Fish Therapy at Jaisamand Lake

When an escape is required from the monotony that mundane routine life has to offer, we try to go off for a quick day trip from Udaipur. With the summer sun gradually but surely embracing the days, it was a point of contention amongst us, where we should be heading to. Besides the sun, the exams of my 9 year old son that were starting almost immediately turned the tables on many other options and we headed for Jaisamand lake, a place that has given us much pleasure umpteenth times, previously.


The road leading to Lake Jaisamand with Mona restaurant on the right

The drive to the second largest artificial lake in Asia has always been enjoyable and this time too it was no exception barring the bottlenecks and diversions that the work in progress of the construction of the broad gauge railway line from Udaipur to Ahmedabad have created at the peripheral junction of the city of lakes.



Soaking in the beauty of the lake

We were visiting the lake after a hiatus of maybe six months or so and this time we found that the place leading to the embankment of Jaisamand had been enclosed with wire mesh surrounds and a ticket counter had cropped up. Now for an entry to the “Paal’ of Lake Jaisamand, you needed to dish out a nominal Rs10 per person as an entry fee. As we were entering, voices of dissent from the public was heard but if the money collected from the public is really put to good use for the beautification and adding of facilities at the embankment, then nobody would be complaining.


School of fish savoring the corn kernels

My son as always bought Rs10 worth of corn kernels to be fed to the fishes that are found galore in the lake. The splashing of water by the movement of school of fishes as they scamper to savor the corn kernels is a sight to behold. After the feeding session was over, it was now time to laze around and soak in the beauty of this magnificent tranquil lake. We contemplated whether a boat ride could be fitted into the agenda but decided otherwise as feeding the fishes had given rise to pangs of hunger within us.

Wood Fired Kitchen

The no ambiance open kitchen of Mona Restaurant

We searched for any cabin that served fresh fish nearby but in vain. Thus we came down from the embankment and zeroed in on a ‘fishy’ looking road side restaurant by the name of Mona that proclaimed that it served Fish Fry. With no ambiance to speak of and an open kitchen on top of that, was enough to dissuade us initially but the gastronomic grumblings got the better of us and we ordered a plate of Jaisamand lake fresh cuttle fish fry for Rs150.

Raw Fish

The freshly marinated fish

Fresh fish, freshly marinated was fried in front of us in the wood fired traditional hearth, ‘chulha’ as it is locally called. The cheerful owner who also doubled as the chef as well as the attendant told us stories about how he started this restaurant nearly two and a half decades back as he continued frying the fish.

The Craftsman at work

The owner honing his craft

The fish pieces when fried to a golden brown was served with a red garlic chutney and freshly round cut onions slices. The owner on his part insisted that we also try a gravied version of his fish and gave the gravy complimentarily along with a local fish which was fried to a crisp.


The Fish Therapy

The cuttle fish fry was divine and the red garlic chutney complemented it to perfection. The fried local fish also packed a crunch and was delicious. The gravy though was more like a spicy water concoction, nothing much to write home about.
With our hunger satiated and mind rejuvenated it was time for us to again get back home and start a new week afresh, fresh from Fish therapy at Lake Jaisamand, albeit a gastronomic one.


Serene & Scenic- Lake Jayana Sagar, Badi

The epithet “City of Lakes” amply describes Udaipur and justifiably so, as the city is home to world famous lakes like Lake Pichola, Lake Fateh Sagar, Lake Swaroop Sagar, Lake Udai Sagar, Lake Rang Sagar and a little further off Lake Jaisamand to name a few.


Serene & Scenic- Lake Jayana Sagar, Badi

Lake Jayana Sagar situated about 12 kms north-west of Udaipur near the village of Badi might not be that well known a name but the lake exudes a surreal charm and serenity that overwhelms one and amplifies mankind’s insignificance in front of Mother Nature.

Locally, the lake is known as Badi ka Talab meaning The Pond of Badi, because of its proximity to the village of that name.  It is by this name that the Lake is more widely known and the name Lake Jayana Sagar, might not ring a bell in many a mind both local as well as among visitors.

