Tuesday, July 15, 2008
It ws 9.00pm IST, 8th July 2008 frm fatehpuri (old Delhi) bus stand, with excitement of exploring a new place & anxiety of meeting new ppl, I started my journey along with “ BABU ” Satish babu, my frnd in IIT. The journey to explore the exquisite & serene beauty of Rajasthan. Our journey ws supposed to start frm Kalyanpura, a small village lying in the district of Sikar whr we had to attend a marriage of our friend’s cousin. Frm thr we had planned to go to Bikaner wch is jst 3 hrs ride frm Kalaynpura & then pink city Jaipur n finally return on 11th of july.
This ws our plan rather my plan, bt when it comes to my plans they are generally jst plans & my traveling track record is something wch leaves ppl dumfounded…I guess I don’t hv to shed light on it, ppl who know me, know it better…haha…!!! Wht amazes me is how Murphy finds new ways to intervene in them. Degree of disorder is of the highest order whn it comes to my traveling. BABU who probably knew a bit about this… had untold fears deep down….he mst hv had a few nightmares of having to travel with me. Oh I forgot to introduce “BABU ” Satish babu, a 44kg giant living on the face of earth & probably the only one. It is only after having a look at Satish tht I believed in Mr. Galileo….if u wr to drop a feather n Satish from some arbitrary height they would fall at the same rate…n believe me they wl…!!! I guess by nw most of u mst hv had a good idea of his dimensions, if nt thn feel free to visit his room C-34, Karakoram hostel, IIT Delhi.
Being a small village the buses didn’t stop at kalyanpura bt it hd a stop around 13kms before, at Fatehpur. So we requested the bus driver to stop the bus at Kalyanpura. To our surprise the bus ‘wala’ seemed vry friendly n assured us tht he would stop the bus at kalyanpura, wch it ws supposed to reach at around 4.30 in the morning. By 1.00am babu hd slept, bt me being a nocturnal to the core hardly felt sleepy. I gazed at the stars through my window n ws actually amazed to see quite a few of thm even on a cloudy night. At around 3.30am the conductor came to me n queried whr we wr getting down, so I thought we would hv no problems in getting down n that is when I guess I dozed off. When I opened my eyes I saw babu trying to
shake me vehemently like a bottle of champagne.…. he shouted at me to get down n told me tht we hd missed our stop i.e kalyanpura. The very next moment the first 5 words tht I utter were “bus wale teri __ ki” ……..wht actually happened ws tht, whn babu woke up around 5.00am, he saw the bus standing at one of the stops. So he wnt up to the driver to ask hm how far ws Kalyanpura frm thr. What he got to hear frm hm mst hv wakened him up for sure, if he wsn’t by thn. The driver told hm with all benignity tht kalyanpura ws not vry FAR….. jst 25kms behind...!!!
So it ws back to square one, governing dynamics u see….i hd added another feather in my long list of amazing journeys. Bt I guess that is wht I enjoy the most abt all my journeys, unpredictability is what makes thm tangy n definitely memorable. So we wr left stranded at some place of wch we hd no clue at all. After asking one of the locals we got to know tht we wr at Ratangarh, about 25kms frm Kalyanpura. we got to know tht their were local buses frm there to Kalyanpura but the catch was, they would not leave before 7.00am at least. Nothing else to do we sat at a nearby ‘dhaba’ & I found myslf with some good company of fag. I actually had quit, bt this was the near perfect setting fr hving one n I cldn’t resist one. Tht is when we thought of calling Satyaveer(friend who’s cousins wedding we wr going to attend). When we told him abt wht had happened, like a true genial host he told us not to board a bus instead he would pick us up frm there in hs car. I smtimes think I am really lucky to hv some real good friends n he sure is one of thm, actually if Hinduism is correct about life after death thn I mst hv done some good in my past few lives…!!!
