“You can shake the sand from your shoes, but it will never leave your soul.”
This is how memories of the trip stay in your heart forever.
A trip planned to the land which hosts the rich heritage of palaces. The evening of 23rd February’17 we were en route Udaipur. We shared the compartment with a group of college students. The excitement in the discussion was very much in sync of what awaited. 24th morning, we reached Udaipur. Reached the hotel we had booked and then enquired about the mode of conveyance for the places on our itinerary. We booked a cab for the whole day and began our exploration of the city. The first stop: Monsoon Palace. I was wondering why it has been named like this. The guide there told it was built to watch the monsoon clouds. In order to go to the palace, we had to alight at a place which was a few kilometres from the actual location and then there were designated vehicles to carry us to that particular place. On our way, we were accompanied by tourists from France. I started a conversation with them (Thanks to the French classes at XIMB) and got to know that they were from the Fashion Capital of Paris. It was interesting to learn about their perspective about our nation. They were trying to capture the abundantly green forests in their lenses on the way. It feels good when people from other lands appreciate the beauty of my nation and recommend the places to be visited again. After travelling on the roads carved out of hills for around 15-20 minutes, we reached the Sajjangarh Palace(Monsoon palace named after the Maharaja Sajjan Singh who was the patron of the Palace ).From here one can see the vast and continuous stretch of Aravalli Ranges. I stood there for a while and could not stop myself from appreciating the natural wonder in front of me. These moments actually make you realize how marvellous an artist “The Almighty” is. We visited the various corners of the Palace and then proceeded towards our next stop i.e. the City Palace. On our way back, we stopped for a while at Lake Pichola.From here one can get a glimpse of The Taj and Uday Vilas.
We were there near the entrance of City Palace in the next half an hour. We toured the various corners of the huge palace. It felt like being on a time travel to the era of erstwhile kings and queens. Next, we took up a boat ride on Dudh Talai. It was fabulous to see the Taj and Uday Vilas on one side and Bagore Ki Haveli on the other. As we were returning, we were forced to stay back for a while to see the acrobatic stunts being performed by an artist with his cycle. He did everything which seemed impossible. Amusement of passersby was the only aim which he had. After the show finished he didn’t ask for money, people just gave him whatever amount they felt like giving. It made me wonder the struggle he went through every day to earn his livelihood but the passersby kept alive his hope of survival.
As I was deeply engrossed in these thoughts, my friend indicated that we have to rush to Bagore Ki Haveli. We rushed there to see the cultural antiques of the museum. Unfortunately, no longer tickets were being issued for the inside view of the museum. We pleaded to allow us but it didn’t help much. So we decided to spend the time on Gangaur Ghat which is one of the banks of Lake Pichola. As we were chatting there about the show, an old woman came and started enquiring about us. She then narrated her experiences at Udaipur and the tourists. Later we got to know she used to perform at the evening show “Dharohar” which the Haveli hosts. The show was about to begin at 7 p.m. and people started standing in the queue at 6 p.m. itself for tickets. We could find 10 individuals standing in front of us when we reached there at around 6:15 p.m. The ticket counter opened after a short while and then we moved towards the arena of performing arts. We took a seat in the front in order not to miss anything.
At exactly 7 p.m., the host of the show “Dharohar” welcomed us all in Hindi and English(for the foreign tourists). A brief on the background of the rich and diverse dance forms were given. The first performance began. The Chari Dance; it portrays the women collecting water in vessels known as Chari. The vessels had fire coming out of it.I was awestruck with the synchronization with which the girls were performing. Well, I should not say, “girls”, the most interesting part being females from every age group were a part of the performing group. Perhaps the elders make the new artists learn and master the art so that it can be successfully transferred to the next generation.
Next in the queue was the Gawri Dance. It shows a dynamic fight between the Goddess Amba and Devil Bhiamwal. The next performance of “Ghumar Dance” made me go down the memory lanes. I had performed this dance wearing a bright red Ghagra in the Annual Function at School. I loved the circling movements which made the ghagras look like colourful ripples in a pond. As I was lost in these thoughts, the dance came to an end and followed the next dance form “ Terah Taal”. In this dance form, the brass discs are tied to various parts of the bodies of performers and they strike these in a particular rhythm.
Then followed the much awaited Kathputli Dance. The artists bring life to the puppets through the skilled movement of the strings attached to the puppets. It is indeed praiseworthy. A complete story gets told with the puppets as the characters.
The next dance form began with the lady mounting one mud pot( vessel) on the top of her head called the Bhavai Dance. After a few steps, the next pot mounted. And as we were getting awed with her balance and movement of steps, the number of pots which were gradually mounted increased to almost 6-7. And she still was performing with ease and confidence. This depicted the mastery that she has to the dance form. She was the live example of the old aphorism “ practice makes a man perfect”.
The show got over in an hour and we went to gangaur ghat again. The lighted hotels on the lake were just the perfect view. After clicking a few pics of the beautiful sight there, we proceeded to have dinner. 24th February was Shivratri and I was surprised to see the grandeur with which it was being celebrated there. Reminded me of Durga Puja Celebration of my native place. Every place has a different festival which is celebrated with great pomp and show. Post our dinner, we were walking down the streets at around 10 pm and the gathering at different places reflected that night is still young. Back to the hotel, just one thought prevailed- the tremendous amount of dedication that is been put up to preserve the magnificent dance forms of the City of Lakes.
