Chokhi Dhani – traditional rajasthani village experience
Rajasthan is considered by many to be a remote state somewhere in the western part of India. The management of Chokhi Dhani wanted to ensure that this element about Rajasthan is not missed, so they established their traditional rajasthani Village experience in a remote corner of Pune, so remote that you can easily get scared driving along the approach road at night!
How to reach Chokhi Dhani from Magarpatta: Go on the Mundhwa road towards Nagar Road. At the Nagar Road t-junction, if you take left, you go towards the airport. You have to take a right here. This junction is 5 kms from Magarpatta. Once you take a right, you have to travel for 3 kms. There is a narrow lane to the right at this point. There is also a signboard for Chokhi Dhani (on the right side). So, it is quite easy to miss this (because it is on the opposite side) at night. Once you take this right, the nightmarish road begins and goes on for 3 kms until you reach Chowki Dhani.
I made the mistake of going to this place on a weekday evening. Please don’t do that. This place would like a mela on a weekend where there are big crowds (many friends have said so), but on a weekday, it is absolutely deserted. Also, I have “attention-o-phobia” i.e. i become uncomfortable when everyone around comes forward exclusively for your service (much like a salesperson following you in a shop!). Since the place was deserted, all the performers were almost exclusively performing for us.Also, if you are not ok with hundreds of flies/insects around you, carry a spray or something, as this place is in the middle of the woods and it is infested with thousands of insects “exclusively” for you!
All the discomforts apart, they have put in a lot of effort to spruce up the entrance. The entrance fee is 300 Rupees per person which includes all the entertainment plus dinner. The moment we entered, we had a “horse” thing welcoming us. Akshara was shocked by the loud noise and she remained in a state of trance the entire time at Chokhi Dhani!
Attractions at Choki Dhani: When you pay the entrance fee, you also get 12 coupons which you use for various attractions. All the shows are free, but for the rides like the camel ride, horse ride , train ride or the Giant wheel, you have to pay using the coupons. The price varies from 2-3 coupons.
Horse Ride: One of the dirtiest horses i have ever seen and the ride was scary too. I almost fell off the cart! It is a 1 min ride through the darkness, more like a roller-coaster ride. Avoid taking kids on it.
Camel ride: The best part of a camel ride is the time the camel stands up or sits down. You dont experience this here as you mount a standing camel. If you have never been on a camel before, go for it.
Train ride: This ride is located in a remote corner of the already remote Chokhi Dhani which means that the insects living there will relish your presence as they don’t get visitors often. An excruciatingly noisy and polluting train ride, it is on a circular track running on a petrol/kerosene engine powered through a loosely hung wire from the centre of the circular track which makes it extremely easy for one to get electrocuted!
With the rides done, it was time for the shows. They were good and would have even better on weekends with the crowds. With only us (plus few other unfortunate weekday visitors), i was struck by extreme attention-o-phobia to actually enjoy the shows.
Vidhya also get a Mehendi done on her hand (while i was watching the above guy show all his tricks). Unaware of this, i pulled on Vidhya’s hand and in the process, got mehendi done on my hand too!
The other things that we skipped were Head and Body massage, astrologers (of various kinds), Giant wheel, game stalls (absolutely junk prizes for the winners) and few other things on the sides.
Once we had exhausted the activities, we went for the dinner. Vidhya overheard one of the waiters ordering for 10 rotis for the 4 of us. 10??? 10 phulkas would be barely enough for just me. The waiters were overly eager to move on to the next course after the rotis, whereas i was stuck in a loop of “Ek aur roti”. After a while i got fed up of their attempts to push the rice on my plate to get me moving and stopped asking for more. The food was good, but just not enough for me after the exhaustion of fighting the insects.
Moral of the above long story: Never ever go on a weekday. Go on weekends and i guess you would have fun. I don’t see the scope of going there more than once.