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Entries about rajasthan

Temples, Palaces and Wild Places

Off-the-beaten-track in Rajasthan

sunny 33 °C

Kumbhalgarh Fort

Kumbhalgarh Fort


Back in my home-away-from-home and spent a few frenetic days, eating, shopping, sourcing and drinking! Including a very respectable new brew pub in Gurgaon called Strykers. Had many many beers (Rock Bock being my fav) in honour of St Paddy. Also a lovely brunch at China Kitchen that included yummy peking duck. So much eating and drinking we were looking forward to a more subdued gastronomic pace on our road trip to Rajasthan and Gujarat. This did not turn out to be the case though!

Kumbhalgarh Fort & Ranakpur's Jain Temples

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March 19 saw us depart early for Udaipur, where we were picked up by our friend and escort CV Singh. We immediately struck out on the lovely drive to Kumbhalgarh Fort. The 36-kilometres of fort walls, perched 1100 meters high up on a hill is an imposing sight! The Araveli hills as a back drop for the passing green of Rajasthan, and dotted with the newly emerging brilliant orange of the flame-of-the-forest trees, makes for some of the prettiest countryside in India.

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Flame of the Forest from Ranakpur Temple

Flame of the Forest from Ranakpur Temple


After hiking up to the top of the 16th century Mewar fort and looking over the plains of western Rajasthan, we popped into the exquisite Jain temples in Ranakpur, which was a return visit for me. I think you'd have to visit a lot to not find something new to enjoy at these incredibly detailed and intricate Jain temples, first started in 1438. The entire main temple is covered inside and out with carvings, and no two columns of the 1444 inside pillars are the same. Fantastic!
In Ranakpur's Jain Temple

In Ranakpur's Jain Temple

Chanoud

Wedding paintings for Jai's marriage last November on the entry gate to Chanoud Garh

Wedding paintings for Jai's marriage last November on the entry gate to Chanoud Garh


A stop for lunch, and then a short drive to the tiny village of Chanoud, near Kenpura, where relatives of CV have spent three years carefully restoring their ancestral home and creating a beautiful boutique hotel. (www.facebook.com/hotelhanoudgarh)

Hallway in Hotel Chanoud Garh

Hallway in Hotel Chanoud Garh

The work Jai and his sister Swati have done here is wonderful. The best of the restored heritage hotels I’ve yet stayed in thus far. This is a true labour of love, and they’ve managed to strike a balance between modern luxurious comfort and character-filled authenticity from days gone by. Present of course are the fascinating old pictures of family from when the Raj was in its hey day. I love looking at these moments frozen in time and the stories they tell.

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Their home had suffered from generations of neglect so their work was cut out for them. They have painstakingly removed years of plaster off walls and stone, revealing beautiful carvings and uncovering murals. Each room has been created from the space, rather than making a space fit the room. Each room has also been colourfully decorated in a different palate, combining colours as only India seems able to do. The interior design was done by Swati, a former fabric designer from Mumbai, she returned home to help her brother see through his vision.

Our room

Our room

The rooms will all have separate names, but for now are numbered. Our room was bright and cheerful in turquoise, yellow and pink, with 3 separate alcove seating areas, and a nearby outdoor patio. On the 3rd floor, this room overlooked the central courtyard on one side and the village from the back windows where we were greeted by a peacock, posing on a village roof.

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CV stayed below us, in a room converted from the old stable that used to house an eccentric past Maharana’s favourite horses. He liked to have them close, so they were stabled below his sleeping quarters. That room was long and narrow, with padded alcoves cut into the former stall areas, hitching posts and all. We were shown several of the other rooms and none disappoint. Such a wonderful maze of corridors, rooms, alcoves and balconies. Rose-ringed Parakeets, spotted owlets and loads of peacocks living in, on, and aournd the property.

