How would the royals spend an introspective evening? I have no experience of it; but lying lazily at the terrace of the Lake Palace Hotel at Alwar overlooking the Silisehr lake and the adjoining rolling hillocks, with a gorgeous ambience created by the cool evening breeze after a hot summer afternoon, and the fading rays of the disappearing sun, I felt like a royal. The evening was stimulating all my senses to the core. We had driven down to Alwar in Rajasthan in the morning. It is just a couple of hours drive from Delhi along the Delhi-Jaipur highway, and then taking the Bhiwadi bypass route. Compared to usual roadways in India, this stretch is excellent.
Three of us, Balaji, Nilanjan and I had driven to Alwar on a Saturday morning. We had heard about a fort in Alwar in one of our earlier trips. It is called the Bala Qila. Unfortunately, when we reached the fort we came to know that it was under renovation and was closed to visitors, unless one gets a permit from the collectors office. I called up to find that the permit was easy to obtain, but it required us to drive another 10
km, and nobody was in a mood for that. The details about the fort were impressive. It is 3km long and 5 km wide, and nicely ensconced in the Aravalli ranges. At some places the hills made the fort walls unnecessary, and at others we could see stairs along the fort walls that climbs to the top of the hillock. It would be nice to take a day walk along the fort walls once it is fully renovated. If the government finally opens up the fort for visitors instead of turning it into some private hotel, this would certainly be another of the forts of Rajasthan worth visiting.
Disappointed we went searching for a hotel. It didn’t take us long to find the Hotel Lake Palace, another of RTDC’s well-managed efforts. They have converted this old palace into a hotel, and kept it affordable for most tourists. There was nothing much to do in the afternoon but to take a leisurely nap. The evening was a real treat with snacks being served at the terrace, and enjoying the serenity of the place. The lake is surrounded by small hills on all sides. There was a small platform right in
the middle of the lake, which was off-limits for the tourists. This was at some point used by the maharajas to hold dance events. I could imagine what it would be like sitting right in the middle of the lake and enjoy the dance and the music. We are not quite the royals. After dinner, I went up to the topmost terrace, and spent a long time lost in the calmness of the environment. In my opinion, this is really a little paradise in Rajasthan, which is better known for its deserts and forts and barren landscapes. This place would certainly surprise you pleasantly.
Next morning we decided to a bit of sightseeing. The only other place worth visiting is the Jaisamund Lake. But what we saw is that the Jaisamund Lake has completely dried up, and the land is used for farming. It was another disappointment. The other place we had looked up was Bhangarh. The time did not permit us to visit this place too. But, going by the history of Bhangarh, I would recommend some adventurous traveler to give this place a try. This palace complex is supposedly haunted; yes, the locals told us that after
evening it is advisable to stay out of that place. Even our cab driver was worried that we had plans to visit Bhangarh. Visit this webpage if you would like to know more about Bhangarh (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bhangarh), and I can tell you that it is not a place for the faint-hearted, especially when the Archaelogical Survey of India (ASI) posts a message like “STAYING HERE AFTER SUNSET IS STRICTLY PROHIBITED”.
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