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 soufflĂ© 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……….