Saturday, 26 November 2011

The Largest cattle fair : PUSHKAR, INDIA

Camel Safari in Pushkar
Pushkar Cattle FairVisit Exotic India !!


Are you a lover of animals? Do you enjoy adventure? If so, include PUSHKAR CATTLE FAIR in your tour itinerary when you visit India. Pushkar has the distinction of holding the largest cattle fair in the world. A small sleepy town in the state of Rajasthan, Pushkar suddenly wakes up from its slumber every year in the months of October - November to welcome thousands of cattle and their owners who flock there for business. The atmostphere suddenly reverberates with bleating and neighing of animals. A truly wonderful sight!!

The rugged sandy terrain adds an exotic charm to the whole scenario. The  very colorful attire of the Rajasthani locals accentuates the beauty of the fair, transforming it into a virtual fairy land. People of all sizes and shapes flock to this massive fair as owners, traders, dancers, musicians and of course, tourists from all over the world.

The nights are seen to be believed. The sound and smell of cattle mingles with the cooking done under the open sky by locals and  produces an intoxicating affect on a visitor. The bewitching NUT DANCERS accompanied by bards and musicians, dancing around a bonfire is simply haunting.

The mornings resume with the usual haggling between buyers and sellers of cattle. The fair exhibits a dazzling array of best of the CAMELS, HORSES, DONKEYS, COWS, BULLOCKS and other animals found in INDIA. The animals are beautifully decked-up to attract prospective buyers. A photo session with a handsomely  caparisoned camel is a must as a souvenir.

TOURISTS flock to Pushkar to see all this and more. The Tourism department of Rajasthan organizes, CAMEL RACES, HORSE RACES, DESERT SAFARI, STREET THEATRES, THE FAMED NUT DANCES and other events to showcase the rich culture and rural lifestyle of the state.. Performances, art and handicraft are another major attraction. Various sports like football, Kabadi competitions are organised between foreigners and locals.

ANOTHER interesting highlight of the fair is the BRIDAL COMPETITION FOR FOREIGNERS which displays an excellent combination of the alien beauty and indigenous culture.

Besides, the fair, Pushkar also brings in lakhs of devotees to participate in the ritual bath on KARTIK EKADASHI on the land of LORD BRAHMA.

HOTELS : There is no dirth of accommodation as a large number of hotels have mushroomed in recent years offering  comfortable accommodation.                             

How to reach Pushkar:                                                        Tribal Rajasthani dancer

Nearest airport  : Jaipur 146 kms

Nearest railway station : Ajmer  11 kms

Raj Prateek Verma

Friday, 18 November 2011

Delhi : Just more than a Capital

                            She entrances every sense

Visit Exotic India !!

Delhi is more than a capital. It was the seat of the Moghuls, a place where the most chaste Urdu was spoken. It believed it had the best looking women, the finest mangoes, the most talented poets and its famous mehfils ( recitation of urdu poetry before a choice audience).


The advent of Islam in India marked the beginning of a new phase in the art of dancing and music. Though prohibited by their religion, Muslim rulers and nobles continued to patronize it. The temples ceased to be the centre of dance in North India and the focus shifted to the royal palaces and courts of Kings and Omrahs (nobles).  During the later Mughal period, dancing girls were at the zenith of their glory. LAL KUNWAR, a nautch girl, reached the pinnacle of success when she married JAHANDAR SHAH, the moghul emperor. Another pleasure loving Mughal, Mohammad Shah Rangila, also married a dancing girl, UTTAM BAI, later known as QUDSIA BEGUM. A mosque built by her still stands in Delhi by her name.

Sahibs And Nautch girls:

The nautch girls enthralled the white sahibs for nearly two centuries. 'Delicate in person, soft in her features, perfect in form', she captivated the hearts of ordinary Englishmen by her charm and grace, enthralled the more sophisticated among them by her conversation and wit and enraptured the elite with her nautch which some of them found 'superior to all the operas in the world'.
The sahibs were captivated by the feminine charm of young Indian girls. There were plenty of pretty Indian girls found in Delhi and their bronze tint was naturally agreeable to the sahibs rather than the fair skins of the English women.
The nautch became a common form of entertainment at the mansions of the English merchants turned rulers after the Battle of Plassey . The British visitors to the Indian princes' durbars were struck by their pageantry, glamour and glitter. The Rajahs and nawabs kept troupes of accomplished nautch girls and musicians The nautch girls were slowly accepted by the early English and their dances became a permanent feature in an English gathering.

                           What is the best of sights?
                            The face of a satisfied girl
                            The best of odour?
                             Her breath
                            Of sound? Her voice.
                            The best of tastes? Her lips.
                            Of contacts? Her body.
                            The best of thoughts? Her beauty!
                              she entrances every sense!

