Friday, 20 January 2012

Our Sand & Snow Sojourn...

3rd June (Rajasthan & Himachal Pradesh)

It struck me on my way back from office that I have just 5 months remaining for our annual vacation...I HAD to plan in advance.... So, I decided it was time for me to have a broad plan in place to getting the best prices for travel and accommodation. Being a "travel-holic" since my childhood, holidays are always to be planned in advance; at least for me! :-) This was the start of the numerous hours I would spend on the internet. Two months since and I am still planning; bit by bit. This better be good.

Finally that day of travel arrived. For any Indian, born in a Middle Class family where annual vacations are sought after, this is the best day of the year, when we get ready for THE trip of the year! There is so much going that needs to be done in the last minute... work in office (always seems to be unending on these days!), packing, clearing the refrigerator, laundry, tickets etc, and the anticipation of a trip that we've been planning for half the year! This time as the name suggests, we were traveling to Rajasthan & Himachal Pradesh in West & North India.

An early morning cab took us to the airport and we flew to Jodhpur via Mumbai. Must've taken half the day considering that we'd left Bangalore at 3am!! We were completely exhausted by the time we reached Jodhpur airport. Just like railway stations, airports have a semblance across the country. You will know where you really are only after you step out. The Mehrangarh Fort greeted us from the airport itself. It stood majestically against the horizon; reflecting it's patience and endurance over time. Jodhpur city and the Fort seem to have withstood the economic changes happening across the country (except for the occasional banners of Airtel & Vodafone); it looked just like I'd seen it 14 years ago. Pal Haveli turned out to be just like how we expected. With it's grandeur and period furniture, it looked as if straight out of a story book... Beautiful!

After a quick snack, we started our walk around the city which turned into a climb upto the fort. Interestingly, all the kids on the road thought we were foreigners and kept asking..."which country?"and this quest followed us across Rajathan for the next 7 days. Like most city slickers, we were just not upto the climb and hence called for an auto (tuktuk), who drove us to the fort gate. The magnificent fort loomed tall in front of us. That's when the statistic of tourists visiting this place hit us...50% Europeans (mainly from western Europe), 5% from rest of India and 45% Bongs!! Hats off to them (I mean us!). We really go out of our way to see places, but on the other hand expect to get Maacher Jhal and Bhat wherever we go! Anticipating that, there were hoards of restaurants serving authentic Bengali food in the heartland of Rajasthan!!

The fort had cobbled roads within the walls and each turn had a story to tell. The sunset from the parapet of the fort was priceless and the city with the blue hue looked ethereal. However, what followed that evening was beyond our wildest dreams...                 to be continued.