Spotted Owlet at Hotel Chanoud Garh

Spotted Owlet at Hotel Chanoud Garh

The food was similarily wonderful and complete with birthday cake for me on our first night. A lovely rum basted confection, following drinks on the courtyard balcony, entertained by a village dance and musician show. After dinner, we went up to the roof to watch the stars. Comfy pillows and mattresses were placed out for us to check out the night sky in comfort.

Rajasthani farmers with fab turbans

Rajasthani farmers with fab turbans


Dust storm at sunrise - can you see the sun?

Dust storm at sunrise - can you see the sun?

The next morning we were up early to watch the sun rise over the nearby hills, but, a dust storm had arrived. Was really different – looked rather like fog back home. By the time we actually spotted the sun rising above the dust, it was well into its rise. Interesting mood the dust made.

Salt flats

Salt flats

That night, we went out to the salt flats, which were rather like the Little Rann. The dust had not dispersed, which apparently is unusual, so our sunset was very similar to the sunrise. With the sun disappearing well before it vanished from the horizon.

Hotel Chanoudgarh central courtyard

Hotel Chanoudgarh central courtyard

Ravla Bhenswara

Ravla Bhenswara centre courtyard

Ravla Bhenswara centre courtyard

The next morning we were off to another heritage spot, off-the-beaten-track. Shiv Pratap Singh is a school-friend of CV’s and his resort, Ravla Bhenswara, is a mish-mash of rescued heritage building pieces, doors, walls and windows, all cobbled together to form this whimsical hotel, that has grown from the original 240-year-old family home. Lovely courtyards, winding staircases, balconies and passageways make the property extra fun. The passion and love for his home and Marwari heritage is evident in everything Shiv Pratap does. (http://www.hotelravlabhenswara.com/)

Sunset over the Eshrana mountain range

Sunset over the Eshrana mountain range

It’s a lovely resort on its own, but it was his larger-than-life personality and unbounded hospitality that was the star attraction for us. We were wined and dined till bursting, as he would take no pleas of being full as an excuse not to try the next delicacy. One night we had wonderful slow-cooked stew, which was then spread over roti, with chopped raw onion, toasted cumin and a squeeze of lime. Then you rip up your roti and sop up the lovely flavours. A very local dish, as were most of the dishes served here. Such a uniquely Indian and Marwari experience. Sandra did very well here (Mary, you will be impressed) since we didn’t eat dinner before midnight!

So full we were, that when our host asked us, after dinner, what we’d like for breakfast, I replied, “just a piece of toast.” To which he replied “pizza toast! we make a wonderful pizza toast!” It was really good but, mental note to self, next time just say “toast!”

Jungle Cat

Jungle Cat

Just before dusk, we would head out into the beautiful desert and hills of the Eshrana mountain range for a night safari, trying to spot leopards. We didn’t get any good sightings of the elusive but plentiful cat, but it was thought they were spotted. Bright green eye shine watched us from the hills and started walking toward us. We did see loads of birds, leopard cats, possibly a rusty spotted cat and fantastic owls. The monkeys that lived here certainly had had leopard encounters. They were clinging to the sides of boulders in a most-uncomfortable-looking bed for the night, being the only relatively secure spot from the big cat. I think It time for them to think about moving! Not a great life for a monkey here.

Desert Fox checking us out

Desert Fox checking us out

Shiv Pratap does these amazing animal calls, attempting to attract nearby predators. We saw a fox on the way out and trying to get him to return he started imitating fighting Indian Hares. Initially I thought we might be heading into the wilds of Rajasthan with a mad man! But, while the fox didn’t return, 2 dogs raced across the fields straight towards us, looking to catch the rabbits unawares. Pretty cool. Did a nifty imitation of a kid goat in distress too, which kept those green eyes attentive to us for quite a while.

Fantastic rock formations, Jay Leno anyone?

Fantastic rock formations, Jay Leno anyone?



