CHOKI-DHANI (The perfect glimpse of Rajasthan)

Jaipur is one of the most convenient destinations from Delhi when it comes to impromptu travel plans. Good railways, roads and air transportation connect Delhi and Jaipur. So, every time we travel to Jaipur, we try to experience something new. Therefore, this time, we took a trip to the much-acclaimed Choki-Dhani.

Choki-Dhani is a mock village for travellers to have a real time experience of an Indian village. It literally means ‘ special village’. And true to its name, it is a wonderful and unique experience for all tourists.

Choki-Dhani has a unique entertainment style, which includes conventional forms like traditional dancers (who dance with a stack of clay pots on their head). Acrobats who will do their best to provide a spectacular show without any formal training like walking on a tightrope or riding two bicycles at the same time.

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This cultural village has a special section dedicated to children that include fun activities like slides (again, with clay finishing, to give the appearance of a village). They also have a tunnel for kids to hide and play. There are also some swings for the kids.

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Apart from these activities, there are various royal rides like the ride on an elephant, horse-cart and even a camel. Sadly, we were not able to click any good picture of them but they were all fun especially for our little traveler.

HORSE CART

A maze, which is again made up of clay, is present in the center of the village for a thrilling experience. There are different snack shops and souvenir shops throughout the site.

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There are also other areas of interest like the waterfall and boat ride in the man made lake. There is a copy of Vaishno devi temple for the devotees. The epic battle of Haldighati and its glorious history is recreated at Chokhi Dhani cultural village through giant statues and amazing light and sound setting.

 

There are open-air restaurants which give you the perfect surrounding of any village house with walls made up of soil and lights lit by traditional oil lanterns. To add to the experience, the food served is the delicious authentic thali (full Indian meal). There is also a royal Rajasthani thali, which is served in an air-conditioned hall.

At the end, we had great family fun at shooting arcade. They give you wooden rifles and you have to shoot the balloons to gain the gift. What attracted me most was the manual wooden bowling alley, where the people employed were picking the bowling pins and passing it on. The darts and other such feast games were also present.

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Overall, it was an excellent experience with our little one. There was so much to do in so little time as the village opens at five in the evening till eleven in the night. The competitive advantage of this cultural village lies in its effortless layout, which depicts an average Indian village with authentic village stuffs including the numerous Charpai (wooden beds woven with ropes) spread all over the village.

WEEKEND GETAWAY AT AAMBY VALLEY,MAHARASHTRA

Aamby Valley City is one of India’s best-planned city and has been regarded as a benchmark in urban planning and designing. Well connected with roads, its easily accessible, though in order to enter, one must have a booking at any one of its hotels. It’s a picturesque place with lots of amazing spots and that is why it is one of the most favorite places for grand destination weddings. The city incorporates luxury, business convenience, leisure and entertainment.

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Upon entering this luxurious and ultra clean city, we were awed by its resemblance with any European city. The Shayadri mountain range encircles the whole city making it visually attractive. Grand statue of Bharat Maa greeted everyone right at the entrance.

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The Timber Chalets are Swiss-style cottages which are available on rent and make an ideal weekend getaway from Mumbai or Lonavala. The teak wood finishing adorns the cabins completely and makes them very pleasing to look at.

Lush greenery adorns the whole valley. And beautiful structures in the form of huge pillars, elephants and so on are found everywhere in the valley.

Recreational activities in the form of Ayurvedic massages, Disco, various specialized restaurants of vivid cuisines, horse riding, toy-train ride and water taxi (which is actually a bus) gives people of all ages almost everything to have fun over the weekends.

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AAMBY VALLEY

 

How to have a great trip with a Baby

When we become parents, everything around us changes to such an extent that we forget that we are still the same people. I strongly question the mindset of people who think that they cannot travel once they have a kid. How come when we are eating and sleeping and doing all the things we did earlier (with variations of course), we think travel is not meant for us? We just have to be cautious and plan the travel well to have fun with our babies. Some handy pointers for the same will be :

Choosing the location

This is the most important factor contributing to the success of one’s vacation. The location of the vacation must be selected properly after analyzing various factors like : weather, flight time, safety and infrastructure of the place. Most importantly, the place should be baby-friendly with access to pram to most places.

