Monday, October 12, 2009

My Trip To Jojawar!

It’s dusk and we are having picnic with Star Turtle on a hillock surrounded by spectacular Aravali range in a village called ‘Jojawar’, near Udaipur. Everybody wants to have baby turtle in their lap for photo shoots and look the baby has started peeing. Obviously, we have scared him to death!

The warmth of friends from Rajasthan is too strong to resist their invitation. So we embarked on a dreamer’s vacation to a city where luxury and history pave the way to escape. Yes, Udaipur to go further into a virgin territory, Jojawar.

I am very excited as our friend, ‘Joy’ akka Jitendra Singh Rathore of Fatehgarh is going to drive us down to Jojawar. I love his driving as much as his great sense of humour. I miss several heartbeats as he accelerates in true Formula One style. We overtake a truck with a board saying: “No girl friend, no tension”. Cool dudes in the car giggle at that but in practice, are they cool about it??

Home Away From Home!
Gentle breeze, serene environs, the night setting in and we are in front of the castle, The ‘Rawla Jojawar’ which has been home since 1780. It still remains residence of a lovely family who has opened doors to let their guests stay with them and share the simple pleasures of life. As the two brothers, our hosts, Nagendra Singh and Amitvikram Singh tell me, “Our both residences, Kesar Bagh and Rawla Jojawar are our labour of love to showcase what Jojawar means to us and not merely a place to stay for the tourist.” “Our endeavor is to keep alive the culture and traditions of the village by sharing the profits of one of our major activities – Jeep and Horse rides into the countryside.”

The Royal Welcome!
There is traditional welcome ceremony with an added attraction of a smart horse with lovely mane dancing to the beats of Rajasthani folklore. We enter the lily pond courtyard and have drinks with the family in the garden. There is a hectic schedule planned for us from next day early morning so we keep swimming and eating as the two main activities before we call it a day. Dinner becomes a long exercise as the coy chef, Kirti, the new daughter-in-law of the family has gone over board in preparing some 10 course dinner. In a place, where ‘c’ of cheese or chocolate is unheard of, we are sitting at the lip smacking soufflé and cheese cake. Needless to say, we gorged for about 3 hrs.

Village Walk!

We walked through the village which gave us the taste of Jojawar’s quieter side of life. The streets bustling with kids scampering around, excited at the site of tourists, old men sitting under trees discussing who was the oldest among them all while one fellow busy shearing the sheep’s wool.

The camel herding Rabaris are an ethnic group only to be found around Jojawar. We take a break under the shade of a drooping acacias next to a very beautiful small shrine dedicated to a folk deity – Mamoji, where terracotta horses are offered in return of divine favours.


The Nature Trail is amazing in Jojawar. The very common Nilgai Antelope, Indian Jackal, Wild Boar have made the estate their home and can be seen quite often. The Indian Spotted Hyena, or an occasional leopard make their nocturnal visits to water here.

With over two hundred species of birds in the area, it is enthralling to spot rare species like the Blue Throated and the Asian Paradise Flycatcher, varieties of White eyes and Red Starts, Silver bills and Prinias. Water bodies host a multitude of water fowl in the winters and if you are lucky you can even spot the very rare Indian Skimmer as it gently skims the water surface feeding.

Train Safari In Rs 4/
Inflation or recession does not seem to have its influence in this village. Here, you have the unique 2 hours train excursion in Rs 4/, sit with locals, have tea at the platform and enjoy the ride from one section of the hill to the highest station in the Aravallis – the Kambli Ghat. You can actually see how laboriously the engine slowly pulls the train winding through the most beautiful forests and hills and valleys. The drive to and back from the stations in our hosts’ resplendent vintage Chevy was done in full style.

Kiss The Turtle Goodbye!
Away from hectic schedules and frenetic urban pace, I discovered blissful sleep. It happened. In far away Jojawar. Much pampering and many beautiful surprises! I kissed the turtle baby goodbye – in the hope of returning someday……….

