The Hadoti region of Rajasthan covers 4 distrcits — Bundi, Kota, Jhalawar and Baran — and till I visited it in November 2016, this was the only region I had not explored in the state. It was a much awaited trip, one that threw up many surprises and one that left me with a “why didn’t I visit before?”. It was a trip of many firsts as well, including the first time I travelled with One Life to Travel (OLTT), and one that will rank in my list of memorable trips.
In fact, when I look back at my Hadoti trip in November last year, the word that comes to mind is ‘serendipity’.
How else would you explain a trip that started off as as a Bundi trip but ended up being a Jhalawar–Jhalrapatan–Kolvi–Ramgarh–Kota–Bijolia–Badoli–Bundi trip? How else would you explain a 3-day trip becoming an 8-day trip? How else would you explain the said 8-day trip leading to so many (19 at last count!) blogposts? How else would you explain connecting with people you’ve never met before and becoming friends?
Its been almost 9 months since my return and I have been reliving the Hadoti trip since I started blogging about it here in April ! If I enjoyed writing about that trip, your response to the posts was even more so. So many of you wanted to know more about the trip and the places I visited — more than what I had blogged about — with regard to itineraries, tips, etc.
And so here I am with a Hadoti Trip Planner based on what you asked via blog comments/ mails/ messages. 🙂
How did you plan for your Hadoti trip? What was your groundwork and planning for the trip like? How did you decide on the places to visit?
The Hadoti trip began with me signing up for a 3-day trip to Bundi with OLTT, and as I mentioned earlier (and also if you have been following the entire series) ended up being much more. I am interested in heritage, history and art and that’s how I chose all the destinations or maybe one can say the destinations chose me? Traveller friends also provided inputs and suggestions as did blogs, books and articles which helped me shortlist places I wanted to visit.
Once I had a tentative list of such places, it was time for Google Maps to take over. I depend on maps to calculate distances and time taken to travel between places, the road conditions, etc. In fact, I can’t plan any trip without a map — earlier I used to sit with railway and road atlases to plan trips, these days it is Google Maps.
When I finished finalising, this (see image below) is what my ‘travel map’ looked like. I travelled to all these places, which made it 551 km !
When did you travel to Hadoti trip and what was your itinerary like? Is there anything that you would have done differently?
My trip dates were from November 6 to 14, 2016 (inclusive of travel), and the rough itinerary is given below. If you’d like the detailed itinerary, please leave a comment and I’ll mail it to you.
Day 1: Departure from Mumbai by train
Day 2: Arrival at Bhawani Mandi Junction→Jhalawar
Day 3: Jhalawar→ Kolvi→Gagron→Jhalrapatan→Jhalawar
Day 4: Jhalawar→Ramgarh→Kota
Day 5: Kota→Bijolia→Bundi
Day 6: Bundi
Day 7: Bundi→ Kota→Baroli→Kaithoon→Bundi
Day 8: Departure from Bundi by train
Day 9: Arrival in Mumbai
While I wouldn’t have done anything differently, I would have liked to spend at least a couple of more days in the region — one day for Jhalawar and one day for Kota.
This was a road trip, wasn’t it? So, how did you travel? Did you hire a car or use public transport?
Yes, this was a road trip once I arrived at Bhawani Mandi Junction by train from Mumbai. The car that I had already arranged for was waiting to take me to Jhalawar. From then on and till I reached Bundi 3 days later, the car and the driver was with me. Once in Bundi, all arrangements — travel, stay or food — was taken care of by OLTT.
As you can see, I did not use public transport at all unless you count the rickshaw rides at Bundi to see the various stepwells. If you’d like details of the driver who I hired, please leave a comment and I’ll send it to you.
Where did you stay during your visit and how did you choose them? What was your experience like in each of the places you stayed in?
Virendra Bhawan, Jhalawar: I can’t even begin to tell you what a fantastic experience it was to stay here. This is a homestay and Mahijit ji, my warm and welcoming host, made all the difference. He freely and happily shared stories and anecdotes about Jahlawar and it is because of him that I was able to visit places that I wasn’t even aware of. We have kept in touch and I’m proud to call him as a dear friend today. (Thank you Jayanti for introducing us. 🙂 )
Umed Bhawan Palace Hotel, Kota: Staying here was a rude shock after the warmth of Virendra Bhawan. Not that the staff was bad or anything, just that they were very business like and matter-of-fact. It didn’t help that this hotel was not in a great shape — it is a beautiful property, but sadly neglected and overpriced. I chose to stay here because my first choice of place to stay in Kota, Sukhdam Kothi, was fully booked and Umed Bhawan was offering a hefty discount at the time of booking.
Hotel Nawal Sagar, Bundi: The hotel overlooks the Nawal Sagar Lake and has large lawns, perfect for sitting out and lazing, eating or reading when not exploring Bundi. The rooms are comfortable and very clean, I liked them all. Yes, each room is different. 🙂
What are your recommendations for places to eat?
I didn’t explore the food scene at all, except for an occasional poha-jalebi or samosa and kachori from road-side dhabas and stalls. Most of my meals were at the places I stayed in where the food was simple and good — just the way I like it. I did have a dinner of flavoured paani puris one night though; it was simply d.e.l.i.c.i.o.u.s. 🙂
Have you blogged about all that you saw and experienced during the Hadoti trip? If no, what haven’t you written about and why?
It is not possible to write about all that I see or experience. At least, I cannot do it ! There are always things that I do not like /want/feel like sharing about on the blog or may decide to write about it at a later point. This is true of the Hadoti trip as well. There are a couple of things I could have written about, I guess, but have decided to do so at a later stage. For example, the visit to the 84-pillared Cenotaph (also known as Chaurasi Khambon ka Chhatri), and the visit to Kaithoon, where the famous Kota Doria sarees are woven.
