Rajasthan Ramblings…

Tucked away in the North western part of our country is India’s largest state (in terms of area) -Rajasthan! According to a recent poll conducted, Rajasthan and Kerala are two of the most popular states that Indians want to visit for tourism!

Lets DIG deeper into Rajasthan:-)

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Humsafar and I were cracking our brain on what to do during one of the long weekends that awaited us. Suddenly from nowhere but somewhere we got this idea to go to Udaipur! Flight and hotel bookings were done overnight and we were scheduled to leave early the next morning to the city of lakes -Udaipur.

We decided to kick start our day with a tour of the City Palace. A magnificent structure and very well maintained. The palace is ROYAL in every sense of the term. Be it the beautiful minakari art on the walls or the the breathtaking view of the Lake Pichola or the Sheesh mahal, this palace is one of the best we have seen so far.

The other regular places of visit @Udaipur are – the Jag Mandir island Lake Palace and the Monsoon Palace.

The lake palace as the name suggests is located in the center of Lake Pichola. Hop onto a ferry outside the City palace and get to this beautiful island. This place is a hot favorite wedding destination among celebrities – Raveena Tandon, Aishwarya Rai (her engagement), Liz Hurley to name a few. Several centuries ago the great Mughal Emperor -Shah Jahan is believed to have stayed here during his visit.

The sunset at the Monsoon Palace is beautiful.

Now coming to our favorite part of the trip -Chittorgarh fort, one of the largest forts in India, located about 120 kms from Udaipur. The architecture, the thoughts and the strategies used in building this fort are mind blowing and puts all modern THOUGHT GURUS to shame.

There are seven entrances to the fort, built in such a way that the next entrance is not visible from the previous one. It was designed this way so that the enemies wouldn’t know the way and the army protecting the fort would have enough time to plan and react. The doors of the gates had pointed arches to fend off elephants and cannon shots.

The fort consists of separate palaces that belonged to the different kings and queens.The Rana Kumbha’s palace and Padmini’s palace are the biggest and leave a lasting impression. The carvings are intricate and the architecture redefines symmetry.

It is believed that the Mughal emperor Aurangazeb was so enamored by Queen Padmini’s beauty, that he was just satisfied with a glimpse of her reflection in her palace pond. Besotted by her beauty he wanted to destroy Chittor in order to marry Padmini , so he killed the then Maharaja post which  Queen Padmini committed Sati.

The other places which leave a mark in our minds are the -Ancient Shiva temple, which has a large lake outside of it. This ‘taalab’ was the only source of water for the entire fort.

The fort also houses the famous Mira temple – where the saint Mirabai prayed to Lord Krishna.

The other unique feature of this fort is the tall Victory tower or Kirthi Stambha – which depicts the numerous sieges the fort has survived

Soaked in history and feeling proud of our rich heritage, we moved on to our next stop in Rajasthan – The Elephant village at Amer.

The Elephant Village – as the name suggests allows us to spend as much time as we want with these majestic mammals. We are given the opportunity to feed them, wash them, go for a ride on them and even paint on them if we want.

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Our 4 year old daughter was thrilled to bits at this place with her new found friend -Sonia the elephant:-) She fed her, washed her and enjoyed a ride on her.

The surroundings are very clean. Each elephant has a big shed with enough space for it to move around. The mahout to elephant ratio is 1:1. It is highly recommended for all and especially those with kids!

It is a 3 hour drive from Gurgaon and 20 kms before Jaipur. Plan a fun filled weekend here and it will be worth it.

The other attraction at Amer apart from the elephants is the beautiful Amer Fort. Lots of famous Bollywood movies have been shot here – Jodhaa Akbar and Bajirao Mastani to name a few.

Like any other fort it has beautiful architecture – which combines Rajput and Mughal sculptures since it belonged to JodhaaBai and Akbar.

The view of the step Kesar gardens from the fort is magnificent.

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Having seen so many Sheesh Mahals in Rajasthan, I beleive I can design one:-)

After the tour at Amer fort, our guide took us to a NATIONAL HANDLOOM shop located right at the base. This shop is a must STOP. It has unique items, great prices and after having used them for a long time , I can vouch for the quality.

Although the shop offers the regular Rajasthani stuff – dress material, saris, lehengas and so on, the stand out item is the PURE PASHMINA comforter. This comforter makes you feel warm during the winters and is chilly during the summers!!

Even though we didn’t cover the regular stops of Rajasthan, we are very satisfied with the findings of our trip. After all travel is about visiting unknown places and making it known,right??

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