The ‘Mighty’ Pen’s Journey From A Sword To A Swiss Knife

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Neemrana Fort Palace

Neemrana Fort Palace
July 2009

I have never been much of a planner, last minute huff and puff brings out the best in me. For some this might be a sour tooth but for me a way of life. My attempts to plan the shortest getaway from the city to Neemrana Fort Palace turned out to be a miserable failure. Even nature conspired against my organization skills.

It all began with “plans” to meet at 9:00am so that we could make it to the beautiful Rajasthani haveli well in time for it to shuts for visitors at 6. For those who plan to see it beyond the visiting hours must be on the other side of the haveli, inside with a room from over 888 different kinds. Nicely dressed with two rounds of breakfast we were all together by 11:00 am. Add to that another 45 minutes of discussion on whose car were we to drive on this 80 km stretch. Mine or Ashish’s, the votes were tilting towards my brand Alto which was a perfect fit for the regal place we were visiting. Bullshit!! For this crowd of 5 was getting rowdy and with my planning skills at stake we began our 3 hours drive to Alwar at 12:00 pm.

Running against time and the rains, I drove and felt completely in control of everything in life. Even at 80 km/hour it felt like breezing through thin air and then road became uneven. Some 30 kms away from our final destination and the traffic became slower and the movement almost tail to tail. And then the tail following process turned fatal. The truck in front of me passed over a boulder and my low floor clearance car could not pass. I almost died when my feet felt the boulder screeching the floor. After assessing the damage we decided to continue moving as we were almost there but took a quick U turn after the car began groaning in pain. With a quick fix and garam chai on the highway we returned to Gurgaon in the evening to head back to Neemrana the next morning in Ashish’s car. What sadistic pleasure for finally having my way irrespective of the day lost and the damage to my car.

We set off early next morning at a cruising with the Aravallis by the side much and hit Neemrana Fort Palace by noon. Through a village, the first sight of the fort with its huge doors typical of the Mughal empire was jaw dropping. Built back in 1464 AD, it is among India's oldest heritage resorts and was once the capital of the descendants of Prithviraj Chauhan III.

The rooms and the passage way is furnished with traditional Indian and colonial furniture, antiques and artifacts that gave it a rustic yet regal feel. The property is spread out to cover 25 acres/10 hectares with 10 levels that rent each room including the bathrooms with a splendid view. Leaving the humidity behind, we strolled in the palace with a pleasant breeze thanks to the numerous jharokas built into the walls of the fort. Every part, every artifact so meaningfully and aesthetically positioned. The swimming pool, the theatre (my favorite) and the open roof restaurant provided a rich and vibrant experience. We covered the entire length and breadth with staircases criss crossing the entire fort. Thanks to the meandering staircase each section of the fort provided a different view of the same part. There was the glorious sun shining on the open air theatre and a cool dingy feel in the attic. Perfect for the restless soul who hates monotony.

It was evening soon enough and our perseverance to see this majestic monument was worth the struggle of getting here. Before the gates were shut we headed back to Gurgaon with memories. With the sweet scent of rain and Paneer pakodas with chai at the highway dhabha reminded us of where we truly belong!

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