In addition to the rolling hills, there are massive boulders, seemingly dropped here, as if from an iceage that make the countryside spectacularily beautiful. Stopping a few hours in, we would have a drink from a handy portable bar and check out the brilliant night stars, far from any glaring lights.

Having our sun-way-downers!

Having our sun-way-downers!

ON our second night we returned about 9:30pm and had a quick wash up. There were guests there that night, including the ‘Afghanistan Girl’s’ National Geographic photographer Steve McCurry. Photography royalty! Didn’t get to talk with him as he was just pointed out to me as he head to his room. A couple of very good musicians were performing in the courtyard that evening. They are part of long-serving generational family musicians to the family. They asked our names and where we were from, then launched into an improve song for us. CV translated as they sang….”Saaanndra, stay here forwever Sandra. Leesaaa, don’t go back to Canada. But if you must, come again soon, and bring lots of friends….” Too funny! Will likely always remember the song. It was really quite very inventive.

Eurasion Eagle Owl

Eurasion Eagle Owl

Udaipur

From our balcony on Lake Pichola

From our balcony on Lake Pichola

March 23rd saw us heading back to Udaipur for a couple of nights. We were staying at the Amet Haveli, which is also the place I had dinner on my 45th birthday with Chris. Fantastic 350-year-old haveli. We stayed in a lovely little suite, which had a lovely little balcony over Lake Pichola with views of the town, palace and Lake Palace Hotel. Also a bathtub large enough to sit in cross-legged! All baths should be so large! (http://www.amethaveliudaipur.com/)

Sandra at Amet Haveli

Sandra at Amet Haveli

CV was coming down with a brutal cold, so he trundled off home after having lunch with us. We then started a bit of a walking tour of the city. Stretching our legs on the hilly streets. We popped into the Tiger for sunset Kingfishers on the roof top, then back for dinner at Ambrai’s. We were given our old corner table – the best in the house and once again treated royally. The food here is fantastic, especially the Ambrai Special dishes. We had wonderful Ambrai Biryani loaded with cashews; the best mutton Sandra had ever had; and a wonderful medly of veg in a tomato curry. With of course the buttery and flakey naan. Being the New Year of the region, we were also treated to a fireworks show across the lake while we dined.

Hall of Mirrors in Udaipur Palace

Hall of Mirrors in Udaipur Palace

The next day we walked into the city and up to the Palace for a tour. It’s a wonderful palace, with amazing mirror and mosaic work. Then it was a stroll down to a ‘German Bakery’ for coffee and a quick bite, before heading to take a introductory course in the miniature painting techniques Udaipur is famous for.

Cricket on the rooftops!

Cricket on the rooftops!


Our artistic endeavous and workspace

Our artistic endeavous and workspace

Our “2 hour” class was quite a bit more pricey than the majority that are offered everywhere on the streets, but was with a renowned artist – Nirbay Raj Soni and actually lasted 4 hours. He was a fantastic teacher and we were both surprised by our end result. Not bad for beginners, if we say so ourselves. I chose a tiger as my subject… I know you’re all surprised by that! And Sandra chose an elephant. The work is done primarily with squirrel-hair brushes, that take quite a bit of practice to even begin to control. The paints are ground water-colour pigments, finely mixed to a silky smooth consistency and stabilized by sap from the Dhawrli (sp?) tree. Fun Fun Fun!!! Though we were both a bit stiff at the end of the day, being engrossed in our work for so long.

Lake Pichola from Udaipur Palace

Lake Pichola from Udaipur Palace

After our artiste explorations, we had a quick lime-soda and then back to the palace for an evening sound and light show on the family of Mewar. Mewar is the longest continually ruling dynasty in the world and has a proud and fascinating history. It is also the only kingdom, let alone Rajput kingdom that never invaded another’s lands. As fierce and formidable any other Rajput kingdom, it fought only in defence of its lands and people.

