Located at the foot of a spur of the Aravalli Hills is the small village of Ghumna, close to a larger village of the Meena tribe called Big deal. The green and serene environment is perfect for rest and recovery. Across Golden Fields, on the shores of a monsoon lake, is a perfect little retreat that mixes a village atmosphere with luxury. One kilometer before Dera Lakeview Retreat the easy drive ends on a tarmac road and then the adventure begins – a zigzag ride through mustard fields. Not only is it a great hideaway, but for those with even the mildest interest in rural India, it’s also a great place to explore.
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But this is not just a story about Kalakho. For this village is just a few kilometers from the least explored stretch of the Golden Triangle that connects the historic capitals of Delhi, Jaipur and Agra. Apart from over-examined Fatehpur Sikri and Keoladeo, this shaft contains the ruins of a forgotten history. You will rarely find names like Abhaneri, Madhogarh, Bhangarh and Bhandarej in travel guides, or even on most maps. In an effort to rectify this historical failure, this story brings you three destinations-in-one – Kalakho, Madhogarh and Bhandarej – all scattered along NH11 between Bharatpur and Dausa.
The famous Mehendipur Balaji Mandir is known for, believe it or not, it frees one from evil spirits and healing madness. Possessing believers claim that Balaji can cure any evil: all it takes is a wish and a gift, and Balaji dutifully obliges. We visited as advised on a Saturday evening for the weekly aarti, after that experience it is my sincere advice that you go on any other day but Saturday. At least 1,000 devotees were packed like sardines, many of them in a state of frenzied ecstasy. We only heard the healing through a window because getting in didn’t seem possible. In a quadrangle behind the temple, eight people were lying around with their various appendages wedged under large boulders. The belief is that the shakti (which flows from Balaji through the boulders) would heal every limb. The hilly area was dotted with small shrines – home to the ‘ghosts’, we were told. My gaze drifted to some old trees draped in massive chains. Fortunately, they had no casualties today, because people with mental illness are confined here waiting for a miraculous recovery. Visit if you must, but this is not a place for the squeamish. Drive back to Sikandra, turn left on NH11 towards Agra and turn left again at Balaji Modh, 25 km further.
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How to reach Kalakho
Nearest Railway: Bandikui Junction (36 km / 45 min)
TO Jammu AII Express (departure: Old Delhi 4.25am; arr: Bandikui 8.09am)
FROM AII-JAT Express (dep: Bandikui 5.44 pm; arr: Old Delhi 9.55 pm)
Ask your hotel to arrange a pick-up, as local transportation is limited to shared jeeps
Driving from Delhi is the best option, giving you the flexibility to squeeze in as many excursions as desired. It’s going well until Sikandra. After that it is narrow asphalt with some rough spots in the monsoons. Sikandra’s route passes through Gijgarh, Kadikoti and the Madhosagar Bandh. The last stretch after the bandh, less than a kilometer from Kalakho, is a dirt road through mustard fields.