Friday, September 11, 2009

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Sunday, June 14, 2009

Fizzi Travel Turkey Shots

Ballooning In Cappadocia!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Fizzi - Travel

Wherever I May ROME

I walked the cobbled streets of the land of ‘Pizzas’ and ‘Piazzas’ marked by the footsteps of Michelangelo, Caesar, Napoleon and Mussolini…… a host of literary giants…….Dante, Byron, Keats, Charles Dickens…. shone up.

How do I begin talking about Rome? Is it The
Colloseum of Roman times which is impregnated in my mind or the Renaissance Art of the Trevi Fountain? Is it the beautiful poetry of Keats that moves me or is it walking into the ‘very real’ Prada, Valentino, Gucci, Fendi, Missoni and Armani boutiques that fascinates me? Or is it simply those wonderful moments I cherished with my hubby and a dear friend, Christoph chatting over so many cups of Caffee Latte, buying paintings straight from the artist at Piazza Navona and sitting on the Spanish steps just looking around….

History, Literature, Architecture. Fashion, Style, Art & Culture. Monuments, Fountains, Statues, Museums, Galleries, Piazzas…..Modern, Traditional, Romantic, Affordable……the eternal city of Rome has just about everything.
Every corner of each street has a story to tell. Thousands of stories together tell the history of a three thousand year old city.

Located on the River Tiber, among the Apennine Mountains and the Tyrrhenian Sea, Rome, is one of the world's oldest cities as well as one of the principal centers of European culture. With the enclave of the Vatican City within its territory, Rome is also the center of Roman Catholicism.
History says, the city of Rome was founded by the
Romulus and Remus in 753 BC. Archaeological evidence supports claims that Rome was inhabited since the 8th century BC and earlier. The city was the cradle of Roman civilization that produced the largest and longest-lasting empire of classical antiquity that reached its greatest extent in AD 117. The city was pivotal and responsible for the spread of Greco-Roman culture that endures to this day. Rome is also identified with the Roman Catholic Church and has been the episcopal seat of the Popes since the 1st century AD. The State of the Vatican City, the sovereign territory of the Holy See and smallest nation in the world, is an Enclave of Rome.
Rome, Caput mundi ("capital of the world"), Limen Apostolorum ("threshold of the Apostles"), la città dei sette colli ("the city of the
seven hills") or simply l'Urbe ("the City"), is thoroughly modern and cosmopolitan. As one of the few major European cities that escaped World War II relatively unscathed, central Rome remains essentially Renaissance and Baroque in character. The Historic Centre of Rome is listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site by virtue of its three thousand years of accumulated history and art: a city of the divine and the sublime, of gods, kings, emperors and popes — Città Eterna — the "Eternal City".

Rome is a city that rewards you for wandering around. So if you don’t plan your itinerary well, you will not do justice to the amazing city.

Essential Rome!
I started with one of the remarkable symbols of Rome, The
Colosseum, the largest amphitheatre ever built in the Roman Empire. The hugest structure of its type in the ancient Rome, the elliptical-shaped Colosseum, took about ten years to build. Originally capable of seating 50,000 spectators, it was used for gladiatorial combat. Just outside the Colosseum is the ‘Arch of Constantine’ (Arco di Costantino), a 25m high monument built in AD 315 to mark the victory of Constantine over Maxentius at Pons Milvius.

Do not miss the
Roman Forum, the Domus Aurea, the Pantheon, the Trajan's Column, the Trajan's Market, the Catacombs of Rome, the Circus Maximus, the Baths of Caracalla, the Arch of Constantine, the Pyramid of Cestius, the Bocca della Verità and of course, the Piazzas and the Squares.

The Pantheon, originally dedicated as a temple to "All the Gods," is one of the most impressive buildings of the Imperial Rome. The most complete ancient Roman structure in the city, the Pantheon, finished around 125AD, is still to be marveled at for its enormous dome. Inside, you can visit the tomb of Raphael.
The Church of San Clemente. With a Mithraic temple in its lower levels, an earlier Christian church above, and a medieval basilica above that, San Clemente is Rome's unique history in microcosm. The Galleria Borghese is one of the city's finest small collections, with a fantastic array of Bernini statues.
Rome's squares are one of the main attractions, perhaps 'the core' of the city itself. Piazzas are ideal for meeting each other, chat, have fun and look around with a cup of coffee.
Piazza del Campidoglio is the headquarter of the Italian Government; Piazza Venezia represents the 'heart of the city'; Piazza Navona displays the spectacular Baroque triumphant architecture; Piazza di Spagna is a masterpiece of the 18th century with its famous Spanish steps and, last but not least, St Peter's Square is the majestic access to St Peter's Basilica, the centre of Christianity.

