four floors remain under water when the lake is full. Only the top floor is exposed. 
Tourists can only see this pleasure palace only from far. We are not allowed to go in. It is belieevd to have two structures in the front of the mahal, in the lake, for security guards to keep watch!

The road connectivity is excellent between the various tourist attractions in Jaipur and because of the ease of access and proximity, you can cover many spots in a single day; provided you can tolerate the heat. The city is very "hot".