Friday, October 5, 2012


We started from Ajmer to Jodhpur at around 4.30 pm from a local bus. Our bus moved only at 5.30 pm. I was worried if we will be able to catch our train to Jaisalmer from Jodhpur that was scheduled at 11.45 pm at night. The roads were empty with no street lights. I was scared of night for if the bus would stop at far away from the Jodhpur railway station and if we will be able to get an auto rickshaw in the dark empty roads.

Luckly, bus stop and railway station was nearby. This is the best thing in India. It was chilled cold in Jodhpur. I was wearing jean, jerkin and sock to save myself from the cold. But it was too hard to resist. We spent for almost 2 hours at railway retiring rooms. We boarded on train and I took out my shawl. We had side berths. My hubby asked up to sleep on upper birth as it wouldn’t be cold as that of lower berth. But I insisted my husband to sleep on upper birth and he didn’t agree. Atlast, we decided, if he finds it hard to resist cold, he will accompany me on upper birth.

That night was terribly cold, unable to resist. I couldn’t sleep. My husband came up in between and he slept for some time. I had lot of difficulty in that congested place. I was sitting beside him holding his legs with drowsy eyes. We reached Jaisalmer city at 5.30 AM. It was still dark. My husband decided not to move out in the chilled winter until at 7.00 AM. So we were again in the retiring room of Jaisalmer. My hubby went out to get some tea or coffee to resist cold as I needed something hot to drink desperately to get rid of sleepiness in that winter. A cup of tea offered to me bought lot of strength in me.

Pawan went out of the retiring room again at 6.30 am for taxi. But luckily, we got an auto for 150 bucks to take us at Sand Dunes, an RTDC hotel, Sam Dhani which we had booked during our stay in Jaipur. I never understood why my husband was crazy to visit that place. On the way, auto driver had warned us against empty roads and asked us if we wanted to halt at a hotel in the city to drink tea, coffee or water. We refused. He drove us through the jungle, barren roads to sam dhani. I could see God’s cruelty and humanity on the way. The auto driver had stopped in between to warm up himself. He lit fire on the dried roots as his hands were freezed.  He was very friendly guiding us on the city, terrorism, violence etc which he said, it never happened in that city. A woman can walk alone through the barren land during mid-night safely. Jaisalmer is the only city where crime doesn’t happen. I guess the gram panchayat system still exists in that city as shown in television serial, Balika vadhu.  We were back to our journey and reached Sam dhani at around 10.00 am. The check-in time was 11.00 am but the person at the reception had let it. In the entire hotel, there were only 2 couples. One was vacating and the other one was getting in.

The room was cozy. We were inspecting our new place. It was amazing, just like a dream had come true. Visiting Sand Dunes on Thar Desert had been my childhood dream and my adulthood wish which had come true. I am thankful to my husband whole heartedly. My husband went in to refresh. For 45 minutes, he didn’t come out of the bath room. I knocked at the door and started screaming at him. He opened the door and dragged me in. He was enjoying the shower. Looking at the free flow of water, I was wondering at the scarcity of water in the city. We refreshed ourselves and went to dining room. We ordered for tea and poori-bhaji. But the manager got us tea, poori-bhaji and aloo paratha. We were damn hungry and started eating savagely. The aloo-paratha was offered to us at free of cost. The manager described us about the folk dance event that happens every evening after sunset where all the tourists from various hotels join together to watch folk dance in traditional set-up followed by snacks and dinner. We were excited and asked him to book camel for a ride at 4.30 pm.

We went on the sand to click some pics. We then took some cola kind of drink to digest that heavy brunch. We went back to our room and slept for a while. Later at 4.30 pm, the manager knocked the door. I was scared to get on the camel and my husband was thrilled with it. The camel was named as Shah Rukh Khan, after the bollywood hero. The boy with the camel helped us to climb the camel. He took us on a ride. He showed us some of the places of interest, like the old India-Pakistan border, place were the Pepsi advertising was shot, etc. The last one was the sunset point. My hubby insisted on camel race. I was very nervous. We reach to the place of event on camel safari.

The traditional set-up was lucrative, with warm welcome by cheerful Rajasthani girls in their traditional outfit. The sitting arrangement was similar as that of kings on the beds. There was fire camp, my another dream; music, dance and we were served hot tea with poha (a traditional healthy snacks). Later, we went for the buffet. Dinner consisted of delicious traditional food, daal-bati, churma, roti, gate ki sabzi any many more varieties.  The boy’s brother dropped us back to our hotel after the dinner. My husband ordered for kanda-batata poha (bitten rice pulav with onion and potatoes) for next day morning breakfast. I hit the bed without even taking out my socks living my husband wondering if it was our honeymoon or just package tour.



