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Travelogue | The Gateway Resort, Pushkar Bypass, Ajmer.

Dear travellers and vacationers,

I’ve been to Rajasthan several times but I had never been to Ajmer or Pushkar before. I’ve become used to expecting nothing and hoping only for the best, when I travel to any place for the first time.

Sometimes, the universe has the most amazing plans lined up for you; so like me, just go with the flow, pack your bags and leave for an adventure into the wild. Mother nature is always calling out to beings like me and you.

I’m sure you’re going to enjoy reading this review and browsing through most of our spectacular moments, captured by Snehsha Tank and edited by her talented team Lensplate.

30,000 feet up in the air, moments before our touchdown at Jaipur airport

We departed on a flight from Mumbai on 6th September at 9:40 AM, which landed in Jaipur 2 hours later at 11:45 AM. We were comfortably transited to Ajmer in our luxurious Innova cabs sent by the hotel, driven by well-dressed and well-trained chauffeurs; who shared essential information about Ajmer and Pushkar, on our way to the property.

After a long drive that lasted for 3 hours, we finally arrived at our destination around 3:30 PM: The Gateway Resort located on the Ajmer-Pushkar Bypass road.

Ram ram sa! Welcome to Rajasthan!

Our welcome made us feel like a royal Rajasthani indeed

Baaharon phool barsao, tumhara guest aaya hai

Located in the middle of a mesmerising and picturesque oasis, with the Aravalli hills as its backyard, the staff waiting for us at the resort welcomed us in traditional Rajasthan ethos, including flower garlands around our necks, enchanting us right into its cultural milieu, immediately after our arrival.

Gateway into the arms of nature

Where we enjoyed our welcome-drink & some deserving panoramic photography too

We decided to join other bloggers and journalists from all around the country on this FAM trip organised by Taj, mainly because the invitation promised to offer memorable experiences from both Ajmer and Pushkar: a compatible blend of Sufi culture and Hinduism together. Since it was our first time, we were excited to know what was planned for us.

Getting introduced to the General Manager, Nagendra and his team

Fresh and spicy chicken and paneer kebabs from the tandoor

Our hearty and wholesome first desi meal in Ajmer

While having lunch and getting acquainted with Nagendra Hada, who had voluntarily taken the responsibility of hosting us during this trip; we got to know that our itinerary includes visiting places like Brahma Temple, Pushkar Ghat, Ajmer Dargah, Kishangarh Fort, Savitri Temple and multiple treks up and down the hills of Aravalli mountains located around our property.

Did you notice that swing next to our bed? Yes, we had a swing in our room!

After lunch, we were given the choice of either quickly gearing up for a trek to a uphill spot nearby, or rest for a couple of hours until sunset. I was happy to see the collective enthusiasm for some physical activity amongst our group of travellers. Almost all of us decided to pick the former and follow Nagendra for a trek to a serene spot on top.

Trek mode: ON

Our trek ended with a surprise waiting for us: high-tea in the valley!

Nagendra was a great host. Some chose tea or coffee, I chose to enjoy mathri with some gin & tonic!

Enjoying fresh food in the arms of nature!

After all that traveling since 9 AM, followed by our late-lunch at the resort, and then a long tiring trek; we were obviously too exhausted for any other activity. So we decided to call room service for dinner, rest up well that night and assemble for breakfast on the following morning.

In the morning we all decided to catch up on some more sleep, skip breakfast and meet directly for lunch at the restaurant instead. Nikhil Merchant joined the kitchen crew and helped Nagendra cook up a huge portion of Junglee Maas made with lots of ghee, which was enjoyed by one and all equally.

Click on the image to view the recepie

Our itinerary for day 2 was focussed on exploring Pushkar: one of the oldest cities in India, offering a prominent Hindu pilgrimage even today. We began our pilgrimage by on-boarding cable cars to Savitri Temple: which is renowned for its architecture and a beautifully scenic view for tourists like us.

 

A return trip costs only Rs. 100!

