I had never been to Rajasthan, up until this summer. My family and I thought of taking the other way round, to explore offbeat areas in Rajasthan. So we skipped the major attractions, Jaipur, Jaisalmer, Bikaner, Ajmer…..and we went to live in an old Rajasthani palace in small place called Nawalgarh. The Roop Niwas Palace, built by Thakur Roop Singh Ji and Rawal Madan Singh Ji, is converted into a heritage hotel by Club Mahindra folks.
After a long road trip of about 6-7 hours, losing our way intermittently courtesy the off going connections with the GPS, we reached the secluded place of Nawalgarh in the afternoon. We were greeted by peacock songs and rose water. The Roop Niwas Palace in Nawalgarh is cozy and open at the same time. We had booked two rooms, which eventually meant the entire floor. The palace is not that huge with just 15-20 rooms for staying, making the entire experience even more personal.
Once we checked out our spacious rooms, with long archaic mirrors and swinging wooden doors, we were greeted by a beautiful peacock perched on the reception terrace. Suddenly we realized there were far more peacocks and peahens than we had thought. The place was completely enveloped in their sounds.
It was cloudy with faint glimpses of sunlight shining through the clouds. I reached over to our terrace through an opening in the roof, like in olden times when they didn’t really spent on building stairways. I reached on the top and was adjusting my 55-80 mm lens to capture the distant peacock, when I turned around and caught my breath. I saw this.
I walked calmly along with him until he dived into the garden.
We then had lunch, the “Special Rjasthani Thali”, (thinking about which makes me drool) that comprised besan , aloo and paneer ki sabzi, with dal, masala papad, rice, chapatti, raita and chaas. We went for a swim later, in the small pool besides the lawn, muting the sounds of the many birds that flew over us.
Except swimming the place also offers other activities, such as cycling, carom, table-tennis etc. I spent most of the 2 .5 days, running after peacocks to get a good shot. But I realized it wasn’t as easy to meet them up close, they are really shy creatures. Maybe, that’s just their humility. They don’t like to shove their beauty in your face, they’d just boast it from afar.
But I did manage to have a beautiful vision up-close in the most peculiar fashion. I was having a hot water bath, relaxing under the magic the water was creating on my stiff muscles and then I heard it.
I turned around and saw a peacock in full view. Outside my window, in all its glory. For a second I thought to run into my room and fetch my camera. But then I was so mesmerized, that I stayed put and enjoyed its dance.
I experienced Rajasthan in its most real way, winding through its villages including Nawalgarh, looking at the designer auto-rickshaws and females that walked under ghunghats (veils). I saw its mud houses and old lost museums carefully painted in intricate designs. Rajasthan I found, is a place of humble design, where one finds pride in the details of the fabric, which spins their life.