Travel Category

Jaipur: UNESCO Walled City and Creative City of Folk Arts and Crafts

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Jaipur is a city with various charms. The royal city of Rajasthan is not just home to forts, palaces and incredible architecture, it is home to intricate arts and crafts. The walled city has joined the ranks of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in India and is also a UNESCO inscribed Creative City of folk arts and crafts. The Pink City as is lovingly called has a rich history of performing culture and craft production. UNESCO celebrates the distinct artistic identity of Jaipur. On a visit to the city, take a look at the creation of the arts and crafts.

Under the patronage of the Kachwahas, different art forms were laid and developed. Today, Jaipur has 30 different crafts forms, and at least 7 mainstream performing arts with 36 craft industries (karkhanas) of different kinds of crafts from textile production to stonework.

The traditional bazaars and popular markets of Jaipur offer a look at these impressive workmanship and shop for these treasures. Here is all that you need to know about the Jaipur’s creations.

1. Blue Pottery

Jaipur Blue Pottery

Jaipur has a reputation for blue pottery. The craftsmanship is used to make objects like flower vases, lamp shades, crockery, jewellery boxes, serving trays and other things. The pottery stands out as it is made of unique quartz stone and has vibrant blue and golden designs, or animal and bird motifs.

2. Lac Bangles

Lac bangles

A fashionable creation, bangles in Jaipur are made of lacquer, a type of varnish from wood. These bangles are strikingly beautiful with bold colors and artistic designs of colorful beads, stones or mirror work.

3. Gems and Metal Jewelry

Jaipur jewellery

Jewelry making in Jaipur is as old as the city itself. Crafted in all its sparkling forms in the gold, silver and diamond with delicate Meenakari, Jadau, and Kundan work these handmade crafts make them look gorgeous. The traditional Thewa jewelry has its own charm as well. The jewelry ranges from necklaces, anklets, headgear, pendants, bracelets, nose rings, earrings, etc. Jaipur is also famous for its precious stones and gems.

4. Textiles

Textiles are also a specialty of Jaipur. These textiles are hand-made in vibrant shades and made unique with block printing and different styles. Bandhani sarees are among the famous creations of Jaipur as are odhnis, shawls, scarves, and more turbans. Plant based paints and hand-made designs are the reason the textiles are uniquely wonderful.

5. Miniature Paintings

Another handcrafted treasure of Jaipur are miniature paintings. Made from natural paints derived from plants, minerals, and shells the art does not fade through time. A special feature of the paintings are sparkling effects that is created by crushed powder of precious or semi-precious stones.

6. Wooden Furniture

Jaipur is well-known for its marvellous wooden furniture. They have unique design and motifs, especially latticework. The beautiful wooden furniture includes chairs, stools, cabinets, picture frames, jewelry boxes, household items among many others.

7. Puppets

Puppets in Jaipur

Colourful puppets are one of the best souvenirs of a holiday in Jaipur. Finely crafted by craftsmen at almost every market of the city, puppets are used for home décor or play toys for children.

8. Jootis

An essential part of Rajasthan’s traditional attire, jootis meaning shoes are one of the finely crafted treasures of the city. Worn at the time of festive seasons, marriage ceremonies and special occasions, they are beautifully made from camel leather and embellished with stones and embroidery.

9. Rugs and Carpets

Jaipur is known for the finest hand-made carpets and rugs. Woven in rich colors, patterns, and designs, the wool or silk rugs and carpets are best used as home décor items. You can either watch the artisans weave or shop for the finished products.

10. Marble Handicrafts

Jaipur is world-famous for its handicrafts made of marble. In the bustling city shop for marble statues, sculptures, furniture, table tops, flower vases, serving trays, etc. The fantastic display are perfect for souvenirs.

The arts and crafts of Jaipur are known to offer a fabulous shopping experience. So, when a plan a trip to Jaipur, look beyond the forts, palaces and sightseeing. Explore the creativity and the incredible cultural heritage.

 


India’s Pride at Tokyo Olympics 2020

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India performs its best in the past four decades in Olympics 2021. This year, India was proud with its win of 7 medals. After the delay of the Olympics due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, the Olympics 2020 was conducted this year in Tokyo. India made history and here are the ones who made it.

India at Tokyo Olyimpics

Javelin throw - Neeraj Chopra (Gold)

Hailing from Haryana, the gold medallist has made history. It is the first time an Indian track and field athlete won a gold medal at the Olympics. His fantastic javelin throw has made a golden mark in the pages of Olympics.

