I was quite excited about my visit to Sawai Madhopur
because I was keen to witness a rural township after
having seen a number of cities during my tour to Rajasthan.
On my way to Sawai Madhopur, delightful sights of sprawling
pastures, grazing cattle, thatched mud huts and children
bringing water from tube wells enthralled me. I was
quite amused to see local women attired in swirling
ghagras and heavy metal jewelry from head to toe while
men wore colorful turbans. I had already started getting
the feel of real rural Rajasthan en route to Sawai Madhopur
and was now anxious to experience what lay ahead.
On my first day of stay in Sawai Madhopur, I headed
for an early morning visit to the world famous Ranthambore
National Park. The jeep safari through the thick wooded
forest was absolutely thrilling and was no less than
a roller coaster ride. For the first time, I got an
opportunity to witness wildlife in its natural habitat
and that too from such close quarters. Before me were
spotted and sambhar deer who looked the most innocent
of all, blue bull, hyena, jackal, wildcat and leopard.
Monkeys and langurs were aplenty and amused me with
their fascinating antics.
The birds were equally beautiful. I was surprised to
see a tailorbird at work as it weaved its nest just
like a tailor! There were tiger birds, paradise birds,
eagles, vultures and parrots, not to forget the most
beautiful bird of the world - peacock that looked splendid
in all its glory. However, I was quite disappointed
as we could not spot a tiger all through our jeep safari
to the forest. We saw tiger footprints and heard unusual
sounds of monkeys that were meant to be warning signals
of a tiger nearby but nowhere was the ferocious creature
to be seen himself.
On the same evening, I went to visit the imposing Ranthambore
Fort in Sawai Madhopur. The invincible fort of medieval
India seemed to bring alive the glorious royal era.
The fort encloses a number of monuments and cenotaphs
of the bygone times but the most famous is the 'Trinetra
Ganesha Temple' that is truly one of its kind in the
country. I was amused to learn that thousands of devotees
from all over the country send letters and wedding invitations
personally addressed to Lord Ganesha inviting him to
be present on their auspicious occasions.
During my second day in Sawai Madhopur, I proceeded
to visit some of the famous temples of the place. Kala
Gaura Bhairava Temple was the most interesting. The
temple is carved out of a hill and has some really captivating
historic legends attached to it. I learnt that it is
one of the very few temples in India where "Tantrik"
practices are still followed. The Jain Chamatkar Temple
was equally appealing. Just as its name, the temple
speaks of some intriguing miracles associated to its
formation. It is one of the most famous Jain temples
in Sawai Madhopur and is worth a visit.
The last on the list was Chauth Mata Temple about 35
km from Sawai Madhopur. It was one memorable experience
to climb the huge stairs up to the temple that just
didn't seem to end! It reminded me of a similar route
to the famous Vaishno Devi Temple in Jammu. The only
thing I regretted was that it would have been better
to visit the temple in early morning or late evening
as walking barefooted on the boiling stairs at a time
when heat was at its peak was just unbearable.
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