After we crossed over into Rajasthan, we found ourselves in Dungarpur District. This was the prettiest terrain I’ve seen in a while. Hilly, with lush green pockets of farmland, forest areas interspersed with villages, rocky hill faces, the occasional fort and the highway snaking through it…the journey lulled me into sleep here.
I was jolted awake by a most bizarre set of voices. Two Google Auntys were talking at once! One was panicking, the other was issuing instructions more calmly. Nupur didn’t know which Google Aunty she was supposed to listen to and Rachna was saying “Listen to me, listen to me!”. What’s more, our car had braked to a halt at a rather strange turn off the highway. A bit alarmed, it took me a few minutes to figure out that the girls had decided to stop at Shikar Badi, Udaipur for an early lunch. So while Google Aunty 2 was taking us to Shikar Badi, Aunty 1 was still taking us to Ajmer, our next night halt destination! In this truly hilarious state, collapsing in giggles, we criss-crossed some zillion tiny lanes to finally find ourselves at this quaint little hotel, part of the HRH Group run by the Maharana of Mewar.
Shikar Badi had nostalgia value for two of us, Rachna and me. While Rachna had worked on an event at this location (she used to work for a large events company), I had lived here while working on an architectural heritage assignment for the Mewar Group way back in 1999! It hadn’t changed much, the hotel. We were happy to lounge around the pool while the courteous staff got us tea and snacks.
We, on the other hand (and you know by know that food has been a big part of this experience!), had Laal Maas on our minds at 11:30am! It was clearly hard for us to mask the disappointment when the staff informed us that lunch is served only at 12:30pm and it was absolutely darling of them to get the dishes we wanted prepared earlier! As it happened, satiated with the most amazing meal of laal maas, gate ki sabzi and tandoor rotis, we set off for the last leg for the day before one pm…
Rajasthan is undoubtedly the most successful state in India in terms of attracting tourists and retaining their interest. The people of this state genuinely take immense pride in their culture and heritage. Their natural sense of hospitality and humility adds to the experience and numerous travelers have returned with the fondest of memories.
Being married into a Rajasthani family has given me a personal peek into the state’s rich culture, an experience I treasure and enjoy with every interaction and visit. Rahul’s village is located in Baran district in Rajashtan. This region, popularly called Hadoti deserves a longer, more relaxed visit and it’s been a long time wish of mine to trawl this region for lesser known heritage and natural sites. For now, I caught some short but delightful glimpses that I share today.
For background, Hadoti is a region in the southern part of Rajasthan bordering Gujarat comprising the districts of Kota, Bundi, Jhalawar and Baran. This area was consolidated in the 12th century by the Tripta Hada Rajputs, a branch of the Chauhan clan and they rules for several years. Many delightful forts are still visible today as we drive around this area and even the most ordinary village can offer the most delightful heritage treasures if you go looking!
We were fortunate to pass Bundi, which is undoubtedly the jewel in Hadoti’s crown as far as heritage tourism is concerned. From Kota to Jalwara, we passed Palaita, which is a fort right on the banks of the Chambal, a lovely location indeed. We always see it on our drive to the village and each time, I long to stop and drop in. Next time, surely!
Our own village Jalwara has some a small ruined fort and our home abuts it, so we literally live alongside this quaint structure. The village has an adorable little baodi (step well) and this time, I took the time to take some pictures here to document it, just in case we go back another time to find it’s gone!
One our drive back towards Dausa from Kota, we also passed Indragarh, another imposing fort that the Hadas built and rumored to be quite a vibrant heritage town with a nice kund (water tank). Another place that begs to be looked at with some time on our hands.
Besides the rich heritage, this region is blessed with plenty of natural beauty as well. A combination of the River Chambal and its tributaries, many wetlands and marshes, plus some bits of the Aravalli range means interesting landscapes and many migratory birds. More about that later. All in all, I am definitely planning a more leisurely visit to Hadoti sometime next year. I need more research on places to stay and more background on the family histories in this area to make the visit richer and more insightful. With the way the tourism industry is expanding, niche tourism to a less explored area like this is definitely something I would like to contribute my experiences to!