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Soaking in fun, fervor and food at Chandni Chowk

One of India’s oldest, busiest and most well-known markets is Chandni Chowk, located in Old Delhi. Built by the Mughals, this more than three century old bazaar still holds as much interest for shopping and food as it did when it was first set-up. Shop for spices, dried fruit, silver jewelry and wedding sarees, or hop across and relive some history with surreal views of the Jama Masjid, the Red Fort and more…

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The history of Chandni Chowk dates back to the foundation of Shahjahanabad on the banks of the river Yamuna by the fifth Mughal Emperor, Shah Jahan who ruled parts of Northern India from 1628 till 1658. Shahjahanabad was set to be the capital amongst the cities he ruled. Chandni Chowk, or the Moonlight Square, was designed and established by Princess Jahanara Begum, Shah Jahan’s favourite daughter, so that she could shop for anything her heart wished for. The bazaar, shaped as a square, was given elegance by the presence of a pool in the center of the complex. Back in the day, Chandni Chowk was divided and lined by canals that met at a pool in the center. Water would burble through and reflect the glistening moon above. The pool shimmered in the moonlight, a feature that was perhaps responsible for its name. It then became a gathering place for traders and merchants who flocked here from all over the country to sell their wares.

It’s been many years since the canals have been closed but this old market is still as charming.Chandni Chowk soon lost the lustre of the Moon but still remains a very ‘chowk’ and is one of the oldest markets in Old Delhi. And today, Chandni Chowk is nothing short of a chaotic shopping street lined by hawkers, porters, vendors and food stalls in narrow lanes that bring out the true flavours of a traditional medieval bazaar. It is the ultimate “go to” place for all kinds of shopping and food cravings. Those with a love for history can also spot the Red Fort, situated right opposite and enjoy a view of the Fatehpuri Mosque.

In the early days, Chandni Chowk was famous for silver merchants. Numerous shops selling all kinds of goods and street vendors enticing shoppers with delectable food have replaced the original pattern of reflecting pool and shops arranged in a half moon shape.

This market soon gained popularity and went on to become one of India’s grandest markets. The narrow lanes brimming with noise and chaos still retains its historical character.

The first thing that hits you when you enter Chandni Chowk is the intoxicating aroma of food. It is nothing short of heaven for gastronomes around the world. It is the home to some of the oldest and most famous restaurants and confectioners in India. Many of them date back to fifty or hundred years ago. From an assortment of sweetmeat shops to the parathewali gali to delectable, roadside kebabs near Jama Masjid, this place has something to offer for everyone. And like every Indian marketplace, tea and pan shops are to be found at every turn of the road.

And no points for guessing, but shopping at Chandi Chowk is an experience in itself. You’d be surprised just the staggering range of good it can hold. You have shops that sell stuff ranging from books, clothes, electronics, shoes, leather and consumer goods. Walking along these jostling streets can get exhausting but then that’s part of the fun. Each area inside Chandni Chowk has different markets, which are known for various specialties. For example, Nai Sadak is not full of barbers but is mainly known for books and stationery items. It is perfect for students and bibliophiles who will find everything they need here, from second-hand school and college textbooks to rare novels. Dariba Kalan is known for jewellery. But if you’ve come this far, you cannot miss searching for some signature, handcrafted jewellery. And if you let your nose guide you, you will find yourself among some of the most exquisite perfume and essential oils shops in the country.

If you’ve recently decided to tie the knot, first of all, congratulations and secondly, head to Chawri Bazaar to begin your wedding arrangements. It is the place for getting your wedding cards printed. From simple and elegant to sophisticated and extravagant, all kinds of wedding cards are printed here in bulk. Next stop should be the Kinari Bazaar. It is a haven for your wedding shopping needs. This narrow lane known for selling the best zardozi items such as laces and frills. Apart from this, you will also find Parsi borders, motifs, ribbon laces and all the embellishments just in case you were out to customize your wedding lehenga to the last detail.

