Category Archives: Accomodation

The Salt Lake of Sambhar

Sambhar,SaltLake

About 65km from Jaipur the city of Sambhar with the salt lake & the migratory birds it attracts and the holy places of Shakmbhari Mata temple & Devyani Tank is an ideal spot for a day trip excursion out of Jaipur.
Sambhar,SaltLake

Sambhar Lake is the largest salt lake in India. It has produced salt for more than 700 years. Three small towns of Nawa, Sambhar & Gudha are located on the banks of this lake & all are engaged in producing salt. The salt produced from the Sambhar Lake water is much more salty than the salt produced from ocean water & it comes in three different colors, ordinary white & pink & grey.
Sambhar,SaltLake

In 1876 this area was connected by narrow gauge train. Trains were a boon to this area as the lake is spread over an area of 190 sq km. The trains not only connected the area effectively but also were a big help in shifting the salt from one place to another.You can see these trains or trolleys in use even today.
Sambhar

A.O.Hume, the founder of Indian National Congress (INC), was the first commissioner of Sambhar Salt. He was also a keen ornithologist.
Sambhar,SaltLake,Salt Museum

There is a detailed report on the method of salt production in a historical account written during the time of the rule of Aurangzeb. Abul Fazal has also mentioned Sambhar in accounts written by him.

The Circuit House of Sambhar was built by the British in 1880. There is a salt museum housed in a heritage building nearby, also.
Sambhar

During the monsoon the fresh water of the rains attracts a lot of migratory birds. But they fly away once the weather starts getting hotter and the lake water starts becoming salty.

You should take packed lunch and lot of water and cold drinks with you. You can get ice and softdrinks at the Sambhar Bus-stand, also. If you like eating dhaba food, the dhabas at the Nawa bus-stand are a good option. Sambhar is also famous for its feenees, a sweet dish.

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Shaktipeeth-Kaila Devi

At the Kaila Devi Temple

At The Kaila Devi Temple

Mahatama Kedargiri established the idols of Kaila Devi in the lap of Aravali mountain range on the banks of Kalisil river, in the Kaila village, in the year 1114 AD. Kalisil is a tributary of Banas river. When Mahatama Kedargiri was praying to the Goddess to stay in Kaila village as its protectress  she gave him darshan in her child image & later on she took on the image of destroyer of evil-hence two idols are established in the ‘Garbh grah’. It is believed that the She is a benevolent Goddess and does not punish the ‘pujaris’ or devotees if for some reason an unintentional slight occurs. The idols are made from a mixture of numerous metals. They are always wearing their costumes with only their faces visible. Kaila Devi is the one of the ‘roops’ of Goddess Mahalaxshmi. Kal Bhairav & Shri Ganesh are ‘Languria’ or ‘adisevak’ of Kaila Mata. Their idols are right in front of the temple of  Kaila Devi. The devotees try to gain favour with the ‘Languria’ by singing ‘bhajans’ in his praise in the belief that his worship is a short cut to Kaila Mata blessing them sooner. Devotees from all parts of India, from all walks of life, throng the Kaila Devi temple in the hope that she will bless them and not see them return empty handed. And the generosity of the Goddess is such that she fulfills all their wishes and the devotees return in her presence time & again to express their gratitude.

A temple also houses the Idol of, Bohra ji, a devotee of Kaila Mata.

In 1116 AD the then ruler, Maharaj Mukunddas ,a Khichi rajput, built a temple around the shrine.

A meena tribal from the village of Peetupura worshiped Kaila Devi, who gave him a boon that from then on she would manifest herself in  his family members and they would be known as ‘Gothias’.

In 1153 Raghunathdas Khichi, after making additions to the then temple building, established the idol of Chamunda Devi also.

Karauli was established in 1405 AD by the then Yaduvanshi ruler Arjun Dev on the banks of Bhadrawati river some 25 kms from Kaila Devi. Since then the rulers of Karulai have taken it upon themselves to look after the day to day affairs of the Kaila Devi temple as the Goddess is also their ‘Kuldevi’.