View from the temple, of the beautiful lake and the surrounding villages nearby

Pushkar is famed as the land where the one and only temple of Lord Brahma exists in the world. According to history, Brahma was in search of a demon called Vajranash, who was killing people in Pushkar. So the Lord slew the demon with his weapon, the lotus flower; and then performed a yagna to protect this place from the demons, which required his first wife, Savitri, to offer ahuti.

That request to offer ahuti was denied by angry Savitri, who then cursed Brahma saying that he would be worshiped only in Pushkar and nowhere else in the whole wide world. Brahma Temple of Pushkar is also known as Jagatpita Brahma Mandir, located close to the sacred Pushkar Lake. Although now it does not remain as the only Brahma temple, it is still one of very few existing temples dedicated to Lord Brahma in India.

We visited that temple too, which was right behind the Savitri temple but sorry, photography was strictly prohibited out there.

Sunset at Pushkar Lake, also known as Gau Ghat

After enjoying a relaxing sunset at Pushkar Lake, we walked to Varah Ghat on the opposite side, for the Sandhya aarti, which is conducted 45 minutes after sunset every day. A few of my friends who had visited Pushkar before, had told me this aarti is a delightful experience for everyone: believers or non-believers.

People in thousands had assembled for this aarti and as the chants began, the atmosphere got filled with the fragrance of incense sticks and roses immediately. The sound of ringing bells and the chorus from everyone surrounding the lake; while the evening sky filled itself with the gold of the setting sun. The lake looked gorgeous with numerous floating diyas; this aarti at Pushkar was an inexplicably elevating spiritual experience for me.

An aarti to remember forever

While returning to The Gateway Resort for dinner, I was wondering what surprises Nagendra has arranged for us at the property; and as expected, his arrangements for an evening at their poolside, did not disappoint any of us. We enjoyed our preferred cocktails with piping hot kebabs and highly entertaining qawwali and dance performances by local artists of Rajasthan, that night.

Mehfil ban gayi sufiana!

Aye chorri ne toh dil jeet liya!

The best part about dinner that night, were garma-garam jalebis for dessert!

After an eventful day, we were all extremely excited to explore Ajmer on our 3rd day. So we all assembled for breakfast on time to know more about our first, and for me the most awaited, destination of this trip: Ajmer Sharif Dargah.

The breakfast buffet at The Gateway Resort has many options for vegetarians as well

Rajasthani Mirchi Bhajjiya was the most delicious dish served for breakfast that day

When we reached the dargah, we were requested to leave all our valuables in the car, including our foot wear, as a cautionary measure against the crowd that Nagendra expected outside and inside the mosque. Little did I know, what I was going to experience, might change my perspective towards human faith, forever.

The lane of Ajmer Sharif Dargah

What would you pick?

This is the main gate of the mosque, followed by the Shahjahani Gate: erected by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan

Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti is an international endowment, managed under The Dargah Khwaja Saheb Act (1955) and The Dargah Committee (appointed by the Government) takes care of the maintenance of the shrine year after year, and also guest houses thousands of devotees daily. However, the rituals of the shrine is only and always under the custody of inherited priests, who are known as Khadims.

Devotees singing prayers together inside the mosque

According to the history retold to us by the priest who was hosting all of us that day, Akbar and his queen used to visit this mosque on pilgrimage, by foot from Agra every year, in observance of a vow for their son. The large pillars called “Kos Minar” erected at intervals of 3 or 4 kms along the entire way between Agra and Ajmer; were established and marked as places by the emperor, for the royal pilgrims who halted at those minars, during their foot-journeys to Ajmer.

Modern Indian highways were built roughly on the same route, marked for the future in the Mughal era. Around a lakh and half pilgrims visit the shrine inside Ajmer Sharif Dargah even today.

Kishangarh Fort, Ajmer

After our visit to the most popular and worshipped mosque in Ajmer, we were transited to Kishangarh Fort for an exclusively arranged tour of the heritage property; which was built by Maharaja Roop Singh in 1649 for the Jodhpur prince Kishan Singh: who founded the state of Kishangarh earlier in 1609.