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Keep walking and you will enter Bhagirath Palace, Asia’s largest wholesale market for electrical and electronic items. Right from simple light fixtures to fancy decorative lamps, you will find everything you need to decorate your home.
Then there’s Ballimaran Market for all kinds of shoes, spectacles and sunglasses the befit your style statement.
Apart from these, you can find spices, nuts, herbs and dried fruits in Khari Baoli, There are many more markets dedicated to specific items that you wouldn’t find anywhere else easily.
There are markets for cameras, clothes, and household items and maybe, you’ll discover more.
Whether you’re out shopping with a purpose or aimlessly wandering around to kill time, you will find the charm of this age-old market still lingering around the corners of this once beautiful, Chandni Chowk.

Finding Paradise at Promenade Beach, Puducherry

Sure, long walks on the beach are relaxing and romantic. But this one is a bit different. With a war memorial at one end and a mesmerizing park at the other, Promenade beach is one of Puducherry’s most popular attractions…

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The Promenade Beach is one of Puducherry’s most famous attractions. This one and a half kilometer stretch in Puducherry is all about long walks, warm conversations while having cold drinks, munching on peanuts while watching beautiful sunsets over the still waters of the Bay of Bengal and reminiscing about all things simple. That’s Promenade Beach for you.

Puducherry, India’s erstwhile French Colony and now a Union Territory, has been built by following an excellent town planning idea. Everything is in its place and nothing is too far away. Everything is clean, looked after and organized that the place is better known as White Town (referring to the French side of the town). The Promenade Beach is not too far away from the city. It is also referred to as Pududcherry Beach owing to how close it is to the city. The beach is dotted with several landmarks. There’s the French War Memorial that was inaugurated in 1971. It was constructed to commemorate and salute the fallen soldiers from French India in the First World War. There’s a statue of a soldier pointing his gun down depicting the distress. The back of the memorial carries a bronze bas-relief representing the arrival of Joseph François Dupleix.

Then there’s the inspiring Joan of Arc’s statue, the heritage town hall, the statue of Mahatma Gandhi, Dupleix’s statue, the old Light House and then the remains of the old pier and customs house. These speak of the splendours of a bygone era, best enjoyed over a cup of hot tea sold by local vendors throughout the beach. But what really is the crown jewel of the Promenade is the Le Café.

The sunrise and sunset views from the beach are especially beautiful and so does the view of moon shimmering on the seawaters at night.

Soft sands under your feet, coffee snacks and of course croissants; all this and much more while the waves almost kiss your feet. This café feels like a vacation in itself.

Whoever walks this beach, finds something that piques his interest. There’s something for everyone. From fancy restaurants to food carts, guesthouses to luxury hotels; there’s everything for any discerning traveller. Don’t forget to shop and purchase a souvenir from the various handicraft stores on your way back though. There are tiny statues, lamps, incense and candle stands. Or if you’re looking for some fashion, there’s hand-printed kurtis and beautifully knitted bags and beanies.

At the Beach, all activity begins early in the morning. One can spot joggers and runners sweating it out in the morning sun or some just taking a relaxing walk to begin their day with the sun rising. There are also skating and yoga that happens here on a daily basis. And the best part is before 7 30 am and after 6 pm, the beach and surrounding area doesn’t allow vehicles. So people can go about doing what they love and kids can run around free without the fear of speeding vehicles or polluting air. The fresh juice stalls and coconut water vendors make sure you’re hydrated while the

chaat vendors and cut fruits with salt and chilly give you a few more reasons to stay back a little longer.

The Tourist Information Centre of PTDC is at one end of this grand stretch, housed in an aesthetic heritage building facing the sea.

It is well furnished and many visiting tourists simply walk in to ask their questions and to know more about the history of this beautiful beach.

The sunrise and sunset views from the beach are especially beautiful and so does the view of moon shimmering on the seawaters at night. The beach turns golden during sunrises and silvery white on moonlit nights.
And that’s one thing that this beach offers – it’s versatile. There are soft sands and foamy, silent waters on one end and a rocky end with waves crashing in. Whoever comes here finds their peace in the chaos of the city.

Families picnic here often. The colonial building, the salty air and the delectable food, they all make for a perfect day at the beach. Take a trip; a long walk on the beach is surely worth it. We’ve heard it is best enjoyed barefoot.

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India’s Monuments of Power and Grace

The North and South blocks situated across each other on the Raisina Hill flanking the Rashtrapati Bhavan houses the headquarters of the government offices and the Delhi assembly. Close by stands the magnificent India Gate.

