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Chokhi Dhani - Taste of Tradition in Style

There are restaurants and there are experiences - however, there are some restaurants which are experiences in themselves. That is what we would talk about today and take you to one such restaurant we came around during our stay in Jaipur - The Chokhi Dhani. We were in the city and were looking for spending one of our free evenings and all queries to locals regarding suitable options ended at this place. Having lived in the Northern part of India for quite a bit, we had obviously heard of the place and hence decided to give it a try. That is how the entire plan came through.

Time to Pay-up - Entrance Lobby for Ticketing
So the first thing to think about is Location and Logistics

The hotel cum restaurant is located near Sitapur Industrial Area - off the Tonk Road along NH8 - the highway connecting Delhi to Mumbai through Jaipur. The location is definitely a constraining factor as it is about 20 odd kilometers from the city center. As one would imagine transport would be a challenge for someone who is from outside the city. Either you have a vehicle and are on a road trip to the city and then the concern vanishes but if not - you have to carefully think through. Though the city has a good public transport system in terms of radio cabs and taxis and you can easily take one to this place, you may as well think of hiring a cab for the entire evening. The reason for the recommendation is while you easily get a cab to take you to Chokhi Dhani, getting a cab to return is pretty much a challenge as the location is relatively remote and away from most of the population. Activities in the area die down towards the evening and only a few cabs anticipating return business are available. We had to almost spend 20 anxious minutes trying to book a cab - at a time when the place was around its closing hours. All this is assuming you are not staying at the resort itself - if you are, all these worries are out of the door.

Time to Ride the Experience - The First Step
What is it all about - is it a hotel, restaurant or resort?

It is all three to say technically! It has nicely set up rooms to spend your vacations or conduct a conference and hence it is a good hotel. However, that is not what it is known for. The primary selling point for it is the theme restaurant that this place has developed - a traditional way of serving meals converting it into an experience. Given that the place provides you with an experience, a different theme of meal and place to stay - it can easily be classified as a resort destination itself. Having said this, if you really are looking for a place to stay, we would recommend something within the city rather than this far away - unless until you are looking to really avoid the city in which case Jaipur may not be the right destination for you.

What's different - why should you visit this place? A leaf from our experience...

This is a place with a difference - where the food is served in style - a style which is traditional - a style which is personal and - a style which creates an experience for the guests. The themed restaurant offers an overall experience where guests have an opportunity to go through a simulated village experience - each interaction picked and designed carefully - the idea being to replicate a typical Rajasthani village in the time of a fair. The set-up has been developed to provide the guests with all the traditional antiquities and raw flavor of the countryside. This was what we had signed up for and hence we were there at the gates of the Chokhi Dhani at around 5 in the evening.
Yeah - it may sound early for a dinner but dinner is not what you come here - it is an experience that you want to delve into and if you want to do anything close to justice to the extravaganza of this place - come in early.

A Look of The Village Fair
The entrance gates and exteriors - all finished in mud texture and rural graffiti on walls -  give away the flavor waiting inside for us. There are small openings in the wall - each having an earthen lamp which create a marvelous effect in the soft light of the winter evening. As we approach the entrance, ladies dressed in traditional attire welcome us with tika - a tradition where they put a mark on the forehead as a mark of respect and perform a quick ritual praying for you. Then you find yourself in a big hall with multiple ticket counters. You have multiple options primarily ranging from a traditional meal (for which you sit on the floor and enjoy a serving) to an international cuisine (served in buffet format). We would highly recommend you to pick up the traditional option as that is what you are here for. As you finalize your choice and move inside you are in a setting which resembles a village fair. At first sight, you may find yourself overwhelmed with so much around but there is a method to the madness and you can start circling from one corner and travel deeper gradually.

Best of Traditions - Serving Food in Style
Here are some of the activities that you may want to try out as you delve into this maze:
  • Enjoy the makke ki roti, sarso ka saag and a variety of other local delicacies served freshly from the earthen oven or chulha in makeshift huts - could call them food kiosks but the traditional feel betrays the English name. Try interacting with the ladies cooking there and you would see a different world altogether.

