When we think of India we think of large over-populated cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai, but only 30% of the population of India live in urban cities. For the other 70%, home in one of the thousands of rural villages, is far different. So, in order to truly see the country, venturing outside the capital is a must! Tordi Sagar a small rural village in the state of Rajasthan was my third stop on my Indian adventure.
I guess you wouldn’t exactly call Tordi a tourist hotspot. We arrived via dirt roads and through the Rajasthan countryside to this small and peaceful village. It was a massive relief from the crazy, loud and boisterous streets of Delhi and Jaipur. We didn’t exactly have much choice for accommodation, as we were staying in the only guest house in the town, but it was certainly nothing to be sniffed at. Tordi Garh is the exquisite home of the main landlord of Tordi Sagar and while it was a little rough around the edges and undergoing some renovations, it was more than comfortable. My room was more like a suite, complete with a small living area. There was plenty to explore around the building and beautiful views of the surrounding countryside.
“One Photo! One Photo!”
We were taken on an orientation walk around Tordi and warned by our guide before leaving, not to give the children anything as we went. This seemed a little harsh, but the children of this little village have not been exposed to begging culture. As a result, they do not expect to receive money or food from people. There was so much more innocence to be seen in these children, as opposed to the street children in Delhi. In fact the only thing that the children wanted was to have their photograph taken. As soon as we left the guest house we were swarmed by excited children shouting “Excuse me Miss, one photo please”
Walking around Tordi was incredible. Everyone just wanted to speak to us, to practice their English, to find out where we were from and to tell us about their village and families. The village was full of small cement houses, some painted in bright colours, and others not painted at all. Some of the houses had love heart paintings with dates painted on the front wall, which we learnt was the date of a family member’s marriage. We took the time to play with the children and take some photographs. One group of children decided to learn the art of the selfie on my phone, but this didn’t turn out too well!
|Teaching the kids how to take a selfie!
Another man handed me his beautiful baby grandson, then gestured for me to take him with me! I’ll be honest, it was pretty tempting…. But I passed the baby back! The excitement of the children was infectious and I was overwhelmed by the warmth of the local people who simply wanted to show us how they live.
|Local potter showing his trade
Camel Cart by Sunset
Back at our guest house we indulged in some traditional Rajasthani food which included a kind of lentil soup, with doughy bread and a sweet sugary mix on the side. It was an unusual dish, although not unpleasant, still too sweet even for me!
After eating we left the guest house to take a camel cart ride out to the sand dunes nearby. This was a real experience. We boarded a flat cart and were transported slowly back through the village, where the children revved up again with excitement and began chasing us and waving. It was a bumpy ride and I was almost certain at one point that I was going to fall off, but I held on tight and made it to the foot of the dunes. We hiked up to the top, sweating and out of breath because the soft sand sucked our feet under providing little resistance! But it was worth it at the top. By now the sand had begun to cool and I took my shoes off to feel it between my toes. We cracked open a beer and waited patiently for the sun to set. Finally, the sun duly descended and turned a beautiful shade of orange, that seemed to leak out into the sky around it. As darkness eventually spread we could hear the sound of wild coyotes in the distance and it was time to head for home.
Home, of course, meant the beautiful guest house and with one beer had, we had a taste for more. Following a mini party in my room involving myself, two Polish girls and two Austrian girls and a bottle of vodka, we took the party onto the rooftop terrace where we mingled with a group of young travels from Australia, England and New Zealand. There was a very surreal moment when I discovered that the kiwi girl knew an Irish friend of mine. Seriously, what are the odds? We drank into the early hours of the morning with concoction of vodka and Indian sweet lime soda.
The next morning, with my fuzzy head, we headed for a tourist attraction that some of you may have seen before. The city of Abhaneri is now in ruins but still attracts visitors to its two main attractions, its signature stepwell and the Harshat Mata Temple. We visited the temple first, which lay in ruins after it was destroyed by Mahmud Ghazni, the Muslim ruler who disagreed with religious freedom. Many of the pillars and columns lie around the temple, but the art work still remains to be appreciated.
Just across from Harshat Mata lies Chand Baori , a stepwell dating back to between 800 AD and 900 AD. It was used primarily as a way to preserve water, but became a gathering place for the community, since the air at the bottom of the well remained much cooler during the hot summers. As I mentioned, you may have seen the well before as it has been featured in films such as Batman, The Dark Knight Rises and the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. The thing that struck me the most about the stepwell, was the uniformity and the precision engineering, it is incredible to think that this was built 1200 years ago! We walked around learning about the Hindu Gods from the carvings on the walls and after a short time it was time to board the bus and take our final drive towards. It would then be time to leave the air conditioned coach and get down to some real public transport by taking the train! I was also incredibly excited because we were heading towards Agra, home of the TAJ MAHAL!