The North and South blocks together form the secretariat building. Designed by Edwin Lutyens and Herbert Baker the north and south blocks were introduced as the two secretariat buildings when the British relocated the government offices in 1910. It happened when the British decided to move their capital from Calcutta (now Kolkatta) to Delhi. The move required a royal and magnificent architecture. The impressive administrative buildings were built on either side of Rajpath as a visible symbol of British supremacy over India.
These two buildings house the most important offices of the government of India; the Prime Minister’s Office, the Ministry of External Affairs, Ministry of Defence, Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of Finance are all housed here. The South Block can be called the more important of the two, as it contains the prime Minister’s office, popularly known as the PMO.
The most prestigious and guarded monument of Delhi with majestic architecture and wide roads around is a wonderful view. You can always take a drive around which will leave you mesmerized; it will give you the feel of aura and authority. Being a major tourist attraction, tourists from all over the world come here during their New Delhi tours. Prior permission is needed if you wish to view the buildings from inside. The two blocks are floodlit during the national festivals, and present a magnificent sight for people passing through that side.
Both the North and South Blocks face each other with the Vijay Chowk, a huge square in between. It is the venue of the beating of the retreat ceremony held on the 29th of January every year. The buildings are made of rose pink and pale yellow sandstone giving a hint of Mughal and Rajputana style. The slants along the roof protect the artwork of the building from heat and monsoon showers. The long classical buildings are crowned by an imposing 217 ft high dome reminiscent of the Indian Chhatri, an architectural feature unique to India. The buildings have four floors-each floor consisting of about 1000 rooms with long running corridors.

Box ISome striking features
• Colonnades and flat roofs, dominated by huge domes are striking features
• Typical Indian architectural features like the ‘Jaali’ and the ‘Chajja’ are used
• Jaali an intricately carved ornamental stone screen, is ideal for Indian climatic conditions
• Chajja, a thin projection of stone, protects the walls and windows from the hot summer sun and the heavy monsoon rains.
• Another feature adopted by the designers was the ‘chattri’ or the umbrella-shaped dome that broke the monotony of the flat, horizontal skylines.
• The interior of the two blocks are adorned by beautiful fountain courts and pillared passages.
• The two buildings also contain several paintings and sculptures making them aesthetically pleasant structures.

Nearby Attractions
Some of the most important landmarks of New Delhi are located near the North and south blocks. Nearby attractions include – Rashtrapati Bhavan, Parliament House, Jantar Mantar, Gurudwara Bangla Saheb, National Museum and India Gate.
India Gate
India Gate is a war memorial, situated in Rajpath region of New Delhi. The foundation stone of India Gate was laid in 1920 and the structure was unveiled in 1933. The structure stands as a memorial to soldiers of the British Indian Army who sacrificed their lives during the First World War. On its walls are inscribed the names of 60,000 men who fell fighting for the British Empire. Originally called the War Memorial Arch, India Gate commemorates the Indian soldiers who lost their lives during the war. Designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens, India Gate is known for its wonderful architecture and is counted among the largest war memorials in India.
Another memorial, the Amar Jawan Jyoti was added later and was dedicated to soldiers who sacrificed their lives in the Indo-Pakistan war of 1971.

Since 1971, after the Bangladesh Liberation War, a flame has been burning under the India Gate. It denotes India’s Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Also called Flame of the Immortal Soldier, the flame honours every Unknown Soldier who sacrificed his life in the war. The flame burns throughout the year. It is a simple structure consisting of a black marble plinth, with a reversed rifle, capped by a war helmet, bounded by four eternal flames. The helmet and the rifle are said to belong to an unknown soldier who lost his life during the war.

The place is a popular tourist spot where people usually go to spend time especially during winter afternoons and summer evenings. Flanked by lush green lawns, it is a perfect picnic spot. It is a place loved by morning and evening walkers too. The option of boating is also there; a small pond there serves as a perfect boating area. Many visit the place during night to enjoy the beautiful lighting in the area. With plenty of wide space for children to run around the place is loved by children. Many street hawkers sell eatables like ice cream, snacks etc which adds to the charm of the place.

