Thursday, April 10, 2014

Gadisar Lake, Jaisalmer

23rd December 2013

Situated not far from the town of Jaisalmer is Gadisar Lake. Once it was the source of water for this desert town, now a kind of tourist attraction. The Temples surrounding the lake add to the beauty of this lake.

The best time to visit this lake is in the evening. The rays of the setting sun on the lake give a nice feel of this place.

I was pleasantly surprised to see the area around the lake very clean. Like many towns in India, Jaisalmer does not fall into the category of clean town but the authorities have managed to keep the lake area clean.

The main attraction is boating. My daughter was apprehensive about it due to the experience in Kolli hills but was finally convinced.

Or one can just walk along the banks of the lake. I do not think that it gets crowded most part of the year. It was Christmas when we visited but still it was not filled with people.

Cat fishes concentrate on one part of the lake where there are fed with breads. Due to the easy availability of food, they have grown huge in size.

A good place to spend an evening in Jaisalmer. But some people who visited in summer months were disappointed as the lake had gone dry!!

There are some eateries and souvenir shops. And also one can wear Rajasthani dress and get a snap. Tanushree could not resists wearing the dress and posing for a photo!!

Sunday, April 06, 2014

A long walk to a waterfall

23rd February 2014

This waterfall demanded a long walk and hence we had to reach the nearest village on the previous evening. Even though the village is well connected with Government buses, it seems to be situated in different part of the world. Part of it is due to its proximity to the western ghat.

Side view of the waterfall
We had reached before nightfall to find a place to pitch our tents before dark. But things did not look very promising that evening. The local MLA had come to the village as part of his “people contact program” with various Government officials. The entire villager had congregated at the Temple. So, we had to wait for the program to end. In the meantime we had found a nice place near the school for camping.

Pool formed at the base of the waterfall
It was almost dark by the time the meeting ended. Promises were made without any actions in place by politicians and Government people. The main demand to build a bridge was not given priority. This was a tragedy as the village remains cut-off during monsoon due to swelling steams.

The tragedy for us was that we were not allowed to camp in the school. Apparently some trekkers had violated the sanctity of the place earlier by killing and eating chicken. No amount of cajoling would convince the villagers. Rajesh Naik’s contacts with some of the villagers saved the day for us. We were allowed to camp in one of the open spaces near the village.

In the camp, Adiga Sir’s prowess on culinary skills was seen. It was amazing to see the energy of the couple bring at their age. Hats off to you Sir!! It was astonishing to see the amount of preparation they had done for all the eating needs during the trek. Adiga Sir’s food will be an added attraction for me to join Udupi treks in future!!

Cooking time!!
The trek started at 7:30 in the morning. The initial part of the trek was on unmaintained Jeep track. The track climbed up continuously where we gained an altitude of about 1000 ft in an hour. And then started steep descent into the valley. After about 45 minutes of the walk that was painful for our knees, we reached the base of the river. The height we gained during the initial part of the trek was lost during the descent to the stream!!

Climb up
I was one among the first to reach the base and hence we rested for a good amount of time waiting for others to join. The crystal clear and calm water was a treat to our eyes and minds.

Climbing down into the valley
The hardest part of the trek was about to begin. It was walking along the stream. I had assumed that waterfall would make its appearance within few minutes. But I was taken aback when our guide mentioned that we need to walk for nearly two hours to reach our destination.

I now understood why this waterfall was out of reach from people until the beginning of winter. We had to cross the stream at many places due to steep rocks on the bank. And no way can we cross if the stream is running high.

This trek also had one of the “first” for me. I saw a python in the wild!! Incidentally, people in front of me did not notice this slow creature. It was lying still under a bush. When we went near it, it slowly went little deeper into the undergrowth but away from our site.

A small waterfall

We also saw the skeletal remains of a small creature. I thought it as the remains of a crocodile. But our guide mentioned it as one of the land living creature. Locally, it is called as “chaape”. I have not heard that name but it might be some species of monitor lizard.

The skeletal remains of a creature
It took little over two hours of “stream walk” to reach the waterfall. The waterfall must be about 100 feet but only a part of it is visible as it falls over three stages. The first two stages are obscured by a rocky overgrowth.

Huge pool is formed at the base of the falls. We spent a long time in the waterfalls. We jumped into the water, played for a long time, spent some time taking photographs and finished our lunch. The waterfall was so remote and pristine that it was worth walking every step to reach that beautiful place. 

Second step of the falls

First step of the falls
We thought that return journey would be faster but were surprised when it took the same amount of time. Sun was coming down when we said goodbye to the helpful villagers and started the journey back to our towns and cities.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Umaid Bhavan Palace, Jodhpur

22 December 2013

Situated on the outskirts of Jodhpur city, Umaid Bhavan was one of the last Palaces built in India. It was completed in 1943!! Part of it is converted to a star hotel and the remaining area consists of (erstwhile) Royal family residence and museum. With little guess work, one can easily conclude that commoners like us will end up seeing the museum.

The building looks grand from outside. The museum did not impress much considering that we were in Mehrangarh fort few hours ago!!

Peep into the hotel area and you will see many Mercs, BMW’s and Audi’s parked. ‘Poor people’ do stay in hotel as I saw few Honda Civic and similar cars (Do not get serious!!)

Forget about hotel visitors and have a look at some of the vintage cars owned by Royal family. A small but nice collection.

A restaurant at the entrance servers some snacks. It is a nice place to relax and have some drinks and food.

The place is little far from the town and hence it is advisable to hire an auto to reach this place.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Jaswant thada, Jodhpur

22 December 2013

From the top of Mehrangarh fort, one can see a beautiful marble structure standing majestically opposite to a small lake. That is Jaswant Thada, a memorial for Maharaja Jaswant Singh II. It is relatively new structure built in 1899.

The building looks far from the fort but it is within a km from the entrance of the fort. One can easily walk this distance.

Inside the cenotaph
The monument is built from thin and highly polished marble which emit a glow when sun falls on its surface thus magnifying its beauty. From outside, it looks more like a Temple than a cenotaph. This is also a cremation ground of Jodhpur rulers.

In front of the cenotaph is a beautiful garden with heavily carved gazebos.

A simple, clean and a nice place to visit in Jodhpur.