September 3rd, 2012 by admin

Location: Ranakpur, Pali district, Rajasthan, India

Timings: 12 noon to 5 pm

Camera fees: Rs 50

Route: From Jodhpur: Jodhpur – National Highway 65 – Pali – State Highway 67 – Ranakpur

From Kumbhalgarh: Kumbhalgarh – State Highway 49 – State Highway 32 – Veera Matt – Ranakpur

Distance: Around 110 km from Udaipur, 10 km from Kumbhalgarh

Accomodation: Ranakpur temple, Ranakpur Hill Resort, RTDC Panihari Hotel

Ranakpur is located in Desuri tehsil near Sadri town of Pali district of Rajasthan. The Jain temple located here on the slope of Aravalli hills is said to be the most majestic of Jain temples. The temple was completed in 1458 is built with white marble and sand stone. Rana Kumbha the then ruler of Mewar patronized the temple and the temple was built by a devoted Jain. The main temple complex features 1444 pillars in all and have intricate design on stone. The inside domes are designed with flower petals and various Indian style. The domes and pillars are to be minutely watched for. I suggest you to take your time and go around this temple.

Note: The following items are not allowed inside the temple:

1. Eatables and drinks
2. Cigarettes and intoxicants
3. Leather items
4. Umbrella
5. Radio
6. Any weapon
7. Visitors need to enter the temple barefooted or with socks
8. Menstruating women are not supposed to enter the temple
9. People are supposed to enter the temple decently dressed
10. Visitors should not touch any idol or cravings

The temple is surrounded by semi forest range and it gives a green cover. It give me an out of the world feeling of a high level civilization in mid of a forest. the temple is situated on a higher pedestal. I had to climb around 20 plus steps to enter inside the temple. The path inside is a circular way and in the center is the idol of Adinath. He was the first Tirthankara of Jain religion. Also there are some other idols of Parsvanath and Amba mata. I saw small statues of all Tirthankaras of different times carved on a wall. The turrets, cupola and the temple as a whole stand beautifully with background of green cover of small hills.

One thing which stood out for me was the similarity of between a few towers with Jagannath temple of Puri, Orrisa. I was thinking if there was any collaboration between the sculptors of Rajasthan and Orissa then. Inside I walked around the complete way and photographed it. Then I sat on a platform which gives a view outside. The cool and fresh breeze was so soothing that it was like nirvana. From here I could see small temple erections up on the hill. The temple is nicely maintained and is very clean. They have lodging and food facility. Following this I went to see another temple which is located in front of the main Ranakpur temple. This temple is smaller. I think that it may have been constructed first and then the majestic main temple was constructed. The whole temple is now managed by Anandji kalyanji Trust, Ahmadabad.

Following this I went to the food stall there and had coffee, some special local snacks. Also, picked up the famous Gujarati Khakra. Ranakpur Jain temple is a must visit, if you are in Rajasthan.

View more pictures of Ranakpur Jain Temple.

August 31st, 2012 by admin

Nathdwara is a small temple town in Rajsamand district of Rajasthan, India. It is famous for the popular temple of Shrinathji ( an avatar of lord Krishna). Also, known as Shreenathji. Nathdwara is located around 34 km from Kumbhalgarh and 48 km from Udaipur. It is a very popular pilgrimage center in this part of India, specially from the neighboring state of Gujarat. The nearest airport is at the outskrits Udaipur around 56 km from here.

I reached Nathdwara at the Lord Sreenathji’s door around evening (around 6 pm). During the month of July it gets dark in Rajasthan only around 7.30 pm. With Lord’s blessing we got a darshan (view) of Lord Srinathji. There were hordes of devotees all over the place. Before the darshan we were told some very interesting facts by one of the temple person. The idol shrinathji was in Mathura but during those days in the late 16th century Mughal emperor Aurangzeb was destroying Hindu temples, so it was moved to Nathdwara in Rajasthan in 1672 to save it. Maharana Raj Singh of Mewar not only dared to station the Idol but also built a temple there.

Photography at the temple is prohibited so there no pictures of this place. It is a two story temple. While walking through the small lane we had to open the shoes. For upkeep you will have to pay Re 1 -2. We were told all those beautiful garland for Lord is made in house and the flower comes from Lord’s own garden. On the first floor there is a gopura (tower) which is said to contain the Sudarshan Chakra that Lord Krishna used. It is said that prayer made here is fulfilled. And only one wish should be made with full devotion. We prayed there and offered a small token amount. We were given a scented cotton bud and were asked to keep it with us. The area near the Gopura was filled with various coins. It was a sight. The area Lord resides is on the ground floor. It has various time slots through out the day for darshan. In some slots there are separate queue for men and women. But in the evening all were left free to go in and view. suddenly a huge rush developed in front of Lord’s sanctum sanatorium. While praying people just do not move and one person over there was literally hitting people with a cloth to move them from the front row. May be Lord’s blessing, I also got one hit! Its pretty hard.

The photo of Srinathji is very beautiful. I was told that Lord said that all of his need would come Gujarat. That way most of the pilgrims are from Gujarat. It seems people managing this temple have never required to bother for anything. If they thought they need anything, somebody comes and delivers it. The town resembles a typical old religious town of India. When I saw the narrow lanes, big windows, dirty drains, old buildings, the first thing that came to mind was Nabawadip (West Bengal). Another popular pilgrimage town of Mahaprabhu (incarnation of Lord Krishna). We brought laddu prasad for Rs 100 like Tirupati temple laddu. It was very tasty. Other forms of sweet prasad are also available. One is not supposed to enter the temple premises with any leather item and mobile phone. With Lord’s blessing we left Nathdwara for Club Mahindra resort, Kumbhalgarh.

The temple has various kind of accommodation on offer starting from cottage to dharmashala. Booking can be made online.

Temple Address:

Shrinathji Mandir,
Nathdwara, Rajasthan – 313 301
Phone: +91 2953 233484
Fax: +91 2953 232482

Official website: http://www.nathdwaratemple.org/

August 27th, 2012 by admin

Badhshah Bagh

We reached Badshah bagh in the evening. It is the place where the Mughal army camped in order to attack Maharana Pratap. It is surrounded by hills with shrubs. I had a complete different feeling while walking through Badshah bagh. It is now a garden managed by tourism department of Rajasthan. It is here on June 21, 1576 the first encounter between the Mughals and the forces of Maharana Pratap took place. There is no entry fees or restriction on photography.

Badhshah Bagh

Badshah bagh is located little way from Haldighati hill and Haldighatti battle field.

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

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.

kumbhalgarh Fort

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.

kumbhalgarh 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

kumbhalgarh Fort

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.

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

NH 8, Udaipur

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
Enroute Details

NH 8, Udaipur
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.

NH 8, Udaipur

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.

NH 8, Udaipur

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.

NH 8, Udaipur
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.

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