                                                                - Bhartihari (AD 600)

Raj Prateek Verma


Saturday, 12 November 2011

Delhi and the Moguls : A first hand account

Visit Exotic India !!

                                                                                     DIWAN-i-AM (HALL OF PUBLIC AUDIENCE, RED FORT, DELHI)






Marble wall decor,  Diwan-i-Khas, Red Fort. New Delhi, India (color)


Sunlight coming in to Marble crafted palace Diwan-i-Khas of Red Fort in Delh, India Stock Photo - 7494395



Precious and semi-precious stones inlaid in marble

AD 1656 -1668

Do you have plans to visit New Delhi, the capital of India?

If you are planning to visit Delhi, Red Fort will surely figure as one of your tourist destinations because if you do not visit Red Fort then you have not visited Delhi. 

Before you visit the Red Fort, I would request you to go through the passage written below to give you a very vivid picture of the Mogul 'Durbar'. This paragraph is a description of The Great Moguls and their lifestyle as witnessed by Bernier who was in  the Mogul court from 1656 to 1668 i.e. during the rule of SHAH JEHAN (The builder of TAJ MAHAL )and his son AURANGZEB. 

We should be indebted to this French doctor who wrote down his memoirs giving us a first hand account of our glorious and grand past. The following passage is an excerpt of his recordings:


" The King appeared seated on his throne, at the end of a great hall (Diwan-i-Am) in the most magnificent attire. His vest was of white and delicately flowered satin, with silk and golden embroidery of the finest texture. The turban of gold cloth, had an aigrette whose base was composed of diamond of extraordinary size (Perhaps the famous 'KOHINOOR' ) and value, besides an Oriental Topaz, exhibiting a lustre like the sun."

He further writes " I can assure you that there is a confusion of diamonds as well as other jewels and that the throne is valued at Four kourous (crores)(1 crore=10 million)of roupies. ( Incidentally, he is describing the PEACOCK THRONE built by SHAH JEHAN, the builder of Taj). The throne was supported by six massy feet, said to be of solid gold, sprinkled over with rubies, emralds, and diamonds. I cannot tell you with accuracy the number or value of this vast collection of precious stones, because no person may approach sufficiently near to reckon them, or judge of their water and clearness.

The hall (Hall of public audience) has a ceiling covered with gold. The hall is raised considerably from the ground, and very airy, being open on three sides that look into the court. In the centre of the wall that separates the hall from the seraglio, and higher from the floor than a man can reach, is a wide and lofty opening, or a large window (The celebrated Jharoka, still to be seen ), where the Monarch every day sits on the throne, with his sons at his left and right; while eunuchs standing about the royal person flap away the flies with peacock's tail, agitate the air with large fans. Immediately under the throne in an enclosure, surrounded by silver rails, which are assembled the whole body of Omrahs, the Rajas, and the Ambassadors, all standing, their eyes bent downwards, and their hands crossed. At a greater length from the throne are the Mansabdars or inferior Omrahs, also standing in the same posture of profound reverence."

"The pillars of the hall were hung with brocades of gold and flowered satin. Canopies were raised over the whole expanse of the extensive apartment fastened with silken cords from which were suspended large tassels of silk and gold. "

"A tent called 'ASPEK' pitched outside, was larger than the great hall. It was completely enclosed by a great balustrade, covered with silver. It was supported by pillars overlaid by silver and gold. The outside of this magnificent tent was red and the inside lined with elegant Maslipatnam chintzes, figured expressly for that ver purpose with flowers so natural and colors so vivid, that the tent seemed to be encompassed with real parterres."

Unfortunately, the severe retribution by the English after recapturing Delhi in 1857 led to a demolition of many beautiful monuments and structures within the Red Fort. Before 1857 mutiny, the Naqar Khana (House of drums) gave on to an enclosed courtyard leading up to Diwan-i-Khas (House of public audience). However, today both these structures stand as isolated buildings , the original effects being absolutely lost.

Raj Prateek Verma

Thursday, 10 November 2011

OH!! Delhi : Remembering the glorious past

Visit Exotic India !!Great Mogul and his Court Returning from the Great Mosque at Delhi India
                                     The Great Mogul Emperor returning from the famous mosque 'Jama Masjhid'

Oh! Delhi.