Choosing the flight

The correct flight will be the one which matches the nap time of your baby. We also have to keep in mind the travel time. In case of long flights, we need a stop-over and in case of short flight timings, we must aim for direct flights to further decrease the traveling time.

Carrying proper food items for the baby

Be it a flight, train or car, we must always carry baby-food. We always have hot water in an insulated container along with baby milk powder and other such things which has a larger shelf life,for example vegetable munchies, chips, puffs. Once we are at our destination, we can make healthy food and buy fresh fruits.

Keeping all baby-care products handy

Besides the food and diaper bag,a proper handbag for baby stuffs like toys, pillows, blankets and other such things which either comforts or distracts the baby (in case he is not in a good mood) is also necessary.

Choosing a Proper Hotel

Its best to choose an apartment or a suite over a hotel room. It is advisable as it gives us the flexibility of making different baby food as well as it tends to be bigger, thereby providing a bigger play area for the baby.

Choosing the Itinerary

Visiting all the important sites and vacation spots at a particular location should be done in a leisurely fashion with proper breathing spaces with the baby. Preferring one place a day has better chances of giving you a better holiday rather than squeezing numerous sites and activities on a single day.

Nap Time

Even on vacations, its best to let your child sleep properly so that they enjoy the whole trip. Many of my friends skip nap-time to utilize the maximum holiday time but this always results in making the child cranky who will not enjoy anything he sees or does.

Let the Child Enjoy

If we stick to our cameras and keep posing with our children, there is no point in going for a vacation. Although we should click pictures but we should not overdo them. Until the child finds himself free, he will not be involved in exploring which is what makes a good traveler.

Though, this list works for me and I had great holidays with my baby but there might be more to it.

Sojourn in Italy of India – Lavasa

On a business trip to Pune, we planned to spend a day in Lavasa. Based on the Italian town Portofino, Lavasa is a privately planned city built near Pune. It can be easily said to be one of the most beautiful man-made place in India.

The artistic corridor parallel to the lake has hotels and cafe on one side and lake on the other side. Its a beautiful sight not only in day-time but also at night. There were plenty of activities for children. We arrived by evening and stayed at Mercure hotel. After having a stroll on the riverside, we called it a night and planned for an early day the next day.

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LAVASA AT NIGHT

We were greeted by sumptuous breakfast at the hotel who were helpful in preparing baby food as well. There were variety of options for kids on the lakeside. We started with toy-car ride and then we went for two-seater bicycling. After that, we went for boating in the lake which was quite refreshing in the sun. There was a place with family games options but our little one was too young to enjoy that.

Out of numerous dining options, we chose to have lunch at the Country club which offered a panoramic view of the lakeside and town. The club provides a plethora of leisure facilities that include a world-class spa, restaurants, a pub, a gymnasium and indoor games. The time was well spent over there too and we had fun. In short, top activities to do in Lavasa with a baby will be :

  • Boating
  • Cycling
  • Ride on toy cars
  • Train rides
  • Game arcade

Jal Mahal Palace, Jaipur , India

The marvelous and beautiful palace in the Man Sagar lake in Jaipur is known as Jal Mahal. This lake was basically constructed by the rulers to fight famine and shortage of water in Rajasthan as a dam. However, the palace underwent many renovations and now stands as a famous tourist attraction in Jaipur. Though, the palace is a five storied building but only the top floor is exposed. The road corridor connecting the main tourist attractions of Jaipur basically the Amer fort and the Nahargarh fort runs through this road. Generally tourists are not allowed to visit this palace, but we managed to visit it with our little one.

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JAL MAHAL PALACE,JAIPUR,INDIA

We reached the palace by a traditional wooden boat through the clean lake. Our son enjoyed the boat ride and was fascinated to find the sailor using oar to splash water and move the boat forward. The air was misty and refreshing. As soon as we stepped in the palace, we were amazed by its wonderful architecture. There was a narrow corridor running in the periphery of the palace and it was very airy. The ancient Indian Maharajas were wise to come up with such a clever architectural plan. Since there was no electricity, they kept the palaces well ventilated in the center of the lake to make it cooler.

