3 days in Jaipur – how best to utilize

Jaipur keeps bemusing me. As a destination, it has so much to offer. However planned an itinerary we create, at the end we feel short of time. However, this time around, we did a trip to Jaipur wherein we spent 3 days in the City. What we feel is 3 days are good enough to cover most of the places in the city. However, a little planning is required for the same. Moreover, once we started writing about places in Jaipur, we got queries from readers about the planning / itinerary part. So, here , we are going to list out for you a three days itinerary of Jaipur. If you want to visit many places around Jaipur, that can be done in day trips with your base in Jaipur. There are several places of historical as well as natural interest around the city. And to cover all of them will require at least 15 days to a month. So, here we cover places only inside the city for which you need not travel far and wide.

Amer fort

The grandeur of Amer fort

This is not the exact itinerary we followed. But, this is the itinerary we wish to have followed. Though we covered most the places in this list, at the end we felt if we had a week or so extra, we could have covered lots of places around Jaipur. Nevertheless, here goes the list of what to do and where to go in Jaipur given you have three days at Hand.

First Day in Jaipur

In our opinion, it is good to keep the first day light. You might be tired from your journey. You will need some time to get fresh and settle down. So, here’s what we recommend for your first day in Jaipur. Visit the historical places in the center of the city. So that you will not need to venture far. These places can be covered in half a day. Here’s the list of places (in order) to be visited:

  1. Hawa Mahal (Duration: 1 hour)
  2. Jantar Mantar (Duration : 1 hour)
  3. City Palace (Duration: 1 hour)
  4. Albert Hall Museum (Duration : 1.5 hours)
  5. Moti Doongri Fortress (Duration : 0.5 hours)
  6. Birla Mandir Temple (Duration : 1 hour)

You can start your day trip with a visit to Hawa Mahal. Next, go to Jantar Mantar, which is located at walkable distance from Hawa Mahal. From here, head to City Palace whose entrance gate is located just across from Jantar Mantar. Once you are done visiting City Palace, head to Albert Hall Museum which is 3.5km from City Palace. You can take an autorichshaw or a bus. From here, head to Moti Doongri Palace and Birla Mandir which are just besides each other.

Call it an early day since the next day is going to be a long one.

Our first day

I had to observe a fast (as a part of my religious custom) on the first day of the trip. So, I decided to keep it really light. And the above itinerary helped me achieve my goal. It would have been really sad to waste one wonderful day. And it was not possible for me to venture far and wide with the “no food all through the day” limitation. So, we decided to explore the heart of the city and that included these sites that were quiet close by. I felt quiet energetic enen at the end of the day. Moreover, I was able to get back in time to complete some rituals that I had to observe as a part of the ceremony. It was like a win-win. Having been able to keep the fast and also complete the day at a wonderful note.

Second Day in Jaipur

Reserve day two for an endeavor with forts and palaces of Jaipur. Today you can visit:

  1. Amber fort or Amer fort (Duration : 3 hours)
  2. Anokhi Museum (Duration : 1 hour)
  3. Nahargarh fort (Duration : 2 hours)
  4. Jaigarh fort (Duration: 2 hours)
  5. Jal Mahal and boat ride (Duration : 1 hour)

We would recommend you to start early on. Have an early breakfast and head to Amer fort. Reach here by the time it opens (8:30am). Near Amber fort, there is a hand printing museum called Anokhi. We were very interested to visit here. But alas, it is closed on that day of the week (Monday), so we couldn’t.

Next, visit Nahargarh fort which is quiet near, almost 20 minutes drive from Amer fort. Many will suggest you to visit Jaigarh fort before Nahargarh. But the reason we tell you to go to Nahargarh fort before is reasonable lunch option available here. Such facility is not available at Amer or Jaigarh forts.

After completing a visit to Nahargarh fort, head to Jaigarh fort. Next, visit Jal Mahal. As the sun sets, have a nice boat ride on the beautiful lake surrounding this palace. This will bring us to the end of day two of our Jaipur trip. Actually, we bet you will be very tired at the end of this trip. Since there is a lot of walking done through the premises and stairs of three massive forts. So, have a nice dinner at your hotel and take rest.

Our Experience on day 2

We had an awesome trip to the trio of the forts but we ended up missing a boat ride to Jal Mahal. Since, we started little late in the morning. Since the little one took her own time to get ready. We still could have made it. But, we were not in favor of hopping from one destination to another. Instead, we decided, whichever places we are able to cover, we will spend sufficient time there. So, we ended up visiting the three forts. By the time we reached Jaigarh fort, it’s doors were almost getting closed. The security guard was humble enough to not only show us around. But he even extended his duty time to show us all over. And only after we left, he secured the gates of the fort and called it a day. However, we do wish to have been able to take one boat ride around Jal Mahal.