Next day morning was check out. We packed up our luggage and got ready for our mouth-watering breakfast. We were offered again aloo-paratha together with our order. We had stuffed our stomach with their delicious dishes. At the time of check-out, we enquired about how to reach the city of Jaisalmer. The manager advised us that some of the muslim merchants who delivers milk in the city can drop us there in their tempo for 20 bucks per head and they travel in that route only upto 11.00 am. My husband paid tip to the manager. He then politely said, that he is a cook and the manager was on leave for a week. We hurried up and raised our hands for lift. One such merchant dropped us nearby railway station. I was enquiring about the milk can in the tempo. The fellow traveller was unaware of anything. We had our train to Jodhpur same evening.

We decided to keep our luggage in a railway dormitory and then go on a city sight-seeing. My husband had done enough google search to study the entire geography of Jaisalmer city. The dormitory wasn’t empty and the waiting rooms were not safe to park our luggage. The station master offered us the cabins and he claimed that the keys will remain with them. My husband was reluctant to leave our luggage in their custody. The major difference between me and my husband is that I believe people blindly and he finds it hard to trust easily. Finally, we decided to get into an lodge nearby railway station. In the meantime, my mobile ranged. My uncle called up to congratulate me for my marriage. Due to his ill health, he couldn’t make up. He invited us to his home in Jetpur, a city in Gujarat.

We went by walk exploring different places. Jaisalmer city is just 5 kms radius which can be covered in a day by walk. Hiring an auto is not just expensive but utter waste. One advice to the travellers is not to get in with unsolicited drivers who are self proclaimed guides.

The fort: It is the biggest and only fort which accommodates around 5000 people. It is known as the living fort. This fort has residential houses and commercial shops that are occupied by the localites. I am attaching the link to find more information about this fort. Dairy products are very delicious in this area.

Gadisar Lake: A scenic rain water lake with numerous beautiful shrines around and a spectacular avian variety. The lake is an idyllic spot for outings.

There are many more places like Tazia tower which is now converted into hotel, different havelis like Patwon-ki-Haveli, Salim Singh-ki-Haveli, Nathmalji-ki-Haveli etc. These places now preserved by the Department of Archaeology. We didn’t feel like exploring the remnant. We went to a hotel and had again daal-bati.

We went back to our lodge. My hubby had downloaded Kamasutra movie. We watched it together on his mobile. During evening at 6.30, we went to the puppet show and museum nearby that was organised by a retired school professor. They taught us the basics of holding strings and play the puppet. Puppets are made of wood and were on sale. I was tempted to buy it but then I didn’t want to increase my luggage on our next destination Jodhpur.

We had dinner at a dhaba. We ordered for butter kulcha. He offered us roti. For them, every such Indian bread was similar, be it Kulcha, roti, rumali roti, naan, etc. We then went back to our lodge and checked out. Our train to Jodhpur was at 11.30 pm. I got cotton role to avoid chilled cold and boarded the train.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Healthy Moong-Daal pakoda

I have learned this dish from my mother –in-law. I simply loved it. During rains, tea with pakado is yummy-yummy during evenings and can be really filling breakfast in the morning. Also, this can be had with tomato ketchup or chutney.

Preparation Time: 10 mins
Cooking Time: 15 mins
Makes 4 servings


250 gms moong daal (Split green gram soaked overnight)
1 pinch asafoetida (hing)
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
2 small onions finely chopped (optional)
1 tsp ginger paste
5-6 green chillies finely chopped
2 tbsp dhaniya jeera (cumin seeds-coriander) powder
Oil for frying
salt to taste
Water as needed

  • Remove the skin of moong daal by running water over it. Grind in a mixer. It should not be a fine paste, as the daal should be broken into small chunks. Do not add too much of water. The batter should be almost dry
  • Add asafoetida, turmeric powder, salt, ginger paste, chillies, onion dhaniya jeera powder to the batter.
  • Wash moong daal and palak to the above mixture.
  • Heat oil in a kadai or a pan.
  • Add 1 tsp of hot oil to the batter and mix well. This will make pakoda crunchy.
  • Stir fry  pakoda in the kadai till golden brown.
  • Serve hot.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Ajmer & Pushkar

Next day morning at 9.00 am, we had train, Aravalli Express to Ajmer. Good that our hotel was nearby railway station. We got up at around 7.00 and refreshed ourselves. I ordered for 2 cups of tea. We checked out before 8.00 AM. We went to nearby Khandelwal bhojanalaya for morning breakfast. We had awesome Paneer paratha with a cup of tea. It was yummy yummy and the taste of it still linger to me. That was the best one I ever had it in my life. Paratha was well stuffed with grated paneer and lot of ghee on it. One was sufficient for both of us. 