By 6.30am Satyaveer was thr with his dad in his car n we were off to Kalyanpura. I really enjoyed the ride, long inviting roads as far as u cn see & on either side picturesque land escapes & to add on top, a cloudy day with cool wind blowing. It was all amazing, I ws actually baffled to see lot more greenery than I imagined bt this ws mainly the result of the heavy showers in this region over the past week. In less than an hour we were there at his village, the first impression tht I got of his village was that it was engulfed in tranquility & calmness, n the air around carried this amazing smell wch I cannot possibly describe; something which I nvr felt in delhi. The only thing tht u get to smell in Delhi if u wr out, is either petrol, diesel or those flashy deodorants. It was a truly modest village, the kind wch I always wnted to experience bt never got a chance before this. Soon Satyaveer introduced us to almost everyone in the family, it ws a big connected joint family. Even though everybody ws busy with marriage preparations, they were vry warm n sweet to us, trying thr best to make us feel at home. And yes… we did meet the bride groom, Satyaveer’s cousin. He seemed pretty active n exited until he got some facial & facelift frm our vry own ‘ make-up boy ’ Satyaveer singh. I think this wld be the right time to shed some light on Satyaveer n his idiosyncrasies. When it comes to getting ready, he sure cld give any chick in town a run fr her money. Actually only after seeing hm getting dressed, tht I got a conformation of what Mr.Einstein had to say abt Theory of relativity. Once he starts working on his hairdo, it nvr stops. It seems as if time has come to a halt fr him, bt for a guy like me it seems like ages.
Now it ws time for some ‘ pet puja’ , aunty served glass full of milk & specially fr me milk with bournevita (thts bcz I cnt drink plain milk), along with a monstrous plate full of sweets fr us. It hd my mouth watering n I called it the 'heavenly starter', fr no specific logical reasoning. If I am addicted to something, it hs to be sweets, jst the mere sight of sweets get me high…..believe me they really do…!! After that scrumptious heavenly starter we were all charged up n ready, ready to take the ‘baarat’ to a nearby village at the bride’s place wch ws 5-6km away. By then the DJ ws there…No its not me. It ws an actual DJ or rather a portable version of it, an auto-rickshaw mounted with around 6 huge speakers which played traditional folk as well the hip-hop numbers. Let me tell u that the kind of decibel levels it managed to reach ws simply mind blowing. It seemed as if it made shock waves around it or probably a sonic boom, I cldn’t dared to go anywhr close to it.
There ws this horse with the bridegroom seated on top, n it was going around in circles with the music. Elderly women of the village were singing folk songs & men n children were dancing with absolute nonchalance. As we walked & moved forward almost the entire village moved with us, it ws amazing. Ppl were happy fr each other n they hd this pure & unadulterated felling of joy. Nothing clould possibly vex them n they seemed to be in a raised state of mind, something wch we, living in big crowded cities cloud only wish to understand n experience. I ws trying my best to imbibe every bit of what I saw around me n what I experienced.
Soon I found myself being pulled by my friends fr a dance… my worst fear hd once again surfaced. Bt I somehow alwys managed to escape it & this ws no different. I enjoyed watching them n everyone else dance frm a far, n getting intoxicated in the music. I do remember a couple of hip-hop songs being played, thy were seriously funny; me n satyaveer hd a laugh abt them. If I remember correctly one such songs was “ bhuri kali salli ” n another of sch masterpiece ws “ angoori badan ”……I jst cnt stop laughing when I think of it…!!! After almost having walked through the village we then got into a car which ws supposed to drop us to the nearby village, there ws even a bus which cld carry almost the entire village. So the procession ws now moved by I.C engines rather then feet n horses. Around 300m before the bride’s place, everyone gt down & the procession ws back on feet n horses. The song n the dance ws back in place. What really baffled me was the kind of energy everyone had…it sure ws a mystery fr me. Pretty soon the marriage ceremony hd started & by then I hd dinosaurs howling down my tummy, so we three decided to do some ‘pet puja’ again. I loved the food especially the saagri ki sabji , it’s something I never had or heard before. It’s close to beans yet vry different, it ws delicious. And of course there wr sweets & I pounced on as much as I cld.
