We spent two days in Kota, Rajasthan while visiting India in March 2006. Kota is a working class town off the tourist trail, but has some nice attractions to offer visitors. While in Kota we stayed at a small, family run haveli, walked through the old city, visited the fort and palace, and took a cruise on the Chambal River.
We stayed at the Palkiya Haveli, in the old part of Kota. This haveli was decorated with period furnishing and had lovely miniature-style paintings in the courtyard.
|Public areas in Palkiya Haveli|
After finding our downstairs room had a small cockroach infestation we moved to an upper-story room which was well appointed and quite large, complete with our own private dining room and sitting area. We were the only guests in the hotel during our stay, so the staff was very attentive to our needs. Breakfast and dinner was served in our dining room; the traditional Indian food was quite good.
|Our room at Palkiya Haveli|
The old city
Kota doesn’t receive a lot of tourists, and as we walked through the old town the reactions we got from the locals made this quite clear. We were subject to more stares per meter here than at any other place in India. We felt like the Pied Pipers of Kota as we attracted a huge group of young followers as we made our way from the haveli to the City Palace and Fort. We saw lots and lots of activity on the streets around us, with people running about and monkeys trying to steal food and dogs crossing the street in front of slow-moving cows, open shops selling everything from clothes and food to giant metal pots and raw wool.
The City Palace and Fort
Inside the palace we looked at the Rao Madho Singh museum, which had a lot of very nice miniature paintings, and a lot of artifacts from Raj life, like elephant chariots and silver and ivory baubles. A wildlife exhibit displayed some stuffed tigers and other animals; it was quite sad. There were also nice displays of weaponry which got to be a bit much after a while, and interesting portraits of the maharajahs of Kota over the years. Many individual palaces were also quite lovely, with intricately painted walls and inlaid with mirrors and other shiny things.
|Kota Palace and Fort|
Chambal Gardens and River Cruise
We visited the Chambal Gardens, a lovely park in the city which lies along the Chambal River. We sat by the river for a while and collected stares from the locals. Arthur had a small ice cream. We decided to take a river cruise.
The boat ride on the Chambal River was pleasant. Away from the city the cliffs on the sides of the river rose dramatically and we had some very nice views. We had hoped to see some Gharials, long-snouted crocodiles, but they were all hiding. We did see a lot of birds though, including Egyptian Vulture; Long Billed Vulture; Common Kingfisher; Purple Heron; Indian Pond Heron.
|Sights on the Chambal River cruise|
Looking back, we probably should have adjusted our itinerary to skip Kota and spend more time somewhere else. However our ride on the Chambal River was quite nice and we enjoyed our relaxing stay in the haveli.