At the Kaila Devi Temple

At The Kaila Devi Temple

Now a days a Kaila Devi Temple Trust looks after the affairs of the Temple and organizes the yearly Melas & does various other charity works like running a Non Government Organization (NGO) which runs a School for poor children & A Higher Secondary boarding school for girls. It also runs a handicraft workshop for the development of local women. Lots of small dams (Water Conservation projects) have been made, tree plantation has been done in the Kailadevi National Park which is a part of the project tiger and it’s a buffer zone to Ranthambore National park. The NGO  is also running  200 bed hospital. The NGO also cleans the Kalisil river of pollutants periodically as the devotees have a bath here before going to the Kaila Devi Temple for darshan.

When Emperor Akbar could not annex the Daulatabad Fort he asked for help from the Karauli Maharaj Chandrasen, whose son Prince Gopaldas, with Kaila Devi’s blessings, went to war with Akbar and the Fort was won.

Maharaj Jai Singh ji  added a dome to the temple and had it gilded with gold. He had a stepwell built for storage of drinking water.

Maharaj Bhawarpal had the Kalisil dam built. He also had a dharamshala built besides having facilitated the digging of the Durgasagar well, construction of shops & a road bordered by trees to the temple.

Timing for Darshan

Mangla Darshan 4 am to 4.30 am

Dhoop Arti 5.30-6.00 am in summers

6.00-7.30 am in winters

Shringar 8.00 am

Raj Bhog 11.15 am

Vishram Noon to 1.00 pm

Darshan 1.00-800 pm

7.20 pm is evening aarti

The goddess is offered Halva as Bhog. As the goddess is satvik & satoguni She is not offered liquor or meat.

Some Interesting facts about Kaila Devi

The green glass ‘Dhani’ bangles are worn by girls and married women alike. Young girls wear them for getting a suitable husband & the married women wear them for the long life of their husbands & to wish them well. Every year these bangles are sold in tens of thousands of numbers.

It is a shaktipeeth.

Nearby Places to visit

Karauli 25kms

Places of interest:

Bhanwar Vilas Palace & The City Palace of Karauli & the stepwell in the City Palace where the Royalty used to play Holi.

Madanmohan ji Temple.

According to legend it is very auspicious to have darshan at Madanmohanji Temple, Govinddevji & Gopinathji Temple in Jaipur in a single day.

Anjanimata temple on Pachna dam.

Nearest Railway Station to Karauli is Bharatpur- 35km.

Nearest Airport to Karauli is Jaipur- 180 kms

RSRTC plies roadways busses in countless numbers from all major towns & cities of Rajasthan to ferry devotees to Kaila Devi.

The Kailadevi National Park

Kedargiri Caves are 3 km away on the Kaila Devi-Karanpur road.

AMAR KUNJ YATRI NIWAS,(about 250 mts from the Kaila Devi Temple)

A nice place to stay with AC rooms with cable TV & attached bathrooms  & dining hall.

Phone:07464-228281, 093525-62262,097996-95126

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To Sariska-By Road-An Album

These pictures are from the overnight visit Madhav, a cousin, and I took with our sons to Sariska Tiger Reserve & National Park & Alwar.
Sariska is some 110 km from Jaipur. We went on the Jaipur-Delhi Highway till Shahpura where we turned for Thana Gazi & The Fort View Camp. This camp site is managed by Club Mahindra. It is located quite near to the gate of the jungle.

Tea Break

On the way to Sariska,this is where we broke our journey to have some tea.
If for some reason the White House was located in Rajasthan I am sure the locals would have called it ‘Dholi Kothi’.

On the way

Fort View Camp at Thana Gazi

Fort View Camp at Thana Gazi

Fort View Camp,Thana Gazi,Sariska

Fort View Camp,Thana Gazi,Sariska

This is the view of the dining hall from the reception area of the Fort View Camp Site.The food served in this picturesquely located dining hall was excellent.

