August 23rd, 2012 by admin
Badal Mahal (Palace of clouds) is located on top of the highest hill inside Kumbhalgarh fort. Now vehicle goes to the top of the hill. We took the road besides the Kalpa briksh (tree) and drove slowing to reach the top of the hill. It was raining then. Due to Prakash’s acquaintance with the security guard I was able to see Badal Mahal and we climbed to the terrace. From the terrace one could see the green cover on the hills of Mewar region on one side and the dry plain lands of Marwar on the other side below the hills. And could you believe that I saw mist kissing the hills and covering the valley of Marwar below. Yes, this was in Rajasthan in the month of July!
Badal Mahal located at a height of 3468 feet gives an amazing view of the surrounding. The two storied building has two sections the Mardana mahal (male section) and Zannana mahal (female section) of the then royal family. It was built by Rana Fateh Singh in the 19th century. As of now the Rajasthan state forest department manages Badal mahal.
August 20th, 2012 by admin
kumbhalgarh fort was designed and constructed by the then ruler of Mewar, Rana Kumbha. Built in the 15th century it is the second most elaborate and important fort after Chittargarh. The wall of the fort runs for 36 kms long which makes it the second longest wall in the world after the Great Wall of China. The fort is located on top of Aravalli hills at a height of around 1100 meters. Rana Kumbha and his decedents were part of the Sisodia dynasty who ruled Mewar region of Rajasthan for a long time. During the time of distress kumbhalgarh fort was the refuge for Mewar rulers. The fort is very uniquely positioned on top of hills with difficult access ways through forest. It is located in the Rajsamand district of Rajasthan around 84 km from Udaipur.
The fort fell only once when the Mughal army laid siege and got to enter the fort by tricking/threatening three women. The women said not to kill them and they will show the route to enter the fort. The women threw flowers on the way while walking to the fort door while Mughal army followed at a distance. But the Mughals could not get hold of anything. The king had left the fort to safety through a hidden route. Later Rana Kumbha regained the fort and three women were posted alive inside the frontal walls of kumbhalgarh fort as a punishment. Three heads of women were erected where they were posted so that people can see what will happen to traitors.
The fort has numerous temple, around 300 for Jains and the others for Hindus. From the high tracts of the fort one can see long ranges of Aravalli hill, Mewar region on one side and Marwar region on the other side. There is a very interesting story associated with the construction of kumbhalgarh fort. In 1443 when Rana Kumbha started to built kumbhalgarh fort , the walls were built and the next day the walls gave way. This kept on happening for several days. The constructor told the king there might be some issue with a devi (goddess) in that area and that a saint below in the plains can only help. So the saint was contacted and he advised that this will be resolved only if someone voluntarily offers himself for human sacrifice. King was concerned who will offer himself for doing so! Then the saint himself offered for sacrifice and ordered the king to prepare for so. He told he will be walking on the hill and at a particular area he will stop. There he should be killed and a temple of Goddess should be built there. He will still continue walking demarcating the walls of the fort. This was followed and then the king was able to built the large magnificent fort.
Young Uday Singh who was saved by Panna Dhai, who sacrificed her own son was also smuggled to kumbhalgarh fort for safety. Maharana Pratap, the great warrior king of Mewar who loved freedom more than anything else was born in kumbhalgarh fort. I was told that Maharana Kumbha used to burn massive ghee lamps on the high tracts of the fort to provide lights to the farmer in the valley who work in the fields at night.
I went to kumbhalgarh fort in the evening of the same day I reached Club Mahindra. kumbhalgarh fort is located around 2 km away from Club Mahindra. The drive from Club Mahindra resort to the fort is a very scenic one through the ghat section and bushy forest. The approach to the fort is a narrow lane which opens up in front of the the intimidating Hanuman pol (gate).
Entrance fee: Rs 10 per person (Indian)
Parking fee: Rs 20
Camera fees: Rs 50
A look at the thick massive walls gives an idea how strong the fort might be. There are 7 gates in the fort namely Ram pol, Pagra pol, Hanuman pol etc. I could not explore the fort much as it was late evening and the light and dance show was about to start. People are seated for the show near Neelkant Mahadev temple. I sat on the bench of the right hand side of Neelkath Mahadev temple for the show while enjoy awesome cool breeze. The light and sound show talks about the entire history of kumbhalgarh fort. As of now the show is only in Hindi. I was told efforts are being made to have it in English as well. Club Mahindra has sponsored the entire cost for the light and sound show at kumbhalgarh fort.
A day may be less to see kumbhalgarh fort completely. A good way of seeing it may be to take a walk along the length and breath of the fort. The fort is beautifully lit everyday in the evening for a brief period after the light and sound show. This makes for some awesome shots. Be there to discover it for yourself!
August 16th, 2012 by admin
On the afternoon of 27th July, 2012 I landed at Udaipur airport. It is also known by the name Maharana Pratap Airport or Dabok airport. The feeling was like walking through a oven after de-boarding the aircraft. At the airport tourist center I picked up the tourist brochure for free provided by Rajasthan government tourism department. As soon as I came out of Udaipur airport, I saw Prakash, driver from Club Mahindra resort, waiting for me with a placard of my name. Prakash was a lively person as was his colorful turban. Club Mahindra made it a very pleasant ride by providing an AC Mahindra Scorpio SUV.