After having that tummy bursting meal Satyaveer n me decided to go fr a walk, bt babu decided against it, I guess he ws too tired fr it. By then the clouds had gone pretty dark n the breeze had picked up. What I got to see after walking fr a few minutes down the street ws something I wld remember fr the rest of my life. Amidst the semi-desert land escape & small bushy trees, was the curvy road which appeared similar to a flowing river. Adorned on top was the sky with three distinct shades mingled together. Right at the bottom was the light blue sky, followed by the dark blue & finally a pinkish tinge on top. It was jst like a life size painting placed right in front of me. I really wanted to paint it, only if I had colors n a brush with me. That’s not all, we cld even hear the rustling of leaves in the breeze from far n wide. It was all like a dream. We decided to abort our walk down the road after about 2kms & turned back. It was around 5.00pm in the evening & by then marriage was over n so were the customs related with it. We got into our car & were back at Satyaveer’s place by 6 o’clock.
Meanwhile it had started drizzling, it was a constant drizzle, not a very strong one though. This has to be the right time to describe my unconditional love fr rain & the relationship that we share. If there is anything along with sweets thts gets me high, it got to be rain….no doubt about it. It has always captivated my imagination & I have always been spellbound by it. The rain jst gets me going n draws me towards it like an elecrto-magnet attracts a piece of iron. Actually if its raining n I don’t get wet in it then I dont feel good inside & chances are tht I might even get cold.
So I planned to get wet in the rain along with my friends & explore the sand dune which was just 20-25 paces from the doorstep. It was a pretty huge n colossal, standing all by itself. I had never seen anything close to this with my very own eyes (I am ignoring the ones I hd seen on T.V) n how could I; being born in kolkatta, brought up in patna, done my B.Tech in manipal & right nw in Delhi, I couldn’t even imagine seeing anything like this. We some how managed to get right on top of it & the view that I saw from there was truly enlightening. The sun had set below by then n it was dusk, the sky was all blue with scattered clouds & it was very slowly getting darker and a reddish tinge had started to appear. I had the complete 360 degree view of the horizon; it was breathtaking to say the least. The sky above appeared like a heavenly bowl interlocked with the plate of earth below & it was then I wondered that it wasn't our ancestors fault if they thought earth was flat, anybody would after seeing something close to this. It was so peaceful up there; generally a guy like me is forced to listen to a lot of unwanted n annoyingly loud music in hostel & the moment I step out of the campus, I am constantly hammered with the noise of vehicles n their even more irritating horns. But here I was amidst a semi-desert with complete peace & tranquility around. It was as if I was away from civilization, I could actually count all the houses in the vicinity on my finger tips. We just sat there n discussed lots of things for almost hour & a half, at around 7.30pm we decided to go back, bt believe me I didn’t want to; probably I left a part of me right there on top of that sand dune.
When we came back, it was time for some ‘ yummy ’ Rajasthani food. My favorite, the heavenly starter of course along with roti’s completely dipped in ghee & 'aaloo ki sabji'….how I miss that food …!! After a completely satisfying dinner we decided to go off to bed as we had to get up early in the morning to catch a bus to Bikaner. So we laid three khatiya’s right below the expanse of the skies. I was really excited to sleep in a khatiya below the heavens. One of the reasons I had come to kalyanpura was because I was hoping to see a clear night sky, which I was starved to see in Delhi. Bt I was a really disappointed as the clouds had held up n only a few stars cloud be seen through them. Three of us then started discussing space-time curvature & gravitational lensing. Finally it was time to make some plans fr the next day’s journey. I suggested, since Bikaner was exactly in opposite direction to jaipur from Kalyanpura, so If we go to bikaner we might not hv enough time in jaipur. Or we could extend our trip till 12th, in that way we’ll have enough time to go around jaipur; bt I still wasn’t very sure of what we were going to do the next day ( being a capricious guy I actually love being in fuzzy state of mind, at least when it comes to traveling ). Meanwhile the clouds started to disappear & make way for a truly heavenly scene. The night sky was studded with innumerable stars like a blanket which was densely perforated…..it was amazing ( siddharth wld say I literally had an orgasm )...!!! I had read that there were around 13 billion galaxies & about a trillion stars in each of them , bt nw I got to see a FEW. This night sky was definitely better than than the ones I used to see in Manipal. I vividly remember the days in Manipal when I used to sit motionless by the basket-ball court, gazing at the stars n occasionally “talking” to them. Just then I noticed something which I had only dreamt of…. suddenly i noticed the galactic arm, it was a distinct belt of stars in the sky which I had seen many a times in the Television n pics bt never thought of seeing it with my own eyes. And like a icing on the cake I even saw a beautiful shooting star….. I guess It was lucky day fr me…. If I reflect on that day, it was one of the most adventurous n memorable day of my life; if not the most. A day I wl nvr forget for a few lives to come.
