Monday, June 30, 2008

Fashionably luxurious desert


Tracing steps forward, I headed for a drive to Luni. Ramesh, my driver, proved to be a real blessing. He was my sole entertainer while I hopped places in Rajasthan. On my way to Luni, I was greeted by kids waving goodbye with big smiles on their faces. The horns blown by a never ending stream of buses passing by made the highway too chaotic to hear the music being played in the taxi.
Continuing through Luni, I reached its most striking sight – Fort Chanwa. I decided not to stay overnight at the fort, now a luxury hotel. But I wanted to see every inch of this refined marvel of Indian architecture. So I decided to stay there till the evening. Carved in red sandstone of Jodhpur, the fort was massive. Immaculate paintings that adorned its walls transported me into the bygone era. I spent an hour at the beautiful garden. Yet another mesmerizing sight, yet another picturesque setting and yet another perfect sunset marked the end of my tour to Luni.
After spending a relaxed evening at this peaceful haven, I was scheduled to visit the most enigmatic city of Rajasthan – Jodhpur. Umaid Bhawan Palace was my home during this Jodhpur holiday. Every corner of the hotel was immersed in sheer elegance. It charmed my soul in the very first glimpse.
I dumped my bags in the hotel room and headed out for a guided tour to see the major attractions that dot the blue city. Blue is the colour dominating the city cape. We were a bunch of tourists visiting the Mehrangarh Fort situated on a hilltop. As we walked up, we realized how huge the structure actually was. We were told by the guide that despite several efforts of the enemies this imposing fort had never been attacked. Other palaces that the fort houses Moti Mahal, Sheesh Mahal and Phool Mahal were ultimate delights. Paintings and carvings that embellished the walls were exquisite. An audio played in all the chambers informed us of the brief history linked with the fort.
We then proceeded towards the museum packed with loads of regal charm. The royal cradles, miniature paintings, howdas, music instruments, palanquins brought alive the bygone era before my eyes. Swords in silver and jade, shields with rubies and pearls engraved and barrels with gold and silver work were objects rarest of all. Incredibly luxurious ! This was probably one of the finest forts I had seen during my trip so far.
Later in the evening, we were taken into the old city. Far from the hustle bustle of the modern city, I spent the evening at a desired pace here. Really a nice and peaceful place. My camera worked breathlessly to capture all that was beautiful. I am enjoying so much so that I myself do not know when will I be moving to another destination. I simply love the colours of this desert.

Jodhpur,Sheesh Mahal,Phool Mahal,Mehrangarh Fort,Fort Chanwa

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Mount Abu - In sync with nature

From Kota I traveled along a bumpy road to reach Mount Abu. Friendly locals, cool climate and greenery in abundance are marked features of Mount Abu. My hotel, Lake View offered a matchless view of the serene Nakki Lake. I could see several holiday makers enjoying a boat ride amidst the azure waters of the lake.

Sagar, the guide for the tour took a group of tourists for spectacular sightseeing around the mountains. We were first of all taken to a cave amidst the mountains. I was shocked to know that we had to crawl through this narrow cave. I wiggled upto 10 meters in the darkness of the cave. The experience was exciting as well as frightening. There were bats flying past in the pitch dark. Further, we visited Gaumukh Temple.

Our next halt was the far famed Dilwara Jain Temples. All the five temples in the complex are extraordinary in architecture. The stunning beauty of the intricate carvings in white marble overwhelmed me. And the most amazing thing was that each of these carvings were distinct. I felt bad to know the fact that photography was prohibited inside the temple. Eventually, I was unfortunate not being able to capture the magnificence of the temple in my camera. I would not exaggerate when I saw Dilwara Temples are a dream in marble.

Later, we climbed over a high rock mountain. The view of the farmlands from the mountain top was spectacular. I saw a beautiful play of colours from Toad Rock while the sunset. The group tour ended here and I headed to spend the evening at Nakki Lake. The pleasing weather prompted me to walk around the lake with cool breeze playing with my hair. It felt as if stress had vanished off. The market area of the city sprang to life with an array of colorful little shops. While scanning the market I picked up a colourful bed cover and some bangles.

Dinner was taken at Arbuda Restaurant. All my thoughts of dieting went to drain. After the lip-smacking delicacies, I had a sizzling brownie at Cafe Coffee Day. Satiated and happy, I went back to my hotel room.

Nowhere in Rajasthan natural beauty exists in a better form than in Mount Abu. Packed with multifaceted attractions, Mount Abu is indeed a perfect holiday destination. With lingering memories of Mount Abu tour, I moved on to yet another spellbinding city of Rajasthan – Jodhpur.