Chokhi Dani Jaipur: A Uniquely Rajasthani Experience

chokhi dhani jaipur, pink chai

When I travel I try to have as authentic an experience as possible. In India that meant lots of rides in auto-rickshaws, eating at road side restaurants, and wandering through the same galiyan {alley ways}, and bazaars that the locals did. 

Before we left for our trip the friend I was travelling with had mentioned a place called Chokhi Dani in Jaipur. He’d visited it several years ago and was still raving about the food and the experience, so we added it to our must visit list. I have to admit though, when I checked out the website I was feeling a bit unsure; it sounded like a tourist trap. A mock Rajasthani village designed to give you a flavour of Rajasthani culture and food without visiting a village? All I can say is that the website doesn’t do this experience justice. From the moment you walk through the front door, and are welcomed with a traditional red roli tikka on your forehead, you are transported to a place filled with culture, colour, and the best Rajasthani thali you’ll ever have. 

chokhi dhani jaipur, pink chai

? The Artisans:
Although we did manage to meet some karighar {artisans} during our long walks through the local bazaars, we would never have seen so many forms of Rajasthani art if it wasn’t for a visit to Chokhi Dani.chokhi dhani jaipur, pink chaichokhi dani jaipur, wooden art blocksLearning the craft of hand stamping fabric from an karighar who’s family has been in this business for 6 generations. Of course, I indulged in a little shopping and brought home some blocks for my crafting pleasure.chokhi dani jaipurchokhi dani jaipurchokhi dani jaipurThe sweet gentleman above is making a lac bangle. Lac is a resin that is collected from trees and then coloured and moulded over the heat to create bangles. It’s a traditional Rajasthani art form that is also passed down from generation to generation. This artisan told us he works all day in his shop and then comes to Chokhi Dani in the evening and gives live demonstrations.

It was so moving to see his passion for his work and commitment to the craft. I love the idea of learning a trade from your elders – it’s tradition at it’s best. {In case you are wondering, yes, I came home with that bangle!}

?The Foodchokhi dhani jaipur, pink chaiWhen you purchase your ticket for entry at Chokhi Dani, you get to choose whether you want the A/C dining experience with chairs, or the authentic experience where you sit on the floor. We chose the old-school experience, and it was amazing. 

Once you are seated, you are served an authentic Rajasthani Thali on patal {a paper leaf plate}. Some of the dishes I can’t even remember the names of (sorry I was too busy eating), but here’s what I remember; ghate ki sabzi,kadhi, dal bati churma, sweet churma, kale chane, fried karela, bajra roti, and more deshi ghee than you’ve ever seen (and that is coming from a Punjabi girl!) 

The servers will come around and keep filling up your plate whether you ask for more or not. In fact, we didn’t even get a picture of everything that was served, this was just some of it! Word of advice; come hungry.rajasthanhi thali, chockhi dani jaipur

Oh, and if that doesn’t fill you up, there are plenty of people selling snacks all around the ‘village’ as well. 20150225-AZ1_9530

? The Overall Experience

chokhi dhani jaipur, pink chai chokhi dani jaipurchokhi dani jaipurThe final verdict; Chokhi Dani is a must see if you are visiting Jaipur, especially if you are taking the kids. You may not be able to trek out into a real village with the family, but this is a great way to get a taste of the flavour and hospitality of Rajasthan. For only 500 rupees (approximately $10 USD) you get entertainment, culture, and a dinner.

I would suggest going before it gets dark so you can see the actual village set up in the daylight. Take some spending money, there is a great little bazaar where you can buy handicrafts, and also see the artisans at work. If you are up for it there are camel and elephant rides too. 

One final thought, if you do visit Chokhi Dani, talk to the artisans and the performers that work there. The one thing that I found upsetting was people that were taking pictures of the artisans, posing for selfies with them, but not talking to them – or in some cases not even making eye contact. These people have beautiful stories to share, they are the real India, and most importantly they are people, not props. 

chokhi dani jaipur

I couldn’t resist, I also had a palmist tell me my fortune …. it is good!

Images by: Aziz Dhamani

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1 Comment

  1. April 5, 2015 / 8:23 pm

    Hi Raj! Loved reading about this experience… it sounds like such a cool idea! The looks like you had a great experience. I will definitely keep this in mind for my next visit to India. Thanks for sharing! 🙂

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