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Archive for the ‘Rajasthan’ Category

Self checkin at a heritage fort hotel in Rajasthan

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Pachewar Fort Heritage Hotel, Rajasthan

Pachewar Fort Heritage Hotel, Rajasthan

Pachewar Fort, Rajasthan. I doubt if many people have heard of Pachewar Fort. I am not even sure it exists in reality.  At least that’s how it seemed when we landed there in the dead of night, expecting to be welcomed warmly, and finding nothing … not even the hotel.

I and my business partner, our two women film brigade, were on our way to the Pushkar Camel Fair in Rajasthan, one of the oldest fairs in India, where farmers and camel breeders congregate annually to buy and sell camels. Colorful, quaint, dusty and crowded, it has been a big tourist attraction for decades now.  We were going to shoot a film about the relationship between camel and their breeders. Or maybe something rooted in today’s India, say, about how there are more cell phones in this back-of-the-beyond place than camels.

We were driving from Delhi and the travel agent had made arrangements for us to stay overnight in the Pachewar Fort Heritage Hotel. The hotel had looked splendid on its website. “Remembrance of Bygone Splendour” the site claimed, “a 300 year old picturesque and luxurious” heritage hotel it went on to say. It looked pretty all lit up at night in brilliant golds and yellows.

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Written by Ankur

July 3, 2010 at 8:37 pm

Man in a saree – no it is not what you are thinking …

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Bandhej style of fabric

Bandhej style of fabric

Here is what happened. I was in Jaipur last spring, visiting family. And a trip to Jaipur is not complete without a customary trip to the shops of Johari Bazaar, jeweler’s market. I wanted to buy some chunaris, colorful cotton/silk drapes worn like shawls or scarves. Jaipuri chunaris, particularly the tie and dye, Bandhej (or bandhani) style are fabulous.

So, I was in this small shop, lit with fluorescent light. I had already picked up half a dozen chunaris to share with friends and family. In our excitement we had managed to give away the fact that we were out of towners. This is when our enthusiastic salesman got particularly creative. I am paraphrasing but this is what he said – “Sis, just check out our sarees. You are hardly going to see these in Delhi. I am not going to ask you to buy them. Just see how gorgeous they can be”.

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Written by Som

October 22, 2008 at 6:10 pm

Not on the map, part IV, Abhaneri – 8th century stepwell

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Stepwell with its emareld green pool

Stepwell with its emerald green pool

On our Delhi-Jaipur road trip, we had spent the night before at Sariska and started the day’s adventures with Bhangarh, the 17th century ghost town. Now we were on our way to Abhaneri, the site of 8th century stepwell.

It was afternoon and we were quite thirsty. At Bhangarh, couple of village women were serving water the old fashioned way – using a long handled copper pitcher out of a bucket, presumably the water was drawn from a nearby well. We had dared not drink it. We had run out of water and hadn’t found bottled water on these off-the-map roads. We stopped for tea at a local temple. I don’t recall much except a large cauldron of bubbling milky tea and a hyperactive group of adorable little baby monkeys. After nearly twenty five years, I had tea out of an earthen cup.

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Not on the map, part III, Bhangarh – a ghost town

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On our way from Sariska to Bhangarh

On our way from Sariska to Bhangarh

On our Delhi-Jaipur road trip, we had spent the night in Sariska and were on our way to Bhangarh that morning, a 17th century ghost town.

Our road was narrow and unpaved. A landscape of spring time fields full of fresh green shoots, village women in their bright chunris, wrinkly old men herding goats, buffaloes and children bathing at the same water hole, blue sky above, and georgette like veil of clouds. Dotting this landscape were ruins of old forts and chattaris, cenotaphs and occasionally, ads for mobile phones.

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Not on the map – part II, Sariska

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Tigerless tiger sanctuary

We had left for a Delhi-Jaipur road trip that morning. By the time we reached Sariska, it was already evening. I had spent my childhood in a town called Alwar, a small town then, not very far from Sariska. My memory of Aravali range were these undulating hills that sparkled in the noon sun due to the presence of trace amounts of mica. That evening, the Aravali hills surrounding Sariska had looked a dull greyish-brown in the setting sun.

Although the tigers at this tiger sanctuary are now all dead or departed, many wild animal species such as leopards, hyenas, jackals, spotted deer (cheetal), wild boars, sambars and four-horned deer are still there. A casual visitor these days is likely to see only monkeys. We didn’t encounter any that evening.

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Written by Som

July 1, 2008 at 5:59 am

Not on the map, Part I – Getting out

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Sharing the road

Sharing the road

Last spring, after poring over several weekend getaway guides, we decided to go on a Delhi-Jaipur road trip via Sariska, a tiger sanctuary, Bhangarh, a ghost town, and Abhaneri, site of a 8th century stepwell.

It is always hard to find good maps, even in Delhi. We had to go all the way to Rajasthan Tourism Center in Connaught place to find a map of the state. And when we finally found it, we couldn’t locate either Bhangarh or Abhaneri on it. We didn’t let that deter us. All of us had traveled to remote places in India without maps. Besides, the distance between Delhi and Jaipur is only 250 kms, so even if we got lost, we would only be half a day away from home!

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Written by Som

July 1, 2008 at 1:44 am