Sunday, 10 August 2014

Chand Baori - The Architectural Wonder

DAY 1 – CHAND BAORI & CHOKHI DHANI

The trip started not on a very good note. Our 9 o’ clock flight from Mumbai to Jaipur was delayed by an hour and therefore we reached Jaipur around noon. We had booked an AC Innova for the entire trip. Our driver, Mr. Radhey Krishna picked us up from the Airport and we headed to our hotel, Hotel Shalimar which was a 20 mins drive. The hotel was good and we had booked two deluxe rooms but they had upgraded us to Club Deluxe. The rooms were big, comfortable, neat and equipped with modern facilities. After relaxing for an hour, we had our lunch at a restaurant near our hotel.

Post Lunch, we headed to Chand Baori, Abhaneri which is about 100 Kms outside Jaipur towards Agra. 

Rajasthan Vidhan Sabha



On the way to Abhaneri
In the village of Abhaneri, Rajasthan is an old baori (stepwell) which has almost faded into the history. Built in the 8th or 9th century by King Chand of the Nikumbha Rajputs of Chahamana dynasty, this stepwell was dedicated to the the goddess of joy and happiness – Harshshat Mata. The temple of Harshshat Mata is at adjacent to this beautiful architecture. It is one of the largest and deepest stepwells (20 meter deep with 13 levels) in India.

(Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chand_Baori)


After 2 hours drive we entered the small village Abhaneri and were soon in front of Chand Baori.
I had never seen a step well before and therefore was very excited. We walked in and the stepwell suddenly appeared in front of us. I was speechless. It is a place that takes you to a different world, a different time. It is one of the most beautiful and fascinating human created architecture I have seen.



The Baori was fascinating.




The broken sculptures have been kept around the Baori for the visitors to appreciate the carvings and art of that period.

It is now manager by Archaeological Survey of India. There is no fee for visiting the monument. Few scenes of the movie “The Dark Knight Rises” and Bollywood movie “Paheli” has been shot here.

A few meters from the Baori is the Harshat Mehta Temple.



Looking at the size of the temple it feels that it would have been a huge temple of its time. The broken Sculptures and pillars are neatly arranged around the temple.




The sun was setting when we left Abhaneri. We ended our day with dinner at Chokhi Dhani.
Chokhi Dhani is a Village theme based resort that showcases the spirit of Rajasthan. It is approx 30 km from the main city. We reached Chokhi Dhani around 8 in the evening. 

The main entrance was not impressive neither the location. It was looking like just another big Dhaba, the kind we see on the Delhi-Panipat highway. Though there was a huge rush at the entrance (may be because it was a weekend).



We entered inside and I was totally surprised and impressed with its offering. It’s like a big rural party, like the one I used to see during my childhood in Mathura. There was each and every kind of activity. One can buy clothes, eat almost anything, for entertainment there were magic shows, dance programs, and hell lot of things. After so many years I felt the same madness here.



As soon as we entered, we were greeted by a lady who applied tilak to our foreheads. What followed was a glass of hot rabri and then music floating in the air. At different stages spread across a big ground, dancers were performing different folk dances of Rajasthan, be it Kalbelia or Ghumar. Camels and Elephants were carrying happy kids on their backs on a sightseeing trip of the place and countless stalls were serving different delicacies of Rajasthan.




Wherever I moved my eyes something was happening. I want to list a few… Rajasthani dance, magic show, palmistry, mehendi art, puppet show, camel cart, horse riding, boating, bullock cart, a tree decorated with lamp, haveli like small houses, paintings on the wall etc. etc. etc.

This is a place better suited for those who want to get a feel of Rajasthani culture and cuisine in a few hour's time, without traveling across the state. 

Finally it was time to have food and it was so sumptuous. We sat down to eat and what a meal it was! Baati, different kinds of rotis, daals, curries, rice, khichdi, sweets - every item floating in ghee/butter and care. The attendants of Chowkhi Dhani make the dinning a pleasurable experience by their friendly demeanor and actually make one overeat.

After a fulfilling dinner we headed back to the hotel and crashed. Sleep came swiftly and rightly so as the next day was going to be a hectic one...