Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Travel: AN EVENING @ CHOKHI DHANI, JAIPUR

The car left us here. That's Venkat on the right in a red shirt walking towards Chokhi Dhani
I had read up my friend Nilima Mohite’s blog even before I left for Jaipur and she had mentioned Chokhi Dhani as a must visit. So when people there in Jaipur suggested we go there on the first day, Venkat and I immediately agreed.

Entrance to Chokhi Dhani

We fixed a cab to and from Collectorate Circle at the heart of Jaipur where we were put up. It cost us Rs. 900. It made sense as the whole exercise took us about 4 hours and the distance was some 45 km both ways. Then there was the waiting and parking, of course.

Oil lamps
A beautiful, lamp-lit village atmosphere greeted us at the entrance and the whole ambience was simply gorgeous in the twilight. It felt good as we entered the front hall where a young lady greeted us by placing a tilak of vermilion on our foreheads.

The entryway
There were many counters placed in the entry hall where entry fees need to be paid to get into Chokhi Dhani. It was Rs. 500 per person for non AC floor seating for dinner thali & Rs. 700 per person for AC restaurant dinner thali served on tables. We opted for the latter due to the weather as well as the comfort of a dining table. We had to fix a definite hour for dining. It was 7.45 pm and so we opted for the 9 pm slot. We realised later that it made sense as everyone was given an hour’s time to enter the restaurant and be served in a leisurely fashion in batches.


We walked further down the entry hall to go through a door that took us to a huge open air setting. Lighting was from hurricane lamps hung on low level, cut tree branches that were fixed to the muddy ground. There were electric bulbs in the lamps. It was pleasant and added to the village ambience.

Entry hall where you buy dinner coupons
And what was in front of us but a counter offering jal jeera! It was very good, though strong - just what we needed before going for dinner. Venkat and I mixed plain water with it before having some.

The  ceiling
We walked on the left, planning to circle the area. Two women were dancing to live music dressed in typical Rajasthani gaghras. There was a small girl also dancing with them. We watched for a while before seeing another area where two women were applying mehendi. I had mehendi applied on my left hand and a henna tattoo of Sun God on my right arm. While the former turned dark orange on washing later at night, the tattoo didn’t show up very brightly.

Hurricane lamp on a tree stump
There was a puppet show in another section where a large audience had gathered. Further to that were camel and elephant rides, if one paid extra cash.

The washrooms
There were toilets in exotic settings at strategic points. But I wish they were better maintained considering the 5-star rating the resort has.

Dancing to live music
Then came the artisans’ village. It was lovely and bright with many stalls selling local ware and so reminded me of Dilli Haat. There was pottery, wooden toys, handloom carpets, lac bangles, blue pottery (Jaipur is famous for this one), marble statuettes, wooden carvings, paintings and more.

Venkat gets a Henna Tattoo
There was a weaver creating a carpet while his wife sat at her spinning wheel, winding thread. It was a peaceful scene that touched my heart.

Artisans' Village - reminded me of Dilli Haat
We took a round of the artisans’ village and got out to see more musicians, dancers, an astrologer, a palmist, a numerologist and the like.

Isn't that cute!
There was a cheap gaming zone where many kids were trying their luck at Nine Pins and Darts.

A counter to exchange foreign currency
We walked on to reach the AC restaurant called Royal and entered the large compound. We showed our coupon and entered a long hall where musicians were playing on their instruments. The AC hall had seating against the four walls and waiters ran around serving everyone.

Stuffed dolls made of cloth
First they served us fresh salad in a marble pounding stone that was boat shaped. There were slices of cucumber and chopped cabbage and carrots in it.

Royal AC Restaurant
Then the thali arrived. It contained 4 vegetables; 1 dal; 1 cup of jeera rice; 1 small plate of Bajri Kichidi. Chaas was served in a glass.

The thali
There was Dal Bhati Churma; a fried item that I don’t know the name of; Gatte Ki Sabzi; a mixed vegetable; baby potatoes and onions in gravy; and one more vegetable dish that I fail to recall. While they all tasted delicious, there was too much oil floating above the veggies. Venkat literally emptied one of the cups and poured the floating oil into it before eating.

Salad served in a marble pounding stone - unique indeed :)
They served hot rotis of wheat and bajra, topping them with ghee. I believe the Bajri Kichidi is eaten with a couple of spoons of powdered sugar and 3-4 spoonfuls of ghee. I refused the sugar and had a bit of ghee served on mine. It tasted the best despite being rather bland.

Being served
We were served roasted papad. Then there were tiny jalebis and kulfi ice-cream to complete the meal. While everything was unlimited, it was difficult even to finish the first serving.

Venkat
The meal was not too bad but was not that great either. I chalked it down to an experience. We walked back all the way round from the other side. While some performers were still dancing and singing, most had begun to shut shop for the night.

CLICK HERE for Chokhi Dhani website.

  

9 comments:

  1. Wow. This is the old Chokhi Dhani. It looks much better than the new one & we visited. If get a chance, will try this next time ;) I did the camel cart ride, though 5 months pregnant. My hubby wasnt amused about it :D

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    1. Is there a new Chokhi Dhani? I don't know. I loved this place. I can guess why Sunil was unhappy about it. :D

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  2. Glad that you enjoyed yourself, Sundari.

    I had been to jaipur as a teen and still treasure those memories :)

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    Replies
    1. Thank you Ruchira! Yeah it's a lifetime experience indeed :)

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  3. The experience at Chokhi dhani Jaipur is amazing, one get to witness the core of culture of Jaipur.

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  4. Thank you Anjali Gupta for stopping by and posting a comment :)

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  5. Thanks for the wonderful post on Chokhi Dhani. Its a man made village with authentic Rajasthan culture and a must visit for an amazing experience. Check Chokhi Dhani Jaipur entry fee for details.

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  6. Hey.... Nice Collection... I am sharing videos Related to Chokhi Dhani......
    Woman Dancing
    Men Mouth Firing
    Complete Chokhi Dhani 

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