Thursday, September 24, 2009

‘Khamma Ghani Sa!’

What would be the one place where you can enjoy camel rides, ‘kathputli’ or puppet shows, view the ‘ghoomar’ dance, and enjoy delicious ‘daal bhati’, ‘malpuas’, ‘sangri’ and ‘sag-gatta’? I’m sure the first answer that comes to mind would be none other than ‘Rajasthan’.

But you couldn’t be further from the truth! All this and more can be experienced at ‘Chokhi Dani’ a Rajasthani theme village located on the outskirts of Pune. A fee of about Rs 300 per head includes entry, a few coupons that can be redeemed for games or rides, and a traditional dinner.

As you enter, you are welcomed with peppy ‘dhol’ music and colourful ‘Kacchi Ghodi’ dancers. A counter with snacks and starters including ‘chaat’, ‘pakodas’, and cool beverages awaits you so you can nibble on something before having fun.

Taking a cursory glance around as I savoured the food on offer, I could see children and adults alike enjoying camel rides, horse rides, and a spin in the ‘bail gaadi’ or ox cart.Some were busy testing their skill at pottery-making.

We decided to try out the rides as well. After a camel ride and my first ever ‘bail gaadi’ ride, we were just in time to watch a performance of the ‘ghoomar’, and the ‘panihari’.

Seated on traditional ‘charpais’, with front row seats, we were soon transported to a different world altogether. The graceful dancers with their bewitching moves and seemingly impossible maneuvers kept us in thrall all along.

From there we moved on to the games section where one could test one’s skills at archery and bowling amongst others. And then one could also have pretty ‘mehendi’ designs drawn on one’s hands.

Nearby was a stall where you could get your names written on a grain of rice. This is then put in a vial of special liquid to preserve the grain and attached to a keychain!

We also got the opportunity to dress up in traditional Rajasthani attire and have our photographs taken to keep them as a souvenir of our memorable trip. Fire dancers were our next stop before heading to the dining hall to sample the sumptuous fare on offer.

One can have as many servings as one wants of any of the mouthwatering dishes served on biodegradable plates made of dried leaves. The stewards were all dressed traditionally complete with colourful turbans.

They kept refilling our plates until we could not eat another morsel. By the time we were done with dinner, none of us were inclined to walk back to the exit!
(Photos by Upendra Nayak & Chandana Nayak Shenoy)

1 comment:

  1. Good to know, 'Choukhi Dani' nearby Pune, will visit this place, when I reach back to Mumbai.

    Thanks for sharing such information. Feeling closness to the Rajasthani even though being miles apart.