Nahargarh Fort

Stunning view of city from Nahargarh Fort

 

Nahargarh fort 7

See the vast span of walls running all the way to Amer from Nahargarh fort

Third Day in Jaipur

Today, head back to the locations within the city. Visit these places :

  1. Monkey Temple (Duration : 0.5 hours)
  2. Taj Rambagh palace (Duration : 1 hour)
  3. Sishodri Rani Garden (Duration: 1.5 hours)
  4. Jaipur Zoo (if you have kids with you, they will get a break from the historical endeavors you so far had) (Duration : 1.5 hours)
  5. Chokhi Dhani or the likes of it (3-4 hours)

This is going to be another long day ! Start your day with a temple visit. Next, head to Taj Rambagh Palace. From here, go to Sishodri Rani Garden. You can visit the Jaipur zoo if you have kids with you. They will enjoy a break from the usual historical sightseeing that we have been doing so far. From here, head to Chokhi Dhani or similar ethnic village setup in Jaipur.

Our experience

We went to Chokhi Dhani on our last day of stay at Jaipur. Again, we reached here by 8 in the evening. By this time the place had got quiet crowded. May have been because it was a Sunday evening also. Nevertheless, we were left carving for more. Our experience at Chokhi Dhani was really great. And, we can’t think of a better way that our vacation in Jaipur could have ended. But, we wanted to experience more at Chokhi Dhani, which we couldn’t because of crunch of time. So, we recommend you reach here by 6:30pm and then you can stay all the way till 11pm (when the place finally shuts down) if you wish. The experience will surely be worth it.

Hope you enjoy this itinerary. If you have any suggestions or feedback, we will love to hear back from you.

Actually, sometimes it’s best to talk to locals and figure out the details on what to see, how to see etc. Like we did during our shopping and sightseeing in Jaipur. Your Local Cousin is an organization that is doing a wonderful job of connecting you with authentic locals when you head somewhere. In case you would like to try and want to connect to someone in Jaipur, just head here and talk to an authentic local guide who will give you all the details for your travel and answer your questions.

Where to stay in Jaipur

Jaipur is famous for it’s heritage havelis and palaces. Many of them have been converted into hotels. And some of these hotels are run by renowned hotel chains in India. The most authentic stay experience in Jaipur will be to stay in one such place and get a real feel of the royalty that Rajasthan stands for. To check out some beautiful such properties, head here. Apart from these beautiful properties, the city abounds in other stay options as well – something to suite all budget types and tastes. Isn’t that wonderful?

General tips

  1. Start your day as early as possible.
  2. Club the places that are nearby together in one day. So that you can visit them all without wasting too much time in travel.
  3. Visit temples in the morning. They open as early as 6am in the morning.
  4. Some sights close by 5pm while there are few that open till 6:30-8pm. Line them up accordingly in your itinerary.
  5. You can buy combined tickets that cover multiple destinations. Some of these tickets are valid for multiple days. This way you will save money.
  6. Don’t rush. Jaipur mostly comprises of historical places. If you rush through the places, you are not going to get their essence. The journey through a fort or museum doesn’t become interesting until you know the story or the history that lies behind it. So, take your time.
  7. Go for a guided tour. Guided tours are useful in places of significant historical importance.
  8. Wear comfortable cotton cloths, preferably full sleeves as Jaipur mostly has a hot weather in the daytime.
  9. Carry plenty of drinking water with you all the time and keep yourself well hydrated.
  10. Carry your sunglasses and hats with you.
  11. There are plenty of means of communication inside the city including autorickshaws and buses. You can take make use of these while transiting from one spot to another.
  12. Spare some time for shopping. Rajasthan is one place full of beautiful traditional crafts and garments. You should explore the market here.
  13. Take direction from locals when required. They are very friendly and helping.

jaipurpin

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Chokhi Dhani Jaipur – A colorful Ethnic Village setup

Chokhi Dhani is an ethnic village style resort in Jaipur. When we planned our Jaipur Trip, one thing that all our acquaintances from Jaipur suggested was to visit Chokhi Dhani. So, we decided to include it in our itinerary. However, we somehow couldn’t head here until our last day in Jaipur. So, we decided to head here on our last evening out of the 3 days we spent in Jaipur.

We were staying in Jaipur with our relatives. Since it was a Sunday evening and everyone was at home. So, we decided to take everyone for a treat. We called for a cab to accommodate the 9 of us and take us on the much awaited visit to Chokhi Dhani. As luck would have it, the cab got little late.

The fun-filled journey to Chokhi Dhani

Chokhi Dhani 2

A picture representing the whole spread of Chokhi Dhani

As we started for the journey, we realized none of us, including the cab driver knew the route to Chokhi Dhani. Again, luck by chance, one of us got the GPS working and we started following it in anticipation. Abhishek was sitting in the front seat with the driver. He was promptly handed over the navigation device cum phone 🙂 Thereafter, we kept pestering him with ‘how much time to the destination’, ‘are you sure we are on the right path’ and several such questions.

