Stories from Safari Streets…

Tuesday, November 10, 2009 | |

Before I begin:

History is always been a favorite subject of mine. It always fascinated me. It was stories, which gave me greater pleasure and imagination power. When I read about people who lived around 200-300 years ago or more, just excites me. Isn’t it amazing feel walking in a corridor once walked by the great Maharaja Sawai JaiSingh?.If there is any other reason for me to walk in this wild country is its intensity. No other country would ever tell you the stories like mine. If you know Ramayana, Mahabharat completely, you may find the proof for it somewhere in this country. Just visit once, it will change the perception towards your country.

This is going to be long post and I have no intention of boring you people. So I have decided to break it into few parts. First one begins here. I hope you will enjoy this journey with me.

I love the feeling of being anonymous in a city I've never been before. It wasn’t the first time I packed my back pack and started walking into wild. I always enjoyed my freedom. I read somewhere that feeling of freedom is an absolute chant. It’s my mind which wanted a freedom now. As Henry David Thoreau says,” All good things are wild, and free.” We just need to free ourselves and walk in the wild to find those good things. I was looking for Great Perhaps. I waited for 2 years and finally here I’m ready to travel. This is one of those planned - unplanned trips. I chose Rajasthan for my outing. It was Royal forts, Colorful Havelis, and breathtakingly gorgeous Desert which invited me. I knew where I’m going but I had no idea of where it will take me. As I said, you choose destinations, destiny just happens.

Day 1: Meeting my people

It was 22nd Oct 2009, Thursday. I had my tickets booked to travel to Jaipur.Starting point of 10 days of complete exemption. I had got 3A, B1 Seat no 15(lower side berth) in Mysore - Jaipur express. I was eagerly waiting for my 41 hours train journey and excited about meeting new people. First person I met in that compartment was Rajat. 17yr old, class 11th student who is majorly involved in his IIT preparation with Bansal Classes, Kota rather than class syllabus. An really interesting conversation with this guy made me to think about IIT, people involved, Money the coaching institutions generates and finally what is the purpose of a degree from IIT. What I thought is it’s all about enjoying your day on the day you decide, but not today.

Its time to introduce you another person I met. Prashant Bose aka Archerpix. An ex-employee of UL. This married,soft spoken mallu worked for 10 yrs to quit and become full-time photographer. It was pleasure meeting him. Thanks to a big bunch of Telugu family in our compartment who were busy arranging things for their lunch as it was lunch time. Prashant was in fix and he wanted to move out of that place. As he was going out I pulled him for conversation and later we had superb 5 hours of chat. Work, Life, Passion, Photography, Movies, Politics, People. Spoke about almost everything under the sky.

Then there was Rajasthani family in our compartment. They had carried food for next 3days I believe. Journey in Indian Railways makes you really proud. Trust me. Different color, Different Food, Different fragrance, Different Taste. All in one country and its just amazing. It was special occasion for telugites and many people are visiting Ujjain, MP at that time. So, Many telugu speaking people were in compartment. Rajasthani family and Telugu family now wants to exchange their seats between two compartments to be with their group of people as they were totally divided across the 3A.Rajasthani family requested Prashant and he obliged even though he was expecting for his freind and travel mate to join him in Kachiguda.At around 8, he moved to his new place and neither he liked it nor me.

It was 8 in the evening when I got my dinner. My life's first ever dinner in train. I was extremely hungry. Last day which I spend was tiresome one. Lot of pending work to finish at office and I was excited about next day’s journey. So, couldn’t eat properly. I had my food and I won’t say it was great. But at that moment, it was heaven. After dinner, it was time for me to sleep.

Day 2: Books and Bye-byes

It started pretty early for me. It was 2AM when train reached Kachiguda station. There was sudden rush in our compartment. People started occupying already reserved empty seats. They remembered their seat numbers, saying it loudly to each other but had forgotten that there are people already in and are asleep!. All for few minutes, then again its quite and I could here only the wheels of train. I slept for some more time and got up at around 6.30 to see the beautiful sunrise. Train was just crossing Sirpur Kagaznagar(AP) station. It was wonderful view outside my window. After sometime, Rajat joined me for breakfast. It was veg cutlet for breakfast.Two ladies who accompanied me through out the journey are Paulo Coelho's Brida(From book "Brida") and John Green's 'Alaska' (From book, "Looking for Alaska").Prashant was already moved to other side of the compartment along with telugu family. Now its Rajat , myself and Rajasthani family. Rajat and myself started playing cards for sometime. The funniest part of the day came in the evening when Rajat asked me since when I’m in Bangalore. He thought I’m from some states of Northern India. I had good laugh and secretly admired my persuasiveness on Hindi. Rajat was expected to get down half way when train reaches Kota early morning. It was great meeting this guy. So before going to sleep, I gave him my contact details and wished him good luck.

