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Dec 21, 2014 05:22 PM 7412 Views
(Updated Dec 21, 2014 07:44 PM)


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I once had a deranged colleague who loved to get abusive with his co-workers and peers whenever he was in one of his so called nasty moods. A problem child, he was not the one who you would like to have as a subordinate. For days he would remain absent from duty without information. Habituated to shun work, he was cunning enough  to make much of his own mental illness. But one look at the medical claim that he put up for reimbursement, you would know at once that there was meticulous method in his madness.

However, the moot point here is that he belonged to the city of Alwar and  given to folly that we all humans are, I somehow got into my head that all those who belonged to that city, were as abnormal as he was or for that matter the city itself must be a kind of backwater zone, not developed enough to nurture a sane populace. It shows how fallacious and tainted human perception can be.

As we planned our trip to Bhangarh over the last weekend, the most prudent, we were told, was to make base at Alwar.  Obviously, given my preconceived notions, I wasn't very keen on that. However, it was one phone call to RTDC(Rajasthan Tourism Development Corporation)  that settled the matter. It had to be Alwar as it was the closest to Bhangarh(100 Kms.). Accordingly, the hotel was booked and on a cool, clear Saturday we embarked on our adventure trip.

We took the Bhiwadi-Daruheda road which we were told is the shortest route to Alwar. However, from where we reside in Delhi, borders  have to be crossed twice - Haryana and Rajasthan, to reach our destination which also means that Toll Charges have to be borne not twice but four times one way( Rs. 60/-+ Rs. 114/-+ Rs. 35/-+ Rs. 35/-).There are trains as well as inter-state buses to Alwar. However, taking your personal car is the most convenient(as we did). Journey by car( if you take a short break in-between) is of around 200 Kms. to the city of Alwar. From our departure point(i.e. residence), it should have been around 170 Kms. However, we got a little off-track after entering the city. Therefore, to the destination point, i.e. Hotel Meenal, it took a few more kilometers than what we had calculated. Though it depends upon individual driving style, it takes around four hours to reach Alwar.

The city of Alwar is clean, peaceful, unpolluted in every sense of the term. After Delhi it is a very pleasant surprise to find that the city adorns no traffic signal yet people drive carefully and as per rule.  Being Rajasthan, which is so rich in history, heritage and culture, one gets something to bump into and wonder at, at every bend. The people are hospitable and helpful. So are the villagers, smiling and solicitous, whom we approached quite a number of times while scouring the outskirts of the city where we lost our way more than often. In contrast with the life in a Metro, Alwar seems to be a haven of tranquility where life has its own unhurried pace. The city boasts of only two Malls(CPM and Plaza) where the residents do not go gaga  over every new artifact that gets displayed on the shelf. Unfortunately, it also has only one Family Restaurant - Prem Pavitra Bhojanalaya. However, the restaurant really serves good vegetarian food  at reasonable price and has an ever-smiling steward to pamper you.

As we checked into the hotel, a pamphlet which listed all the popular places of sight seeing in and around Alwar was dutifully handed over:

Bala Quilla

City Palace

Government Museum

Moosi Maharani Kii Chhatri

Purjan Vihar or Company Garden - which we passed a number of times

Tomb of Fateh Jung

Vinay Vilas Palace

Jaisamand Lake(6 Kms.)

Sariska Tiger Reserve and National Park( 42 Kms.) - Having 9 - 10 adult Royal Bengal Tigers. Season for citing is February to June.

Sariska Palace

Talvraksha( 18 Kms.)

Siliserh Lake( 13 Kms.)

Siliserh Palace(Hotel)

Kanakwari(23 Kms.)

Pandupole( 20 Kms.)

Bharthari( 6 Kms.)

Unfortunately, we were not the usual sightseers who made it a point to visit each and every place of historical or tourist importance in and around the city so that they could go back and tell all and sundry how they made sure that there was nothing more left to look for in the city of Alwar. Though, we did make an attempt to see Bala Quilla. However, at the nick of time, the car was swerved towards the opposite direction to a journey more spirited and adventurous.

At this point, I know the obvious question in the readers' mind would be then what for write a review when you did not even explore the city well enough? What information could you share for future traveler's benefit? To these questions my answer would be that to know a city you need not shuttle around from one sight to the other. If you really want to feel the pulse of a new place you just have to stand on the foot path(preferably in the busy market area) and look around or interact openly with the locals. You'd come to know much more than you could ever imagine of knowing through conducted tours.

And that is exactly what we did. By 8.00 PM the city of Alwar comes to a stand still. Most importantly, after 07.00 PM you'd hardly see the fairer sex on the road. Like the family restaurant,  Alwar has only one sweet shop(Jodhpur Sweet House) of consequence in its entire expanse, which is kind of a pity because a tourist does not have much option in hand but to sit in his/her hotel room and watch TV after sunset. Bikers in Alwar are aplenty as it seems to be the most preferred vehicle. The state-owned transports are less in number. The city being small and the sights to be seen are within short distance, the most convenient is to take your own or hire a private car to be at your disposal throughout your stay. At the time of booking, the hotel staff had candidly confessed that Conducted Tours had not been very successful in Alwar and that visitors preferred their own vehicle to visit places of their liking.

Having said all that, I must clarify that Alwar is not exactly a laidback or sleepy town. On the contrary, it has much potential for growth, especially, tourism. The Government seems to have taken Alwar for granted. Its peace loving people too appear to have an enviable capacity of quiet acceptance. As a result, the pace at which Alwar should have developed is actually not happening. No, it has all the Brand Outlets, Cineplexes, Discotheques and all other such modern paraphernalia by which to be identified as upbeat and at par with the other developed cities. Yet, a lot more is required to be done if the Vasundhara Raje Scindia's Government wants to accelerate tourists' influx in Alwar. And in that agenda, should first and foremost be placed, development/repair of roads, especially, those leading to touristy spots like Bhangarh and Dadhikar. Although, it  has some, yet a few more livable resorts and hotels within the city can bring in healthier competition and do good for the city. Rajasthan is known for its cuisine. However, as I have said earlier, there being only one restaurant which caters to the usual, sweeping North Indian taste, we were hard put to find a dedicated joint where we could enjoy typical Rajasthani Khana. Above all, for a tourist destination, Alwar seriously lacks night life which can be calculatedly planned. A little more investment in these lines can work wonders for the city. But again, considering the flip side, such rampant development may disrupt the serenity of the place which adds to its beauty.

All said and done, here is a place, very close at hand, at least for Delhiites for an easy getaway surrounded by the Arravalli range under the umbrella of a vivid blue sky. The weather is good. In extreme winters, the temperature drops considerably but does not touch the freezing point although the tree-tops do wear a frosty sheath of white. The city is also unexpectedly green and safe. The people are not too overtly conscious of tourists yet ready to help and guide when asked for. Barring a few inconveniences, our stay has been uneventful and quite enjoyable. And a second visit is not entirely off the card.

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