Finally, we reached Chokhi Dhani. The resort is quiet big with several entrances. We got down near the entrance which leads to rooms for overnight stay. Then, on the direction of the guard there, we proceeded towards the entrance to the ethnic village.

Entrance and Reception of Chokhi Dhani

By this time, it was already 8:00pm. Immediately, we could see the disadvantage of reaching late on a Sunday evening. The reception of Chokhi Dhani was getting more crowded with every passing moments. Nevertheless, the reception area is quiet big. Plus, it has seating arrangements on all sides and in the center so that others can wait while one person gets into the queue for tickets. There are 2 different types of menu

  1. a basic traditional Rajasthani thali / buffet platter
  2. continental thali / buffet platter

As you can clearly understand, the continental thali is to attract the people who will like to visit the place but may not be interested in Rajasthani cuisine. We were very much interested to try out the Rajasthani cuisine of Chokhi Dhani as we had already heard a lot about it. So, we opted for this one.

Chokhi Dhani

Main entrance to Chokhi Dhani

Into Chokhi Dhani

After waiting a while in the queue, we got our coupons. It had a timing of 9:30pm mentioned as our approximate timing for food service. With our coupons in our hands, eager to explore Chokhi Dhani we happily entered inside. We decided to spend the one and half hour at hand exploring different options and then head for food around 9:30pm.

Once you enter Chokhi Dhani, at a fist glance, it really feels like you are in a traditional Rajasthani village. A lot of effort must have gone into creating the genuine ethnic feel. The whole ground is covered with thin layer of sand and hard soil. It consists of numerous stalls, entertainment centers, game centers and shopping centers , randomly scattered all through. Hence, the whole area has a feel of village fare to it. This is how a typical Indian village celebrate occasions by setting up fares where one can eat, shop, play and enjoy all through the day and night, till the fare lasts.

Chokhi Dhani 3

The village spread inside Chokhi Dhani

 

All the attractions are mixed up, as you walk through Chokhi Dhani, you will encounter one or the other unexpectedly. Guess that adds to the fervor. Here’s the major attractions that we found interesting inside Chokhi Dhani:

Food Stalls

As soon as you enter Chokhi Dhani, you will see numerous food stalls. These are setup in the form of small huts. There are stalls of sweets, ice cream, bhutta (charcoal baked corn), jalebi (an Indian sweet), street foods like pani puri, bhel puri, samosa, and beverages like pani puri, bhel puri. Mineral water bottles can also be found on these stalls . The food or beverage at these stalls need to be additionally purchased. Their cost is not included in the coupon. But they are nominally charged. Our little daughter particularly enjoyed malai kulfi (an Indian icecream). As we entered, we all took our malai Kulfi and then we proceeded to watch some ethnic performance going on in the vicinity.

Chokhi Dhani 4

One of the food stalls at Chokhi Dhani

Ethnic Performance

There are stages setup randomly at different locations inside Chokhi Dhani ground. These stages are also setup in the form of huts. While savouring our Kulfis we headed to an ethnic dance performance going on at one of the stages nearby. It was a traditional ghoomer dance being performed by a small group of artist. The best part is, to watch the performance, you can either sit on the ground or on the khatiya ( A woven bed) . You can even lie down and enjoy the performance!! Later on, we came across several other ethnic dance and stage performances being done in various other parts of Chokhi Dhani.

Chokhi Dhani 5

Dance and cultural performance inside Chokhi Dhani

Chokhi Dhani 9

A guy showing performance with fire

Dance stage

After watching the dance performance, we headed further. Next we came across an open dance stage. A traditional song with full beats was being played. All the guests were welcome to dance to the tunes. People were truly enjoying their dance, forgetting all their worries, living in the moment.

Magic shows

Next, we witnessed a magic show. An old illusionist, dressed like a village tantrik was performing magic tricks. The magic show stage is more like an arena where there is a slightly elevated stage in the center for the illusionist. Chairs are put in the area around the stage . Next there is a circular boundary wall surrounding the arena. We thoroughly enjoyed the performance here.

Chokhi Dhani 5

Magic show stage

Fortune teller

From the magic show, we next proceeded to game center. Near there, on a small table, there was a fortune teller sitting. She had a parrot with her. On her request, the parrot will pick one of the cards and the fortune teller will then forecast your fortune reading from the card. Nevertheless, we decided to keep the future a surprise to ourselves and skip this part 🙂

Game center

The game center is nothing but an alley of small rooms setup at one end. Each of the room hosts a different game. These are the traditional games mostly played in villages and small towns. The games included a traditional style bowling arena with small bowling game setup, a balloons screen to shoot at the balloons, a ring game, an archery game and several others. We suppose this was the part that really got the guys in our group excited. They tried their hands on almost all the games.

