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Friday, 11 August 2017

Long Weekend Leisure


As I pack my bags for another sojourn- I write about my last week's travel shenanigans. Long weekends start when you reach the end of Gurgaon's noxious-air on to NH 48. This one was made extra special as we were travelling as a family of three sisters, three kids and one set of parents! The fact that we were celebrating 75th of our dad's, was what made the trip even more eagerly awaited- also one sibling had travelled for the three-day visit, all the way from Singapore-  another reason this had better turn out well! Pressure!
A panoramic scene of the fortress and beyond

After zeroing in on the location, after a lot of back and forth, we hit upon Tijara Fort, Gram- Hasanpurmafi, Tehsil Tijara, District Alwar, Rajasthan - one of the 23 properties of the Neemrana chain of hotels- also a recent one.
Tijara- A Treasure Tucked Away...
Tiajra is a 19th century fort which has been restored and revitalised over a decade. The suites and rooms have been named to honour India's leading painters, designers, and aesthetes. Tijara Fort-Palace's seven terraced gardens have been compared to the Hanging Gardens of Babylonia - one of the Seven wonders of the ancient world – and the ruins to Machu Picchu! Most rooms offer views of the Aravalli ranges & countryside. Some overlook the Hawa Mahal, the hanging gardens & the pool. Ours had a vantage point of the Date tree lined plains below!
The Camelcade!

Holed up in the Hotel!
The hotel does not have in-room televisions and does not offer room service. The intention to disconnect from technology is there but what would one do with uninterrupted panoramic views that the hotel offers - but capture them in selfies and non-selfies(if theres such a term !) So you will find hotel guests clicking away to glory! and why not!
There are activities on demand at the hotel that include Camel Ride  Billiards,  Badminton, Table Tennis, Spa and of course lazing by the pool- a poor substitute to a beach, but heck bring out your beach dresses and kaftans- swim we can, later! Also, enroute the short drive from Delhi to Tijara (2.30 hrs!) one encountered  traffic jams of a different kind and bumpy roads in patches!

Cow girl in the mirror!
Breathe Deep!
Relaxing ambience, laid back pace and a quiet charm of history in the fort receives you much before the front office executive. Vistas spread across your line of sight as unappreciated jewels in the sand. You take a moment to capture them and insta story them- but No connectivity! There, welcome back to a time when you enjoyed a holiday for your own sake. There are patches where you can still smuggle, cheat, internet moments- but largely you remain in the quest of signal!
Things not to do!
If you're the outdoorsy kind, this place isn't for you- though you could still do a lot of sightseeing, or hop across to Fort Neemrana to satiate your adventure streak, if time permits. Start with a tour of the fort itself then move to other places of interest in Alwar District - which is mind you - quite a drive away( an hour plus). There's Tijara Jain temple, Suraj Mukhi Kund,  Bhatari (Former Ala-ud-Din Alam Shah Tomb in Tijara), Alwar government Museum Palace Museum in Alwar,  Alwar Fort City Palace,  Bala Quila  Vijay Mandir Palace,  Neelkanth Temple, Hanuman Temple,   Karni Mata Temple, Moosi Maharani Ki Chhatri ... phew! and Sariska national Park and  Bhangarh fort...
But be warned- its a long weekend you've gone for, not a week! So ration your time well...
The long and short of it
Jungle Safari much?
We ventured out to the Bala Quila in Alwar in search of the museum but were greeted by eager jungle safari guides and we soon whisked away in a modified off-roader! Off season jungle safari saw us spotting Peacocks and more peacocks! Sambhars added to the intrigue I must say! The museum, we were told was shut and parts of the fort under renovation amidst visible signs of habitation within the fort precincts- such is the state of heritage buildings!

Bala Quila Courtyard -Padharo Maare Desh

You exit the fort's majestic gates but not before catching a glimpse of the entire Alwar town through its port whole of a window!
An eye on the town

Long weekend holidays are to rejuvenate and relax and that's exactly what we did- a spa treatment at the Tijara Fort property - Balinese one at that! An infusion of orange and lavender and the massaging  techniques of applying the right kind of pressure made up for the horrible culinary options in dusty bazaars of Alwar town earlier that day.
Amidst the three-day quietude at the heritage hotel's Arpana Mahal- our abode, there were flashes of a cultural show by Rajastahni artists- not sure of their authenticity in being true to the musical traditions of the state as the Manganiyars and the Langas are- but an evening worth spending with the kids as they joined in the revelry in the end!
The hotel I suggested, could do with a small library to pass time and also a more proactive training intervention with the staff. There was hospitality and a warmth spread across the faces of the helpful staff but not necessarily a consistent one across verticles.
We started out from the Hathi Mahal -the reception area of the Fort, but not before clicking a few fancy, yet shaky Instax polaroids.  Not before also, keeping a part of the Rani Mahal, as captured in water colours - sketched in my heart! Enjoy the long weekend and tell us where you're headed!
A beauty I say...