Distance from Udaipur Airport to Kumbalgarh: 95 km
Approx Time to Travel: 2.5 to 3 hrs
Prakash, driver from Club Mahindra Resort, Kumbalgarh
Udaipur airport is located around 22 km away from Udaipur city. We did not enter the city and drove on National highway(NH) 8, part of the Golden Quadrilateral which connects Delhi (Capital of India) and Mumbai (financial capital of India). Little into the drive I started seeing small hills with hues of green cover on them. Prakash shown the fort wall of Udaipur city and the gate used in those times. The 4 lane highway separated by dividers were in excellent condition and driving was a breeze. The dividers has been planted with exotic flowers. I also saw a vehicle watering the plants which I believe is taken care by any government agency. Prakash made me aware that Udaipur as well as entire Mewar region is a hilly region formed by the Aravalli hills.
There are very few industries on the way. After sometime we had to get onto a smaller State Highway(SH) 49. While driving through the country side I realized that Rajasthan is not all desert. To see desert one have to go to Jodhpur and beyond. Prakash told few days before my visit they had rain which had helped sprout more green leaves. At some places it was completely green in a hilly valley and I was surprised, I was in Rajasthan. Rain occurs less than average and rain water is stored in artificial lakes for usage throughout the year. Prakash shown me and described how cows are used to harness ground water from well in a traditional way.
I came to know at one of the valley on the banks of Banas river, the shooting of Bollywood movie Khuda Gawa took place. This was the set for India – Afghanistan border. The movie stared Amitabh Bachchan and Sridevi. The almost dried stony bed of river banas, the dry aired hills and the narrow road going through the valley with a bridge over river Banas had a unique aura of itself.
Bollywood movie “Khuda Gawa” shooting spot
Around 3.30 pm reached Kelwara, the nearest populated habitat and town to Kumbalgarh. Kelwara is located on Fatepur road around 7 km from Kumbalgarh village. Reached Club Mahindra resort, Kumbalgarh around 4 pm. This was one of the best drives I ever had. At the reception I was welcomed in true Rajasthani style with a colorful Rajasthani turban and tilak (vermillion) by the front office manager. I was offered a special rose water drink as welcome drink. Following this I retired to my room to fresh up. This ride was the beginning of the discovery of another side of Rajasthan. Next will be on my introduction to Club Mahindra resort, Kumbalgarh.
August 13th, 2012 by admin
In May I was offered to review one of Club Mahindra’s resorts. It is part of Mahindra group which comprises diverse group companies from IT to 2 wheelers/4 wheelers to aircraft manufacturing. Club Mahindra as a travel and leisure company mainly targets the corporate traveler with its memberships. The unique concept of membership paid through EMI or outright payment which covers only the stay (lodging) for 25 years was brought for the first time in India by Club Mahindra. They run a chain of high end resorts in various parts of India. Mahindra have a good brand name and so does Club Mahindra.
I was offered a few choice and I selected Kumbalgarh, Rajasthan. The visit took place in the last week of July and in that circumstance Kumbalgarh seems to be the best choice. This time of the year monsoon sets in most of the hill stations in India. Though I did not know much, I selected Kumbalgarh thinking that it might be hot but it will not rain extensively. I visited Cochin in the month of May and it was hot there in the range of 38 C – 40 C. As I was able to manage that, I thought I should be able to manage this. Also, my understanding of Rajasthan typically was it is a desert. But it is not so, Kumbalgarh was a revelation for me! One should be there to experience that revelation.
Once I received the invitation from Club Mahindra I was very thrilled. I knew other people who have already done so. We started planning about the dates and I settled for the last week of July. I was little anxious when I received the accommodation voucher. It was in another person’s name. So I inquired with them on this. They explained that accommodation vouchers can be made only in the name of existing members and hence my accommodation voucher was made in the name of an employee. I also checked with my friends and those who are in know of this. All arrangements were made in time so that I could plan well. Almost every place I visit, I do my research home work. I got little idea what I was going to see.
Two days before the travel, the resort manager from Club Mahindra, Kumbalgarh called up to confirm the stay and welcomed to visit there. I readied by photography and travel kit in anticipation for the big day. I carried just one hand bag which is good enough to handle goods for 2 – 3 days. This gives me more freedom and flexibility. Story of the big day coming soon.
November 20th, 2010 by admin
Pushkar Camel fair is one of best fair in the world with color and liveliness it offers. It takes place in a small town called Pushkar in Rajasthan.
Date: 12th – 21st November, 2010
Venue: Pushkar, Rajasthan, India
Pushkar is located around 11 km from Ajmer, 138 km from the capital of Rajasthan, Jaipur and 392 km from Delhi. It is a very scared Hindu shrine and thousands of Hindus visit here during Karthik purnima (a particular full moon day). There is a huge lake in this desert region and is the lifeline of this place. There is a rare Bramha temple (Hindu god of creation) located here.
Pushkar has other temples like Savitri temple, Varah temple, Mahadeva temple and Ramavaikunth temple. The Rajasthan tourism department announces official Pushkar Fair Programme 2010 and for more info visit the official Pushkar website from Ajmer district administration.