When the train lurches, propelling itself from the platform in Delhi, leaving behind the dense, smoggy air and the concrete monoliths that are brimming with families, that familiar tug of motion bubbles. A nugget of knowledge that you are onwards somewhere new, saddling uncharted waters.
The volume of traffic and decibels of honking is a faraway din to your ears, as is the lonely, howling dogs. All is drowned out by the pre-recorded train boardings warbling from the loudspeakers at the station. Your berth and seat number afford some insulation as sprawling Delhi begins to fade.
Maybe it’s the twinkle of morning or the dregs of night. Indian trains always seem the same whatever departure time, a crawling snake the shade of what a depressed sky might look like, a pale blue tinged with grey. The snake moves faster, changing the landscape from city to country.
You take out the crumpled ticket in your pocket and stare at it. Jaipur. Sort of a mystery, yet to be unfolded.
You might snooze for a spate; tinkle around with a novel you’re reading, until finally the mystery unravels.
The window beckons.
Pink jewel mountainous ranges kissing the indigo sky. Acres of wheat fields where bushels wait to be claimed. Dust covered, anorexic trees. Camels as work animals or show pieces for foreigners.
The train window reflects light and shadow. Images shoot through your mind.
Cities planned on mandalas, structured around symmetry. The dusky hues that sweep across the buildings incite wisps of a not so distant past, one of bustling spice markets and exotic women covered in sequins and silks, their kohl eyes holding mystery.
Ardent whispers of mighty kingdoms that end with the death of the last Maharaja, his funeral pyre is set ablaze on hallowed ground where the divine and grace meet.
Romantic, unblemished views that make your heart rush and think of Venice where you shared a delicious kiss.
Empty, stunningly constructed palaces that convey a time when princes created out of ego, and to the highest ideal of beauty.
You reach the outerland of the desert, staring across the openness, the sand dunes rippling with ancient riddles. What answers back is your explorer’s heart. There isn’t nothingness after all. But, life.
In this land the guidebooks describe as rich in stones, textiles and camel treks, you fall under its spell.
Mostly though, it’s inexplicable, wondrous. A sweet, unmentionable taste in your mouth that you chase and chase.
This is when you know you’ve arrived in Rajasthan.
To access Rajasthan, the best point is Delhi. Most travelers start at Jaipur, and then use that as a launching pad for Jodhpur, Udaipur and Jasilmar, among other popular stops. From Dehli to Jaipur the train is only four hours. It’s always best to book in advance. Try Clear Trip to book a train online.