Fort of Thana Gazi

View of the Fort of Thana Gazi from the Campsite.

The Map

The Location Map of the area.

The Trail

The Trail

Paddy Bird
Paddy Bird

Machan

This Machan faces a stepwell where wildlife comes to drink water. As Sariska Tigerlands were a hunting preserve of the Maharajas of Alwar the Alwar Royals used to hunt wildlife from this Machan.

A Badly needed drink of water

A badly needed drink at the stepwell facing the Machan.

Sambhar Deer
Sambhar, the jungle guides call it the food of the tiger.

The Jungle

The Jungle

Neelgaya

Neelgaay

Paw Print of ST-1

This is the Paw print of ST-1 ( Sariska Tiger No.1)

Cenotaph

As we wanted to photograph the Cenotaph, Moosi Rani Ki Chatri, we drove on to Alwar.

The Boys
The next generation.

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Mandana

Mandana

Mandana

The  art of painting the walls & floors of their homes by the ladies of the house with simple or intricate drawings is practiced almost all over India, though the names by which it is called may vary from state to state. In Rajasthan it is called ‘Mandana’. The designs are as many and as varied as the women painting them. They are simple.They are intricate. Mother teaches the daughter how to draw them. They are made right after the walls of the mud hut and floor have been given a new coat of mud layer & right before the festivals to welcome the deities & the guests of the family living in the house. They are usually made with a mixture of white lime. The same stuff with which we whitewash the walls of a house. Terracotta may be added as per choice or requirement to add color. These designs have a short life span because they are open to the elements. City women also draw these designs on the floors of their homes,usually before a festival, to welcome the Gods to their homes. In the cities the women may use white and red poster colors & paint brushes to draw these designs to make them last longer. In the villages of Rajasthan people are using cement to build their homes so you do not see the use of these mandanas as much as in the  days of lore. They are still drawn on festivals and other auspicious days.

These pictures are from the Shilpgram at The Jawahar Kala Kendra (JKK),Jaipur.They are  identical to the huts etc. in real villages.
Mandana

Mandana

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A Visit To Kaila Devi Mela

You must have heard the English idiom ‘God is in the details’.

It is very relevant when you are traveling in India off the beaten track by a RSRTC bus & are not a seasoned traveler of this vast land of ours. I had to go to Kaila Devi for darshan yesterday so I packed a toothbrush and hopped onto the first Roadways bus leaving Jaipur Sindhi Camp Bus stand in the general direction of Karauli & Kaila Devi village.

The bus headed out on to the NH11(Jaipur-Agra Highway). All went well till the Mehndipur Balaji Mor ( turning) from there on the bus took a badly carpeted single track  route to Hindaun City, through numerous minor villages, which at one point even crossed right through the Aravali range. I reached Hindaun City in the evening. But the direct bus to Kaila Devi was jam packed so I took the bus to Karauli & from Karauli I took a bus to the Kaila Devi Mela ground. The journey that started at 3.30 pm ended at midnight in Kaila Devi Mela Ground. The good thing was the influx of people to the Kaila Devi was such that there was no dearth of buses to Karauli or the mela ground. An important lesson learned was to ask about the duration of the journey also besides the category of the bus and the route taken by the bus.

If you can talk to your fellow passengers for nuggets of practical advice, nothing like it. You can be sure that they have been on this route more often than you. Rightly though, these days you are advised not to talk to your fellow passengers. They might cause you bodily or financial harm. You can check out sites like INDIAMIKE before leaving home for nuggets of information & practical advice.

Kaila Devi Shaktipeeth

Kaila Devi Shaktipeeth

Kaila Devi village is situated some 180km from Jaipur and about 25km from Karauli on the banks of Kalisil river. In 1114 AD Mahatama Kedargiri established the idols of Kailadevi  here. It is a shaktipeeth.

