Saturday, January 1, 2011

A Bird Sanctuary, A Dhaba, and a Fort on a Hill...

A year ago, in another life, faraway from here where it snows a whole lot I was browsing through some pictures that my friend Anjalika had posted. It was a beautiful fort in the middle of mustard fields. It looked like a heritage hotel. A little research led me to the Neemrana group of Heritage hotel's website. I just wanted to spend a day there. Just a day. And what better day to choose- my birthday.

But the Agra-wallas had other concerns- Kesroli Hill Fort- no no never heard of it. Why would you want to go to a place we've never heard of. Alwar- thats 6 hours away. And the roads are terrible.
Me- So you have been there?
Agra-walla- Yes 15 years ago.
Me- But the information on the website says that Alwar is only 2 hours away from Agra.
Agra-walla- Ya- the roads are bad so it takes much longer. Go to Bharatpur instead its only 30 min away. Or even better lets go see the Taj Mahal.
Me- Ya but we go to see the Taj every year.
You can see how this conversation was going with the Agra- wallas.

Finally they all gave up. I was skeptical as well and settled for the Keoladeo Bird Sanctuary in Bharatpur. November to March, the sanctuary sees the migration of beautiful and endangered bird species such as the Siberian crane. It was a beautiful sight to behold. As we went deeper into the park, we saw some peacocks, cranes, herons, eagles and deer. I had a sudden determination to make sure I go to Kesroli as well. I looked at dad and said- I think we should go. After a good hour of walking and photographing birds dad finally agreed. So off we went.

So we acquired a map from the sleepy tourist center of Bharatpur and ventured on our little roadtrip. Risking bad roads and non existent hill forts. The map recommended a stop at a place called Deeg on the way. There is a beautiful palace at Deeg. From Deeg there is a straight road all the way to Alwar around 100 kms and the Hill fort of Kesroli is 15 kms before Alwar. Ok that seemed clear.
Here are some pictures from our drive to Alwar from Bharatpur.

The road was not bad. We asked people for directions on the way. Some looked at us blankly and some had heard of this legendary Hill Fort. We were on the right road we were informed. I was really excited. The drive was long. We took a break at a Dhaba- the Uttam Pavitra Bhojanalya. I needed to stretch. The driver was hungry -none of us had really eaten since we left home. I watched the dhaba guy prepare the dal. It was so simple and the aromas were wonderful. There is nothing more delicious than simple spicy dal. In fact my friend Josette in Lebanon just wrote to me asking me how to make it. So here are step by step photos of the dhabawalla's dal. So lovely.
For Dal:
Garlic water (crushed garlic in water and salt)
Freshly pounded ginger
Coriander powder
Turmeric Powder
Chili Powder
Yellow Dal- Udad
Served with freshly done tandoori rotis.

It is so easy and simple.
Heat the Oil. Add the onions. Crush some ginger add to the onions. Add the garlic water and the tomatoes. Stir in the coriander powder, turmeric and chili. Add the boiled dal to the tadka. Serve with tandoori roti, onions and chilies.

 The tandoori Roti:

After the Dhaba break, we were ready for the final leg of the journey. The owner of the Dhaba told us we were not very far from the Hill Fort and that it was only 30 minutes away. I was energised, excited and thrilled. The Hill Fort of Kesroli. Finally!

Mom and Dad..

 I highly recommend this place. Its serene and calm and as you walk through its stoned walls and turrets there is sense of the days gone by. I can imagine prince and princesses lounging on its terraces soaking in the sun and the view of the massive mustard fields around. A gorgeous space. I shall dream about this place over and over. Thanks for bearing the drive to The Kesroli Hill Fort- mom and dad.

A sketch I made inspired by the entrance of the Hill Fort. There was another artist drawing there who was making a watercolor as well. I rarely color my drawings but this space had such beautiful texture. I hope I captured the essence in the sketch.


  1. Enjoyed the journey Jyotika....very pretty!

  2. Beautiful!! We totally have to go!! Also - now i want dal. Damn.

  3. A fantastic and colourful ride. Thanks for taking us on it

  4. hey thanks guys. Such adventures totally rock my boat!

  5. Happy belated birthday! Beautiful photos.

  6. Hi
    Awesome picture and looks like a wonderful journey of life.Such adventure is soulful and you have captured myriads moods of life. I shall try the recipe,though I'm a terrible cook.Shall subscribe to ur blog on y WORDPRESS.

  7. Hi Jyotika,loving your blog. Love the street food pictures. Awesome

  8. hey jyotika.....i wa planning to go there....saw ur pics...its awesome......the first time i saw its pics on google i fell in love with this place.....

    can u temme hw much time it took to reach there..

  9. Hi Anonymous- we drove from Agra- it took us 4 hours. I believe from Delhi it is also a 4-5 hour drive. The road from Delhi is quite nice. Now is the time to go. Mustard fields will be lush yellow and this fort is right in the middle of it. Just go..