Under the stars, with a spread of kebabs and beers, and someone special, it’s when time stands still and love comes alive. Dinner in the desert in the quaint town of Churu can leave you with memories for a lifetime.
I had heard of Shekhawati frescoes, even seen photographs. But Churu was a lesser known town in Rajasthan. With its quaint old world charm, there’s quite a warm pull to it.
Malji ka Kamra
Malji ka Kamra, Churu, Rajasthan
The adventure begins at the station, as you get off and can take a ride in the tuk tuk, simply put the shared autos. The one decent place to stay is at Malji Ka Kamra which actually was a haveli belonging to businessman named Malji. This huge place was his rang mahal and athithi graha or entertainment place and guest house. Slightly daunting, it is an imposing structure with curved balconies and lots of pillars.
Walking on the sand
Making this as the base, you can go to the desert for dinner and a camp. Through the dark narrow lanes, in the jeep, up and down over the bumpy roads, which suddenly finish and you find yourself at the edge of the desert.
Fortunately, during my travel there, I landed on a full moon night and I can’t even begin to describe the way the moon’s rays shone over the sand. They rippled and crinkled and created little laughter lines and waves on the sand. Sparse bushes lined the area.
It’s difficult to walk with shoes on, for they sink into the sand and it becomes heavy to take them out. And walking barefoot on the sands feels like walking on clouds. There’s no balance and your feet sink in deep and while you are trying to avoid the stones and little thorns, you do topple over. This is the time to hold hands as you make your way to the spread up on the dune.
Fun and food in the sand
Besides the moon rays dancing over the sands, there were little lamps on the sand to make it more magical. There was a barbecue rolling out fresh kebabs and tikkas. Little stools were kept on the side and sheets were spread on sand.
But the treat for us was the meteor shower. Even as we sang and gossiped and took some pictures in the dark, nature seemed to be watching and giving us natural crackers. There was a burst of stars in the sky. We thought it was a shooting star. And then after a few minutes it happened again. In our four-hour-long bright ‘dinner on the sand’ we saw this four to five times.
The owner of Malji, Deepak Balan, said camping was possible but one needed some permissions and support staff. And it could be done, if planned in advance.
Sethani ka Johra and Prem Sagar Johra, Churu, RajasthanEvening tea at Sethani Ka Johra and Prem Sagar Johra, which are water bodies a little away from the main town, with the sun going down, make for the most romantic of times and is an absolutely must do.
Walk around the town and see old havelis with beautiful frescoes belonging to famous merchant families such as Suranas, Kotharis, Lohias.
Havelis with frescoes in Churu
Walk through the small narrow bazaar streets, enjoy a cup of tea at the clock tower, maybe buy some spices from the open sacks.
Must carry with you
Scarf to cover the head, sun is hot
Sanitizer, you might not get water everywhere
Lots of money change, this town is not credit or debit card friendly
Wear comfortable clothes but keep yourself covered, so as not to disturb local sentiments
How to reach Churu
It is about 277 km from Delhi and well connected by road and railway. From Delhi, it is about 5 hours by train and 6 hours by road.