Yes, I spent my Valentine @ Kota, Rajasthan, India.
Around 500 km-off New Delhi, overnight trains makes a perfect travelling option to Kota, consuming 7 hours of your ride.
As per the clock in the picture above, I arrived at 7 in the morning. The weather was cool and pleasing. One can find sharing auto to “Chambal Garden.”
The Chambal Garden hosts boating. It opens for visitors at 10 am, however, the gates are open for locals who walk, jog etc, so I was able to get inside early without any hurdles.
The garden is situated on the banks of Chambal river. I was dumbstruck at the sight of magnificent-wide Chambal river.
And since I was there in the morning, I could feel the freshness in every breathe I took by its bank.
To utilize the time, I briskly walked-out through the park and visited near-by temples of Shivji and Hanuman, both very old and famous.
First I walked to Hanuman temple, where I was lucky to witness morning aartis (Prayers.)
Thereafter, I detracted to Shiv temple, which is placed right on banks of Chambal river. People took holy dips in the bank at places preassigned for bathing purpose with a stone slab to rest over.
I felt the sanctity of the place, as preparation such as Yagnya (an altar) was being raised up for forthcoming Maha Shivrati celebrations (which happens to be today.)
I needed to charge my phone, so I visited a saloon shop, which allowed me to groom and charge my phone as well.
Now the sun was up, nice and warm..it was 10 am, I went inside the park..luckily I befriended with a professional photographer, whose Nikon dslr with 700mm lens helped me shoot a charming portfolio.
By the time, boatmen arrived.. I booked a solo ride for 1 hour with a guide, right into the Chambal river basin forest zone.
It turned out to be fun. We spotted, several cormorants (black and grey) egrets, eagle, kites, owl, white-breasted kingfisher, tern, red-wattled lapwing and a crocodile!
Thankfully, I had my binos (celestron 25×70) along with me, so the one on the boat (bushnell 8×40) was being used by the guide, and four eyes are always better than two:)
After boating, I visited Kota palace museum.
Its a well-maintained museum. However, few people know that the museum is divided into two phases. Phase one is ground floor where all weaponry, artefacts, pictures and real-to-the-scale animal effigies carved over with their real tanned skins are exhibited. Moreover, second phase, is the top floor, the Maharaja’s room, bed and throne, requires another ticket to be bought and is only shown with an escort by your side, as all the works are either in Silver or Gold.
The museum also hosts a beautiful souvenir shop, which is managed by a trust, hosting a budget-range take-away, some starting from 15 bucks (Indian Rupee)
Further, I was very lucky, as a marriage was going-on in the campus ground of palace, which is a secluded section, often given out on lease by the trust for marriage ceremonies. And it happened so, that a muslim marriage party was being throwed out. I thanked my stars and visited the place, everyone was inviting and courteous. And I was super-shocked to find plates piled with butter chicken-leg pieces..Yummy..sweet biryani rice and a non-veg rice (which I had to skip, doubting whether the meat was of beef) Crazy as it may sound to westerners, majority of Indians (including me) don’t eat beef/pork.
I fulfilled all my desires with a yummy non-veg treat..blessing the couples from my heart..I walked towards my next halt – The seven wonder garden.
As, the name makes it clear, it hosts, replicas for all the seven wonders of the world – Taj Mahal, Pyramids of Gaza, Leaning tower of Pizza, Christ the redeemer, Gladiator stadium of Rome, Eiffel tower and Statue of Liberty.
I waited here, till 7:00 pm, for the musical fountains to begin their show, which later I realized takes place on the other side of pond near the beach (yes, this park is situated on the bank of pond, which has a famous Jal mandir (temple) in the center, but currently the boating is halted owing to water cleaning work.)
So, I concluded my day, having Rajashthan’s famous staple food dish, called Dal-bhatti.
This was my valentine Day. Later, I had an late night train to catch for my next halt on Sunday – Bharatpur bird sanctuary:)