We ran to railway at 8.40 and got into our train. One of the co-passenger was getting acquainted with my hubby we were enquiring about the Ajmer station. He asked my hubby about his residential place and the passenger was very excited listening “Mumbai” He asked him if he was a bollywood actor. For people from towns, Mumbai is about only bollywood. No doubt my hubby was looking dashing in that attire with his cooling glass. I couldn’t control laughing. Then he asked about opinion on me and the passenger said that I was looking like a Madrasi heroine (Mind it, all south indian’s are Madrasis). I was stunned. Since then, my hubby got an opportunity to keep me teasing. 

At around 11.20, we reached Ajmer. My husband was very keen on RTDC hotels only, on which I wasn’t. From the station, we enquired about Hotel Khadim with the station master. He suggested that the auto fare would take around 30-40 bucks only. When we stepped out, the autowala & taxiwala were offering to take us to Hotel Khadim for Rs.150 bucks. We bargained for 40 and reached Hotel Khadims. We asked them for arranging cab for day tour which was already at the lawn. We took Alto and decided to start our journey from Pushkar which is just 11 kms from Ajmer. 

Pushkar is surrounded by hills and one capture lot of beautiful scenery from your vehicle. This place is famous for 2 reasons. One is for religious and the other one is commercial; trading of horses, camels, cows and bulls. The Pushkar fair or Pushkar Mela attracts visitors from the world over for 5 days during Kartik ekadashi to Kartik poornima (October-November). During this time, pilgrims take holy dip in the lake. There is music in the air, dance, celebration and colourful shops spring up during the fair. Puppet shows, camel races go hand in hand with cattle auctions. Since, we went in February, we were not lucky enough. 

Pushkar Lake: It is believed taking holy bath in this lake will wash out all the sins.

Brahma Temple: It is the only temple in this world dedicated to Lord Brahma.Before entering this temple, the tourists are required to hand over there leather bags, belts and camera to the security at the door on a nominal charge. I wasn't able to capture any picture as the camera was deposited with the security at door.

We then started back to ajmer and halted at one of the hotel on the recommendation of the chauffeur. We filled our tummy with dal bati churma, but it wasn’t on par with the one that we had at Santosh Bhojanalya, Jaipur. 

Adhai-din-ka-Jhonpra: One next spot was the Dargah and the entrance of it starts from Adhai-din-ka-Jhonpra. It is so named as the construction took two and a half days (Adhai-din) to complete. Although in need of restoration, it's an exquisite piece of architecture, with soaring domes, pillars and a beautiful arched, largely built from pieces of Jain and Hindu temples. 

Dargah-Khwaza-Sahib: This Dargah is very popular among pilgrims India. The shrine is next only to Mecca or Medina for the Muslims of South Asia. The Dargah is at walking distance from Adhai-din-ka-Jhonpra as no cabs and taxis are allowed on this route. Our chauffeur had warned us against pick-pocketer and duplicate items that are sold. Also, he had given me his mobile number that I left it in the cab. Actually, what had happened was we had left our luggage in the cab as we were planning to move Jodhpur by bus the same evening. We searched for the cab for almost an hour. My hubby had been using my mobile on roaming. So we neither had hotel Khadim number. I was panic as we were not able to find our cab. We immediately made an auto to the hotel and explained him the entire situation. The hotel staff were very helpful tracing the cab. I thought we had lost luggage, cash and mobile. Thanks to my husband on relying RTDC hotels.

Nasiya (Red) Temple: There wasn't much to explore in Ajmer except the Jain Temple. This is a masterpiece depicting Jain mythology legends that are in gold and silver plated. Very beautiful and must see by any tourists.

The Museum: Once a royal residence of Mughal Emperor is now an ruined  repository of the Mughal and Rajput armour and exquisite sculpture. This monument requires restoration work.

This was our last place. We asked driver to drop us at bus stop around 4.30 PM for our next journey by local bus to Jodhpur....Actually, we had our train scheduled to Jaisalmer from Jodhpur at 23:45. 

My blog contents is more of generic information, logistic to travel, and the places of interest. I am sure, the history of each of these religious places can be found in many website. RTDC official website is rich source of information for all the tourists. I have inserted relevant link for curious readers on the history of each of these places.