The city of forts and white rats!

The city of forts and white rats!

SO the long weekend was here and we wanted to go for a real break..not to crowded destinations(coz it was a holiday for everyone) but somewhere really peaceful. After a few hours of research, we decided we will head towards Rajasthan. It was really hot and we had our doubts if anyone would want to go to a hotter place than Delhi at this time. SO it was decided, Bikaner and Jodhpur it would be.

We were able to start very late, around 3 pm from Gurgaon. We took a stop at Jaipur(even though its about 70 kms off way). We started from Jaipur around 9 am. Took the road to Chandwaji and then NH11 from Fatehpur. Honestly I didn’t understand the hype about the highway’s beauty. Even though the roads are good there’s not much to see on the way but vast expanses of green shrubs and villages which any highway in India can boast of. Bikaner is about a 5 hour drive from Jaipur.
WE had decided to stay in “Gajner Palace” – a royal hunting lodge of the past.I thought the servant rooms of the past are now the heritage rooms. But that was pure imagination. The rooms are good but nothing to die for. The view of the lake(from a distance) is great.A boat ride in the insect ridden and smelly lake is highly “NOT RECOMMENDED”.

Gajner Palace Lake

Gajner Palace Lake

The sunset in the middle of the lake and the palace situated on it is a lovely sight.

Sunset at the Gajner Palace Lake

Sunset at the Gajner Palace Lake

In the evening we attended a local folk dance programme, which was “Item Numberish” in parts. However the sound of the Rajsthani musical instruments like the “Ikhtara” had a soothing impact on the senses and was like a lullaby.

Rajasthani Dance with audience invited

Rajasthani Dance with audience invited

However the dance and music was nowhere near the traditional graceful Rajasthani dance we had earlier experienced in Udaipur. The dinner served is not good and is ridiculously expensive. Breakfast next morning was below expectations even after the bad dinner. The dining hall though is luxurious and set out nicely.Somehow I had imagined there would be deer and rabbit meat(since it was the hunting lodge), but there was only Laal Maas, which was succulent and nice.
One should only stay in Gajner palace if one has never experienced anything of this kind earlier. Rajasthan boasts of better hotels and havelis.

The next morning we decided to check out and go straight to Junagarh fort. This I must say was an experience. Right from the imprints of women’s palms on the “Daulatpol” to the 56 kg armor of the king, the whole experience was mesmerising. The fort has seen 20 generations of royalty and the current royal family lives in the “Lallgarh” Palace and maintains the fort on its own. The guides will not pester you here, as there’s a guide for every batch, free of cost. You just have to buy the tickets.

The guide was good and took us around and showed us marvels of the Rajasthani architecture. He told us how in the absence of measuring tapes the then architects used ropes for measurements. He showed us the Muslim artisans’ craftwork with gold threads on the ceiling.
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Then there was the man made airconditioner. People used a combinations of water, its poressure and air to keep the rooms cooled naturally. There were beautiful palenquins from that time, royal badges, a World War 1 assembled air plane and India’s most beautiful conference halls which were of particular interest to me

The Conference Hall

The Conference Hall

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TO eat, the piping hot Pyaaz Kachori at any vendor at the Station Road, Bikaner is a must have. The Rajasthani Thali at “Heeralal” though heavy is nice. Mewa Samosa and Mirchi VAda can be given a shot:). The much hyped “Rasgulle” at Chotu Motu Joshi are no good. You can try “Chappan Bhog” instead. Terrace Restaurant dinner at Harasar Haveli was good. Though you will not find traditional Rajasthani , the food is a welcome change from expensive palace restaurants where taste and flavour are last on the list of the management.’

Could not make it to Jodhpur the next day. However the overall trip was nice as we were a group of six. Bikaner has not got much to do in itself. It is beautiful but only for a day or as a peaceful pitstop.
P.S For the context of white rats you will have to visit the legendary “Karni Mata Temple” in Bikaner. The temple is famous for its black rats, which are treated as sacred and given protection in the temple. The legend is that if you see a white rat in the temple premises you have seen God Himself and any wish that you ask for hence, will come true .

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