Udaipur Palace at the evening sound and light show

Udaipur Palace at the evening sound and light show

We didn’t get back to the hotel till 8:30, so picked up some snacks, had kingfisher beers ordered to the room and relaxed in our suite, then took a soak in the humongous tub – excellent day.

Elephant Fountain at the Garden of Maids

Elephant Fountain at the Garden of Maids

Our Rajasthan trip too soon coming to an end, we are off too see the Garden of Maids (Saheliyon Ki Bari), built for a Maharani in the 18th century. It was lovely, with beautiful fountains and cascading flowers. The fountains are all fed by gravity from the nearby Fateh Sagar Lake. Then hopping the bus to Gujarat, where this tale will continue...

Sandra dressing for the Garden of Maids

Sandra dressing for the Garden of Maids

Posted by LisaOnTheRoad 22:03 Archived in India Tagged heritage udaipur rajasthan chanoud_garh ravla_bhenswara Comments (2)

Mini Trip to Rajasthan's

Lesser travelled places...

sunny 35 °C

Bhainsrorgarh Fort

Bhainsrorgarh Fort


After an entire month in Delhi (the longest time I’ve ever spent in the city at one go) I was so happy to escape to somewhere you can actually and regularly see the sky! Flew at mid-day down to Udaipur for a quick trip to some lesser travelled places. Rajasthan is a major tourist destination and the state has done a good job making it that way, but on a 2-3 week trip to India, you usually end up doing a ‘regular’ travel route and missing some of the more beautiful and quieter, less-tout-filled spots so I was excited to expand into this area.
Lake Palace Nahargarh

Lake Palace Nahargarh

Our first stop was to the newly made Lake Palace Nahargarh, just outside of Chittorgarh on the road between Udaipur and Kota/Bundi. It’s a great and easy stop on a well-travelled route that lets you experience a Lake Palace at a much more affordable price than the heritage Lake Palace of Udaipur. Still, clean and spacious rooms with window seats over the lake large enough to sleep in and with screened windows on either side allowing the cool desert air to breeze across… at least in winter! and wonderful food.
Lake Palace Nahargarh

Lake Palace Nahargarh


We hopped back into the boat to head off for a nature hike in the forest sanctuary surrounding the hotel. A pole in the middle of the lake was filled with a mass of streak throated marten nests. The construction was fabulous and looked almost like a giant wasp nest, with myriad tunneled nests created of spit and mud. On our way past we noticed a fledgling that was trying to stay afloat in the water. We rescued it and it laid gasping and shivering on our boat bench. Seemed to have most of its flight feathers, and disappeared shortly after we docked, so hopeful it has survived.
Fledgling rescued from the lake

Fledgling rescued from the lake

Bring food for the babies

Bring food for the babies


Baby martens waiting for food.

Baby martens waiting for food.


The hike was invigorating, if a little frenetic. Lovely scrub scenery, with shale and rock to clamber over. I was, what locals refer to (lovingly I'm sure!) us foreigners in the Indian heat, a walking tomato! And even if not, completely true!!!
Moon rising over the Lake Palace

Moon rising over the Lake Palace

[/i[i]]Rajasthani colt coming in for the night - this one's for you Barb!

Rajasthani colt coming in for the night - this one's for you Barb!


Lake Palace Emu

Lake Palace Emu


Also nearby was the Bassi Wildlife Sanctuary that we visited in the early hours. Nice to be in a forest again, and saw some pretty birds and lovely water spots.
White Throated Kingfisher

White Throated Kingfisher


Dawn rising over the lake

Dawn rising over the lake


Next morning we took off early for Bhainsrorgarh Fort, which is a heritage boutique hotel run by Rajveer and his lovely wife Madhu, as well as his brother. First though, we stopped at one of the lovely temple complexes you find all over India. This one, the Menal Temple had exquisite carvings, along the lines of Khajuraho, but less sophisticated.
Temple at Menal

Temple at Menal


The temples are for Lord Shiva and date back to the Gupta period from the 10th century. Wandering on behind the complex, we came to a steep gorge, with water trickling down the sides to a green pool, surrounded by lush greenery and raucous parakeets cavorting across the valley below. The 12th century ruins of the mountain retreat palace of Raja Prithvi Raj Chauhan lay across the gorge from us.
Lion stepping on an elephant!

