Enchanting North West India

This  memory dates  back to two years from now – July 2011:

The last one week was one of the most memorable weeks in my life. My hub, brother-in law and I geared up for a North West Indian trip along with my in-laws who are currently residing in Barsingsar, Rajasthan. This trip was so special to me since I haven’t crossed borders of Tamil Nadu except for Bangalore and luckily London in all my 26 years. I love traveling and I get titillated to savor different culture, people, languages etc… We boarded the flight from Chennai to Jaipur, where we saw Hawa Mahal, City Palace and Jaipur Museum.

Day 1: Jaipur

Hawa Mahal is an architectural splendor that offers breath-taking views of the pink city. It was alluring to witness the royal palace built exclusively for the queen to view the city’s processions. Hawa meaning wind as the name suggests, the Mahal is adorned with numerous windows for ventilation and peek through. Beyond just being dazzled by the beauty of the Mahal we were also able to experience the luxury the Royalties enjoyed then.

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We just had one day to spend in Jaipur since the very same evening we had to catch our train to Bikaner. So we weren’t lucky enough to visit all the monuments of Jaipur. We also visited the Albert City Museum which in itself was an architectural excellence. It had in display breath-taking Egyptian pharaohs, mummies, Pistols, coins, Sculptures, huge colorful porcelain jugs and many more. We had to hurry up because of the time constraint but it is one must visit place where one will acquire more knowledge about our diverse and rich ancient history.

Albert City Museum

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Later we also went to Birla Mandir. The deities were so adorable and beautiful. The deities were clad in rich red attire and they were co cute to look at. I would say they were the cutest deities I have seen so far, with all due respect.

Then we had a quick shopping spree in Jaipur where I bought Jaipur handmade slippers, Multicolored Bangles for myself and my friends & a doll that resembles the Rajasthani men and women.

Then we boarded the train to Bikaner to my in-laws place in Barsingsar.

Day2: Bikaner

The next day after having a quick rest we visited the local markets in Bikaner where I purchased a beautiful saree in vibrant pink color richly embellished with stones and golden thread.  We also went to some local temples where my mother in law had some offerings that had to be made. Later in the evening we went to City Palace by 5 p.m.  But by the time we reached there it was already closed. The Palace closes by 4 p.m. We were very disappointed alas we were at least able to take a look at the Rajasthan Art and Crafts museum in city palace. It showcased the wardrobe collection of the king and the queen which was heavily embroidered with precious stones and gold. Also displayed were the Chariots, utensils, carpets etc. utilized by the Kings then.

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We were already drained out of our energy due to the continuous travel and hence we had to call it a day for further sightseeing  and had a sumptuous bikaneri dinner and drove home to Barsingsar from Bikaner which again was a lovely drive along the desert, relishing the cool desert breeze listening to old hindi songs.

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Day 3: Deshnok

On hearing that there is a temple in Rajasthan that houses hoards of rats and people worship rats I became more curious to see that place. It is Karni Mata temple in Deshnok, where Karni Mata a hindu sage is being worshiped as an incarnation of Goddess Durga. It’s about 30 km from Bikaner and one of the must visit places. The temple revered to have supreme potential to make our wishes true, when prayed sincerely. It’s  assumed that you are lucky and your wishes would  come true if you were able to sight a white rat among the thousands of black rats.

I was lucky that day to find the white rat that came from one of the holes just moments before we decided to leave, feeling bad that we weren’t able to see the white rat. I consider that I have received the blessings of Karni Mata. It was such an ecstatic moment for me and my family members.

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After the temple sojourn, we planned to retreat to cooler regions to escape the blazing heat of Rajasthan. We planned to visit Dharamsala in Himachal Pradesh. It was one place on my hubs must visit list and I remember him saying before our marriage that he wanted to take me to Dharamsala. We chose to reach our destination by car via Punjab to Himachal.  Thus we started our travel across the sand dunes of Rajasthan savoring the strong live-reviving cardamom chai and Rajasthani cuisine.

