I had an amazing weekend holiday this last weekend. I went to Nawalgarh, Rajasthan. Yes, I see many of you chuckle with derisive laughter on knowing that I went to Rajasthan in summer. But I really had a great time! And if people are not laughed at if they…say…go to Manali in winter, then why laugh at Rajasthan in summer? Its an experience after all. You can recount later how you nearly melted in the sun…no worries though. I didn’t melt away…obviously :S
And so my mom, dad and I left Delhi on 18th at around 8:00 am & reached Nawalgarh at 3:30 pm (same day of course). Nawalgarh (part of the ‘Shekhawati’ region) is supposed to be well known for its old havelis with hand-painted frescoes covering the insides & outsides of the structure. Its called the ‘Open Air Art Gallery’. And really…it is beautiful! It really is something completely different to drive through the small, sleepy town which is chock full of these amazing masterpieces of art. You turn every corner to be confronted with another building which is hundreds of years old & charms you with its quaint paintings. I was charmed good & proper.
One sad thing I got to know was that Indians hardly know about Nawalgarh. The majority of tourists that go there are from France, Germany, Italy & Spain. And that too a little later on in the year of course. So when we reached our hotel (which is actually an old haveli converted into a hotel) it was empty except for the employees. Later, I realised that it would have hardly mattered as we were in our air-conditioned room most of the time, wincing whenever we had to step out. To clear my parents of any blame, I must state that it was my idea of going to this place. And it was a good trip nevertheless. So there!
So in the evening, we went to see a few places within the town (which was actually a walled city basically. So getting the car through the size zero roads was adventurous enough). And then, we went to one of the places I was most excited to go to…a lac bangle-maker’s place! I got a lot of ‘made-to-order’ bangles :D. I specified the colour, the width of the bangle & a bit of the design. You do not know how amazing it was to see those people make these beautiful things starting with only a chunk of lac! Wicked!
The second day, 19th, was supposed to be more adventurous as we were to go for a whole day of ‘sight-seeing’ (I’ve somehow always hated the term). We thought we would go to the farthest place first & while coming back, see whatever fell on our way… The farthest place was actually a Hanuman Ji temple in a place called Salasar. In that region, they call the god Hanuman Balaji surprisingly. I only knew that the God Tirupathi, down south, was called Balaji. So anyway, as it was Saturday, we did the whole standing-in-line-in-multiple-places drill & then at last reached the main mandir. And imagine my surprise when I walked into the mandir & felt a drop in temperature of several degrees from the outside. The mandir was fitted with ACs! Around 5-6 ACs were whirring away, keeping the place amazingly cool. So then we exited, burnt the soles of our bare feet on the scorching hot floor & started off to see the other places.We only saw one place that day…this temple. Because after that, with the fear of melting-in-the-sun in our hearts, we decided to just come back to the hotel & cool off. But now that I look back & think, I realise that you really don’t need to go anywhere to see worthwhile things. Nawalgarh itself has enought o keep you occupied for a long time!
On Sunday, we were to leave to come back to Delhi so we didn’t do much. But we did go to the other place I was very eager to visit…the Bandhini (tie and dye) cloth maker’s place. I’m a lot into handicrafts & arty things, so you can understand why this place (and the lac bangle-maker’s) was so fascinating to me. I got to understand the whole process of the dyeing, tying & again dyeing to give the beautiful final product. It was an unforgettable experience. Something I’ll never forget…
And then, before I knew it, my time in Nawalgarh was up. I had to come back home. The phrase ‘clear blue skies’ and a ‘bright sun’ don’t always have the same connotations while you’re in Rajasthan. I would look up to the sky, see no clouds & literally want to sob in exasperation. But the place has something…some X-factor, which, despite the heat, makes you want to go back there…