Some Facts
• India Gate is one of the biggest war memorials of the world
• The design of India Gate is similar to that of Arc De Triomphe in Paris
• The structure is 42m high
• It took around a decade to complete the construction of India Gate
• The walls of India Gate have the names of all the martyred soldiers inscribed on them
• The Republic Day parade takes place here every year on 26th January
• The structure’s foundation was laid by Sir Edwin Lutyens
• The entire arch stands on a low base of red Bharatpur stone and rises in stages to a huge moulding

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ON THE ROOFTOP – Dharamshala Cricket Stadium

This is one stadium where more than the cricket match people go to see the stadium. Yes, we are talking about the most colourful and picturesque stadium of our country – The famous Dharamshala cricketstadium. A stadium whic*h has become a tourist attraction where people enjoy the scenic beauty around even without a match being played in the stadium….

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DHARAMSHALA, a city in the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh, is not only popular for its picturesque surroundings and the presence of Dalai Lama, it is also known for its cricket stadium. Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association Stadium (HPCA) is a picturesque cricket stadium located in the city known to be a perfect getaway to the mountains and serves as a trekkers’ paradise. Surrounded by huge mountain ranges and endless views all around, it is one of the most beautiful grounds in India. Dharamshala is also famous for its Tibetan culture,

handicrafts and temples. The Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association (HPCA) Stadium in Dharamsala, is widely regarded as the most picturesque cricket stadium in the world. Especially when the beautiful Dhauladhar mountain peaks are blanketed in snow, the view gets most stunning and can leave the viewers absolutely happy. The stadium built as per the standards of remarkable stadiums like the Lords in England and Newlands in South Africa, stands as a competition to internationally acknowledged cricket stadiums in the world.

The stadium adds glory to Dharamshala.
Cricket lovers love to visit this stadium, but even for non-cricket lovers it is a place worth visiting. Surrounded by mountains the place is more than a cricket stadium. Established in 2003 with a capacity of 23000 and situated at an altitude of 1,457 m above the sea level, the stadium looks heavenly with snow-capped Himalayan Mountains in the background. Through most of the seats you have a great view of the pitch and of the Himalayas in the background.

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The openness and small-sized stands, allows for winds to sweep across, giving fast bowlers assistance in the air.

The venue is the first in India to use winter rye grass scattered around the outfield, which prevents the grass from dying when temperatures fall below 10 degrees. The use of rye grass helps in the maintenance of the stadium. The stadium was also in news when the Cricket Stadium was chosen as Center of Excellence by Asian Cricket Council

(ACC) in December 2015. People who have visited this place find it heavenly. Such type of view from a cricket stadium is unique and it has to be seen to experience the divine beauty around the place; sit on the stands to get a feel of the fascinating atmosphere there. The stadium is visited by thousands of cricket fans from all over India. You can even click pictures there, snacks are available and the stadium is open to the public at all times.

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The stadium served as the home ground for the Himachal Pradesh cricket team for Ranji Trophy matches and other domestic matches. The stadium also hosted some IPL matches. Pakistan was the first international team to play here in 2005 when they played a warm-up match against India. The first One Day International (ODI) at this stadium was played between India and England in 2013 and the first Test at this stadium was played between India and Australia in 2017.

Since the ground is located at a high altitude, the ball travels faster. The pitch here usually offers a lot of runs. In addition, the dew becomes a major factor in the evening if you’re playing during the September-March period. That’s the reason why teams prefer to chase at this venue.
The best time to visit this stadium is during the winter season from December to February as you can view the snow-clad Dhauladhar peaks. Dharamshala cricket stadium gives one more reason for you to visit this beautiful city. So pack your bags and get ready to visit this beautiful stadium and the beautiful place called Dharamshala.

HOW TO REACH DHARAMSHALA
The nearest airport is at Gaggal, about 13 kilometres away from Dharamshala.
Dharamshala is well-connected to Delhi and other parts of North India via a network of state operated buses as well as private tour operators. The journey is almost 520 kilometres from Delhi.
An overnight train journey is a good option to reach Dharamshala. The nearest major railway station is at Pathankot, 85 kilometres away.
You can take a taxi or bus from Pathankot to reach Dharamshala. There are taxis available at the Gaggal airport as well as the Pathankot railway station for Dharamshala.