A devastating drought hit the erstwhile kingdom of Mewar during the 1660s AD. Maharana Raj Singh-I who was the king of Mewar during that time constructed the fresh water lake as a famine relief project in a bid to counter the effects of the drought. The construction of the lake started in 1662 AD and the lake was formally opened for the public on 15th November 1664 AD and was named Jayana Sagar or Jiyan Sagar, after the name of Raj Singh-I’s mother Jana Devi. Six lac Indian rupees a princely sum for those days was the total cost of building the lake.


The embankment of Badi Ka Talab

The lake and its catchment area are spread over an area of 60 square mile. A 180 metre long and 18 metre wide embankment that has pavilions and steps that also have half submerged pavillions that lead to the water of the lake are the main attractions. The view from the pavilions especially during the sun set is spectacular. A few shikaras or small rowing boats plying on the waters augment the scenic magnificence of the lake.


The factually incorrect information stone at the entrance to Badi ki Pal

Recently, Badi ka Talab has been brought under the Sajjangarh Wildlife Sanctuary that is nearby and is being promoted as an eco destination. The once free access to ‘pal’ or the embankment of the lake now costs rupees 10 per person as entrance fees.


Invigorating drive around the lake

A serene drive around the lake through the lush winding road that links it with the village of Gorela at the foothills of Sajjangarh- the Monsoon Palace, nourishes the body and mind and acts as Mother Nature’s own detoxifier and releases one from the clutches of the materialistic world, albeit momentarily.

The Mystical Awari Mata of Asawara

About 90 kms from the city of lakes Udaipur is the temple complex of the mystical Awari Mata, a deity who, it is claimed, provides dramatic cure to people suffering from paralysis, polio, stroke and other physical handicaps. It was on the insistence of a colleague of mine who suffers from a limb handicap, seconded by my better half that we decided to pay our obeisance at this temple situated in the village of Asawara, in Chittorgarh district.
A bright sunny morning saw us embark upon our trip to Awari Mata. The drive down the Udaipur-Chittorgarh highway is serene and pleasurable with the exception of the speedbreakers at the congested Debari stretch of the route and the occasional uneven craters that have been formed due to the heavy vehicular traffic. Thus, before we knew we were at Mangalwad Chouraha munching on hot samosas in kadi garnished with freshly cut onions and green chilly accompanied by piping hot tea.
After a very satisfying breakfast, it was again time for us to keep our tryst with the mother goddess. From the Mangalwad Chouraha, you have to take the straight double laned Mangalwad-Nimbahera road and keep driving till you reach Nikumbh Chouraha. From there a left turn will lead you to the village of Asawara, the abode of Awari Mata also known as Asawara Mata ji.


Temple of Awari Mata also known as the Temple of Asawara Mata ji

The temple complex consists of a beautiful pond, some resting places, public bathrooms, shops that sell offerings for the deity, a temple dedicated to the Hindu Simian God Hanuman and the temple itself. The place has ample parking space and the parking ticket for a four wheeler is 20INR. We entered the temple complex from the backside which is adjacent to the parking lot.


A whiff of cool breeze from the pond


The embankment of the Holy Pond

On entering the premises, the first thing that greeted us was a whiff of fresh cool breeze that emanated from the scenic pond on the banks of which the temple complex is situated. The pond, which a notice board proclaims is the private property of the Ekling ji Trust, is believed to have medicinal powers. It has ghats on its embankment where people were taking a dip in the holy waters in a bid to cure their ailments and even otherwise. We too took a dip in the water that soothed us for sure, from the heat of the stinging summer sun.


Shops that dot the area

A narrow pathway dotted with shops that sell variously priced offerings for the Mother Goddess leads you to the main temple. Besides the regular items like coconut, red cloth and garlands, the offerings also include bottles of oil.


