It so happend I had a business meeting at patiala and since kids too had a holiday a quick vacation was planned.
So the final plan was to reach Patiala by Friday evening and roam around, then visit Chhatbir Zoo on Saturday & return. One of my old friend who hails from Patiala too joined us and he arranged our stay. Initially I was planning to stay in Baradari Palace (Neemrana hotels has restored it.)
What we saw at Patiala
Netaji subash national institute of sports
Kali Devi temple, Mall road
Shoping at : Adalat bazaar (Lot of nik nak shopping)
Famous for Phulkari suits, Juthis
Must try : Shahi lassi at sheranwala gate.
Eatout : 22 No. phatak area has lots of option.
Try fish fry : Simbly aswesome. (Mali fish)
Either take the route Rajpura junction to turn off to Zirakpur
Other wise if coming from Delhi, take the usual route to Chandigarh (NH22). Just before Zirakpur may be 7-10 kms , there is a new McD, immediately after that there is left turn which connects NH24 & NH64.
Rajpura - Banur - Zirakpur road is in good condition. We didnt find much traffic too on this road.
In the historic Grand Trunk road we stop about an hour before Patiala at Shambhu to visit the Mughal Caraval Sarai. Constructed by Sher Shah Suri, the Sarai was built as a resting ground for the mughal emperors and their entourage while travelling between Kabul, Delhi and Kashmir. Sadly it is the only remaining sarai to be looked after and not in a good condition either.
Reached by 3 pm. We were staying near Head Post Office Road. It was just a walk down to Baradari Garden and we planned to explore that region today. The park is huge and hosts a lot of old huge trees which stand with their branches open and housing lots of bats. The park is well maintained and is a good place for kids to play.
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Friday early morning went to Kali temple on Mall road. This temple was built by Maharaja Bhupinder Singh in 1936. Its a huge complex. It is located on the Mall Road, the magnificent temple lies just in front of the Baradari Garden next to the Rajendra Tank.
Here Bali was given to please Ma Kali. Devotees offers Mustard Oil, Sweets, Coconuts, Bangles and Chunnis; Goats, Hens & Liquor to the Ma Kali. Upto 60,000 liquor bottles are emptied into the sharab kund in the temple as an offering during Navratra.
The Baradari gardens that has trees some 200 years old. A complete delight for both nature lovers and horticulturists, look out for one of the friendly gardeners and ask for Shimla gardens and the Fern house. A lesser known fact is that they were assembled by Maharaja Yadavindra singh to replicate the flora of the hills. The gardens also have an Italian Cararra marbled statue of Maharaja Rajinder Singh. Then there is a Yadavindra kothi and the Maharani club located within the premises. Both are short 10 mins walk, however you may need permission to enter.
For shopping we head into the interiors and start with Adalat baazar to get the taste of the bygone area. All along the old fashioned baazar stop to taste mouth smacking pickles at Vaidji's and choose between meat annd vegetable pickles. The jackfruit pickle is worth trying. Further walking down the road to Datta Jutti store that boasts of selling juttis to the who's who of Punjab. When buying juttis remember to look for the soft sole ones so that it can be completly folded. The softer the shoe the lesser trouble you'll have in walking. This is also the place to pick up phulkaris, bhaags, and Patiala salwars. The end of the road leads to the historic Qila mubarak that has been witness to many great celebratory processions.
Quila Mubarak is listed in world's 100 most Endangered Monuments. It is in a bad shape. Darbal hall has a museum of Armoury and even the sword of Nadir Shah. No photography is allowed inside. A Large canon is placed outside in the canon park. The main structure Qila Andraoon has a collection of Bohemian cut chandliers that can put most modern ones to shame. Then there is the Durbar hall and the Baba Ala's jyot which has an intriguing story behind it. It is said that the founder of Patila Baba Ala once proclaimed that as long as the jyot burns the sity shall exist after that which it will be destroyed. Even today the Royal house of Patiala employees keep it burning.
Also came to know of some intresting facts of Maharaja Bhupinder Singh. He had more thant 20 Rolls Royce in his collection. Once his order was refused by the Rolls Royce company and he put his old RR for garbage pickups.
Post lunch, We headed to Sheesh mahal. it was the residential palace of Maharajas of Patiala. it was built in 1847. It has an artifical lake and hanging bridge to the garden. The Sheesh mahal is closed for restoration. The guard told it will take around 3 years.
It as around 4pm , we had another 2 - 3 hrs, thought of visiting the Zoo near to Sheesh mahal , then seek the magnificient old Moti bagh palace which is now the sports academy NIS (National Institute of Sports) and back. By the time we finished zoo and reached NIS it was 5.30 pm, Entry to visitors are only upto 5 pm. Took shots from outside and we head back , spent some time again at Baradari Garden. Also worth visiting is the Yadavindra Public School founded by Maharaja Yadivindra Singh and Gurudwara Dukhaniwarn Sahib.
On you way back we stop at Sirhind in Fatehgarh Sahib district to see the tombs of Ustad and Shagird and stop by at the Sarai Aam Khas Bhaag which were constructed for both the royal and common people.
To Chandigarhto visit Chhatbir Zoo
Saturday morning we left Patiala, Next stop over was Chhatbir zoo near Zirakpur. I was surprised not to find many details of this zoo, Even on BHP didnt find any material. Reached there by 10 am.
It is on NH64 and just before 7km Zirakpur, One has to turn right from and head another 4 km inside. People coming from Ambala, you have to turn left after the New Mcdonald. The road is bad.
IMO nice place to worth visiting. The zoo is big and best advantage is one can take the car inside. Personally i am against it as i found lots of guys honking, using loud music etc. There is also electric vehicles in zoo. it will be trying to cover the zoo on foot.
1. Royal Bengal tiger
2. Lion Safari
3. Deer Safari
4. Good collection of birds.
Look out for the pictures in our photologue section.