Shopping complex

While the guys enjoyed the archery and shooting, the girls & ladies spotted a shopping complex just besides. Without a moments hesitation, they decided this was the place to head next. Thus, all of us next headed to the Shopping complex. It had shops all around selling ethnic handicrafts , showpieces, home décor items, lightings and fabrics. Our friends wanted to pick few souvenirs for their relatives. While they shopped, we roamed around.

Chokhi Dhani 6

Entrance to the shopping complex

Pottery

At one place, there was a small pottery setup. A guy was shaping beautiful miniature pots out of the spinning pottery wheel. If interested, you can try your hands on pottery here. You can create a miniature pot with the help of this guy and carry it back home with you as a certificate of your work !!

Puppet show

Which ethnic Rajasthani setup can be complete without a puppet show. Thus, there is a puppet show also arranged at the premises of Chokhi Dhani.

Village setup

Overall, minute details have been taken into consideration while decorating Chokhi Dhani to give it a real village setup. In between the different elements that we describe above, you will stumble upon various cute elements that are true to a village setup. Like, a well or a hand pump. Or, a tree house. Some people will be roaming around in traditional dresses with a couple of cattle, just like you will see on a village road or in a crop field.

Chokhi Dhani 6

Depiction of women drawing water from a village well

 

And then, we stumbled upon a bullock cart…

Chokhi Dhani 8

Bullock cart roaming around and offering a ride

Finally, we had food

Overall, we had a wonderful time. Without even realizing, it was already time for dinner. We proceeded for the traditional buffet dinner. However, we found the buffet dinner arrangement quiet confusing. There were different areas where sitting was arranged. At one place, there was a floor sitting arrangement. At another, there were tables and chairs setup. It was not at all clear which one was for continental buffet spread and which one was for traditional one.

We finally proceeded to the entrance of one zone and showed our coupon. Upon enquiry, we came to know that there were two setups for the traditional buffet thali itself. One where the people were being served. And, there was already a waiting queue. However, the other one was self – service zone. We didn’t have anymore patience to wait as the children in our group were hungry by now. And obviously the time mentioned on the coupan was not being honoured. So, we proceeded to the self service counter.

However, the temporary irritation produced by the chaos soon vanished. As we proceeded in the self service queue through the food counters. One by one, our plates were loaded with Rajasthani cuisines. Including some 20 varieties of dishes that included traditional daal-baati-choorma, gatte ki sabji, panchrangi daal, phulka, baajre ki roti, rice, pakoda, dahi and imarti amongst many. In short, just a spoon each from the items, and your stomach will be full.

Chokhi Dhani 7

self-serve-and-eat setup

And then we departed..

Finally, post a content dinner, we decided to leave from Chokhi Dhani as it was almost 11 at night. Almost the closing time of the restaurant. However, we longed to stay further. As, we had to skip some of the activities and shows in lieu of time. We made a promise to ourselves to return here if we happen to visit Jaipur again and to come on time 🙂 Nevertheless, there could not have been a better ending to our Rajasthan vacation!!

Tips for visiting:

1) Arrive early to avoid the rush
2) Try some of the street food and dessert counters before visiting for main dinner
3) Enjoy the various shows and participate in activities to get the real feel
4) Wear comfortable cloths and shoes as you will be walking a lot. Weather will be pleasant at night.
5) You will get food and water in abundance, so, no need to carry them
6) Make sure you carry your camera for photos and recording some performances
7) Sort out and identify where is the place you are going to settle for dinner to avoid the kind of confusion that we went through

Chokhi Dhani Jaipur provides a perfect Rajasthani village setup. Get a glimpse of the colorful Rajasthani traditions, culture and food on a fabulous evening here

 

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A weekend at Gorukana B R Hills

Gorukana is an eco resort located in B R Hills near Mysore. When we were looking for a weekend getaway a few weeks back, B R Hills immediately came to our minds. Because the monsoons have just receded, the forests are at their peak charm. Once we zeroed down on the destination, the next job was to find an accommodation. The concept of Gorukana immediately attracted us. As, what could have been a better stay option amidst the dense forests than an eco resort. In addition, Gorukana is run by an NGO. There in, a part of the profit from the resort goes to the welfare of the tribal community of villages in and around.

Gorukana 11

Side view of cottage at Gorukana

However, we had to reschedule our visit a few weeks further, due to some unrest in Karnataka over Cauvery water issue. We called into the resort and requested a reschedule.The manager, Mr. Raju immediately moved our reservations, without any additional charges. We then started counting days to our trip. Finally, the much awaited weekend arrived. We set off on our trip of B R Hills. We arrived at Gorukana by 10:30 am. A narrow un-tarred road down the main road leads to Gorukana entrance.  Upon arrival, we were greeted by the courteous staff. We had welcome drinks that consisted of fresh grape juice.