Awari Mata ji of Asawara

The scene inside the temple was almost electric. There was a long line of devotees who were there dripping in religious fervor but despite such a long queue there was an almost tranquil vehemence, an oxymoron that I can’t possibly describe in words. The line was fast moving and an entry through a small window like opening landed us in front of Asawara Mata ji, Avari Mata. All things seemed so miniscule, so irrelevant in front of the Mother. Numbness overpowered my senses and an indescribable sense of joy percolated whole being. Oblivious to my surroundings, it took a security guard and his whistle to dislodge me from my state of spiritual actualization.


Devotees gathering ash at the courtyard


Devotees with ailments lying on the floor with hope and conviction

The courtyard of the temple has ash from the incenses (agarbattis) that keep on burning day and night. Some people smear it on their bodies others take them back home in the hope of divine miracles. In the passage that surrounds the courtyard; many people suffering from paralysis, stroke, polio and other physical disabilities could be seen lying down. Their bodies told a story that was oozing with their pain, distress and misery but their eyes told a different story, a story that was full of hope and conviction. It is believed that participating in the daily rituals of the temple and inhaling the smoke from the incense lit during the rituals go a long way in curing the ailments of the devotees who are otherwise incapacitated by their ailments.


Passing through the archway 

Devotees make it a point to go almost sliding through a small archway made of stone in the courtyard. It is believed that a person who can pass through the archway, for him recovery from ailment or fulfillment of a wish is almost certain.
As I drove back home from the dwelling of the Mother in reminiscence of the day gone by, I almost felt overwhelmed by a strange feeling of gratitude, a gratitude whose genesis was from the fact that even when the struggle is unfathomable, there always is a divine power that always backs up the person, who has not ceased to struggle.

Saas Bahu Temple-The Forgotten Wonder



Famous, the world over for its shimmering lakes, Udaipur, often called the Venice of the East, has a facet which is lesser known. The capital of the erstwhile princely state of Mewar, Udaipur boasts of some ancient exquisitely carved temples. Though temples like the one dedicated to Lord Jagdish, an incarnation of the Hindu deity Lord Vishnu and the one dedicated to Lord Ekling ji, the chief deity of the Royal House of Mewar are revered and thronged by thousands, some others like the 11th century temple complex of Shahastra Baahu, popularly known by its local name ‘Saas Bahu” have been relegated to the back pages of relevance and reverence.

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Set on the banks of Lake Bagela near the Ekling ji temple about 22 kms from Udaipur is the small hamlet of Nagda, which lore claim was one of the earliest capitals of Mewar. Nagda is named after its founder Nagaditya, the fourth King of Mewar from the linage of King Bappa Rawal, and is set in a surrounding which is breathtakingly picturesque. The temple of Saas Bahu expands the magic and charm of the place. Built in the early 11th century, the twin temple complex which is right on the shores of lake Bagela, is an example of exemplary architectural workmanship of ancient Vaishnav art form.


On a sunny winter December afternoon, we decided to take a road trip to the Sahastra Baahu Temple Complex. To get to the Saas Bahu temples, you have to turn left adjacent to the embankment of the Lake Bagela, as you approach the steep slope that takes you to the temple of Ekling ji at Kailashpuri. A glaring drawback en route to the temples is the absence of any road signs or indicators that might help you to reach the temples without getting the feeling of having got lost. The narrow road takes you past a resort aptly name Heritage Resort and centuries old Jain temples but even the approach road towards the Saas Bahu temple complex is devoid of any signage that might proclaim its existence to the wandering visitors. An empty and derelict parking lot added to the confusion.


We took a steep road past the parking lot and were greeted by the sound of cascading water from a small artificial water fall beside a small shop selling curios. The shop owner doubled up as a parking attendant and after paying INR 15/- as parking fees to him, we began our tryst with the complex that houses the twin temples of Saas Bahu.