Lion stepping on an elephant!


Back on the road again and we arrived at Bhainsrorgarh to be greeted by our host, Rajveer Singh. After settling in to our rooms, we picked our way down to the river in the afternoon for a boat ride around the Chambal River, past the eerie and beautiful cenotaphs belonging to the family. This spot is one of the most beautiful places I’ve seen. Small, and shrouded in trees, with stone cenotaphs rising from the sloping slides to the river. It was so atmospheric and filled with a sense of mystery and times past, I felt like just sitting there. It’s hard to describe places like this. For friends I’ve taken to India, it reminds me of the feelings the area of the reclining statue of Vishnu in Bandhavgarh – Shesh Shaya brings. As well as others like Machu Picchu at dawn. Places that pull you out of the moment and fill you with peace and introspection. Also, a great spot for a movie scene Chris!
The beautiful and serene family Cenotaphs

The beautiful and serene family Cenotaphs


Our boat was a handmade affair, with rough-hewn planks nailed together to form a wide, flat-bottomed boat. This seemingly unwieldy vehicle took us around, powered by two small Indian men, with oars made of well-worn flat-plank paddles attached to relatively straight tree branches and held to the boat by twisted rope loops. A hell of a job!
Fishermen on the Chambal.

Fishermen on the Chambal.


CV tried his hand at fishing, but in vain. Although he did lose a lure to what must have been the biggest fish in the river! So big, he had to cut him free! Biggest fish EVER!!! After my Mahseer last spring that is.
On the Chambal River

On the Chambal River


Saw lovely river birds and while casting for fish, a huge croc came up from under the boat, startling the oarsman on my side. It surfaced then quickly disappeared again. Saw him coasting through the water across the river later on. Also a tree filled with the large fruit bats we had seen on the way to Ranakpur a year ago in Rajasthan.
Fruit bats as interested in us as we were in them!

Fruit bats as interested in us as we were in them!

Bhainsrorgarh Fort was built in 1741 by Rawat Lal Singh and lies 50kms south of Kota and 235 km north east of Udaipur. It’s easily reached by train to Kota, or flight to Udaipur and then a couple of hours drive. The Fort is filled with history, trophies, paintings and photos of the family from years past. There are currently only five rooms, but a few more are being built in a newer addition that fits beautifully with the original structure.
Beauty everywhere you looked

Beauty everywhere you looked


My room was beautiful and comfortable with a lovely stone terrace that overlooked the Chambal River, and was lit up by the lights of nearby cities reflected in the water. The air was sultry but cool, the constant chirp of crickets and frogs serenaded me, while the full moon (well almost full) crested the fort roof. Everywhere you look here a photograph begging to be taken. Beautiful landscapes framed by cupolas, vegetation laden ruins, archways and cenotaphs. Bliss.
Moon over the Chambal, from my balcony.

Moon over the Chambal, from my balcony.


Village at Bhainsrorgarh Fort

Village at Bhainsrorgarh Fort


Our dinner was set up on the roof and the food delicious. All family cooked and family recipes, with dishes I hadn’t had before. A cool papadum curry, interesting vegetables and a wonderful barbecued pork rib that fell off the bone. Madhu oversees the kitchen, but is a vegetarian. Luckily Rajveer is not, and the barbecue was his domain.
Bhainsrorgarh Fort