PLACES TO VISIT IN DHARAMSHALA APART FROM HPCA STADIUM
» Dalai Lama Temple Complex
» Bhagsu Nag Temple
» Kangra Valley
» Norbulingka Institute
» Tibet Museum
» St. John in the Wilderness Church
» War Memorial
» Gyuto Monastery
» Dal lake and Nadi
» Tea Gardens
» Jwalamukhi Devi Temple
» Triund
» Kangra Art Museum

Rock Garden, Chandigarh Fantasyland of art

You may have found shapes in stones and collected them to make castles as a kid. Well, Nek Chand took this hobby way too far and thus was born the Rock Garden in Chandigarh

WORDS: AMOGH PUROHIT

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Somewhere back in 1957, a government official got bored and started collecting stones and debris in his spare time. When he started this garden, little did he know that it would turn out to be one of the largest attractions in northern India, with over 5,000 people visiting it every day.
Today, this garden known as Rock Garden is spread over an area of 25 acres in the form of an open-air exhibition hall, theatre trove and a miniature maze all rolled into one vast fantasyland of art. It is completely built of industrial and home waste and thrown-away items.
An unpretentious entrance leads to a magnificent, almost surrealist arrangement of rocks, boulders, broken chinaware, discarded fluorescent tubes, broken and castaway glass bangles, building waste, coal and clay -all juxtaposed to create a dream folk world of palaces, soldiers, monkeys, village life, women and temples.
The open-air sculptures and concealed gateways separating them are at places enhanced by a waterfall, pools and an open-air theatre with proper stage setting. Here, in this small but artistic theatre, several prestigious performances have been staged. The unique blend of art and culture has attracted artists and connoisseurs from all over the world making it almost a heritage site.

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On display are statues, dolls and toys made using a variety of discarded materials such as automotive frames, mudguards, forks, handle bars, metal wires, play marbles, crowns of soft drink bottles, porcelain, broken bangles, pieces of slate, burnt bricks and even human hair from barber shops.

Humble road inspector
The creator of the Rock Garden, Nek Chand, was a humble road inspector. For sport, he would roam around at the foothills of the Shivalik mountains on his bicycle and pick up stones resembling shapes of birds and animals. He found potential in this hobby and gradually his collection mounted to a staggering 20,000 rocks of all shapes and sizes. These were deposited around a hut, which he had built for his work and contemplation. The Rock Garden, as we know it, began here by the side of a stream.
It was only in February 1973 that a government official, on reconnaissance duty in the forest in which the garden is located today, accidentally discovered the Rock Garden. Soon thereafter, the late Dr. M S Randhawa, former Chief Commissioner of Chandigarh, visited the garden and suggested that this garden of rocks, stones and scrap was the most unusual and it should be preserved in its present form, free from the interference of architects and town planners. The Rock Garden was finally inaugurated in 1976.
Since the site where the Rock Garden stands today was also used as a dumping ground for urban and industrial

waste, Nek Chand picked up pieces of foundry lime-kiln and metal workshop wastes and also shaped them with his creative genius, resembling human, animal or abstract forms. These pieces are up on display throughout the garden. Making the best use of waste, on display are statues, dolls and toys made using a variety of discarded materials such as automotive frames, mudguards, forks, handle bars, metal wires, play marbles, crowns of soft drink bottles, porcelain, broken bangles, pieces of slate, burnt bricks and even human hair from barber shops. This just goes on to show how urban and industrial waste can be fruitfully recycled and used in creative pursuit.

Lost kingdom
Nek Chand laid out the garden based on the fantasy of a lost kingdom. The moment one enters the garden, the small entrance doors make the head bow; they not only create an ambience of royal grandeur but also impart humbleness. One has to pass through a variety of doorways, archways, vestibules, streets and lanes of different scales and dimensions, where each door opens to new courtyards and chambers revealing his magnificent works at every turn.

In this kingdom made of rocks and other recycled material, the Rock Garden has 14 different chambers like the forecourt that houses natural rock-forms, a royal poet’s and a musician’s chamber complete with a pond and a hut; the main court or Durbar, where the king’s throne adorns the place with natural stone forms depicting Gods and Goddesses lining the place; a swimming pool for the queen, etc.