We set our alarms for 6.00am in the morning & planned to leave fr bikaner by 7.00am. It was around 12.30am & I tried my best to sleep bt it wasn’t easy as I kept peeping at the stars every 10mins. Bt some how I managed to sleep by 1 o’clock. Probably couple of hours passed by when I felt as if I ws dreaming, I started to feel a bit cold & small grains seemed to hit my face. As soon as I opened my eyes I realized it was raining n I ws lying on that khatiya …. “kya mast feeling tha” …every thing that I did and happened with me that day ws completely a unique experience for me, something to cherish till the very last day of my life. I wanted to lie there in the rain bt it started to pour & we were forced to hustle, we later slept in one of the rooms.
It was 8.00am in the morning & by our PLANS we were supposed to be in our bus 30kms from kalyanpura towards Bikaner at least. But where were we…?? In our cozy little bed, I think when the alarm rang at 6, babu turned it off & we both said “…YES…Its 6 now… time to wake up..” n went off to sleep again. As a result we had minor changes in our plans. Instead of going to Bikaner we decided to go Jaipur directly. So we quicly had a bath n our breakfast & had left by 9.00am. Satyaveer n his dad accompanied us to the bus stand. There were no direct buses from kalyanpura to Jaipur, so we first had to board a local bus to Fatehpur around 13kms from there & and from there we had to get a bus to Jaipur. So we were waiting for our bus which never seemed to arrive, the regularity of the local buses were pretty pathetic & that is when uncle n me started to discuss about life. Uncle seemed to be a philosophical man n I always possessed the traits of a fervent one, so it was a good combo. I loved relating science n philosophy & always believed that there was a very thin line b/w them. For me the only difference b/w science & philosophy ws that science needed Mathematics to describe itself while philosophy used medium of language, the rest is same; they share a common base. He started to explain about life n its basic needs & how God provided us with all that we need to survive, in the form of soul, air, water n food. He then asked us if we knew about owl’s vision. Hence satyaveer n me started to give scientific details of owl’s vision n why it is able to see during the night n not in the day. Bt uncle's reply was a real eye opener n a humbling experience for me. He said tht owl’s ability to see during the night while their inability to see during the day meant that they could see beyond the obvious. He remarked “jo hamen dhikta hai wo nashkar hai aur jo nahi dhikta hai woh thoas hai…” . Unlike we humans who can only see in light n not in dark, owl’s epitomized the very ability to see what we couldn’t. The very concept of it was so amazing & moving; I just loved it. The way I interpreted it was that, what we see is just the projection of our mind but if we close our eyes, we might understand ourselves n the world around us in a much better way; I will never forget this.
Finally we had some luck & boarded a local bus to fatehpur at around 10.00am. It was time to bid adieu Kalyanpura. What I carried with me of Kalyanpura, was its pristine beauty and the tranquil lifestyle. People who never knew me yet showered so much of warmth n affection on me, I guess I did get a bit emotional; what was surprising was that in such a short span of time the kind of bond I had established with the place. Anyways within half an hour we were at fatehpur, from where we boarded a bus to jaipur which was around 150kms away. We were supposed to reach there by 2 o’clock & so we did. Babu n me decided to get a hotel & thankfully we got a cheap one very close to the bus stand. It was called The Chandra Villas hotel & it was decent enough. By 4 o’clock we had our lunch & had inquired about the places to vistit. So we decided to start off with Ramgarh lake, which was a huge artificial lake. We were told that it was 12kms away from where we were, around 40mins journey. So we took a bus to bari chaupar. The first thing that I noticed about this famous city was that there were forts n 'qillas' galore, where ever u looked u would find them. From thr we got a rickshaw to Ramgarh morh. All this itself took around 45mins, we absolutely had no clue where Ramgarh jheel was, but we realized that it was definitely lot more than 12kms, as we had to board another bus to Ramgarh. It was a mini bus & a real congested one. Every time the bus stopped at a stand we hoped that it would be Ramgarh, but to our horror it wasn’t. It seemed like an end less journey & after half an hour of roller-coaster ride, we finally reached Ramgarh. But where was Ramgarh jheel….??? Still no sign of it, so we asked one of the shop keeper n he told us that it was 3 kms from there. As the weather was really good we decided to walk up to the jheel, bt after half a km of walking we asked an old man passing by, about the whereabouts of the Ramgarh jheel. After listening to him (he actually told us that it was 4kms from there) I broke into laughter & we decided, THAT WS IT..........n we got into ANOTHER bus. In less than 10mins we finally n truly reached our destination, THE Ramgarh jheel. So it turned out to be around 30kms from jaipur intead of 12 & it almost took us one n a half hours to reach instead of 40mins. But I guess it was worth taking all the pain. The setting was really beautiful, the lake was surrounded with mountains, it seemed as if the Aravalli hill was guarding the entire jheel , there was so much greenery around; it was very pretty. Though the lake wasn’t inundated with water, still it wasn’t that bad.