Bhainsrorgarh Fort

My gracious hosts, Rajveer and Madhu

My gracious hosts, Rajveer and Madhu

Leaving Rajveer and Madhu, we were on the road, stopping at the nearby Baddoli temples. 4Baddoli4.jpg
It was so pretty and detailed. Dedicated to Lord Shiva, Vishnu and Ganesha, the temples were built during the 10th and 11th century. The carvings were incredibly detailed and in very good condition.
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Finally, the minibreak was over and it was off to catch my flight back to Delhi. But….missed my flight back home, because it was overbooked and a tour group had beaten me to a seat! Sorry Madame, smile, head-wag… Sigh, c’est la vie! Decided to stay overnight at the interesting and overprices (2500inr) Rupi hotel next to the airport since Udaipur is an hour away, and my new flight left at 8am. A broken bathroom window had me propping the bathroom door closed (since it didn’t latch) to keep creepy crawlies out. The front door’s lock was none to secure either, so resorted to the old standby of putting my suitcase against it. Comfy bed tho so all good. Was interesting to get a knock on the door at about 10pm though. “Room service Madame?” Uhhhh, “no thanks” say I through the door, not wanting to scare the poor guy since I was already ready for bed. I'm sure he responded with a "head wag!"
Bhainsrorgarh Fort

Bhainsrorgarh Fort

Posted by LisaOnTheRoad 23:23 Archived in India Tagged temples rajasthan bhainsrorgarh_fort lake_palace_nahargarh bassi_wildlife_sanctuary menal_temples baddoli_temples Comments (1)

Panna Nat'l Park & Wedding in Rajasthan


View India ~ 2010 Part B on LisaOnTheRoad's travel map.

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Back in Toronto and freezing my a$$ off!! I’m happy to be home and hanging out with family and friends but missing India, and hanging out with friends. Why can’t we have everything all the time? If anyone hears about a job, that’ll need me in India every few months, that would be good too!

Brahminy Starlings

Brahminy Starlings


So, onto the bloggy stuff! When last I left you, I was heading off to Panna National Park. The people at Ken River Lodge are among my favs in India, as is the park. It was one of the first places I visited on my first trip to India and many of these people have become good friends.

Chinkara couple

Chinkara couple


I hadn’t arranged for a car to pick me up this trip. Feeling rather cocky and seasoned, I decided I’d just pick up a cab at the airport. Not the best idea in Khajuraho as it turns out! First the displayed government set rates were as expensive as the arranged nice car from the lodge, and the airport is rather removed from the city, so you can’t really walk outside the airport to get one off the street. The cab I ‘luckily’ ended up with was a decrepit old Ambassador that looked like it rolled off the assembly line during the British Raj. It almost managed a rocking 20km per hour too! As we approached the temples that I had assured my driver’s ‘manager?’(also riding along in the cab) repeatedly I wasn’t interested in visiting (a 4th time), I asked if the car had a hyper-drive or would we arrive at Panna the next morning. No problem Madame, I was switching to a new car! Huh… The new car was, I think, the buddy of the ‘manager’. We transferred to this ‘new’ car, but, the drivers were very concerned with the front tire, which I gather had a slow leak. A detour to add some air into it, and we were off again. Periodically stopping, allowing the driver to get out and inspect the tire a few times.

Nilgai Antelope and Rufous Treepie

Nilgai Antelope and Rufous Treepie


We finally reached the turn-off for Ken River Lodge, or rather reached about 10 yard from the turn-off, when it was decided the tire must be changed after all! Had a fun time with some kids, in the growing crowd of people coming along to watch this interesting affair, and we were back off to the lodge again. I was never so happy to arrive somewhere! Went up to see everyone and have a drink, when the driver followed me up to give me his card… so I could call him to return to the airport when I was done! Yep, kept that card!!
Baby sambar with leopard wound on its shoulder

Baby sambar with leopard wound on its shoulder

Wagtail chasing frogs out of the way

Wagtail chasing frogs out of the way


Happily this visit reunited me with Jennifer Buxton, a wonderful woman from England that I met last March. For those who haven’t already heard me talking about her, Jennifer is a wonderful artist (www.tigertigerburningbright.com) who has been coming to Ken River and Kings Lodge in Bandhavgarh for over 7 years, and who, together with Bhavana (who owns the lodge with her husband), have started a school in Panna that now has 150 students. Most of the work they do here stems from the idea that if the benefits coming from tourism actually make it to the village level, the locals will have a vested interest in keeping the forests healthy (and thereby the tigers).