Another phase of the garden comprises the grand palace complex, minars, water falls, a village, mountains, bridges, pavilions and areas for royal pleasures. The tree and root sculpture offers a powerful counterpoint to the existing vegetation.
If you plan to visit, make sure to attend the Teej festival. The Rock Garden adorns a festive look, holding a special attraction for tourists. Young girls partake in the fun and frolic by swaying on the giant swings, while others decorate their hands with mehendi. And all this happens in an atmosphere of dance, songs and joy.

Arna Jharna, Jodhpur

Whatever you knew about museums is about to change. Arna Jharna is an open museum spread across 10 acres in the magnificent Thar desert. Let us take you through folk music, utensils and brooms through the ages from all across Rajasthan in this fascinating museum

WORDS: AMOGH PUROHIT

ARNA Jharna, meaning forest and spring, is located in the middle of Thar desert in Rajasthan. The brainchild of renowned folklorist and ethnomusicologist Komal Kothari, it was established in 2000.
Kothari had a particular picture painted for the museum way before he built it and that’s probably why he waited until he found the perfect spot, Arna Jharna, in the village of Moklawas, about 15 kms from Jodhpur city.
In the middle of the desert was this patch of earth that was a true epitome of forest and spring. Encompassing a rocky outcrop and a ravine, which includes an old stone quarry turned watershed, with breathtakingly beautiful views of the rock-strewn plains of the scrubland, the location showcases the raw beauty of the Marwar region of Rajasthan.

HAVEN FOR DESERT FLORA, FAUNA
The museum site is surrounded by protected forest areas, sacred spots and water bodies, and is a haven for desert flora and fauna.
It is home to nearly 30 different varieties of trees and shrubs ranging from the ubiquitous Babul to the endangered Phog and from the Tulsi to the Zijnni shrubs.
The varied grasses, shrubs and low branches of trees provide fodder for sheep, camels and cattle.
Generations of lore and logic have distilled a bank of knowledge on the medicinal properties of arid plant species. Birds frequent this little oasis from around the world and the evenings are lit up with the sunset and the sweet sounds courtesy of the peacocks coming to the watershed.

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The red-earth houses and huts in the village’s style of architecture provide the perfect backdrop.
Inside the museum you encounter an extensive collection of brooms from Rajasthan, indicating entire galaxies of rituals and beliefs associated with them. A series of videos also talk about the communities around, the labour, skills and even risks associated with making brooms.
The brooms are classified according to the different agrarian zones of Rajasthan like millet (bajra), sorghum (jowar) and maize.

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GENDERED BROOMS
Brooms also have gender. The ‘female’ brooms are used in the inner spaces and the ‘male’ ones reserved for outer spaces.
They have been named so too. For example, some female brooms are ‘buari’ and ‘havarni,’ and their male counterparts are called ‘bungra’ and ‘havarno.’
The female brooms are associated with the goddess Lakshmi, signifying prosperity, and are stored in a horizontal position for luck.
The male brooms tend to be sturdier, making them suitable for the purpose of sweeping rougher surfaces. Some of them are also used during the harvest season to remove husk.
Just as you walk further, you come across a stunning collection of musical instruments unique to western India, including popular instruments such as the ravanahatta, gujratan sarangi, sindhi sarangi and the surinda, and some that are no longer used or produced, such as the jantar, jogia sarangi and nagfani.
Built in the local style of village architecture, Arna Jharna evokes the romance of nomadism with open-air music performances by local groups and artistes of the region.

BEAUTIFUL PUPPETS
And it doesn’t end there. Keep walking through this living museum and you will find yourself in the company of beautiful puppets made by locals and earthen pots and pans used over the years.
The beauty of this museum is not just in the exhibits and the architecture. Apart from the collection, all aspects of biodiversity, geology and water harvesting associated with the site are part of the museum.
The outside and inside of the museum are interrelated and somehow connected. Marked by a devotion to the natural and organic resources of Rajasthan, the museum is dedicated to the local communities and their knowledge, art and culture.
Arna Jharna, through displays such as that of different kinds of brooms and pottery, gives visitors a glimpse into not only the labour and skills of the local communities but also the world of rituals and beliefs associated with these objects of daily life.
These humble objects are rooted in the local ecology and traditional knowledge systems of the region. This just goes on to show and pay tribute to the importance of inconspicuous objects in our lives, like the broom.

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