The weirdest part about the place was that there were monkeys all around, there were actually more monkeys than people. I had a bhutta there & even had a ride on a jhula. Would u believe I paid three bucks to a kid for it; it was real fun. But somehow babu didn’t like the place as much & he was a bit disappointed. Now the focus started to shift, as to how to reach our hotel back in jaipur. It won’t be easy for sure, since it was a pretty secluded area & it would require another mammoth effort. We asked one of the locals there n he told us that there were buses to jaipur only till 7.00pm & by then it was 6.10pm. But we HOPED that we’ll get a bus because that is all that we had. The clock had started ticking & with every passing minute we got tensed. There was no sign of any bus n it was already 7.00pm, I started to get prepared mentally to spend the entire night in the vicinity of the lake along with monkeys. But I was more worried for babu, he being “BABU” might actually get abducted by the 'banar sena' there….!!!
Seeing us stranded there a guy came up to us & told us that there was a goods auto-rickshaw (the ones with no seat, just open back side) which was about to leave n if we requested the driver he might drop us at Ramgarh. So we went up to the driver & he agreed to drop us at Ramgarh. All he charged was 5 bucks each. We jumped into the empty luggage carriage n stood there glancing at the huge mountains n the greenery around. It was awesome…believe me, I never ever had such ride before. When we reached Ramgarh we thanked the driver & seeing a couple of buses at the bus stand we had a huge sigh of relief. By 9.00pm we back in our hotel room, both of us didn’t feel like having a dinner so just had a orange juice & kularh lassi each. Kularh lassi was my favorite in jaipur; it was too good, I miss that here in Delhi. We went off to sleep by 10.30pm, hoping to get up early.
The next morning (11th of july) we woke up early by 7.00am surprisingly & had left by 9. we decided to visit Amber fort first, it is one of the most famous tourist spot in Jaipur. Surprisingly locals pronounced Amber fort as Amer fort fr some unknown reason. When we reached there, we got to know why was it revered among people far n wide. It was stunning, absolutely stunning. Amber fort stood at the bottom of the hill while Jaigarh fort was right on the top of the thorn-scrub hill, just like a beautiful crown. Both the forts were humungous, I jst can’t describe their dimensions. Amber fort was built by Raja Man singh 1 in 1592 completely in white marble and red sandstone. The outer appearance of the Fort was rough and craggy which was totally different from its core. The interior of the Fort provided a soothing and warm ambiance. Exquisite paintings of hunting scenes on the walls depict the temperament & glory of the Rajput kings. The halls had minute mirror work which really fascinated me. All in all its a jaw dropping n a stunning fort, but if u think u had it all wait till I describe Jaigarh fort.