Day 3: Pink City

Train reached 15 min earlier than usual time. My wrist watch showing 5.45AM. I vaguely remember Rajat saying bye while getting down. It was quite cold day in Jaipur on Saturday morning of 24th Oct 2009.I knew where I’m but never had an idea of where Im going. Through out this journey, by the time I reached the places, City would be asleep. I always had list of hotels I can try out for but, trust me I never stayed in those hotels. Because, it never happened.

As soon as I came out of station Auto drivers came running for their passengers. I wanted to find a hotel somewhere in Old city which is 3KMs away. Its more than 10 years and many cities/villages around India, I had this great repute with Auto guys. It may be Bangalore, Hyderabad, Chennai or anywhere else. Trust me, they are as good as you are.(A post on these guys are still pending).

First thought which came across, I shouldn’t ask these guys for hotel info because they may take you to the place where they will have their own share of money from hotel people. Yeah, it’s true, Most of the time it works out same way if you don’t know the city properly. I was pretty reluctant to go with this idea of Auto guy showing some hotels near by as the Old City is pretty costly for one person.

Finally, I found a place to stay for 2 days in Jaipur. Its called Hotel Jaipur. Near railway station itself. Room wasn’t great and I was not so worried about it. This is one advantage when you travel alone. You really shouldn’t bother about where you are going to stay. And of course I never wanted to spend huge money on these hotels. By the way ,An old man helped me to find this one. It was a honest help by a person to someone who is new to his city. I will remember it and say how good we are.

I started my day at 9AM after finishing quick breakfast. I hired an auto for 30 bucks to reach City Palace which was around 4kms from my hotel. On the way, auto driver was giving small introduction on city. In olden days, the old city was place of Palace. The entrance which we could see even today used to close by 10 in the night. Today we call it 'Badi Chaupar'. The existing plan of jaipur had done by Sir Mirza Ismail in 1944 It was Sawai Man Singh II of Jaipur requested then Diwan of mysore to modernize the city. Jaipur is said to be first planned city of India. It was 9.45 when I reached the city palace or city museum. Entry fee was 240Rs. Because, If you have video camera, you need to pay 200+40(entrance) Rs .It was fantastic inside red bricked Majestic Palace. I had reached pretty early to the place and there wasn’t much crowd. I took comfortable time to see each and every corner of palace.

City Palace

After spending almost 2 hours in City Palace, I walked to near by Jantar Mantar or Yantra Mantra. You could see this on the way to City Palace. 25 Rs was the entrance fee including camera. This is one of the Five Yantar Mantar's constructed by Maharaja Jai Singh II in 18th century.Read it here .When I finished Jantar Mantar, it was time for lunch. Finding food in the streets of old city was adventurous. The construction of building in this street are alike it was hard to find eatery. I walked almost 2-3 kms from badi chaupat to find a place where I could eat. Food was worth of money. My next destination was Hawa Mahal..This was just 10 mins walk away from City palace. Built in 1799 by Maharaja Sawai Pratap Singh and famous for its marvelous art of architecture. 25 Rs was the entrance fee with Camera. It was around 3.30 by the time I completed seeing around. Then I was off to Jaipur walking tour.One of the awesome things to do in Jaipur City. I started from Bapu Bazar- Nehru Bazar-Indra Bazar-Choti Chaupar-Johar Bazar and back to Bapu Bazar. It was around 2.5 to 3 Kms and took me 2 hours.I did my shopping at Nehru Bazar. If you know how to bargain, then its pretty economical I would say. Thanks to my friend Di!! for her special recommendation on Nehru Bazar. By the end of the day I was all tired. It was time to go back to my palace!!.For a moment, I had forgotten my way back to hotel. But, what saved me was the visiting card I had picked from the desk of hotel Manager. I generally keep the addresses of places I’m going to visit and already visited. Sometimes it really helps in emergency. Do keep in mind to know the route to reach the place where you are staying especially when you are alone.