Entering the complex, which is maintained by the Archeological Survey of India (ASI), you are greeted by a well maintained garden and beyond that is the raised platform on which are the temples of Shahastra  Bahu dedicated to Lord Vishnu in an incarnation with thousand hands (hence the name shahastra meaning thousand and baahu meaning hands)







The complex though is more widely known by its distorted name ‘Saas Bahu’ temples.  Saas in the local language means mother-in-law and Bahu connotes daughter-in-law and it is not hard to fathom why the temples are known as the Saas Bahu temples. Standing right across each other, the ‘Saas’ temple which has a beautiful archway at its entrance,  is comparatively larger in size than the ‘Bahu’ temple which has a fascinating octagonal carved ceiling, signifying the relative place of importance that a mother-in-law has for the daughter-in-law and the family in general. Both the temples are adorned by some exquisite carvings depicting events and figures from Hindu mythology like Lord Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh besides others like Ram, Parshurama and Balrama that showcase the sculpting prowess and vivid imagination of the sculptors of that time.




There are two more much smaller temples on the platform, both in ruins. The ancient temple complex has been a witness to destruction by marauding invaders for centuries and it shows. Today, the temples despite the scars that ravages of time have wrecked on them mercilessly stand resplendently in resilient abeyance to their creators and as a proud reminder to modernity that the past has more gems hidden in her bosom than the future can even aspire to provide.

Chawand- The Lost Capital City of Mewar

About 65 kms from the city of Udaipur lies the sleepy hamlet of Chawand. The place which has a great historical significance in the annals of Mewar, was once the capital of Mewar’s favourite son, the Rajput king, Maharana Pratap.

The history of Mewar and Chawand

The history of Mewar and Chawand

Surprisingly, though other places associated with the Maharana such as Haldighati and Kumbhalgarh are known the world over, the capital town which he himself built and from where he reigned over Mewar for nearly two decades from (1578 AD till his death in 1597 AD), has been pushed into the back pages of contemporary history.

Ruins of Chawand

Ruins of Chawand

On a sunny September Sunday, aided by Google map, we embarked on a journey to the lost capital.

There are two ways to reach Chawand, one that is via the state highway to Jaisamand and the other by the National Highway No 8 that connects Udaipur with Ahmedabad. We opted for the latter one.

The NH8 takes you through valleys and lush greenery and we sped on till we reached the town of Parshad about 50 kms from Udaipur. A detour through the heart of the town took us onto the Parshad-Chawand road. A rough patch of road initially, gave us the hiccups, but that soon gave way to a picturesque road winding through hills and water-bodies.

The picturesque NH8

The picturesque NH8

The main attractions of the town of Chawand (about 13 kms from Parshad) are the ruins of the Palace of Maharana Pratap and his cenotaph, which are on either side of a crossroad beyond the town of Chawand. We turned left and our first stop was the cenotaph of Maharana Pratap in the middle of the Kejad Lake.

The entrance to the Cenotaph of Maharana Pratap

The entrance gate of the road leading to the Cenotaph of Maharana Pratap

The Cenotaph in the middle of Lake Kejad

The Cenotaph in the middle of Lake Kejad

What a spectacle we were treated to?? A stone and cement bridge led us onto an island which has shady trees and beautiful “Chattris” and pavilions along its perimeter. In its centre is the final resting place of Mewar’s valiant Rajput king, who valued self respect and freedom more than all the riches of the world.

Chhatri on the island

Chhatri on the island

The scenic view of Lake Kejad

The scenic view of Lake Kejad

Up and close with Nature on the island

Up and close with Nature on the island

Though the Maharana Pratap’s cenotaph is not very impressive architecturally, you are engulfed by an overpowering sensation of awe as you bow in veneration in front of it. A king, who willfully chose a life full of struggles and hardships and sacrificed his life for the love of his beloved ‘Motherland’, indeed the experience for us at the cenotaph was indescribable.