What we see of Delhi and its monuments now, is a pale reflection of Delhi of The Great Moguls. It is hard for us to even have a figment of imagination of the opulence, grandeur and the aristocratic culture of the Moguls.
I find many a tourists awestruck visiting the Taj or the Red Fort. However, what they fail to realize that whatever the Red Fort offers now is perhaps one fourth of the original monument. The mutiny of 1857 and the  savage and brutal retribution by the English after the 1857 mutiny ( 'The first war of Independence' for us, Indians) resulted in demolition of some extremely beautiful structures within the fort as well as outside it. The famous 'Chandi Chowk' , a road running from one end of the city to the entrance of the fort, had a 'nehar' or a canal with fountains in the middle of the road, with the water from the Yamuna feeding it all the time. The purpose of this canal, apart from beautification, was to provide relief to the common man by keeping the temperatures cool . All this was demolished by the the East India Company in order to widen the road
, thereby robbing the city of its oriental charm.

Delhi holds the dubious distinction of being a capital that was ravaged, plundered, burnt, raped and razed to ground for seven times in the past. The last poet Mogul king 'Bahadur Shah Zaffar' , was captured by the English, put on a farcical trial in the Red Fort, his own home. He was imprisoned in the Red Fort throughout this trial, was found guilty of treason and was banished for life to Rangoon. It was during his banishment that he wrote this poem with a charcoal on the wall. It reflects the pain and  the insult he was made to suffer and his immense love for his 'delhi'. He wrote this poem for his beloved Delhi:

                        When as you came in silks and dazzled            
                         Me with the beauty of your Springs,               Bahadur Shah Zaffar, the last Mogul
                         You brought a new flower into bloom,
                         The wound of love within my being.
                         You lived with me, breath of my breath,
                          And did not part from me a while;
                         But now the wheel of Time has turned           
                         And you have left without a smile.

                        You pressed your lips once on my lips,
                        Your heart upon my beating heart'
                        But all my trust and pride in you
                        Lies crushed and shattered now, alas.    

                        And now I have no wish to fall                                            
                        In love with the faithless fair again,
                        For they who sold love's remedy
                        Have shut their shop for good and gone!

More of Beautiful Delhi in my next post
I hope  I have been able to provide a fleeting glimpse of 'Dilli  ' of the past.            


Raj Prateek Verma                        
                                                                                                                            Imprisoned in Red Fort during his trail                                                  

Saturday, 5 November 2011


Visit Exotic India !!

Views of Thimpu and the surrounding areas.


Bhutan is a neigbhouring  country of India. This  Himalayan Kingdom is ruled by a Monarch having its capital at THIMPU. Thimpu has the unique distinction of being the smallest capital of the world. Situated at a height of 7375 ft above the sea level and nestling in the Himalayas, it is a sheer delight for the tourist.

Bhutan remained closed to the outside world till recent past in order to preserve its culture and from western influence. Thimpu offers its visitors a land bountiful . Situated in a valley, it offers the most beautiful flora and fauna one can ever imagine. This visual treat is mind boggling which makes an everlasting impression.


One can view the Himalayas in all its grandeur!  Shopping in the small but beautifully decorated shops is a treat in itself. These shops offer a wide range of ethnic goods, decorative pieces, handicraft, souvenirs etc. to keep one occupied for a long time. One can also buy beautiful silk clothes, precious stones, ornaments and decorative motiffs to take back home.

FESTIVALS:Buddhism is the state religion. Most of the festivals are connected with Buddhism and they are celebrated in the various DZONGS. These festivals are a delightful mix of rituals, dances and music..

OUTDOOR ACTIVITIES :  there are plenty of options for outdoor activities a person can indulge in. Some of them are Hiking, river rafting, excursions, wildlife excursions fishing etc.


1. Tashichho Dzong ( Fortress of Glorious Religion)

2. Sintokha Dzong ( Oldest, built in 1627)

3. Streets of Thimpu.


There are some very good hotels that have come up recently offering a comfortable lodging. Some of the better known hotels are as follows:

1. The Peling Hotel
2. Yeezdin Guest House
3. Wangchuck Hotel
4.Hotel Jumolhari
5.Hotel Dragon Roots
6. Druk Hotel
7. Hotel Senge

Thimpu does not have a vibrant night life but there are some night clubs and pool rooms one can visit. here is a list of the night clubs and pool rooms:
1. The Plum's restaurant
2. The Buzz Lounge
3. The Space 34 night club
4. 4 Degree (pool club)
5. The Zone (pool club)


Airways : Druk Airways, the national air carrier, has regular flights from Kolkata, Delhi, Dacca, Bangkok and Kathmandu.

Road : From Kolkata one can reach Siliguri by bus or taxi and then embark on a 180 km journey to Thimpu.

Railways. All major Indian cities are well connected by rail to New Jalpaiguri station. Thimpu can be reached from New Jalpaiguri by road , a distance of 180 km. There are innumerable taxis and buses to ferry passengers from New Jalpaiguri to Thimpu.

Raj Prateek Verma