Yantar Mantar

Hawa Mahal Pictures

Day 4: A long day

It was Sunday. I got up at around 9 in the morning. Last 3 days travelling had me all exhausted. It was good sleep to catch up. I went to LMB(Lakshmi Misthan Bandar) for breakfast. This is the day to visit Amber Fort. Which is around 12 Kms from Old City. You will find easy transport to reach this place. City transports will take you to this place for 8 bucks. This place is on the outskirt of Jaipur. On the way to amber fort , you can see Jal Mahal on your right side around 4Kms after Old City. The Fort is breathtakingly beautiful under sunshine.

Amber Fort

The Hall of Mirrors is one of the Major attractions of the Fort. I had spent around 4hours to look around the palace. I wanted to take pictures of elephants coming from fort after a daily prayer. I missed welcome shot but managed to take when they were leaving. I forgot to tell you about pigeons which are closely associated with Rajasthan. You could see pigeons in most of the palaces in Rajasthan.I have seen localities coming to this place to feed seeds to Pigeons. I believe it’s said to be one of the customs people believe in. I came back to city for lunch and after spending a day in Jaipur,now it was easy to find an eatery.

After lunch, it was time to visit Central Museum. Its one of the major attractions too. This is also known as Albert Hall Museum.30 Rupees was the entrance fee with camera to visit this Museum. To reach this place I took cycle rickshaw to travel and it was 10 bucks a ride .I must say , it was nice ride as it allows to see the streets of city with ease. You can really enjoy the ride. Museum has got nice collection of decorative arts, costumes, musical instruments etc. Central Museum is worth visiting.

Central Museum

It was 6 when I came back to my room. I had to get ready for my late night journey to Jaisalmer. My next destinaton. I checked-out hotel by 10.15. I had to catch Delhi-Jaisalmer train at 11.45 in Jaipur station.Before I could start, I had finished my dinner. Later I realized, Thank god It was good that I finished my dinner. Because, I never expected the Sunday to be really longer on that day. It was around 17-18 degree centigrade by 11 in the night. I knew my ticket was confirmed, So, I was little relaxed and reading book. At around 11.30, I noticed the digital train scheduler was showing the scheduled time of train is 11.45 but expected time of arrival was 01.15AM.That was crazy!!. It was already late and very cold outside. I just wanted to get in and sleep. Now I had to wait for another 2 hours. But, at around 12, the ETA once again changed to 2.00AM. By then, I had met a bank employee from Jaipur. He was also waiting for same train to Jodhpur. He said, its very common about this particular train to be late.Thanks to him for some nice conversations on that long night. This time train reached on time. I was happy to get in and find my seat as I was eager to take a nap. This time I never bothered to see who else was in that compartment as I was really tired and wanted to bunk down quickly.

Day 5: Camel Race!
Monday morning. I got up at 8 when train reached Jodhpur.There was only one person in my compartment when I got up. An army man ,Arun from Kerala who is on the way to join his new squad near Ramdevra which is after Pokhran. He was traveling from Delhi and happy to find a south Indian sitting next to him. It was nice talking to him and we never forgot to share contact details before he got down at Ramdevra at around 12.45PM. Another person I met who joined us at Jodhpur was Aparna. She works for one of the textiles companies in Mumbai and she was on her business trip. It was 2PM when train reached “Golden City"Jaisalmer.12 hours long journey was finally saw an end.

(to be continued..)


Anonymous said...

Ah, reading this I went back in time to YPR to Ajmer express. Indian Railways is a mini India, Its a world in itself.

Waiting for part 2 and more pictures.

PS: And Traveling alone has lots n lots of advantages.

Anonymous said...

hey..nice post...whr is part 2???

Norma said...


Nice experience and a good write up. I agree with many of your thoughts. Truly the feel of free is priceless on earth.

But I regret for being a woman, only men can go on ventures of this kind women can't.

There is a touch of philosophy in your writings i liked it very much. I have not seen those places but definitely i would like them because even i am a history person. I can go on reading and feeling the places where our ancestors lived once upon a time.

Sometimes i tell myself this is the land(earth) which has undergone all the changes from ice age to stone bronze iron age and to the present, a AI age, it has seen every one who lived here. Very few can understand this and appreciate...very few.

But sometimes i wonder life is all about present, how much ever we realize about the past or of the future we can't do anything but live our life and one day pack up and go. The curiosity or the eagerness to seek something can not lead us back to history. Then what is that we are searching in the history or in the philosophy?

I am sure you have read this book 'Are you joking Mr.Feyman'. He is really a free man. aha!

Yes I agree, never stay in a posh hotel because, then you can barely meet the people of that village who can really tell the tales of that particular place and the culture which is woven in their daily lives. It is better to see them practically than reading it in some book.

Your style of writing reminds me of Ruskin Bond. Keep up the great work.

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