Wrestling (57 KG) - Ravi Kumar Dahiya (Silver)

Also, hailing from Delhi’s neighbouring state Haryana, the wrestler won a silver medal.

Weight Lifting (49 Kg Women) - Mirabai Chanu (Silver)

The lady from India’s beautiful North East, Mainpur won a silver medal in weight lifting.

Women’s Singles Badminton - PV Sindhu (Bronze)

A popular sportswoman, P V Sindhu from Hyderabad has won many awards and titles in International and National Championships. She won a bronze for India at the Tokyo Olympics 2021.

Women’s Welterweight Boxing - Lovlina Borgohain (Bronze)

A first time athlete in the Olympics, the women boxer made her name in the pages of history with a bronze medal in Olympics 2021.

Hockey Indian Hockey Team (Bronze)

Bringing glory to India after four decades, the Hockey Team won the bronze medal for the country.

Wrestling (65 Kg) - Bajarang Punia (Bronze)

Last but not the least, the Indian wrestler won a bronze medal for India.

While the Indian Women Hockey Team missed the bronze medal, they surely made history with a tough fight to its opponents.


Travel in the Covid 19 era - Wildflower Hall , Mashobra ( near Shimla)

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First trip out of Delhi since Covid changed life for all of us, and I must say, we couldn’t have chosen a better place to go to. Set among Pine and Deodhar trees at an altitude of about 2600 meters above sea level, a perfect getaway from the heat, dust and pollution of Delhi. 

At first we were rather apprehensive about traveling in Covid times, concerned about cleanliness and safety, but within a few minutes of getting to Wildflower Hall, we actually realised that we felt a lot safer there than we did in Delhi. The new normal, rigorously followed by the hotel, started with the car being sanitised prior to entering, our luggage being sanitised prior to entering, our temperature being checked prior to entering, staff all wearing masks and face shields, rooms sanitised daily etc . 

The experience was only slightly different to normal, with menus being QR codes, the walk through the lobby being with masks, but other than that it was like old times, and very very good with the legendary Oberoi hospitality.

The short 4 day trip has actually given us the confidence to be traveling (at least within India for the moment) again, and has also served the purpose of reaffirming my thoughts , that it’s the good, safe, professionally managed hotels and resorts that will see recovery earlier than the others. Travel is something ingrained in our DNA and it’s bound to bounce back, and safe travel is what everyone is going to be looking for, at least for the near future. 


Popular Hollywood Movies with India as a Backdrop

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India has fascinated travelers since centuries. Be it the history, heritage, culture or other charms, the country is matchless for its incredible experiences. While the Covid-19 Pandemic has kept you to the safety of your homes, there is no reason for you to not enjoy the charms of India. Here’s how you can experience India at the safety of your home; there are a number of popular Hollywood movies that has India has a backdrop and has intricately captured its charm. The fabled land has so much to offer that visitors are left in awe of the sights, experiences, cuisines, adventure, hospitality and more for a lifetime. The love for the country is shared by many movies and filmmakers.

So, if you are missing India and would like to experience the feeling, here’s a list of movies

     1. Octopussy

The classic James Bond movie is shot at the Lake Palace in Udaipur. The beautiful Taj property makes for the perfect setting for the thriller spy movie. If you haven’t been to the ‘City of Lakes’ Udaipur or not actually had a stay in the Lake Palace, this movie is exactly a good look into the luxuries that the royal city of Rajasthan has to offer. The floating lake palace has been covered in its entire grandeur and with the movie you can actually relive the royal splendor.

             2. The Jungle Book

Inspired from the book of same name, this blockbuster movie is an all time favorite. The movie and the books are inspired from the jungles of Pench and the lush wilderness of Central India. If you have not been on a wildlife safari in the jungles of India, this movie will take you on a wild adventure. There is the wild child raised by the wolves, the pack of loving wolves, the severe panther, the loving black bear and the dangerous Royal Bengal Tiger. Relive India and its exotic greenery along with the thrilling adventure.

     3.The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

A sweet and memorable movie of discovering India, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel captures the journey of travelers that make their home in the country. With the movie explore the labyrinthine of fascinating bazaars, opulent palaces and historic sights of the colorful ‘Pink City’ Jaipur and the romantic ‘City of Lakes’ Udaipur. A showcase of quintessential India at its best, this movie is a memory to cherish as are the sights you must be waiting to explore.