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JAL MAHAL PALACE,JAIPUR,INDIA

After spending sometime in the palace, we went on its terrace and was awed by the gardening done there. We could really imagine how the Maharajas and their allies must be having good time in the past. It was a beautiful view. The Jal Mahal palace provides a picturesque view of the lake , and the surrounding Nahargarh hills. You can also spot small islands in the lake which act as wintering grounds for migratory birds. Overall, the trip to Jal Mahal went very well.

 

Singapore Nightlife (with a toddler)

While travelling, are’nt we supposed to succumb to the bed at dusk with a kid? Are’nt we supposed to let the baby sleep properly by putting him on bed early? Well, we thought not to. Challenging the general mindset and course of travelling with a toddler is what sometime suits you. So, we decided to do the same. Wandering around different places the whole day used to make our son tired by evening and he used to take naps in his pram (which was pretty convenient). We used to take him along with ourselves for long strolls as Singapore is a very pram-friendly country.

But when he was awake, we still used to manage our time well. Though, you cannot go clubbing and pub-hopping with a little baby , but this does not mean that you cannot explore the city. Some of my favorites nightlife ideas in Singapore along with my baby are :

Walking across Clarke Quay and watching the river

Clarke Quay is a historic riverside quay in Singapore with lots of attractive art houses,museum and amazing dining options. We used to have dinner around ‘Riverside festival village’ and spend the rest of the time watching the beautiful Singapore river. There is also a G-Max Reverse bungy place in this area which we used to watch (cannot go on such ride,be it with or without kid).

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CLARKE QUAY,SINGAPORE

Leisure walks in Orchard Road

With a bunch of shopping malls and infinite dining options, we used to go for dinner to this place as well. After dinner, we would walk off leisurely to our hotel which was twenty minutes from this place. Though, most of the shops used to close around ten in the night, we never found a decrease in the liveliness of the place. There were numerous rides situated in and around the malls for kids. And our baby used to enjoy in them. There were play areas too situated across ‘Toys R Us’ and other such children-centric shops.

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ORCHARD ROAD,SINGAPORE

Boat Ride

Boat rides in Singapore river can be done from a number of places,primarily – from Marina Bay sands area or the Clarke Quay area. Though we stayed near Clarke Quay, we preferred going on boat rides from the Merlion area.The ride used to take us around the landmarks of the Rafffles’ Landing Site, Asian Civilisations Museum, row of old shophouses along Boat Quay, Fullerton Hotel, Esplanade Singapore, Singapore Flyer and Marina Bay Sands. It was beautiful.

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BOAT RIDE IN SINGAPORE

Watching the Light and Sound show in the Marina Bay Area

Marina Bay event plaza is always full of tourists as well as locals. The crowd sits across the pavement even before the show begins and you can have cold-drinks and other snacks while getting some fresh air. The show is for free and is a great show for kids.

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MARINA BAY PLAZA,SINGAPORE

First flight with baby

Excited and nervous while boarding our first flight together, both my baby and me exchanged baffled looks. While adjusting his pram and moving towards the check in queue, a fear of failure crept all over me when i saw the huge rush. As I was contemplating my thoughts whether I had done the right thing to go on a vacation specially since i was still on medicines, a sudden ray of hope dawned upon me making me realize that all is good. It was no angel but a ground staff of the flight which we were about to board telling us to check in through priority counters as we were with an infant. This moment was not only a moment of escape from my husband’s annoyance over our trip but this moment was also the antecedent of many more trips which I was going to embark upon. The flight was convenient. The pram was taken by the staff right before we boarded the plane. There were lot of prior preparations in making sure that we have a sound 3 hours flight. Some pointers are :

  1. Colourful teethers
  2. Cotton for ear (to avoid engine noise)
  3. Make sure to make the baby suck while take of and landing
  4. Sound games
  5. Layers of clothing
  6. Handy disposable sick bags and tissues
  7. Milk and food
  8. The flight we chose was in accordance with the nap time of our baby so he dozed off quickly

Remember the flight or any other experience derived while travelling is meant to be fun both for the parents and the baby. So just have fun (no matter how the situation goes, ultimately you will have a holiday)