After a short nap and shower I was on my way to the Kaila Devi Temple for the Mangla Arti darshan after 4 o’clock in the morning. The whole world was awake with one mission only. On the way up on both sides of the way to the temple the shops were selling numerous articles people offer to the deity like doras, sindoor, suhagan ka shringar-green dhani churis, sweet meats as prasad, books of bhajans & history of Kaila Devi, CDs of bhajans and food stuffs, snacks other things which would attract the devotees. When I  reach near the temple the temple guards form the devotees into a giant ‘Q’ which is moving ahead at a brisk pace. We reach the ‘garbh grah’ have darshan and are already on our way out. My world is at peace.

Navratras are always busy here. They want as many people as practically possible to have darshan. The sky is lighting up as I reach the guesthouse.

I have some tea and go up to the temple again at 7 o’clock. I want to take some pictures. If it is possible it is even more busy now. People are lighting up diyas and buying prasad and waiting their turn for darshan. I take some pictures and am back at the guesthouse where I have some breakfast and am back at the bus stand & book a ticket on a bus going direct to Jaipur.

One of our fellow devotees is an American with excellent hindi, who is on his way to Mehndipur Balaji. He is visiting all places where Balaji is worshiped.

After a long journey we are back in Jaipur at 6 o’clock.

Kaila Devi Shaktipeeth

Kaila Devi Shaktipeeth

Lastly I must say that the mela administration Trust is doing  good work of a difficult job in  managing this yearly influx of humanity at the deity’s feet. The security was tight & helpful to the devotees. The RSRTC bus service was excellent, plentiful & timely.

Details About Kaila Devi

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Gangaur

The Idol

Gangaur is one of the most important festivals of Rajasthan.The word, Gangaur, is derived from joining the two words ‘Gan’ meaning Lord Shiva and’Gauri’ meaning Goddess Parvati, his consort.

As per lore, it is believed that Gangaur is celebrated ever since  Goddess Parvati returned to her father’s home first time after her marriage to Lord Shiv &  her friends welcomed her home.

Gangaur Procession Preparations

This is a festival of the unmarried girls and  married women where the girls celebrate the festival to gain a worthy husband & wish for his long life & the  married women wish for a  long life for their  husbands.
The rituals for this festival start on the day of the Holi dahan ( day before the Holi, the festival of colors). When ashes are collected from the Holi Fire to plant seeds of wheat and barley in it.
During the next sixteen days 16  Goddesses are worshiped. And on the 3rd day of Navratra ( new year according the Indian Vikram samvat Calendar) , Gangaur festival is held. When the Idol of Gauri  is taken out in a procession accompanied by horses, elephants, camel carts and brass bands playing maudlin tunes.It is said, in Jaipur, in olden times the idol of Gauri was accompanied with the idol of her husband,Isar. But one year ruler of Kishangarh state took it away with him forcefully & since then only the idol of Gauri is taken out in procession.

Gangaur Procession Preparations

What festival worth its name does not have a sweet associated with it? The traditional sweet of this festival is ‘Ghevar‘. The sweet shops of Jaipur make different varieties of ‘Ghevar’ and the people of Jaipur consume them in large quantities.

For more than 257 years,  Helakhyal sangeet dangal is held on this occasion in Lalsot near Dausa. This is when the performing  parties educated & inform the public about the societal mores  & also inform the  administration about their displeasure with current policies.

Gangaur Procession Preparations

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A Recipe To Cook ‘Khichari’

Chawal & Hari moong Dal

Rice & Green Moong Lentil

To Serve: 1  OR 2 Persons

Time Taken: About 30 minutes

Ingredients:

Green Moon Dal( This is moong lentils with the green covering unlike the yellow moong dal): 4 heaping Table Spoons.

Rice: 4 heaping Table Spoons.

Turmeric Powder: 1/4 Tea Spoon

Salt: To Taste

Water: 400 ml.

Some Sugar & a Little Clarified Butter and Milk  OR  200 gm Fresh Curd. As per choice.

Mix the lentil and rice together and clean and wash the mixture in water and let it soak in water for 10-15 minutes.