After completing the checkin formalities at the reception, we proceeded to our cottages. Krishna, one of the naturalists and caretakers, lead the path. The resort is covered with dense and tall trees. There is greenery all over. Narrow paths lead to the cottages. Thick bush of Lantana and Touch-me-not plants along with other flora species mark both sides of the pathways. Upon entering the premises, one immediately feels at peace with nature. Apart from the beautiful chirping of birds amongst the woods, there is no other sound. Occasionally, one  might get to hear other animals too. Cows graze the resort land happily while groups of monkeys swing over the tall trees.

Gorukana 10

Gorukana ground covered with dense greenery

The cottages are small, cozy and beautifully done. There is a separate path to each passage. Thus, ensuring complete privacy of every family. Each cottage is tastefully built with eco friendly material. Each cottage accommodates a family of four. There is a double bed at the ground floor and two single floor beds placed on the loft. A flight of stairs leads to the loft which is perched over the bathroom ceiling. Perfect use of space it is! While the place is made of eco friendly materials, still super care is taken about safety. What I mean is that the place is super clean and properly sealed so that no insects can enter. The wall besides the double bed is complete glass.

Gorukana 8

Cottage view – pic taken from loft

While the lower half has sliding doors to the small balcony, the upper half serves as a high glass window. When one lies on the bed, even with the curtains of the balcony door closed, still one can see through this window. We had an amazing view of the night sky and the trees through this window while we fell asleep watching the starts.

The rooms are equipped with tea, coffee maker and drinking water. However, television is not provided in the rooms. And, I loved this fact. Basically, once you are here, you can’t get distracted. You are bound to fall in love with nature. Once we arrived at the cottage, I immediately slid the doors to the balcony and step outside.

Gorukana 7

Stair to the loft in the cottage

The balcony is small. It has a natural bench at one side for sitting. It is located towards the slope of hills. Through this balcony, one can see the vast stretch of greenery, tall trees and animals grazing through. We had booked two cottages to our group. Both were located besides each other. However, the balcony of each cottage faced the backside of another one. Another nice step towards ensuring the privacy of the guests!

Gorukana 6

Loft in the cottage with two single beds

After getting fresh at our cottages, we decided to head to the restaurant. We had a very light breakfast pertaining to the lack of good restaurants on the way. So, we reached the restaurant in the hope of finding some nice food. We were not in the least disappointed. Although, the usual breakfast time was over. The main cook came rushing out of the kitchen. He told us what all was available. With hungry stomach and our appetite further enhanced by the fresh atmosphere, we didn’t take any time to decided. We settled on an aaloo paratha each (Potato stuffed Paratha). While the cook ventured back into the kitchen to prepare aaloo parathas for us, we started exploring the restaurant.

Gorukana 6

Restaurant

The restaurant of Gokarna has a decent sheltered seating. Nothing fancy about the furnitures. But it is surrounded by green trees on three sides, and a kitchen on the fourth. When it rains , roll down curtains made of natural material provide the much needed protection. We saw some big spiders webbing around the trees near the restaurant. There is a washroom and a space to wash hands near the restaurant. From here, a slant path leads to the reception area and across.

In no time, our aaloo parathas arrived. The size of aaloo parathas were amazing. One paratha was more than enough for ope person. After having satisfied our appetite, we took a walk around the premises. Our daughter had a lovely time. She was already enjoying putting the touch-me-not plants to sleep with her touch 🙂 . We strolled all the way to the other end of the premises. There is a small water body at the far end of the premises. I guess animals must be visiting here for water. There are a couple of tree houses perched at the rear end of the property. And, finally, there is a classic bamboo pathway leading to the massage center at the rear end.

Gorukana 5

Gorukana tree house

We strolled leisurely, examining the flora and fauna of the land. Occasionally snapping pictures, discussing amongst ourselves our experience so far (and other irrelevant things that we never seem to talk about in our busy city lives). Finally, we moved back to our cottages. I simply lied on the bed, doing nothing, hearing the birds sing. In no time, I fell asleep to the beautiful lullaby of birds. I woke up only at lunch time, after much effort by others 🙂 (I normally don’t sleep in the day time. My falling asleep here is a testimony to the peaceful environment that Gorukana provides).

We proceeded for lunch around 1:30pm. The lunch buffet consisted of a nice spread of delicious home made kind of food. A few other families also joined us. Overall, there was not much crowding. After lunch time, there is a safari option at additional cost. If anyone is interested, they can join into the jungle safari. We opted out of the safari since we had had many earlier. We wanted to rather relax amidst nature.

Gorukana 4

Gorukana cottages

As the lunch time ended, monkeys started approaching. Perhaps they are well aware of the timings. They start arriving post lunch in speculation of some food. I am not sure if they are fed the leftovers or not. There was a cat also, roaming around for food. Our daughter soon started following the cat, super charged on having one to chase! Then we started back to our cottage. Just before taking the diversion to cottage, we spotted a big cat. Like sincere citizen, we decided to immediately inform the reception about the snake.  Upon hearing us, they calmly replied “Yes sir, there are many around here, you will spot some more during your stay !!” . Phew!! We soon moved back to our cottage, everyone gathered in one cottage. Some of us stepped on to the loft beds. We soon saw big groups of monkeys roaming across the campus.

