You might be hearing about Dholpur and all my experiences for the first time, but it’s a must go place for a traveler. If you’re looking for a reason, then this might be it. It’s not a touristic place!
I have always wanted to pen my travel experience down but never got around to do so for reasons best unknown to me! This time around, I felt motivated as my brother insisted I do and hand it over. So, here goes!
I have been to a lot of places in Himachal, Uttarakhand, Rajasthan and the southern part of India. Hence, I was a little bewildered about where to start from.
While going through all my travel photos, I thought of writing an account of a place which is lesser known but extremely adventurous which you get to know only when you reach.
What’s Dholpur all about?
The name of the place is Dholpur. It’s a small district in Rajasthan bordered by Uttar Pradesh as well as Madhya Pradesh. I stumbled upon this placed while going through a magazine while waiting to be interviewed in one of the dotcom companies in Delhi.
The place is known as the erstwhile abode of the Behad Dacoits and now more for the river safari in the river – Chambal.
I was intrigued with the idea of river safari as well as going and setting foot to the dacoit heaven!
While reading more about the place (I have a habit of trying and knowing everything before I visit any place) I was enlightened more about the fauna of the place.
Not only can you embark on a journey across the river Chambal (the very name sends shivers down my spine till date) but you can also sight the members of aquatic reptiles, river dolphins and a plethora of bird species.
Heaven! Was the thought in my mind.
After having consulted my sister, who is the essential partner in crime in most of my travel endeavours, we decided to take a taste of the rustic landscape and the adventure the place offered.
The journey began on 2nd April 2015 with a wildlife photographer and enthusiast Mr Sharma. We took the Yamuna Expressway which is an experience in itself as it is a sheer infrastructure magnificence.
We started pretty late which was not a good idea as it was almost 11 pm when we reached the place. Upon reaching, we realized how small a place it can be. There was not a single hotel in sight.
My sister, being the internet buff she is, started looking up for hotels online and luckily, we got a good one about 3KMs outside of the city. We had dinner which was sumptuous and delicious and went off to sleep.
Let’s start with what all I did and things to do in Dholpur for everyone going next.
Chambal Safari – the Adventure Part!
Next Day – we started off towards Chambal and found the valleys where the dacoits had ruled with a ruthlessness that rocked and shocked the entire nation once. Moving forward, we came across Chambal river, rustic and an odd feeling of cruelty exuding out of it.
The safari was to be done in a motorboat (price varies with the kms covered) and we were given heavy life-jackets to wear in case of a mishap. I failed to understand, though, how that could have saved us from the crocs and the gharials which adorned the river.
But the feel of adventure did increase manifold and we boarded the boat with anticipation. The first few meters went event free and then we sighted the first crocodile taking a sunbath.
These brutes evoke enough excitement in captivity and so, seeing them out in the open with the guide to trust our life with, was pure ecstasy. It was when the brute decided to get up and started walking into the water (yeah note – it did no crawl but walked on all fours!) is when we all skipped several heartbeats.
Our boat was straight in line with its snout and we had no clue about its intention. And even in that state, we kept the boat stationed there as we were in a vantage point that gave some gold frames. The guide slowly crept away after a while and that was a very wise decision.
We went further ahead and saw a mother and a baby ghariyal sun-bathing on the sand beaches. The river safari also gave us an ample scope to witness the avian diversity – golden ducks, crames, storks, red wattled-lap-wings, stilts to name a few.
We were lucky to catch a glimpse of the golden fox and a few other crocs which were perched up on the rocks, camouflaged completely.
The other reptilian species we came across were red-crowned turtles. Magnificent in their size, they looked quite overwhelming against the crocs.
Machkund Temple, Dholpur
Dholpur also offers a peek into the history. It hosts a lesser known palace and temple of Machchkund Raja. The history behind that is quite rich and intriguing as well as the architectural infrastructure.
It commands a scenic view and has a tank surrounded by a series of temples of different dates. The place is named after Raja Machchh Kund. the twenty-fourth king of the Suryavanshi Dynasty (the solar race) and is said to have reigned nineteen generations before Lord Ram came into the picture.
According to legend, Raja Machchh Kund was sleeping here when a demon Kaal Yaman while pursuing Lord Krishna, accidentally woke him up. The demon was burnt to ashes because of a divine blessing to Raja Machchh Kund.
It is now a sacred place for pilgrims and we were offered an opportunity to be a part of the evening devotional offerings which take place amidst the elites of the place. The ritual was very organised and pulled at my spiritual cord which otherwise remains dormant.
Talab Shahi, Dholpur
Prior to the pious evening, we went to another exquisite place called Shahi Talaab which actually was a lake sprawled lavishly across several acres of land with sparkling water surrounded by lush green meadows.
The place was quite a far from the main city and stray incidents of loot and vandalism were reportedly taking place.
The landscape offered rustic meadows with an occasional sprinkling of deciduous vegetation and single huts erected in the middle of nowhere!
Not to mention that ours was the only car traversing the length and breadth of the small district.
It was a fruitful trip where we got to get away from the throngs of people in otherwise crowded places. Addition to that was the memorable evening rituals and the up, close and personal encounters with the river perils!
So, when you’re planning Dholpur? The best time to visit Dholpur is during Winter or during Monsoon, as Summer gets too hot in Rajasthan!