I promise myself that I will keep a journal every day when I travel. I do it on the first couple of days and then lose myself in the throes of travel. And then the photographs get downloaded and a lost memory surfaces. So I decided to post them here, starting with Rajasthan so that they get recorded briefly and not lose themselves in the recesses of my mind. I spent eight days in Rajasthan, visiting a few towns and cities and chatting with a number of people. And here they are..
1. In Jaipur, soaking in the colour of Teej Festival.
The Teej, a festival of swings, also celebrated as the union of Parvati and Shiva is a colourful festival in Rajasthan and in Jaipur the deity is taken on a procession of dancers along with herds of elephants and camels. Here is the story on Teej Festival that i wrote for my column, The Inside Story In The Hindu.
2. The Ajmer Dargah
Unfortunately photographs were not allowed here and even if I could have taken, I do not think the crowds would have allowed me to do it. There may have 25000 people or 2500 people but I did not care. But one man ensured that I could get in without getting affected by the jostling and the elbowing – Syed Azam Maharaaj. Despite the crowds, there was a certain peace in the dargah that cannot be explained.
3. The Pushkar Lake
One of the holiest of all lakes, I was standing at the ghats to take this picture after finishing a small puja when a fight broke out shattering the peace. One of the locals smiled at me and said, “Brahma may have been cursed, but this is still the only place where we have a temple for him. Dont worry about the fights. They come and go…By the time they leave this place, these men will be friends. “ The lake has several ghats and temples on its banks and it was quite a sight, even on a dark rainy day like this.
4.Walking through Pushkar market
In that slush and rain, walking along the maze of Pushkar market which is a confused mix of the East and the West, where Pink Floyd meets paani puri, you just get a glimpse of what the furore behind Pushkar Mela is all about.
5.Chasing the monsoons all the way from Jaipur to Jaisalmer
This however was enroute to Ajmer from Pushkar. I did not imagine that Rajasthan would be green and the Aravallis took my breath away. I was hosted by Pushkar Resorts, an oasis of green in this little town and they took care of all my arrangements , including the visit to the dargah .
6 . Felt like royalty at Lakshman Sagar
A 19th century hunting lodge built by a Thakur near a lake surrounded by hills and all you can hear is the pitter patter of rain and the call of the peacocks..Lakshman Sagar is an unforgettable experience. The entire place comes alive in the night as the lights come up. You lose yourself in nature and feel like royalty. I was hosted here and will be sharing pictures soon.
7. Staring again and again at the Mehrangarh Fort, Jodhpur
You can keep looking at it all the time. The most imposing of all the forts I have ever seen –Mehrangarh is a showstopper. It is also one of the most well maintained forts in India. I spent over five hours here on a rainy date and it still wasnt enough. I will be back here soon.
Do I start with Suryagarh or the desert rain or the overflowing oasis or the sunset in the desert or the dinner in the sand dunes watching the moon set or the golden fort or the market or the abandoned villages or the hidden temples or the wildlife or the birds ? Memories just overflow here…I was hosted by Suryagarh and it was rather unforgettable…