Throw away the water used to soak the lentils & rice mixture and put the mixture in a pressure cooker. Add about 400 ml of water with the salt and  the turmeric powder.

Pressure cook at high flame till the cooker whistles once then lower the flame to simmer for 10 minutes. Switch off the flame after 10 minutes. Let the cooker cool down on its own for 5-10 minutes.

The ‘khichari’ is ready to be served.

It can be eaten with salt as it is Or with milk and sugar and clarified butter Or with fresh curd and salt or sugar Or with only sugar.

It is very light on the stomach and is generally made when somebody is recuperating from an illness.

The 50:50 ratio of the rice and green moong dal can be varied according to a persons  choice.

If you are in a hurry and do not have the time or inclination to soak the rice and green moong dal mixture in water before pressure cooking the mixture  just wash the rice and dal  thoroughly in water  and add 100 ml extra water to the mixture and cook for the stipulated time.

Khichari

Khichari

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A Labour of Love!

The HallShree Hanuman ji

According to the information passed down over the years  the  Pujari ji of  The Hanuman Temple in Dhuleshwar Garden,C-Scheme, believes it to be some 500 years old. He says he   remembers it as a big chabutra with a neem tree, a room for the idol and a kitchen. Under the soothing  shadow of a huge peepul tree and the grace of the Gods worshiped here  and the patronage of the devotees  this temple has grown into a thing of beauty and not just only  a place of worship. The building has been newly done up with marble flooring and marble platform around the idols. Idols are surrounded by carved marble Jalis. Besides all this a  local painter, a Hanuman devotee,  has painted the whole building of the Temple with very pleasing and intricate murals. There are  gold, red, green, white, pink and blue colors making intricate flowers and petals on the roof, pillars, windows of the temple. The artist has also depicted in wall paintings scenes from Ramayan.   There is also a jhoomar  in the center of the ceiling illuminating the whole room and the lovingly done up art work. Idols of Shri Ram, Sita Ji and Lakshman Ji and the Idols of Shivji  and Parvati ji and a Shiv ling are also there in the Temple.

Drawings-1

Drawings-2

Painted coulmns

Design in the Floor

Window

Painted ceiling

Some other Hanuman Temples of note in Jaipur are:

The Chitthi wale Hanuman Ji  on Sardar Patel Marg, Opposite the PMG office.

Chandpole wale Hanumanji, in the Chandpole Bazar.

There are Two Temples of Hanumanji opposite each other in the entrance to the  Johri Bazar .

There is the Kala Hanuman Mandir Near the now defunct Ram Praksh Cinema Hall.

There is another very old Hanuman Mandir opposite the Ganesh Mandir on Moti Doongri near Birla Mandir.

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PANORAMAS

Panoramic views around the Jaipur City.

Nahargarh Panorama

Jaigarh-Amber-Panorama

Daybreak

Daybreak At The Man Sagar Lake

G.I. For Sanganeri Hand Block Prints

The Print

Under Geographical Indication of  Goods Registration and Protection Act.1999  Sanganeri  hand block Textiles and Furnishings have been recognized to have  a unique identity in manufacturing and in belonging  to the area of Sanganer.Consequently sale of  hand block or screen printed product from any other area as Sanganeri will be punishable under the law, thereby giving a new lease of life to the trade and  some 1500 artisans and about 5000 families indirectly or directly  dependent on block printing. As you can guess the ancient craft has been seeing lean times because of cheap products made by newer technology and cloth from other areas being sold as Sanganeri.

Other Rajasthani products to have received G.I are Kota DoriaJaipur Blue Pottery, Jaipur Kathputli and Molela terracotta of Rajsamandh. If all goes as it should  Bagru Hand Block Print should receive G.I soon.
I think Jaipuri Razai is another good candidate for G.I.

Sanganeri hand block printing is a craft honed over some 500 years around the town of Sanganer near Jaipur. Legend has it that the local water in which the textiles are washed give a unique texture to the colors of the finished  cloth. Whatever the case may be  once besotted with the print it is a life long affair.

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