Time flew by while we chatted happily. Soon it was time for high tea. Once again we moved to the restaurant. We had tea/coffee along with delicious vegetable pakodas and biscuits. Post this, the staff informed us that a tribal show was about to commence near the reception. We crossed over to the reception area.

Further down, there is a small amphitheater, with enough sitting for the guests. There is a stage across. In between, a campfire is arranged every night. A guy narrates the story of Gorukana, it’s tribes and their traditions. Then, tribal dance performance by elderly and children follow. The whole atmosphere gets charged to another level. The tribal dances are full of energy. Not just this, they ensure equal participation from the guests also. Through their humble requests, soon, guests also joined into the dance and everyone danced around the fire.  Even the cook, receptionist and other employees of Gorukana also joined into the dance.

Gorukana 3

Amphitheater at Gorukana

In between the dances, the lead performer narrated several interesting tribal customs of Gorukana. One of the many that I remember was about the marriages of the Soliga tribes. During a festival, they gather at night and dance through the night. It is during this dance that the girls and boys pick their partners. They then elope in the forests for few days. After they return back, they meet the elders in the tribe. The elders then take an oath from them that the couple will stand together through the highs and lows for the rest of their  lives. There upon, they are married. The cost of the wedding is INR 12.50

We also came to know about Dr. Sudarshana who worked relentlessly for the development of the tribal clans in this area. His NGO, Vivekanad Kalyan Kendra, is the one that developed Gorukana. They also run a school, a medical center, farms and honey processing units, thereby not only educating but also generating employment for lots of tribal people all over. The NGO also helps promote the dance and other traditions by these tribal groups and encourages them to participate in the cultural programs outside the state, far and wide. The place is open to volunteer tourism. One can teach children, or even work at the farms. Basically, one can contribute towards the eco tourism and the welfare of the community in any way possible, while they stay here.

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Tribal performance at night with bone fire

After this energetic tribal performance, we proceeded to dinner. Temperature had dropped a little. In the pleasantly cool weather, we enjoyed hot soups and chapatis with delicious curries. After dinner, we decided to proceed back to our cottages and rest. It would be advisable to carry a torch or some source of light since the pathways and whole resort is dimly lit at night. This is very much in sync with the jungle theme. But, for tourists like us, who are not accustomed to such environment, it might feel little uncomfortable to see the path to the cottages clearly. However, when we were proceeding to our cottages post dinner, we met some staff in between who had powerful torches with them. They showed us the way to the cottages.

Once inside the cottage, we fell asleep to the cozy environment in no time. During the night, I woke up a few times. I could hear some night birds and a few other wild animals at a distance. In no time, morning arrived. Next day , early morning, some of us went to a bird watching natural trek along with the naturalist. After coming back, we had a hearty breakfast. There after, we checkout from Gorukana.

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Little one having fun with touch-me-not plant at Gorukana campus

We then proceeded with the Gorukana care taker to visit the schools. The school is made on a big land in the valley of B R Hills. The beautiful tiny buildings look right out of children’s book. The school hostel is also on the same grounds. The hostel is made into cluster of smaller units. Each unit consists of 3 rooms. Each room consists of 8 children on all 4 sides of the room, in bunk beds. There is one warden cum teacher who resides in a room in the center of the unit. Moving further, we saw a science park, a toddlers play area, teachers quarters, school building and the playground.

Finally, after crossing the school, we arrived at honey manufacturing plant. The plant engineer demonstrated how honey is extracted and then naturally processed here, packaged and then sold. From here, we proceeded to the glasshouse cum nursery where different plants are grown for sale to the outside world.

This brings us to the end of our amazing tour and stay at Gorukana. From here, we proceeded to BR Temple and then back to our city. When we happen to visit here again, we would love to participate into volunteer tourism at Gorukana and contribute towards the welfare of the tribal communities in whichever ways we can.

Things to do at Gorukana

  1. Go for a jungle safari with Gorukana staff.
  2. Watch energizing tribal dance performance and listen to their interesting tales about Gorukana and its tribes
  3. Visit the tribal museum
  4. Visit tribal school
  5. See the tribal hospital
  6. Do a short nature walk with Gorukana naturalist
  7. Enjoy the bone fire at night
  8. Enjoy indoor games at Gorukana premises
  9. Drive to nearby lake where animals come to drink water by the evening
  10. Visit B R Swamy temple
  11. Volunteer for teaching at the tribal school
  12. Volunteer to help with the farm work
  13. Visit the tribal museum
  14. Spend a night in the tree house.
  15. Don’t do anything! Just relax at your cottage. Watch the natural world of birds and animals go by while you relax.
  16. Understand and study the various species of trees and plants in Gorukana campus. Educate your kids on the same.
  17. Play with the touch-me-not plants. Your toddlers will definitely have a good time.
  18. Take some plants back with you from the nursery or from Gorukana campus.