The Central Cenotaph of Maharana Pratap

The Central Cenotaph of Maharana Pratap

The Final resting place of the Maharana

The final resting place of the Maharana

The entrance to the Palace of Maharana Pratap

The entrance to the Palace of Maharana Pratap

From the scenic Lake Kejad, we set off for the Palace of Maharana Pratap. On entering the main palace premise, a Chamunda (Hindu Mother Goddess) Temple that predates Maharana Pratap’s era and is much revered by the locals, is a major attraction. Two ferocious stone lions on either side of the entrance of the temple are a source of fascination for children.

A Lion statue- a hit with kids

A Lion statue- a hit with kids

The Chamunda Temple

The Chamunda Temple

The presiding deity

The presiding deity

A steep walkway takes you to the ruins of the palace of Maharana Pratap. Some stone structures are what is left of the palace of the great king. Standing on the remnants of the palace, you get a great view of vast expanse of greenery, the Chamunda Temple and a statue of Maharana Pratap on a pedestal on an adjoining hillock.

A side entrance to the ruins

A side entrance to the ruins

The ruins of the palace

The ruins of the palace

Statue of Maharana Pratap on an adjoining hill

Statue of Maharana Pratap on an adjoining hill

After a thoroughly enjoyable, day in Chawand, it was time for us to say goodbye. But as we bid goodbye to the precincts of the palace, a metal statue of the Maharana stood as though blessing us for having visited and explored his capital, a town that has been lost in the pages of contemporary history.

The statue of the Maharana as though blessing us for visiting Chawand

The statue of the Maharana as though blessing us for visiting Chawand

Lake Jaisamand- A Quick Getaway from Udaipur

The Magnificent Lake Jaisamand

The Magnificent Lake Jaisamand

Udaipur is known  the world over as the city of lakes and the city palace and the adjoining Lake Pichola have provided backdrop for many a movie, both Hollywood as well as Bollywood. Even Lake Fatehsagar, the favorite haunt of the locals is a featured destination.

But the biggest of them all is the majestic Lake Jaisamand, which is located at a distance of around 50 odd kms from Udaipur city. Also known as Dhevar Lake, it is, in fact, the second largest artificial lake in Asia covering an area of about 90 sq kms.

The bund made by Maharana Jai Singh

The bund made by Maharana Jai Singh

Jaisamand Lake has a very colourful history. It was built by Maharana Jai Singh of the House of Mewar in 1685 AD, who emulated his illustrious father Maharana Raj Singh, who constructed the imposing Rajsamand Lake in present day Rajsamand district. The lake was built when Maharana Jai Singh made a dam on river Gomati with an aim to channelize the waters of the river for irrigation as well as providing drinking water for his subjects. In fact, even today pipelines bring in water from Jaisamand that quench thirst of a large part of the city of Udaipur. These huge pipelines can be seen running adjacent to the road that connects Udaipur with Jaisamand.

The densely wooded Kewre Ki Naal

The densely wooded Kewre Ki Naal

The picturesque route

The picturesque route

The ride from Udaipur to Jaisamand is a very scenic one, which crisscrosses through dense jungles, picturesque valleys, quaint water bodies and just about bypasses The Jaisamand Wildlife Sanctuary. If you are lucky enough, you could spot wild animals including panthers, in the area around Kewre Ki Naal, a protected biosphere.

The imposing Roothi Rani Ka Mahal

The imposing Roothi Rani Ka Mahal

As you approach the hamlet of Jaisamand, the imposing ‘Roothi Rani Ka Mahal’, a beautiful palace on top of a hill overlooking the Jaisamand Lake, is a sight to behold. To reach the Lake, you have to climb up a long winding steep road. At the base of this road, is a bazaar which has shops selling snacks like pakodas, chai, samosas, katchoris and fried fresh fish from the lake.

The beautiful embankment or 'bund'

The beautiful embankment or ‘bund’

The Shiva Temple and the Palace on the hill in the background

The Shiva Temple and the Palace on the hill in the background

The beautiful marble Bund of the lake

The stepped Bund of the lake

The Lone Sentinel- White marble elephant

The Lone Sentinel- White marble elephant on the embankment

The embankment or the ‘bund’ of the lake is a white marble marvel and is adorned by 6 chhatris or dome like pillared marble structures with exquisite carvings, a Shiva temple and white marble elephants that overlook the vast expanse of water, standing in testimony of a glorious era gone by.

