The pint-sized city of Patiala has given its name to the liberal Patiala peg and the baggy Patiala salwar. Apart from these, there isn't much which is oversized in this ancient city. The residents of Patiala are the most hospitable people one would come across with their broad smiles, hearty greetings and ever open invitations for a tumbler of thick lassi.
Patiala was established in the year 1763 as a military stronghold by Baba Ala Singh, who also happened to be the first king of the city. The promising kingdom rose to become one of India's most powerful princely states by fending off repeated attacks by the warlords of Afghanistan, the Mughals and the Marathas. During the 20th century, Maharaja Yadavindra Singh played an important role in the formation of the Union of India.
At present, the city's well-groomed polo field, parks and cricket grounds radiated gentility and wholesomeness. The silent homes, tree-lined neighbourhoods offer one a sense of serenity in a rather fast-paced world. Have a look at some of the things one must to do to get to know the city better.
1. Head Out For A Heritage Walk
The tourism department of the state organises an excellent heritage walk through the old Patiala areas. The walk begins from the Shahi Samadhi or the Royal Mausoleum, which is led by a knowledgeable guide, who would narrate gripping tales of the history of the region.
The walk passes through the 18th century neighbourhoods alongside marketplaces, such as Bajaja Bazaar and Bartan Bazaar. The walk comes to an end by passing through the Darshani Deori, which happens to the ceremonial gateway from where the commoners once watched royal processions.
2. Walk Around The Mohallas
With ornate doors and delicate lattice work on balconies, one would walk across the Haveliwala Mohalla, which was once the poshest neighbourhood, which had the homes of the aristocratic families. Through the now-fading havelis, which can be seen frayed at the edges, light is thrown on the erstwhile aura of the area.
The silent lanes are worth exploring, where you would come across the Chhata Nanumal, which happens to be a private archway built over a public road. Further, one would come across the narrow Sappan Wali Gali or Snake Lane, which was intentionally designed by the jewellers. The street is not more than two metres wide and is crazily zigzagged which would slow down any fleeing thief.
3. Explore The Patiala Fort
PC: Official Site
Built by Baba Ala Singh in 1763, the Patiala Fort is divided into two courtyards, which are hauntingly grim. One would enter through a grand gate and come across the vast Qila Mubarak, which houses the lassi khana or kitchen, sarh khana or the cool rooms, ran bass, which are the guest quarters and the Durbar Hall. A flight of stairs would take you to the second precinct which houses interconnected gardens, courtyards and palaces.
The fort is spread across ten acres of land which showcase the Persian and Rajput architectural influences on its walls and jharokhas. The once grand Durbar Hall is home to beautiful chandeliers and a museum, which houses many treasures, such as a solid silver carriage, a jade dagger, which belonged to Guru Gobind Singh, etc.
4. Relish Chole Puri
The bazaars at Patiala are filled with multihued jootis, hair accessories along with beautiful handwoven phulkari dupattas. The Qila Bazaar is one of the oldest markets, which is chaotic and noisy yet very colourful. Before you enter all the chaos, satisfy your tummies at the Pammi Purain Wale, which was established in the year 1983 and relish a plate of chole puri and gulp down a glass of lassi.
5. Make Yourself Comfortable At A Farm Stay
To experience the agrarian Punjabi heartland, one must check into a farm stay on the outskirts of the city. When here, one can ride through the beautiful yellow mustard fields on a tractor, tuk tuk or on an ox. Walk past the organic vegetable gardens and get a hands-on experience of how to milk a cow and groom horses; one can also try their hand on cane basket weaving and relish home-made parathas.