I have always been extremely fond of the colors and culture that Rajasthan provides as a takeaway. The desert sands provide warm afternoons and cold nights; the people embrace you with their open hearts and endearing smile. You can only gaze and gasp in surprise at the mighty happy vibe that lies in this region.
Jaipur has been an absolute favorite, having been residing in Delhi, it is the closest weekend getaway. But this time, we planned to ditch Jaipur and head a little farther away to Jodhpur to explore more of what Rajasthan can offer.
Independence Day was the best time of the year to celebrate the rich culture that this northern state has offered to the multitude of tourists that travel to and fro the region. Apprehensive initially, we were a little unsure of the time of the year: the onset of monsoons. The media was already flooded with news of flooding in the Rajasthan region. We searched through the blogs, hopped through YouTube channels, read through newspapers to make sure our decision was apt, with enough contemplation we decided, it was travel time!
Train enthusiasts, we opted for a rather time-consuming journey, but worth the experience. The train connectivity for Rajasthan from the Indian Capital is phenomenal, with several time options we booked the early morning train, “Salasar SF Express”. To our surprise, the train was on time with clean bogies and cordial staff. Looking outside our windows, we awaited the gifts that lay in front of us.
On reaching Jodhpur, we hired an Ola for our hotel, Shree Ram International and ditched the internet for a while to decide what was to follow next, the Ola driver was one hell of a guide—he not just rode us all the way through from our hotel, but also offered advice on some amazing places that we could visit in the following days.
We kick started with some “पेट पूजा” at the Shandar Sweet House. Rustic and raw, from the streets of Rajasthan, place that quite brilliantly satiated our hunger.
Next up was the travel itinerary that we had made: Mehrangarh Fort, an exquisite journey beautifully exhibiting the lifestyle of Rajputs and our historical marvel, Jaswant Thada which was so ornamental in its design that it won with its simplistic beauty, and Umaid Bhawan Palace which was a live example of how starry a dream can be. From vintage cars to the premises that have been given away for luxury stay purposes—for someone who can afford it—Umaid Bhawan Palace offers you an exquisite living experience. Quite heavy on the budget, it’s a great deal, though! Toorji ka Jhalara was up next, and so was the time for another meal break.
We almost skipped meals at any of the best or famous hotels and opted for local places, and similar was the case with our luncheon at “The Stepwell Cafe” at Toorji Ka Jhalara. Food with great ambience made our afternoon even brighter.
In the evening, we strolled in the local market, interacting with people and looking for souvenirs to take away with us: things that would remind us of this place after we leave. On our walk down the lane, we came across Kamla Aunty, a rather vivacious and cheerful woman. She sold authentic Rajasthani bangles locally worn by women. She said, “व्यापार तो सब करते हैं, व्यवहार अच्छा होना चाहिए . . .” (everyone does business, it’s the behavior that should be good). Meeting her while I traveled, reiterated the fact that it is the people you meet who make it all worthwhile. The instances and memories of few such encounters are so supreme that you cannot help but revisit them every second henceforth.
The evening ended well, and we headed towards Indique Restaurant for scrumptious authentic Rajasthani Thali and some amazing Rajasthani folk songs to end our day.
The next morning was an early one for us as we headed towards Osian (a desert village approximately 2 hours from Jodhpur). The hotel had made arrangements for a Camel Safari and a Jeep Safari for us to enjoy and be in the Rajasthan’s absolute element. We were welcomed by the hotel staff at Camp Thar with delicious “Pakodas and Doodh Chai”, post which we headed towards the desert where “Raj” the camel waited for us.
The beauty of Osian only gave us an idea of how vast and bountiful the deserts are. The dearth of vegetation, little to sometimes no rains, scorching sunlight—the conditions that are challenging for survival—is what makes the desert shine like gold under the summer sun. The day was almost over for us, and we were extremely satisfied and happy with our decision to travel to Jodhpur on 15th August.
Patriotism cannot be taught, it has to come naturally, and when you visit such places that house so much history in them—you can only feel the love for your nation. The connection makes you believe that our land has seen wars; it has seen marriages that solved war and at times created wars; it has seen liberation and slavery; it has gone through decades of struggle to become the golden bird once again, though more symbolically than physically. With this thought, we left for Jodhpur and thanked the hotel staff for their best hospitality and warmth.
On our final night before we left for Delhi the next morning, the three of us sat beside the pool and gazed at the stars; we felt so calm and relieved. Traveling does this to you, every time. I couldn’t help but ask myself, “What land was it? It was just a picture painted to perfection by nature. A person could sit there for hours. And when they returned to their everyday life, each time trying harder to be in the rat race, that picture would pull them back. Asking them to stop and think, re-align their thoughts and re-enter the race, probably slowing the pace a little this time and looking back at the path they took: to the nights that are spent meditating.”
While I traveled this time, I fathomed about this “Wheel of Independence” just like the wheel which has no start or end; independence starts the moment you embrace it. You are independent, and you’ll always be if you believe it, since it is a state of mind. So, let’s join the spokes together in the wheel, in a way that our forefathers would rather feel proud to see.
Just like the oasis in the desert, know how precious this independence is.
Do not feel hopeless if the last oasis sours, because sea blessed clear pools shall soon fill the divots of your steps in the sand.
The above article was first published here.