There were no stairs rather well laid passage to the top; n it was a long-long way up, supposedly 400ft above Amber fort. We just kept walking up but entrance never came, I actually started cursing Maharaja Man singh. He should have build a escalator for his visitors, that would have made things lot easier. Anyways after a lot of hue and cry we finally reached the top, and after paying 25 bucks each we set our foot inside the Jaigarh fort, where not many non-rajputs would have dared to enter in the 16th century. It was built to tighten the security of jaipur & Amber. Though Jaigarh fort lacked the artistic n intricate beauty of Amber fort, but it had its own charm. The highlight of this fort was the cannon foundary which housed the biggest cannon in the world, ‘JAIVAN’. I won’t dare to describe it, u gotto see to believe it. Jaigarh fort served as the centre of artillery production for the Rajputs. There was another cannon showcased their, called some vajr. I actually have forgotten the name but it too was huge, mounted on gigantic wheels & it required no less than 32 ox to pull it…..would u believe that…!!! I then noticed a aperture, it was a large one. When I queried about it, one of the guards told me that it was from where jaivan was fired. I sat besides it n I was in complete awe of the view that I saw from there, also the breeze was quite strong yet so refreshing n cool. It seemed as if I had no limits to the range of my vision, I could see literally as far as hundreds of miles or even more; It was truly a birds eye-view, that is when I realized why it was given the name ‘Cheel ka Teela’ (Hill of Eagles). I started to wonder tht I was sitting right where hundreds n hundreds of cannons must have been fired towards the marching enemy below, it must be a staggering scene. The fort also depicted the technological advancement of the rajputs, the drilling technology used by them was a testimony to that fact. Four ox used to move the four ends of the lever in circles, while a gear assembly (4 huge gears) similar to a rack n pinion was planted below which was as big as a room, it converted the circular motion into linear motion used for drilling; its baffling isn’t it….we as Indians should be proud of it. That’s not all, the fort also had Shubhat Niwas or the Meeting Hall of Warriors, 3 underground tanks, the largest one of which can store 60, 00,000 gallons of water, an armory along with a small museum. The Jaigarh fort not only epitomized the majestic past of the Rajputs but India as well.
It was around 12.30 in the afternoon, time to leave magnificent jaigarh fort as we had to reach our hotel by 2.00pm for check out. We reached our hotel around 1.30pm & we were really tired. After about half an hour of rest & a bath we checked out of our hotel, had our lunch n were off again. we then visited hawa mahal, jal mahal (I would have loved to describe jal mahal, as its very beautiful but after writing 10 pages I guess I am a bit tired so I won’t. But if u guys a get a opportunity to see it, don’t miss it), Vrindavan garden & finally Birla temple or the Lakshmi - Narayan Temple, situated just below the Moti Dungari. This is a modern temple built of pristine white marble on top of a hill n is constructed by the Birlas; something worth watching.
Our bus back to Delhi was scheduled to depart at 11.30pm so Babu n me relaxed in the lush green garden of the Birla temple till 6.30 in the evening. We then thought of watching some movie as we were damn tired by then, n what better way to relax than to watch a good movie in a good theatre. Two of us took a rickshaw n asked the rickshaw wala to drop us at the nearest movie theatre. But when we reached there, we didn’t feel like getting down. Guess which movie it was….??? …. “Mere Baap pehle aap” …..what worse cld have happened. So we opted for a stroll down the M.I road, & finally sat in one of the parks. Both of us left for dinner around 8.30pm n we had a very satisfying dinner at one of the better restaurants called the ‘Khan Restaurant’ & from there we headed back to our bus stand & waited for our bus. Finally we boarded the bus & it had left by 11.30pm. As we were leaving Jaipur I started to recollect all my experiences of Jaipur in the last two days. I had very fond memories of the city. Its a perfect blend of new n the old, a place which preserved the traditions & heritage of the Rajputs.A city which never detached itself from the past yet looking into the future. I would like to make a confession here.......... ..“ Jaipur I love u ”…!!!
Our bus was supposed to reach ISBT at 5.30am while Dhaula-kuan at 5.00am in the morning. We ‘PLANNED’ to get down at Dhaula-kuan as it was closer to IIT. This time round I woke up at 4.00 am as I didn’t want to repeat the same mistake. We got down at dhaula-kuan n took an auto to IIT Hostel gate. So after not jst a complete traveling experience bt a learning experience as well, i ultimately rch my hostel room on 12th of july by 5.30am, not as I had planned. But who cares, PLANS were never my cup of tea…..!!!
The TRIP had ended but not the JOURNEY…………...............................