Tips on visiting Gorukana

  1. Wear comfortable shoes, there is a lot of walking to be done on hilly terrain
  2. Carry full sleeve cloths for the night to protect you against mosquitos (though there are not many) and the slight cold.
  3. Carry a light jacket for your kid for the early morning and evening hours. If you visit in winter, it might be colder.
  4. Carry a torch. As we mentioned, the area is dimly lit at night. If you are not used to it, you might find it little difficult to walk to and from the cottages and restaurants at night.
  5. Carry your food for the way, particularly if you take the Kanakpura route from Bangalore since there are not many food options on the way.
  6. Keep your room locked when you are going out, the monkeys might enter otherwise and create a havoc 🙂
  7. Beware of snakes and other wildlife around, you are in the middle of jungle area.
  8. Internet and mobile connectivity is fine. You would not feel cut off from the world, but you might love to get cut off for a while.

Gorukana is a perfect weekend getaway , an eco resort in BR Hills, Bangalore

Beautiful wedding depiction at Bagore Ki Haveli

Every culture has it’s own particular rituals of wedding – some funny, some mesmerizing – all interesting. A hindu wedding is one of the most elaborate ones in the world. There are several stages and rituals that mark it. Colorful costumes, beautiful decorations, delicious food, big gathering of relatives and lots of music go hand in hand at a typical hindu wedding. And the rituals spread over several days. Earlier the whole extended family used to gather at the wedding destination days in advance. And from then onwards, everyday there used to be some rituals, some celebrations.

After the fast modernization of society, that tradition is almost over. Now, mostly things get over winthin a day. All the rituals are performed on that single day in lieu of time. Nevertheless, the major rituals and customs of a traditional Hindu wedding are still followed. As was evident when we saw the depiction of the wedding in Bagore ki Haveli Museum. Although, there is lots of show off now a days, still there is a beauty and delicacy attached to each of these important rituals of the wedding. And there is a certain significance of each one of these.

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Recently, we had a visit to Bagore Ki Haveli Museum in Udaipur, Rajasthan. While going through the rooms of this Haveli, we saw different sections of the museum dedicated to weaponry, puppets, musical instruments and turbans. Then, we were about to exit. That is when we saw something tugged away in a section of the Haveli. It is marked something like “stages of a royal hindu wedding”. A museum with a section dedicated to wedding on display !! Curious , we immediately headed here.

What we saw inside, was a very pretty section depicting the stages of a royal hindu wedding through colorful 3-D models. It was not just the sheer beauty of the depiction that attracted us. But, we were also amazed on how old the rituals go back in history and they still continue to be integral part of a hindu weddings (yes, we performed those rituals at our wedding too). We have got to dedicate a post to this beautiful depiction of the wedding. So, let us take you through this beautiful journey of a wedding, as seen at Bagore ki Haveli.

The Sangeet

Music is an integral part of celebration. Not only is it considered auspicious, but also believed to fill our heart with joy. That’s the reason, it is an important ritual of the wedding. There is a function called sangeet that is performed at the bride’s place. Ladies sing and dance in joy of the celebration during this function.

Although apart from the sangeet ceremony, almost all other rituals will have music going on in the background. Particularly on the day of the wedding, the music doesn’t stop at all. That is what is rightly depicted through the models of these three musicians, sitting with their musical instruments. Mostly, these musicians will be sitting near the entrance to the wedding hall, playing some soothing beautiful tunes, as a welcome to the guests. Even in today’s era of musical bands, pen drives and CDs, nothing is still able to beat the sound of this live music!!

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Musical Sangeet during wedding

The Mehendi

First of all comes the ritual of Sangeet. Sangeet is often followed by mehendi ritual. Mehendi or Heena is an art made on the hands with extract of hina leaves. It then leaves color on the hand as per the pattern formed. Beautiful patterns are made at the bride’s hand using the mehendi, before the wedding day. Mehendi is considered one of the major Sringar  (makeup) items into the hindu culture. And there is a scientific reason behind it. Mehendi leaves have a cooling and soothing effect. When applied at the palm and legs, the essence of the leaves gets soaked into the skin. Thereafter, leading to a cooling and soothing effect. Often our hands work a lot during the functions. Application of mehendi is a way to not only rest them, but also to bring their temperature down.

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Mehendi being applied to bride’s hands by her acquaintances

The Wedding day

The ‘big day’ itself sees several significant rituals. They start in the evening, with the Baraat and continue whole night, mostly through whole of north India. In some parts of South India, similar kind of rituals are performed, but during the day.

