Rajasthan where every hill has a fort, every fort a history and where every grain of sand has a tale to tell mesmerises Arijit De, a 21-year-old student of University of Toronto. He looks forward to his Indian vacation especially Rajasthan, which has always meant lots of pampering from his extended family, besides the delight of basking in its happy, sunny and chaotic cities. He writes of his Pink Love for Rajasthan Post
To escape the obvious, the mundane, a journey back in time is what we look forward to every time we fly miles to our roots in India from the faraway land of Canada.
And each time we fly across across the Atlantic to be home, we feel rejuvenated and refreshed, eager to update our friends about an Indian vacation.
India is a place of my origin, of my own people, of extended family, of love, pampering, memories. And a vacation back home is never complete without embracing Rajasthan, more so our Pink Love, the city of Jaipur.
I carry an age-old-affinity and a sense of belonging with Rajasthan, having spent a tiny part of my life as a kid in the medieval city of Jaipur. Each time I come back to Jaipur, I sort of return to my past and to the lasting bonds and affection.
A little jugglery with the famed Indian traffic puts us on a smooth four-hours drive on the Delhi-Jaipur highway overlooking the swaying golden mustard fields in glorious bloom to our favourite destination. The mango trees laden with trimester flowers, the camel carts, the wildflowers, the hillocks, mountains and the picturesque landscape of Rajasthan always makes me happy. And my journey is sealed by warm hugs once I touch home.
Jaipur is a vibrating, pulsating modern city with a rich and robust history, a city where the old and new coexist and blend magically. One of the most familiar sights while entering the Pink city is the picturesque Jal Mahal standing silently on Man Sagar Lake amidst the busy chaotic city.
There’s a sense of symmetry, a sense of space and time that always touches me when I walk the lanes and bylanes of this enchanting city. The old world charm of Rajas, Maharajas, of folklores weaved around simple day-to-day lives, the tales of valor, conquests, of tears, heart and love.
I am generally averse to the idea of accompanying my folks to the usually noisy Indian Bazaars. But Rajasthan is something different. Jaipur sees a happy me enjoying a walk down the old city framed with relics, medieval architectural wonders like the Hawa Mahal or the Palace of Winds from where the once upon a time Queens witnessed everyday life, processions, festivals from the many inbuilt windows without the outside world having a glimpse of them.
Times have changed and we no longer have queens and neither does India need to hide their womenfolk. But the scenes outside the Hawa Mahal once eyed by the Rajasthani queens remain more or less the same, of an ever bustling city except that the modes of transport have changed from elephants, horses, palanquins to the latest swanky cars, coexisting alongside horse carriages and camel carts.
I have always enjoyed strolling the Johari Bazaar, the thriving shopping area filled with small curios selling all kinds of jewelry and trinkets, Rajasthani dresses, mirror work, quilts, bangles and what not! The shine and shout of the colourful markets amaze me. The way the vendors call you back, the bargaining are all uniquely Indian.
And then in another hour I fast forward to the swanky malls perfect with marble laden floors and fountains, bustling with cosmopolitan culture since Jaipur with Delhi and Agra form the Golden Triangle, the three most important places to take on in India from the tourism perspective.
Every corner of Rajasthan is fascinating to me, as a kid I had visited Jaisalmer, the city made up of yellow limestone, showcased in a film by the internationally acclaimed filmaker Satyajit Ray. The film is based on rebirth with a story woven around the Golden Fort of Jaisalmer or the Shonar Kella as it is popularly known, involving a six year old child which has stayed with me.
Its a film I go back to watching time and again with an intriguing story capturing the landscape of Jaisalmer with its day to day life and the glorious Golden fort. Also I have faint memories of driving down 40 kms from Jaisalmer to the vast desert Sam with shifting sand dunes without a speck of green stretching far to the Pakistan border. The sun setting on the dunes made for a gorgeous sight. I would love to return to that corner someday.
Udaipur, the stunning Lake city encapsulated me. I loved the birds flying home over the lake Pichola to the setting sun. I carry memories of the blue hills in the misty distance from our stay in a hotel near Fatehsagar. The Jag Mandir which is a glamorous wedding destination where celebrities from foreign shores come to seal their vows and love for each other, is a place which I missed as a child and would love to go back to. I carry memories of the majestic city palace in Udaipur with its rich display of history. For a wanderlust like me Rajasthan is the perfect place to rewind and relax.
Rajasthan is also a wildlife paradise. The Sariska Tiger Reserve where I had spent hours trying to locate the big cat without success due to the dwindling tiger population, saddened the then little me, since I was ever so excited to lay my eyes on the gorgeous stripes. Recent reports that show Sariska has had a considerable increase in tiger population, has made me want to go back there again.
In my bucketlist is also another space of green called the Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary. Looking forward to spend time walking or cycling to the calls of peacock and a hundred other species of birds displaying color and tuning in with their songs.
One thing I love about India is its sunny, happy days unlike those five months of dark, deep, snowy silent winters without bird songs in my world, in my home in Canada.
I also miss the traditionally flavored, buttery rich tasty Rajasthani cuisine dal baati or keema baati, lal maas to instantly cooked heavenly dhaba food from roadsides.
How can I forget the festivals like Makar Sankranti when the terraces of every household in Jaipur is filled with young and old alike flying kites. I cherish my memories of the kites fluttering in the nonchalant, wintry breeze of January with warm sunshine falling on our backs to cheerful smiles and emotional shout outs by the competing kite flying teams.
Kite flying is an art in Rajasthan that I have yet to master. Its a game where your worth is judged by the number of kites you manage to cut.
I long for that fuzzy, warm, noisy family time under the azure blue splashed with a hundred kites of all shapes and sizes soaring high in the breeze.
Also on agenda during my next visit is the light and sound show at the Amber fort, where a part of history comes alive from the medieval pages under a dusky, violet night sky with twinkling stars, the moon and the breeze that sings ancient tales of passion, valor, loss and victory.
Every alternate years we escape to an ancient land from where we began, we take journeys that make memories with family, with cousins, of Grandma tales, of warmth and love, Rajasthan we can never have enough of you.