Sunday, August 25, 2013

Beauty Amid the Mystery


You remember we featured this luxe hotel - Suryagarh, located at the outskirts of Jaisalmer sometime back? If you do, then we promised that we will also be featuring some of the most interesting and mysterious places that we visited during our leisure trip...
So, here we are with our second in the same Travel series! This feature is all about the mysterious trails that we explored, at the weird timings of day and night both... and, of course some beautiful, magical monsoon trails as well that we followed during our haunted journey. Dr. Supriya Himanshu, who went on this trip will be sharing her first-hand experience in the paragraphs to be followed, down below.

The Abandoned, Cursed & Haunted Kuldhara/ KhabaVillage... Near Jaisalmer!!
 This was my first travel experience where I was not just reviewing a luxury hotel, but was also witnessing the places laden with mysteries, the spooky, the tragic, and the weird past. Oh, what an unusual travel it was. What to begin with? I'm sure most of you would like to read the haunted first. The picture above is of the deserted, and the mysterious village near Jaisalmer, named Khaba. I took this picture from the remains of this ancient fort, called Khaba fort. Now, how old is this fort, nobody knows the exact details, but as per archaeologists, it is believed to be as old as the village itself. Khaba is approximately 15 kilometers from the well-known cursed village - Kuldhara. Well, both the villages are believed to be cursed, which means that the remains of the village that you see in the picture are un-touched. You must be curious to know what's this curse all about? The villages, both Kuldhara & Khaba are believed to the abodes of Paliwal Brahmins (Hindus), some 300 years ago. But, as per the prevailing stories, the villages were abandoned overnight because of some cruel ruler then, who was disgracing the young girls of the village each night!
We don't know much about these facts, but were told by our guide from Suryagarh Hotel, when we decided to visit the super-cursed Kuldhara Village at 1.30 in mid-night that the house of the village head, which still is in the same deserted shape, has the spirit of his daughter who he killed, just to save the villagers.
A night that I won't forget the rest of my life! We were 9 'She' writers, who were on this 'Chudail Trail' (Witch trail) at the spookiest time of the night, exploring the haunted mystery. No street lights, no sounds, no humans... just the guide, and we women. Are you thinking that we found the witches there? Of course not, but it was thrill. It was more about seeing a deserted village, and wondering what actually went wrong here. The most surprising thing about both the villages is that they are totally abandoned, which means nobody either tried to build new houses on the remains, nor even decided to settle nearby. Quite a scary night that was...
Royal's Chhatris (Cenotaphs)... Some Kings had 1, and Some had 17 Wives!
 I will shift your focus on the day time adventure now. Post our spooky night, we decided to head to a trail that was all about history. So, the first stop was the Cenotaphs of the Royals of Jaisalmer. While the Chhatris are brilliant, all revealing the history of the royals, their life, and what century they were from, but there were a couple of weird things about these beautiful cenotaphs. As a woman, I strongly feel that. Why? Because, the kings seemed to have had gala time. How? They had so many wives, one of the cenotaphs had king, holding a sword, and good 17 women around him. It's kind of weird, but still remains a fact. But you see, the next one will make you feel even more sad...
Sad Ground of Sati's, who Immolated Themselves to Save Their Grace...
This is the place where married women, willingly or unwillingly would go for Sati, along called as Jauhar. This means they would immolate themselves alive, with their dead husband. Visiting this place was the most sad experience of this trip. I won't even say - imagine, as it is beyond imagination. Thankfully, the ritual in the name of tradition is no more existing in the present India, yet to re-visit the history when you click such candid images, even the thought of the past makes you shiver like anything...
The Magic of Monsoon...
 Let bygones be bygones, and shift our focus on the beauty of present now. So, next on this journey was chasing the beautiful monsoon. Oh yes, it was totally a fabulous experience. I have lived in Rajasthan all through my live (except the last decade), and was truly surprised to see such thundering clouds in a city that's so close to the well-known desert -Sam. Indeed, my last visit to Jaisalmer 2 decades back was all about seeing the dry zone, with fine sand all around. and guess what? This trip was all about chasing clouds, rains and the hidden oasis.
All set to Spell the Cast!
 Look at the vast plains that are not that dry the way they used to be. They are way greener, and have the feel of moist, which comes during the monsoon season. We were thrilled to capture this beauty. The weather was just so amazing, and the companions were all women, like icing on the cake!
Road That Takes you to Pakistan...
Take a look at the road, which we followed just to enjoy the magic of this superb monsoon, the cool breeze, and the lush green pastures. Hang on! Did I not add the oasis that came as a surprise to us, suddenly, tucked-in behind the rocky hills. It was the ecstatic moment of my life. It was like a landscape that you visualize, and see in your idiot box. Look at the picture below. What a beautiful oasis it is. A tree with a typical landscape shape right in the centre of the oasis.
A Landscape That will Steal Your Heart 
While travels and reviews are usually about enjoying the places, the exotic cuisines, the local shopping, the candid clicks of our near and dear ones, this travel of mine was all about following the trails that took me to the world of mysteries, history, beautiful pastures, and above all the surprise water bodies, which were a clear indication....   Life is beautiful!!

Special thanks to Manvendra Singh Shekhawat from Suryagarh Hotel, who took an extra effort to take 'us' on this beautiful journey of chasing these splendid trails.

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