Welcome to this travel blog which is inspired by the wandering clouds effortlessly gliding through distant lands. Sometimes almost still as if watching the beauty of the earth below and at times rushing to some place far away – as if on an endless travel mission. This is where I share my observations, experiences and thoughts gathered during my travels

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Rustic Charm of Chambal


This one is after another long hiatus. During the past two months, work took me to various corners of our country - from small towns to nondescript villages to tribal hamlets; from places known to be exotic to those known to be notorious. I lived in hotels where I was the lone guest and sometimes spent the nights in the office itself because there wasn’t any hotel nearby. Most of the times I did not consume more than one and a half meal per day because there was no place or time to stop and eat, but there was a rare occasion when I feasted on gulab-jamuns and rasagollas smuggled out by the hotel boy from some wedding reception. But the best meal I ate was the hot ‘mid day meal’ served at the government school in Dhamtari, Chhattisgarh.
There were some days when my cell phone was just an alarm clock because there was no signal and trust me, things were fine even when I was not connected. I discovered some amazing and unforgettable people, met some whom I had only heard of and as usual found time to meet some old friends with whom the bond has beautifully matured. During these intense two months, there were many reasons to be surprised and feel optimistic and as many to feel disappointed and lost. Although there is so much to write about every single place I visited, I may not do so for various reasons. Although my post on Mt. Rushmore (following the last one on Badlands) was sitting ready, I think it can be placed on hold. Right now, I wish to share the rustic charm of Chambal. Although it is similar to Badlands in many ways, I was not able to capture it very well. I can blame it on the low end camera I was carrying, the poor light conditions in the evening or Mahesh not being by my side. But those interested in seeing better images can always watch Paan Singh Tomar. Right?

Chambal river is the lifeline of the region and one of the most unpolluted rivers in the country. It is also habitat for the rare and endangered gharials. There is a protected park for the gharials on way from Morena to Dhaulpur but I did not get a chance to stop and visit it. The drive was hot and dusty but the patches of yellow mustard fields alongside was pure delight. I was presented a whole kilo of Gajak from Morena and it is undoubtedly the best I have ever tasted. Interestingly located on the borders of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh, Chambal is referred in the Mahabharata as Shakuni’s territory.

Mustard fields along the way to Chambal

I reached Chambal in the evening and the driver told me that even a few months ago, it would not have been safe to wander around the ravines after sunset. But things have changed now. From the highway, I spotted our de facto national sport being played in the ravines. I went up the Shergadh fort from where one gets an aerial view of the ravines on the eastern side. There is nothing much left of the old fort which was built over 400 years ago, apart from the ramparts. Not all parts of the ramparts are accessible but they can be viewed from the top. There was an orange flag hoisted on top and a muster of peacocks resting and flying around. I followed the flight of some of the peacocks and found that they are quite rugged - some of them landing in the ravines below and balancing precariously on the slopes. There was no barricade around the top end of the fort and one push could throw you straight into the ravines. There were a few temples at a lower level, the one of Lord Krishna was slightly more grand inside, but from the outside looked very plain. I wandered around the eastern side imagining the real-life ‘chor-police’ games that must have been played in these ravines over decades and listening to the juicy stories which the driver narrated, it was hard to separate fact from fiction. When I got back into the Scorpio, I noticed that it had a POLICE sticker on the back. I smiled at the false sense of security the sticker provided - hard to separate fact from fiction. Here are some of the images from Chambal.

Cricket in Chambal

The only sign of cognizance by Tourism Department

Steps leading to the top of the Fort

The ravines from eastern side of the fort
Looking northwards from the fort, with the approach road to the fort

Peacocks enjoying the sunset

26 comments:

  1. Isn't this the chambal where Phoolan devi used to be?

    Glad to have found you at Indiblogger. Your newest follower ad a regular visitor now.
    cheers,
    kajal

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    1. Kajal: you are right, this is the place. Thanks and do visit again :)

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  2. This is and awesome post, I only wish it was longer. I have been fascinated by 'Chambal' right from my childhood days and really wanted to experience them myself...no one took me there :( But I will surely do that, hopefully this year!

    Btw what do you do? Why do you get to travel so much? This makes me very very jealous of you!

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    1. Siddharth, thanks! I will write soon about Dhaulpur separately. Chambal is close to Bharatpur and is also now being promoted for eco-tourism (mainly for gharials). So a great place to visit for lensmen like you :). I am a researcher and had gone there to visit some government schools.

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  3. informative post with beautiful pics

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  4. Replies
    1. That's the exciting dimension of work. You know that better than me :)

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  5. Interesting read of your adventures. The last shot a winner.

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    1. Thanks, Indrani. I wish I had taken more than a pocket camera but no space in my backpack :(

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  6. Brief, but I do get a whiff of the ravines. The peacock's watching sunset is a nice photograph.

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  7. Wow... Notorious Chambal. Even I appreciate the timing of this post in view of the newly generated interest in the area thanks to Paan Singh Tomar movie.

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  8. Place looks fantastic! Nice angles.

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  9. @Umashankar - Thanks, that one is my favourite too.
    @Harish - Yes! But haven't got a chance to see the movie yet :(
    @ Gowtham - Thanks, it is actually quite arid but there is so much history attached to the place that it seems to come alive.

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  10. Wow , superb narration . Last picture is jaw dropping .......

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    1. Thanks, Team G Square. That picture is my favourite too.

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  11. ultimate….
    rosesandgifts.com

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  12. Lovely captures and nicely written.

    www.rajniranjandas.blogspot.com

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  13. very nice post and good to see chambal in all its glory :)

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    1. Thanks, Santosh! I never realised it myself till I saw it.

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