     4. The Darjeeling Limited

Based on the plot of a journey across India, The Darjeeling Limited is more of a photo album of the charms of India. Covering various landscapes from the desert to the mountains of the Himalayas, ancient temples to the fascinating luxury train ride, with the movie embark on a journey of India that teaches you, inspires you and makes you fall in love.

     5. The Dark Knight Rises

While this movie is not based in India, it shows a glimpse of the Mehrangarh Fort looming over the Thar Desert. The popular movie shows a scene where the magnificent fortress of Rajasthan in all its glory. And, even that glimpse fascinates you to explore India.

6. Slumdog Millionaire

Probably one of the best Hollywood movies to have shot in India, Slumdog Millionaire is a must watch to enjoy the charms of India. In the movie India, especially Mumbai is painted as a canvas for adventure, aspirations and dreams. The exciting pace of the movie is just a glimpse of the thrills of Mumbai.

Slumdog Millionaire

While there are aplenty of Hollywood movies with India as a backdrop, this is the list that you can watch anytime and enjoy the quintessential charms of India.


Amritsar Revisited

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A few weeks ago, the visit of one of my Aussie friends in India gave me the opportunity to revisit Amritsar, the city of the Golden Temple. Located northwest of Delhi, just a few miles from India’s border with Pakistan, access to Amritsar has improved rapidly in the last couple of years. The Shatabdi trains connecting Delhi with Amritsar is around 6 hours have of course been there for years, but it’s air connectivity that has actually made Amritsar lot more accessible. With frequent daily flights from Delhi as well as from Mumbai, almost all major airlines operate to Amritsar now.

Coming on to the destination itself, of course, there is the Golden Temple, which without a doubt is one among the world's most beautiful places to visit, but Amritsar has a lot more too, and actually a lot of activities and options for tourists. 

Wagah Border

Our trip, after an early afternoon arrival, began with the sundown visit to the Wagah border, where every evening Indian and Pakistani soldiers participate in a colorful and elaborate closing of border gates/lowering of flags / changing of guards ceremony. Call it what you want, but it’s worth a visit. Both countries have constructed mini stadiums, and on this hot summer evening ( hot as is 42 c ) the Indian side had almost 5000 eager tourists, and the Pakistani side about 1000, all cheering their soldiers and dancing to patriotic songs. 

Post the noise, commotion and the cacophony of the Wagah border ceremony, visited the Golden Temple at twilight. The Temple looks magical as the lights come on and are certainly worth, not one, but two visits, one in the evening and the other early morning. It looks different in varying light conditions. With devotees quietly queuing up, religious songs (bhajans ) playing in the background, and the majestic Golden structure as the centerpiece, it’s an amazing experience.  

Golden Temple, Amritsar

But, the Amritsar of today, is a little more, or actually a lot more than just the Wagah Border and the Golden Temple. They’ve been a lot of improvements and changes in the last few years. The area around the Golden Temple is now a pedestrian-only walking street, with clean orderly shops selling local clothing, juttis ( Amritsari sandals ), local food, etc, and there is also ( In addition to the Jalianwala Bagh ) a newly commissioned Partition Museum , that takes the visitor through the history of India’s Independence struggle and the subsequent partition in 1947 . Certainly, a must-visit for everyone. Another great place we visited was the Gobindgarh Fort, located just a few minutes' drive from the Golden Temple. Opened for the public only recently, the Gobindgarh Fort was built in the 18th century, and it now houses a wonderful museum dedicated to the history of the State and the Rulers of Punjab.

Gobindgarh Fort

One of the things we wanted to do but didn’t manage to is the Food Tour of Amritsar. Amritsar has long been known as a foodie’s paradise, and its Amritsari Fish and Chole Bhatura, Stuffed Amritrari Kulcha, etc. are well known throughout India.  The Food tour sounded excellent and was tempting, particularly since it included stops at many of Amritsar’s landmark Dhaba’s ( roadside eateries), but unfortunately, in between doing everything else, we ran out of time for it.

In terms of accommodation and places to stay, the Taj Swarna ( opened about two years ago ) where we stayed, is certainly the best option in Amritsar, but there are plenty of other good hotels too, ranging from the modern Hyatt Amritsar to the homestay style Ranjit’s Svaasa.

As a conclusion, I would like to say, that Amritsar is certainly a well worth it two or three-day extension for anyone traveling to India.