Jhunjhunu is the district headquarters of Shekhawati in Northern Rajasthan. It is famous for its painted Havelis (merchants’ houses), stepwells and the Rani Sati Temple which commemorates the sati (self-immolation) of a merchant’s wife in 1595. So there is plenty to see during sightseeing in Jhunjhunu but Shine Gold Tours India would also like to give you the opportunity to learn some Indian cookery from the local masters.
The Jamuna Resort has a recently completed cookery school, added to it’s new wing. On the first morning why not try a simple recipe – vegetable biryani – and enjoy the fruits of your labour for lunch?
Recipe for Vegetable Biryani
Fry chopped onion in oil until translucent and just turning brown, add diced tomato, fry until tender then add pinches – sized to suit your taste – of black cardamom, javitre (mace), black pepper, salt, coriander leaf, turmeric, garam masala and red chilli powder. Add boiled rice depending on the number of people to feed and finally boiled vegetables depending upon what is available but choose a variety of colors such as green beans, carrot, sweet corn etc. Mix by stirring gently or, if proficient, by flipping in the frying pan – warm through and serve immediately with raita and roti. Delicious.
The cookery school runs longer courses including spice-buying and seeing some of the Rajasthani countryside and cities including a day trip to Jaipur.
In addition to cookery Laxmi Kant, the owner, also organizes cycling tours of 3 to 5 days visiting the nearby villages and towns in what has been called the largest open-air art gallery in the world thanks to its painted havelis and mansions. Based on this tradition of wall painting the hotel also runs a workshop on Indian decorative art featuring pottery, textile and body decoration as well as wall painting.
After lunch a tuk-tuk will meet you outside the hotel and set off for the Modi Haveli in the centre of Jhunjhunu. Entrance to the Haveli is free but the guide will show you around and he is well worth tipping as he describes the many superbly painted frescoes. Then on to the Kehtri Mahal (Wind Palace), once the splendid home of the Thakur it is now a somewhat sad ruin but can still be explored along its inner ramps eventually leading to the rooftops and splendid views over the town.
Later visit the Birdi Chand Stepwell with its 4 minarets. In an arid region such as Rajasthan fresh water is vital, so frequent visits to the communal well was a necessity which turned into a social occasion. There were often temples at the wells with richly decorated minarets and pavilions where news could be exchanged. Then on to the Rani Sati Temple which is a strange mix of devotion and Disney. A frieze inside the temple shows the Rani Sati’s story – her husband has been killed by the nawab’s army and she mounts the funeral pyre to be consumed by the flames. The god Durga helps her withstand the pain, her ashes are placed on a horse and wherever the horse stops her commemorative temple is to be built – hence the Rani Sati Temple here in Jhunjhunu.
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