Did you visit any of the Kota Doria weaving centres that Kota is famous for? If yes, did you buy sarees?
Yes, I did visit Kaithoon, which is where most of the Kota Doria sarees are woven. We visited the workshop of master weaver Asghar Bhai who took us through the process of weaving a Kota saree and also opened ‘shop’ for our group. I didn’t buy anything though, preferring to watch the bargaining skills of those who did, as well as admire the beautiful Kota sarees close-up. Till I saw the sarees that Asghar Bhai showed us, I didn’t know that the Kota sarees that I had seen my mother wear were not of good quality.
You can see from the pictures below just how beautiful and intricate they are. Unfortunately, you cannot feel them, but they were so soft and sensous to the touch. Imagine that feel as you go through the slide show. 🙂
Don’t you travel solo? How did you decide to travel with a tour group? Isn’t travelling with a group limiting?
I travel. Period. I may travel solo, with a friend or friends, with family or with a group. How I travel doesn’t matter to me; only the fact that I travel does. It just so happened that I wanted to visit Bundi, OLTT was organising a trip there and I could take leave from work around that time. Everything worked out well for me. My friend, Niti also joined me for the full Hadoti trip and we had a blast.
Every form of travel comes with its own set of advantages and limitations, but as I mentioned before, it is the journey and the destination that matters to me and not how I travel or who I travel with. I try and ensure that the people I travel with are like-minded people and I must say that I have been lucky (touchwood) with all the people I have travelled with — be they friends or groups.
What was your experience of covering Bundi with One Life to Travel like?
It was a wonderful experience. But before I proceed any further, I must give a disclaimer: I have known Jayanti Pandey, who runs OLTT, for more than 2 decades. I was initially hesitant to mix a close friendship with a trip like this, but the lure of visiting Bundi proved irresistible. And I’m glad that I went to Bundi and that too with OLTT.
It was a very well planned trip with enough time at each place that we visited and place for rest as well as do your own thing if one so desired — just the way I like trips to be. I hate being rushed and nothing irritates me more than a tour leader/ manager/ organiser breathing down my shoulder or telling me that “we have only 15 minutes here” ! While it is tempting to think that Jayanti planned and organised the Bundi trip the way it was done, specially for me, I know that it is not so. It is Jayanti’s own interest in history, heritage and art that made all the difference, as did her planning skills and experience as a traveller herself. It also helped that this was a small group and the numbers were deliberately kept low.
I was pleasantly surprised to find that except for Niti and me, all the other members had been with her on previous trips. Or maybe, I shouldn’t be for I hope to join OLTT again on another trip later this year. 🙂
You seem have seen a lot of paintings during the Hadoti Trip. It is eveident that you like them, but didn’t you get bored of seeing so many of them?
I can never get bored of paintings, especially when they are as stunning as the ones I saw at Jhalawar, Kota and Bundi. In fact, I can plan an entire trip just around wall paintings like I did for Shekhawati. I don’t know if the world conspires for me, because wherever I go there are always wall paintings just waiting to be seen by me. 🙂
I do, however, fully appreciate and understand that not everyone shares the same enthusiasm or appreciation for paintings like I do. There are a lot of other options in case you don’t want to see the painted rooms. If you prefer the outdoors there are river safaris as well as as wildlife safaris, and if you like temples, then there are many more in the region.
What shopping did you do and what souvenirs did you bring back?
I arrived in Jhalawar, the first stop of my Hadoti trip, on the day demonetisation was announced rendering all the money that I had useless. Whatever change I had and whatever money I could change was kept for personal expenses and not for souvenirs. I did, however, bring back the most delicious gajak (a sweet made from sesame seeds and jaggery) from Jhalrapatan and that too because the seller was willing to take the old notes. Do note that gajak is a winter specialitty and you won’t get them all round the year.
Other things that you can buy are the Kota sarees and locally grown rice from Bundi, which Jayanti bought and found to be very good.
Was this a sponsored trip?
No, this was NOT a sponsored trip. However, I was hosted by Mahijit ji at Virendra Bhawan in Jhalawar.
Any other tips and suggestions for a Hadoti trip?
- If you are visiting the painted rooms (and I hope you will), please do not touch them, and please do not use flash photography.
- Except for Bundi and to a certain extent Kota, I did not come across many tourists. In fact, at Jhalawar, I didn’t come across any and this region is not used to tourists and travellers. Do keep this in mind while interacting with the locals.
- I always recommend to cover up decently (no shorts or sleeveless outfits) while travelling in India — for both men and women. Hadoti is no exception. Though there are no dress codes while visiting temples, I would recommend that both men and women avoid wearing shorts.
For me, planning a trip, especially if it is a road trip, is as enjoyable, if not more than the actual trip itself. The thrill of sitting with a map, a notebook and a pen and making notes gives me an adrenaline rush. Sometimes, I plan trips to places I want to visit just because I want to. 😀
Hope this Hadoti Trip Planner is useful for you. If you think, I have missed out on something, then do let me know in the comments section and I’ll address it.
Happy travelling !
The Hadoti Trip Series: Dear Hadoti | Discovering Jhalawar | The painted rooms of Garh Mahal in Jhalawar | Bhawani Natyashala: The Opera House of Jhalawar | An evening in Jhalrapatan | The Buddhist rock-cut caves at Kolvi | The Gagron Fort at Jhalawar | An impact crater, a temple ruin and some discoveries | A fun evening in Kota | A safari on Chambal River | The painted rooms of Kota Garh Palace | The Shiva temples of Bijolia | The temples at Badoli | That and this in Bundi | The painted rooms of Bundi Palace | The Stepwells of Bundi | The Hadoti trip Planner |