Indian Vultures

Indian Vultures


Many of these villagers were displaced by the government following a western-style idea of keeping all people out of the forest. Not necessarily a good thing, because these people, who had previously lived well and harmoniously in the forest, had to eek out a living in very poor conditions and in a way completely unfamiliar to them. It is a tremendously complex situation that only seems to be more complex the more you start to understand it, but Jennifer, Bhavana, Vinnie, Shakhar et. al. still work to try and make a difference and are very inspiring.

Sambar deer

Sambar deer


The park itself was remarkably green this trip given the lack of monsoon rains in the summer. However, even though the plants were so lush, the water levels were incredibly low – lower than I’ve seen, even during April visits. I think the animals are going to have a tough time this summer.
Shikra

Shikra

Plum-headed Parakeet

Plum-headed Parakeet


Had some wonderful sightings and some unusual ones. On the way back from one drive we saw a rusty spotted cat dashing across the road from brush to brush. A very shy nocturnal cat and the smallest in India. There were of course tons of parakeets making sure they’re noticed (loud little buggers!) – both rose-ringed and plum headed. Saw a black-shouldered kite in a death spiral with an Indian roller. Loads of white-eyed buzzards and massive crocs basking in the warmth of the sun. One croc was showing off teeth so bright and white, he could vie for a Crest Whitestrips commercial!
Toothy Croc on the Ken River, vying for Crest White-strips commercial

Toothy Croc on the Ken River, vying for Crest White-strips commercial

Small Indian Mongoose

Small Indian Mongoose


One afternoon we went into the nala (valley) behind the lodge to track a large snake the boys had cornered. It was a 5-6 foot checkered keelback snake. Beautiful and really fast. It was hiding in the brush and Trigun flushed it out with a large stick. It came speeding through the brush, causing everyone to jump so quickly out of its way I was sure it must be poisonous, but nope. Good to know the big brave nature boys jump like a city girl when startled too! You’d have thought it was Lynn spotting a spider on her tent! Didn’t get a shot, but pretty exciting. Did get a picture of a tiny little worm snake though. Maybe 8-10 inches with no visible eyes. Its forked tongue was so cute and tiny.
Worm Snake

Worm Snake

Red, Orange and Blue ~ so many dragonflies here this trip, they often filled the sky in the park.

Red, Orange and Blue ~ so many dragonflies here this trip, they often filled the sky in the park.


My flight back to Delhi was 3 hours late, and the airline sent SMS updates to my phone. Yay – extra time! Off we went in the canoe and got some beautiful bird pictures. Including a nesting Eurasion Eagle Owl and elegant open billed storks. Couldn’t put it off any longer and 5 days and 8 drives later and I was too rapidly heading back to Delhi.
Eurasion Eagle Owl on its nest

Eurasion Eagle Owl on its nest

Wedding time in Jaipur! Friday evening after I had returned to Delhi, I got a call from Yugdeep to let me know the wedding was back on. However, because of the unexpected death of his father’s elder brother, the ceremonies were scaled back and most of his immediate and all of his father’s family were unable to attend. So I booked a car and was off to Jaipur Sunday morning. I had found out from friends that wearing colours other than yellow or red-based is considered inauspicious for weddings. Although these days people are more apt to wear all colours, given the sensitive nature surrounding this wedding, I left my blue sari at home and raided Lynn’s collection for a red one.