We managed to click many pictures during our tour inside; hope you enjoy viewing these very few shortlisted for you as follows:

Picture captured while we entered Kishangarh Fort

Stairway to heaven?

Ancient weaponry always fascinates the inner child in me

The fort has witnessed many patronising deeds of its rulers towards art, architecture, music and poetry

The deep moated walls signify the glorious history of Kishangarh Fort, making it one of the most formidable forts in Rajasthan even today. The double-storied Durbar Hall had tiny latticed windows above, for the queens to view the proceedings and celebrations as they occur below.

The 9 different turreted areas of the fort encompasses a large scenic landscape, with scars and shades from its several battlements, jails, granaries and many untold tales from that ancient era.

Viewpoint from a spot on top of the fort

After strolling around for over 2 hours, our tour ended with an awfully scary walk down a dark and secret stairway, leading to The Phool Mahal Palace.

The Phool Mahal Palace, Ajmer

The Phool Mahal was constructed in 1870 to serve as Kishangarh Maharaja’s royal palace and is now functioning as a boutique hotel adjacent to the fort, owned and managed by the Royal Family: whose current descendants were waiting to share their true stories with us, passed on generation after generation since 1609.

Meet his and her royal highness: Mr. & Mrs. Maharaja BRAJRAJ SINGH Bahadur

His highness, if you happen to read this travelogue, we thank you for sharing your secret stories with us and also for this unforgettable lunch experience with a beautiful view at your majestic Phool Mahal.

 
We left Kishangarh to enjoy a relaxing sundowner back at The Gateway Resort and got ready by 8 PM that night, for what was probably the most fun I’ve had during dinner on any trip recently.

 

A bonfire to keep us warm and cozy

Nagendra Hada was full of surprises throughout our stay, and all the guests loved and respected him tremendously for his kind hospitality. Since it was our last night, he organised dinner for us into the wild, at the Ajmer Development Area (ADA) nearby, starting with a live performance by an extremely talented bagpiper, and his dear friend named Jamal.

Meet Jamal, the bagpiper who really enjoys what he does

Our trip ended with enjoying cocktails into the woods, accompanied with a huge spread, including this delicious and authentic recipe of Khad Murg: usually a spiced mix of minced lamb and potato layered with phulkas or rotis, cooked below the ground in an earthen pit; which was replaced with chicken by the talented chefs of The Gateway Resort that night.
 
   TRAVELOGUE SUMMARY

What’s Garma-Garam?
The property is located perfectly to qualify as nature’s paradise in Ajmer.

What’s Thanda?
The swimming pool is beautiful but usually not completely clean,
especially during early morning hours.
 
Dakaar Level
4/5
 
Comfort
4/5
 
Room Service
4/5

Thank you Priyanka Maheshwari, Parinita Gawri, Nagendra Hada and his entire team (especially the kitchen crew) at The Gateway Resort by Taj, for your warm and unforgettable hospitality. I hope to see you all soon again.

I’m back to Bombay! Our trip to The Gateway Resort #Pushkar Bypass #Ajmer indulged us in experiences that combined to be an unforgettable blend of Sufi culture and Hinduism. From the only Brahma temple in the world to our visit to the popular #AjmerSharif Dargah, from an exclusively arranged tour inside the heritage property of Kishangarh to dining into the wild under the starry sky; this trip took us back in its own history of being a political power land of the Rajputs, the Mughals and the Marathas as well. Located in a picturesque valley, with Aravalli hills as its backyard, our stay at this resort made it extremely convenient for all of us from Mumbai, to explore both Pushkar and Ajmer equally well during our 3 day stay. An extensive travel & food story will go live on my blog during the last week of this month. Watch out for more pictures and glimpses of my experiences from #Rajasthan tomorrow. #indianblogger #travelblogger #travelstories #travelgram

A post shared by Adarsh Munjal (@thebigbhookad) on

Have fun in Pushkar & Ajmer!
Happy travelling!
 
 

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