  • Kathputlis or puppets dancing on the fingers of their handlers is a charming sight especially for kids - the deft hands maneuvering the puppets on folk songs intermingled with a storyline is definitely a major attraction. The same kiosk also offers a stunt show where a young boy plays with dangerous equipment and presents a heart-stopping visual.

  • On a corner, there is a snake-shaped stage where an old man shows magic tricks and catches the attention of everyone passing by. Waiting for the show which happens almost every few minutes is definitely worth it.

  • Girls dressed in traditional Rajasthani attire perform various dance shows across the campus in small hut shaped stages - they are happy to indulge you to dance with them so definitely take a stab at it. The most interesting of them is the famed Kalbelia Dance, a performance where the dancer uses dangerous props to support the show - dancing on freshly broken glass pieces, walking on nails, carrying fire or a long chain of earthen bowls on the head are only some of the tricks shown

  • Fancy riding on a horse, camel or elephant or wanted to ride a bullock cart after seeing the countryside movies - it is all here and grab a chance while you can - though the lines are relatively longer especially if it is a weekend but the prices are pretty low and why not explore this in a village fair

  • One may not find much of it in deserts and hence take a ride on the boat across an artificial water stream built out for the purpose - the ride isn't long and you don't see much in dark anyway so you may not miss much even if you avoid this

  • Enjoy multiple showcases and exhibitions that happen from time to time - one of the interesting ones is the life-size depiction of the famous battle of Haldighati - an important event in the history of Rajasthan
What about the food and service?

As the night dawns and you are tired of all the activities, it is natural to look for food - a traditional dinner was all you were here for right! Right on the other side of where you entered you would see a number of huts, with markings, ready to host you for a sumptuous meal. Based on the option you had chosen, you may proceed to the specific area. The international buffet is generally in a closed out marked area while the on seat buffet is served in another enclosure. For the traditional sit-in meal, there are two options - one is inside the covered huts and other is open areas - kind of verandas or open kiosks - where you can sit comfortably - of course on the ground - and enjoy a plentiful serving. We obviously chose for the later and were ushered into an open courtyard. After duly hand washing ritual we seated on the cushions spread around with small stools in front of us - these were our dining tables for the day.

Enjoying the Spread - A Sit-down Buffet
One can easily be overwhelmed by the number of bowls and glasses kept on the stools which are going to all contain a different item. As per the Rajasthani tradition, the serving starts with sweets - or desserts - and then goes on with an item after another. You are served a variety of sweets - numbering more than 4. Then they start with the vegetables and curries - a variety wide and creative - all covering various traditional dishes of the region. The most popular among the items is the Dal-Bati-Churma - a mix of a lentil, locally baked special bread and a sweet - served together creating a wonderful texture and taste. While the food is definitely mouth-watering, what is special about this place is the love with which it is served on the platter. The famed "manuhar" or insistence is spread in each serving and the servers try their best for you to try various offerings in the cuisine. While the family love is difficult to recreate but in this age where top restaurants use the best available tricks to reduce the serving size, a restaurant which nudges you to have more or at least try everything is a special luxury not available everywhere.

After the multi-course dinner and desserts, it's time to bid goodbye to this wonderful experience. If you have your own car, ask the driver to bring it up or get it from the parking. If you are cabbed, begin looking for one as soon as you can.

Chokhi Dhani is definitely a class apart place for anyone to experience a holistic environment of a village fair in an urban setting. Some may find it a bit pricey but it is well worth it. Though we have reservations about it being a perfect accommodation for a tourist, it is definitely a must visit for any traveler or tourist touching Jaipur.

Here is a glimpse of all the activities you can involve with!

The Stunt Show
The Charmer - Magician
The Puppet Show
Bowling Alley - Countryside Format
Kalagram - A Shopping Arcade
Take a Camel Ride
A Boating Experience
Some Dance Moves .... with a difference

Have you been to Jaipur? Did you get to go to Chokhi Dhani? How was your experience there? What are your views on the article? - Express it all in the comments and feel free to reach out to us to help you plan a trip to Jaipur !!

In case you want to know more about Jaipur or places of interest in Jaipur, do visit the article on the city at

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