Baraat

Baraat is the groom’s wedding procession to the wedding avenue. At the time of royal weddings, the groom would proceed for the wedding on a mere to the bride’s palace. The procession would include family members, royal employees and music players. They are welcomed at the bride’s place upon arrival. The baraat also comprises of musicians who will be playing music while the procession goes on. Also, in ancient times when there was no light on the streets, the baraat would have some people carring light arrangements along the procession to lighten up the path. Some youngerters who are enthusiastic enough, go with the flow and even dance through the procession. When such a procession comes out on the roads, particularly a royal one, people from all the houses on the way will rush to their windows and balconies to get a glimpse of the procession. Overall, as and when the procession passes through a street, it lightens up the street with its energy level.

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Baraat – the royal wedding procession

 

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Baraat as seen from the front

Aarti

Once the groom arrives at the bride’s place, he is welcomed by the bride’s mother and her relatives. The would-be-mother-in-law welcomes the groom with a thali (plate) with a diya (a small cup-shaped oil lamp made of baked clay) in it and takes his Aarti. She also puts a Tilak on his forehead. Post this, the groom proceeds to the wedding.

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Aarti

Fere

Once the wedding ceremony starts, there are several rituals performed. One of the most important ones is “phere” wherein the bride and groom take seven circles around an auspicious fire. These circles are called fere. Each circle has it’s own significance. These significant facts are listed in the hindu mythology.

The first circle signifies food. So, in this phere, the couple prays to God to give them enough strength so that they can walk together through their life and manage the food for themselves and their family.

In the second circle the couple prays to God for a healthy and prosperous life. This beings in terms of both mental and physical fitness.

Then follows the third circle, wherein the couple prays to God to give them strength and show them the path to earn wealth and bring prosperity to their lives, working together. Also, they take an oath to stand together in good as well as rainy days.

Thereafter comes the fourth circle. Herein the couple promises to respect each other as well as their families.

In the fifth circle, the couple wish to have beautiful and noble children.

In the sixth circle, the couple prays and wishes for bountiul seasons all over the world. They assert their wish to travel together through these seasons during their long life together.

Then follows the final seventh circle and the final vow. This one signifies everything else that is important for a couple’s happy life. Here, the couple together wish and vow to maintain understanding, companionship, care and loyality towards each other for the rest of their lives.

Thus completes the 7 significant vows around the fire. While the couple take these vows, the rest of the family members stand around and shower them with ample blessings. The priest keeps chanting auspicious mantras through the ceremony.

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Fere

Kunwar Kalewa

The rituals of wedding go through the night. The next morning, groom, along with his younger brother is invited for breakfast at the bride’s house. Here, the family members and relatives of the bride offer sweets to the groom one by one. Simultaneously, they are introduced to the groom. This ceremony marks the introduction and acceptance of newly found relations for the groom. While he enjoys a nice breakfast, he gets introduced to the bride’s family members. (Perhaps with the belief that an introduction over sweets leads to sweet bonding!).

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Kunwar Kalewar

Bidai

The next day, the bride is supposed to leave her home, and proceed to the groom’s place, along with the baraat. While, the groom proceeds on mere, the bride follows in a doli. As a part of royal wedding, several maids and friends of the bride (princess) would also go to the groom’s place with her, to give her company. Bidai is one of the most emotional moment in the life of a bride. Because, the realization of leaving her own birthplace, proceeding to a new home, with newly formed relations strongly overwhelms in the moments of Bidai. Almost everyone at the bride’s side of the family have tears welled up in their eyes during this ceremony.

However, it’s temporary. Soon after, the bride proceeds to the groom’s house and she is welcomed there by the new family members she formed overnight.

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Bidai : the bride departing from her home in doli

Post wedding rituals

Although, the wedding gets over with the Bidai, but that’s when the post wedding rituals follow. Once the bride arrives at the groom’s place, several rituals are lined up to welcome the couple. In addition, it is important to make the bride feel at ease and comfortable in her new surroundings. At the same time, she has to slowly get introduced to several new relations formed overnight. So, to make things easy and enjoyable, there are some games played at the groom’s place, centered around the bride and groom. Other family members also get actively involved in the games. Through these games, the bride gets slowly introduced to the groom’s side of the family. Also, she starts developing a new bond with the family members of the groom and starts feeling at ease in the new environment.

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Post wedding rituals

A popular game involves finding a coin in water. (Depicted in the image above).  A vessel is filled with colored water. Then a coin is dropped in water. Following this, the bride and the groom are both supposed to search for the coin. At the end, the one who is able to locate the coin first is declared winner. (Before I visited this museum display, I had no idea this game was such an old one. I always thought, it was recently added for fun). This is followed by several other rituals at the groom’s place, spread over a few days. As these rituals are performed, slowly the bride settles into her new life with the groom and his family.

In conclusion, this is how, a couple begins a new journey in their life…together. Couldn’t have been more beautifully depicted.

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