Garima getting Yugdeep ready

Garima getting Yugdeep ready


I arrived at 1:30 and met Yugdeep and his lovely and super-capable sister Garima. We followed them to the Forest Training Centre, where we were all to stay, and where all the preparations for the groom’s side were now to be held. I was sharing a room with Vibha, a school friend of Yugdeep’s and together with a few other friends, and a couple of maternal uncles, we were the only people there from Yugdeep’s side. Sadly even his parents could not attend. The shortage of people though did allow me to see and be a part of the preparations far more than I would have been able to if the whole family had been present. Although not what they had hoped for, the wedding was still beautiful and lovely… and long!

Vibha and Garima getting Abhilasha ready

Vibha and Garima getting Abhilasha ready


Yugdeep’s sister ran the show, and boy was it a lot of work. Not only was she organizing and helping Yugdeep, but since the bride was not from Jaipur and unfamiliar with the style of dress, she prepared her. Everyone was wonderfully explaining what was happening as the ceremonies progressed, and I’ll try to describe them here. Any mistakes I make here are mine, and do not reflect what my hosts told me. The whole preparation started at about 4pm with a ritual cleansing of the groom and puja performed by the priest. His outfit included a wonderful coat; tight fitting churidar pants; thick gold ankle bracelet; and a gold belt to carry his family sword, which was 250 years old. An uncle came to wrap his saffron-coloured turban, which was then decked out with all sorts of pins and sparkle.

Wedding Trousseau

Wedding Trousseau


Looking fab and like a Rajput prince, Yugdeep proceeded to a room where more pujas were performed and the reading of the family names. The Barat Nikasi, or departure of the groom was to have seen him depart on an elephant, but that was changed and the men left in SUVs for the wedding venue. We then left for the bride’s place with a huge trunk filled with the trousseau, or palla dastoor – saris, sweets, nuts and the bride’s entire wardrobe. Her elaborate red outfit of a beautiful sparkly skirt, tunic (kurti) and veil was also included: ivory bangles; nose ring; rings; Rakhdi tied to her forehead; heavy thick gold neck hanging called an AAd; gold arm bands (or baju) tied on above her elbows; the sheesphul or headgear; and the pajeb anklets. So elaborate and incredibly uncomfortable looking.

Vibha and Garima in beautiful Rajput style

Vibha and Garima in beautiful Rajput style


After dressing Abhilasha, it was back to the Forest Centre to get dressed and off to the dinner and wedding ceremony, which actually began about 10pm and concluded at about 2am, with the walk around the agni, or sacred fire 7 times. You’d think that was it, but nope. We luckily got to head back to go to sleep but the bride and groom were up all night completing other puja ceremonies, returning at about 8am and finally getting to shed the outfits. Abhilasha looked completely wiped poor girl. They then had to head out to the family castle to introduce the new bride to the villagers. And, the whole thing would have been far longer if not for the unfortunate tragedy cutting it short. So lucky and thankful to have been able to be there for Yugdeep and to have experienced this time with him.

Wedding_YA.jpg
A quick drive and I was then back in Delhi and running around with friends, and getting ready to cook the Christmas dinner for 10 at Lynn’s place. Finding a turkey was a challenge, especially since the US thanksgiving was the previous week and all turkey in Delhi had been gobbled up! We finally sourced two 8lbers at the Cdn High Commission’s restaurant. The ham at PigPo looked a little suspect, so we chose a roast pork instead. We did all the traditional trimmings – stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, beans and corn; and traditional deserts – minced pies with rum hardsauce, Nanaimo bars, whipped shortbread and rum balls. Huge success and hugely stuffed!!! The party wound up at 3:30am, leaving me nicely wiped out for my departure less than 24 hours later at 2am.

And just like that, 24 hours later I was back in Toronto… freezing my ass off!!! Time rushes on and this chapter comes to a close… till next time India.
White-bellied minivet couple

White-bellied minivet couple

Posted by LisaOnTheRoad 12:09 Archived in India Tagged animals birds wedding park india national rajasthan Comments (0)

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