One of the most emblematic examples of the Baroque Art is the ‘Fontana di Trevi’ by
Gian Lorenzo Bernini. Located in the rione of Trevi, The Trevi Fountain is the largest — standing 25.9 meters (85 feet) high and 19.8 meters (65 feet) wide — and most ambitious of the Baroque fountains of Rome. Throw a coin by the fountain and ensure your return there.

For those who hold interest in museums and galleries, it is worthwhile to check out the
National Museum of Rome, the Museum of Roman Civilization, the Villa Giulia National Etruscan Museum, the Capitoline Museums, the Borghese Gallery, the Museum of Castel Sant'Angelo and the National Gallery of Modern Art.

It’s Raining Fashion!
Now this is one area which I couldn’t have dreamt of. The top notch designers’ boutique-lined alley that all meet up with Via del Corso, beginning from Piazza di Spagna: Via Condotti, Via Borgognona and Via Frattina.
The most famous of the three streets is Via Condotti, its name is related to the channels that carried water to the Agrippa thermal spa baths. Today it is one of the most classy streets in the world with the most famous fashion labels such as Bulgari, who opened his "atelier" here in 1905, Hermés, Cartier, Ferragamo and Battistoni, a historical Roman atelier of male tailored fashion that was a favorite of the Duke of Windsor.In Via Borgognona there are other famous names: Ferré, Fendi, Laura Biagiotti, "the queen of cashmere" and Gai Mattiolo, a young Roman fashion designer who has recently entered the elite of famous designer labels. Finally, in Via Frattina, there are the ateliers of Tiffany, Versace and Byblos.

Shopping Can Be Fun!
Many streets in the old city center are still full of traditional Roman craftsmen’s shops: old-style carpenters and expert restorers are still concentrated in Via dei Cappellari. Via dei Sediari has been famous for hundreds of years for chairs, armchairs and other household objects made from wickerwork. The expert wrought iron forgers’ laboratories can be found in Via degli Orsini. Via Santa Dorotea is the place to go for vases and other painted ceramic pieces. In Via dei Gigli d'Oro you can find reproductions of antique mosaics. Rome’s antique shops are located in Via dei Coronari, Via Giulia, Via Margutta, Via del Babuino and Via del Pellegrino.

The city's many markets provide a change of pace from Rome's busy shopping streets. Many of these are bustling local food markets, and, even in the centre, are still very much part of Roman life. The Campo de' Fiori market is probably the most central of these. Otherwise there's Trastevere's Porta Portese flea market, a venue for antiques, clothing, books, and indeed virtually anything else, every Sunday morning.

Eating Out
Pasta, Pizza, Coffee and Wine. Savour it all. Here, it is not necessary to search for restaurants. Everywhere you will find small and nice trattorie, osterie and ristoranti. Good, honest pizzerias at every street, churning out thin, crispy-baked pizza from wood-fired ovens.
Take a pause, sit on the Spanish steps, and watch the world go by. This one spot provides views of the ancient, medieval, Renaissance and Risorgimento Rome all at once. The city is Caput Mundi. Always was, always will be.

Don’t Miss
· The Colloseum
· The Trevi fountain (remind Anita Ekberg in the classic scene in La Dolce Vita)
· The Spanish Steps,
· The Roman heritage sights such as the Pantheon,
· The Vatican City with the incredibly huge St. Peter's Cathedral and the unrivalled Vatican Museum.

· My hubby in a cute boutique barged into the curtained trial room, to be welcomed by an Italian lady who nearly fainted. He said ‘Gracias’ (thank you) out of nervousness instead of sorry!
· I had pizzas and pastas on the roadside as I would have gol gappas in my Delhi.