Row Row Row your boat...

Row Row Row your boat…

Hawa Mahal or the Palace of Winds on a hillock

Hawa Mahal or the Palace of Winds on a hillock

Land Ahoy!

Land Ahoy!

Jaisamand Lake has 3 big islands and is also home to the famed Jaisamand Island Resort. Boats leave regularly from the ‘bund’ and you can choose from a variety of ticket options. The Rs 20/- per person ticket is the most economical one and takes you around a stretch of the lake that has a palace, known as ‘Hawa Mahal’ or the Palace of The Wind on a lush forested hillock on the banks of the lake. You can also avail of Rs 50/, Rs 75, Rs 100 or Rs 200/- rides which take you further and further into the wonderful lake towards the bigger islands that are home to the Bhils and Meena, the indigenous tribals of the region.

In Nature's own lap.

In Nature’s own lap.

If you are looking forward for a quick day getaway from Udaipur, then Lake Jaisamand definitely deserves a place in your list. A place which is a culmination of soothing rides, magnificent architectural wonders dripping with history, all in Mother Nature’s own lap.

A trip to the twin Holy Cities of Ajmer and Pushkar (Part1)

Known the world over for the famous Dargah of the Sufi saint Moinuddin Chisti, Ajmer has had a very colorful past and it was to this city along with the holy town of Pushkar that I went on an official trip, accompanied by a member of the top management of a leading hospital of Udaipur.


The drive down to Ajmer, about 300 kms from Udaipur via Bhilwara, through fields of mustard and farmlands, took us about 4 hours. Though we were in the city by lunch time and were also feeling hungry, we first thought of meeting our contact person in Ajmer for the job at hand.  After having a brief discussion with him, it was time for us to have our lunch. Though some of the restaurants of Ajmer like Honeydew, are famous all across the state of Rajasthan, we were recommended to go to a traditional Indian restaurant or Dhaba quite near to our place of work that supposedly served delicious Indian vegetarian dishes.



The restaurant,  Guddan ka Dhaba did not disappoint us. We ordered a Dal (lentil) fry with tadka, a Navratan Korma, a vegetable Raita (curd preparation) and Tandoori Rotis.The service was prompt and the food was, as promised delicious, more so for a pair of deliriously hungry men from Udaipur. We again went back to work after lunch, though our gastronomically satisfied selves yearned for a nap.


After getting through with the day’s work, the next point to ponder for us was to where to stay in Ajmer. We had thought that getting a decent accommodation in Ajmer would be easy and in fact our first preference was the government circuit house but we had discounted a big factor. We had inadvertently landed bang in the middle of the wedding season and our search for accommodation was easier said than done. We scouted around and enquired for rooms at the Ajmer Club as well as the RTDC Hotel Khadim. Ajmer Club was fully booked (as was the Circuit House) and Hotel Khadim could accommodate us for only a single day. It was at Khadim that we came to know that RTDC also had two hotels in the Hindu holy town of Pushkar, about 12 kms from Ajmer and accommodation was available in both of them. Then and there itself we decided that we would be moving on to Pushkar for our stay.

Ana Sagar Lake

Ana Sagar Lake

Catchment area of Lake Ana Sagar


The narrow winding road across the hills

The narrow winding road across the hills

Troop of Monkeys enroute


Welcome to Pushkar

The route from Ajmer to Pushkar is a very scenic one. It took us past the beautiful Ana Sagar lake, the heart of Ajmer and through a long winding road across wooded mountains inhabited by a variety of animals and birds. Troops of monkeys were there galore on the sides of the road in eager anticipation of tit-bits from the passers-by. As we entered the holy city, our car was stopped and we had to part with Rs20, the entrance fees to Pushkar against which we were given a receipt which was valid for movement both to as well as fro for 24 hours.