Monday, September 8, 2008

Redefining Journey...Explore Something More Than Pink

Khimsar was left miles behind, but the sands are unaffected of borders. I stepped in Pokhran, the renowned spot for Nuclear Experiments and was welcomed with full “warmth” by the desert. The sun was about to set down when I arrived Pokhran, so atmosphere was not too warm but I knew it was going to be cold in night. Pokhran is located around 112 km. from the main Jaisalmer city. I remember the telecast of extreme Nuclear tests/explosions of May 1974 and May 1998 on television which drew international attention towards this small town. The town falls in the midway of triangular route between Jaisalmer, Jodhpur and Bikaner. I stayed in a guest house in the night and enjoyed the traditional teekha & chatpata (spicy) Rajasthani food. The local people in the guest house told me about the legendary tale behind the formation of these deserts. According to the myths, Lord Rama once wished to dry up the ocean of Sri Lanka to get a way to reach there. But when the king of that ocean prayed him for not to do so, Rama fired his arrow into river Saraswati which flowed here. The river dried up by the heat of the arrow and the place turned to a barren desert.
I found accommodation, transport and meals at a very reasonable prices. I was ready in the morning after a heavy breakfast to explore forts, palaces and havelis. I first moved towards Pokhran Fort , famous for its world class traditional architecture, art and design. Built in yellow sandstone, the fort has a Durga temple. I was simply surprised by the pattern of construction, which is more than 400 years old. Wooden doors and windows were decorated by the designs of elephants, parrots and peacocks. The designs, paintings and carvings (nakkashi) were truly amazing. A local guide asked me to visit Pokhran Museum also. It is inside the premises of the fort and consists of antique weapons, paintings, pottery and the costumes which the Maharajas (ancient kings) wore.
I walked along the street of Gandhi Chowk, which is famous for its vegetable market. Women, wearing traditional Rajasthani outfits, handle all the shops there.
As I came to know that Pokhran owns some enchanting palaces as well, I moved towards Phool Niwas (Flower Palace), Mangal Niwas, Rani Mahal and Hawa Mahal (a copy of Jaipur's Hawa Mahal). I stopped at the Ramdev Temple for about half an hour to have my lunch. The temple is popular for a fair in the honour of Baba Ramdev. The priest there told me that the fair is held twice a year, in August and February and lasts for 11 days.
Lastly, in the evening, I visited Chhatris, a memorial to the kings who died during wars and the queens who committed sati (burnt theirselves with the dead bodies of their husbands). While approaching my guest house I also visited the nuclear test/explosion sites. It took me a whole day to visit the major attractions of Pokhran. But I quite liked the place, its tradition and hospitality.

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