Next day we got up early to board the bus to Mt. Abu. We alighted at Abu Road and from there another bus took us to Mt.Abu. It took almost an hour for covering the distance because of the hilly landscape. Had breakfast and then as planned we started enquiring for a scooterette on rent. We met with disappointment when one shop after the other informed us that all bikes have been rented. Finally, we got a slight ray of hope when one of the shop owners said he will arrange a bike for us. We waited for a while and a brand new Honda Activa was bought. So the wait and disappointment were worth it to have been rented a brand new vehicle right from the showroom. I submitted the driving license there and we began the ride to Guru Shikhar. It is situated at a height of 1722 metres above sea level. The highest point of the Aravalli Ranges. The road throughout was curvy as it is in the hills. It was a tough ride for me. The scary feeling of sliding down the mountain engulfed as I was driving in the hilly terrain for the first time. After an hour almost we reached the Guru Shikhar. Had to climb a few steps to reach there. Something which we saw from the Monsoon Palace was again there in front of us. But the view was of 360 degrees and from the highest point. Impressed with the height at which the temple was constructed, we started descending. There were numerous dhabas on our way back for lunch. We stopped at one. Mt.Abu has a very strong influence of Gujarat’s traditions and tastes. All the way to the top and back we heard lot many Gujarati conversations. It is indeed a sweet language bearing huge resemblance to my mother tongue.
The descent from Guru Shikhar began. On the way, we stopped at the Brahma Kumaris Peace Park. I got to know about this institution of Brahma Kumaris for the first time during my school days at Bokaro Steel City. Their branch was next to my place of residence. I saw there that their head office is located in Mt.Abu. And I was standing right in front of that after 12 years from the time I first got to know about this religious institution. During Dussehra, small children would be dressed up in the various forms of Goddesses and they used to perform Acts in the evening. There I used to see the devotees clad in white attire. In fact, on our way to Mt.Abu from Abu Road, a few devotees dressed in white attire boarded the same bus which we were in. After visiting the Peace Park which has a collection of various flowers and ornamental plants, we resumed the descent. Next stop was the famous Dilwara Temples.
There are 5 Jain temples which make the Dilwara( Big Heart) temples. No telephones or cameras are allowed inside the temple. This may be one of the reasons for this architectural masterpiece not being in the limelight. As we entered the temple, a guide cum priest from the temple accompanied us. He showed us the four different types of temples that are housed inside the premises… The temple hosts some of the most beautiful and symmetrical art on the marble doorways, ceilings, panels etc. The way the different altars are integrated made me give a second thought to add this into the list of Wonders of the World.
Next followed the visit to Achalgarh Fort where another Jain Temple is in the construction phase. After spending a few minutes there, we headed towards Nakki Lake. The name Nakki signifies that this has been dug by Gods using their nails or Nakh and the only artificial lake situated at a height of 1200 metres above sea level. Cool breeze took away the little bit of tiredness resulting due to driving after a long period. Next, we proceeded towards the sunset point. The road was highly crowded but still, we made an effort to not miss the beauty. The monkeys take the full advantage of the people coming there with food items. We waited there for a while but could not see the sunset as we realized that we might get late to take the bus back to Udaipur. We encountered unexpectedly huge traffic on the way back. I began feeling that we are going to miss the last bus to Udaipur. But somehow the traffic cleared and we rushed to the place from where we had rented the bike. I took my driving license and boarded the bus to Udaipur. After around 4 hours of travel by bus, we reached Udaipur. So the trip to the only hill station of Rajasthan concluded.
The next morning, we had Bagore Ki Haveli and Chittorgarh due to visit. Bagore Ki Haveli displays Rajasthan’s traditions( turbans, musical instruments, war equipment, vessels, marriage ceremony etc.). It felt like being a part of that era. Went for lunch after the visit and then boarded the bus to Chittorgarh. We reached there in the afternoon at around 3 o’clock. The instant we alighted, we were flocked by Autowallahs for the tour to Chittorgarh fort. We booked one and headed towards the last stop of this 3-day trip. We entered from the Ram Pol. Pol meaning “ entrance or gates”. As we moved further we could see a small township inside the fort. There was a time when the fort was fully inhabited by the common folk and the royal family. The ruins of various places are still visible. Chittorgarh Fort is spread over a huge area.; the largest fort of India. The first attractions inside the fort are the Vijay Stambh and Kirti Stambh.Vijay Stambh was constructed to mark the victory over Mohammed Khilji. Then there’s Meerabai temple, devoted to one of the most dedicated believers of Lord Krishna. One gets to see the place of Jauhar where the women of the court sacrificed themselves in the pyre of fire rather than surrender to the invaders. The Fort hosts some Jain temples as well. We could see the remains of one of them.
Next was Rani Padmini’s palace which is situated in the middle of the pool. In the main hall of palace room quite away from the lake, there are mirrors which reflect the image in the pool. The gardens to the entrance are very well maintained. After that, we proceeded towards the sunset point. It was beautiful to see the whole city from the top and waiting for the sunset. Finally, we got to witness the enchanting sunset from the topmost point. As the sun vanished beyond the horizon, the earth started preparations of welcoming another new day.
We started returning to Chittorgarh railway station. In fact, we had wanted to savour the special sweet dish of Rajasthan “ Ghewar”. We had an hour for the train. We took another auto and landed at the famous sweet shop there. Had to wait for a while and got that packed for our return journey.
At night 8 o clock, we boarded the train to Delhi with a lot of delightful takeaways; ghewar being one of them.