the treasures of farrukhnagar and jhajjar no guidebook tells you about

Farrukhnagar. Jhajjar.

The inevitable response should one mention these two places is, “where are they?”

As for the few who do know about their whereabouts [near Delhi’s satellite city Gurgaon in the neighbouring State of Haryana] the rejoinder is, “is there really anything to see there?”

Oh, yes, plenty! But despite having some of the loveliest monuments in Delhi’s vicinity, both towns lie in complete oblivion. There is no mention of them in guidebooks. Zilch. They are not even included in Delhi’s countless regular heritage tours. It is as if they simply did not exist.

Imagine my joy when I got a chance to explore the two. Not that I had ever heard of them before. I belonged to the first category. Then after some digging around, I was smitten. Completely. Continue reading

india travel shot: a temple for a rajput biker and his enfield

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Last year, during the months of October-November, I travelled across Rajasthan by road with different cabs for each leg of my 35-day journey. I soon started to notice one constant element across the taxis’ dashboards. They had a framed photo of a young turbaned gentleman, either perched on it or hanging from the rear-view mirror. My first thought was: he must be a relative of the driver. But when the photograph kept cropping up in almost every cab, I was confused. All the drivers could not exactly be related to the same man.

So, I asked, though I really did not want to sound nosy or offend anyone.

What emerged was a story which, I mused, could only happen in India! But before I share the story, I was also told there was a special site associated with the turbaned gentleman and it was on the highway connecting Jodhpur with Udaipur. When I asked rather hesitantly if one could stop at it, my then driver laughed. “Whether you like it or not, your driver will stop there.” Continue reading

travel diaries: call of the khuri dunes

Sam or Khuri?

An obligatory part of a visit to Jaisalmer is the excursion to the golden sand dunes which sheath the Thar Desert some 40 to 50 kilometres away from the city.

Sam was touristy. Khuri was remote. What was it going to be for me? This one was a no-brainer in my travel plans. 😊

Khuri had just called out to me, I thought, with a gentle smile hovering on my lips as I looked out at an oasis on my way to the dunes. Continue reading

thar desert: stories told and untold

Thar Desert, or the Great Indian Desert as it is also known, is the large arid region in north-west Rajasthan surrounding the thousand-year-old enigmatic fortress of Jaisalmer on all four sides.

Covered over an expanse of 200,000 square kilometres, it is the world’s 20th largest desert, as well as the world’s most densely populated desert [at 83 people per square kilometre]. Some 40 percent of Rajasthan’s population lives in the Thar, eking out a living on its barren stretch through agriculture and animal husbandry.

Folk art and music offer a much-needed respite in the face of hardship here; just as vibrant-coloured odhnis and turbans give a dash of colour to the otherwise dusty, bare, uninhabited miles. Continue reading