Day 4: Amirstar

After a day long drive we reached Amritsar in the wee hours and halted in a lodge near the Golden Temple. It was so Later that day we planned to visit Jallianwala Bagh, Wagah Border and Golden Temple.

After our morning breakfast, we left for Jallianwala Bagh. It was a nerve chilling experience to place foot on the very place where thousands of martyr’s were massacred ruthlessly by General Dyer. There were so much of emotions running through our hearts that time – patriotism, humbleness, faithfulness, sorrow, pain etc… It was such a soul-stirring experience to witness the entire place studded with bullet marks. We were able to know more about the lives of our heroes who sacrificed their lives for India’s freedom and about the poignant incident. We also saw the martyr well were our brave heroes perished themselves from being killed by the hands of the British.

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Later in the afternoon we left to Wagah Border, to witness the Retreat Ceremony. We at once transformed into Indian army warriors and started yelling India Zindabad!!! Bharath Matha Ki Jai !!! Vande Matharam !!!  It was such a refreshing sight to watch our women holing with pride our Indian Flag and running towards the gate and then dancing proudly for the patriotic music played there. There was so much emotions running  being here, which couldn’t be explained in words but only felt, after visiting the Jallianwala Bagh. The parade by the soldiers was a treat to our eyes. I was able to feel the unity amongst Indians besides all the diversity that exists. I was elated seeing the sign board “India Welcomes you”. You could instantaneously feel a connect with Mother India.

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Golden Temple was a totally different experience. As said in movie “ Rab ne Bana di Jodi” Rab dhiktha hai.. you can feel peacefulness, calmness and surrender  yourself to sanctity of the Golden temple. We were luckier as the day we visited the temple was the birthday of the 10th Guru and hence the temple was decorated with loads of  flowers and lights. It was spectacular to see the reflection of the dazzling temple in the water body surrounding the temple.

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It was a very fulfilling day with mixed emotions ranging from gratefulness to spirituality. I could not have asked for more.

Day 5: Dharamsala

We reached Mcleod Gunj which is Upper Dharamsala the next day. It was a heaven on Earth with its cold climate, satnding tall mystic Himalayan mountain ranges, Buddhist Monastry. We went to the Buddhist Monastry, Bhagsunag falls,Naddi, Dal lake with exotic cedar tress and  Stowari. I have no words to unravel the experience I had in these places. I believe these pictures taken there would speak better than my words.

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We stayed in Dharamsala for 2 long blissful days.

Day 7: Delhi, Agra

Well all fairy tales comes to end and so did our Trip. We had our flight at 7:30 p.m. to Chennai and we reached Delhi by 6:30 a.m. My hub had a surprise for me. He wanted to gift me a trip to Taj Mahal for my birthday that falls 5 days later. It was such a shocking pleasant surprise to know I am going to see Taj Mahal for the very first time along with my love. I can’t believe myself –  Yes I am gonna see the seventh Wonder of the World. We rented a car and started to Agra.

As this time of the year is monsoon season in India, it was raining on and off. I got the first glimpse of Taj Mahal admist the rain droplets. There stood the magnificant Taj Mahal and I wasn’t able to take my eyes off it. What more could I ask for. I got intoxicated by the beauty and majesty of Taj Mahal and my eyes got wet with joyous tears. It’s truly a symbol of love and the closer you get to it the more love you could feel.

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As we finished taking snaps, the rain also stopped and the rays of the sun fell over Taj Mahal and it was a whole different view of Taj Mahal unlike how it was during the rain. It sparkled like a diamond in the Sun’s rays. Speechless, spellbound!!!! We got late for the Flight already and were about to leave Taj Mahal, when my hub called me casually as though waiting for me to come back from the ethereal world and uttered Priya I love You!!! There can’t be anything more precious than this moment.

It was a fairy tale ending to our Rajasthan Trip as we boarded our Flight to Chennai.

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