Like any other Indian we also had read about the wars of Rana Pratap, thousand wounds of Rana Sanga; the respect with which Mughals treated the warriors of Rajasthan, stories of Meera, Jodha Bai and the courageous Rajasthani women who performed “sati” on the demise of their husbands in wars. Therefore, our tour of Rajasthan was motivated by curiosity to witness the land of such a history of valorous people, rich culture, arduous climate and very tough religious practices.
We chose our destinations with full awareness of limited days at our disposal and the impending harsh summer ahead of us. We toured for 12 days and visited all the four directions of the state: east, south, west and north. We made a circular tour, so to say of Rajasthan. We could not devote adequate time to some of the places we visited. Jodhpur was one such city. And we could not visit many other places which were equally, if not more important than those we visited. Chittod (Chithorgarh) and many other towns of Shekhawati region were some such places. Despite such shortcomings we did have a great sense of satisfaction to have had an overall view and experience of Rajasthan. Fifteen (out of total 16) write-ups so far published have provided narratives of important places we visited in Rajasthan.
One feeling which impressed our mind all through our tour of Rajasthan was that this state has perfected the art of taking full care of tourists. The blurb of tourism department is Padharo Mhare Desh [Please step in to our Land] and Padharo Sa [Please Do Step In]. And every tourist vehicle carried very prominently only one name, Tourist. No name of the travel agency or the transport company. Be it a Taxi, Van or even a Luxury Bus.
Every stake-holder in tourism – be it hotels, transport, maintenance of tourist places, guides, governmental machinery such as tourism department, – all of them seem to be working in sync with each other. As I have stated in earlier write-ups private tourist agencies, hotels and home-stays etc have made themselves totally tourist centric and do care for their conveniences and their opinion. Roads were of very good standard and well maintained which facilitated longer road travels per hour.
In one hotel we were not happy with the accommodation and the staff went over-board to make us feel comfortable. They were highly apologetic for inconvenience caused to us. They put in extra effort to ensure that we came out fully satisfied. Similarly, the taxi driver, Sanjay was highly disciplined, very punctual and always outgoing to make our tour a success. At the end of our 13 day togetherness, he left us with moist eyes, as if he were a member of our family. That was the extent of his involvement in our tour. The guides we hired were descent, knowledgeable and were putting in effort to make sure that we appreciated the importance of the place we were visiting. We seldom came across guides fleecing us.
Rich choice of food
Food is one main issue of concern for any tourist. Not merely between the choice of Vegetarian and Non-vegetarian, but also in the choice across the dishes within each category. We found that everywhere we went we could find good variety within our space of food habits. For vegetarians Rajasthan probably is a very good destination. Jainism being the main religious belief there is assured vegetarian dishes and in that also one could chose onion -less, garlic-less dishes!!
At Udaipur we enjoyed Paani Poori and the local Churumiri on the bank of lake, as if in Mumbai’s Chaupati. Jodhpur is a vegetarian’s delight. We had very good food at Gypsy Dining Hall [Restaurant] and had very good takeaways from Janta Sweets. At Bikaner, Jaswant Bhavan Hotel where we stayed gave us very typical local vegetarian home-made lunch and dinner. Only at Jaisalmer we had some limited choice of vegetarian restaurants. Probably Non-vegetarianism is more prominent at Jaiselmer.
Chawkhi Dhani is a very popular food joint in Jaipur. But we preferred to visit yet another equally popular restaurant – Virasat, on Sahakar Marg. Here each floor has different dispensation and rates. In one floor where the food is served fully in ‘Rajasthani style’ a thali cost Rs.1,700/- per person. However, we chose the other floor where we ordered our food a la carte and found it very tasty but equally expensive.
LMB, (Laxmi Misthan Bhandar) is another very popular food joint in Johary Bazar, very near to Hawa Mahal. This place is popular by its abbreviation rather than its real name! Here one can find varieties of vegetarian dishes, sweets and savories. This place is always jam packed with the customers.
Pandit Kulfi is yet another craze of the town. One joint is located on Johary Bazar, again not very far away from Hawa Mahal. Several types of milky kulfi is available to choose from.
The cost of living in Rajasthan, in terms of vegetarian food is a bit expensive when compared with Mysuru.