The forests of Sariska and Ranthambore pleasantly surprised me. Ranthambore, the vast wildlife reserve, was the hunting grounds for the kings of Rajasthan. Today it is the best place to spot a tiger. The national animal can be spotted roaming around on the edges of the forest or even basking under the sun during the cold, winter months. It is also home to leopards, jaguars and marsh crocodiles. Sariska is another tiger reserve in Rajasthan, located near the royal town of Alwar. With the Aravali Hills in the background, the landscapes of Sariska are enthralling. But what adds to the magic is the big population of tigers and leopards, hiding away in the haunting beauty of the jungle.
The beauty of this desert state has always bewitched me but there were a few instances that ranked above every other travel experience ever.
The time when I was introduced to the helpfulness of Rajasthan,
The first time I travelled to Jaipur, the capital city of Rajasthan, I was amazed to see the chaos that ruled the streets. It was proof of the sheer vibrancy that ran in the streets like blood runs in our veins. And this was where I first experienced the undying hospitality of the Rajasthani people. I was all alone in some old bazars, looking for some traditional jootis (a type of footwear), that everyone told me I had to get if I was travelling to Jaipur! But there was so much to see and buy and enjoy in the streets that I got lost. I was only 18 at that time and honestly, a little scared of being lost in such a busy market. That was when, an old uncle, probably a shop owner, caught my eye, welcomed me into his shop and helped me calm down. He offered me roohafza, asked me what I was doing there all alone, helped me find a trustworthy rikshawala and sent me off with him back to my hotel. I was so relieved and thankful for his generosity that the fear and helplessness turned into a constant grin for the rest of the day.
The timewhen I was introduced to the craftsmenship of Rajasthan,
I was in Jaisalmer, walking around the fort, when I noticed that every house has something unique but eerily familiar about it – carved exteriors. It was not just the rooms of kings and queens in the palaces that were ornately carved, every house on the street was decorated with beautifully crafted doors, windows and even walls. The legacy of the kings had trickled down to the general public and you could see the influence of the Rajputana craftsmen all over the city. This was such a wonderful thing to see that I found myself in awe of the amazement that was this state.
That time when I saw the beauty of a jungle in a state famous for its desert,
My most memorable experience in Rajasthan was when I visited the National Parks – Sariska and Ranthambore. Sariska made me believe that there was more to a jungle than just large cats and Ranthambore showed me why those very large cats are so coveted. I spotted many deer, monkeys and peacocks in Sariska, and I was also rewarded with a leopard sighting. But it was in Ranthambore that I finally saw a tiger. I had been to many tiger reserves in India, but this elusive animal remained just that for me. But finally, it was in Ranthambore that I spotted the tiger and was left mesmerised.