Tagged: India

Jaisalmer, A Golden City in the Thar Desert

Jaisalmer

Jaisalmer

From Jodhpur we went as far West as possible without entering Pakistan to Jaisalmer.  Jaisalmer is known as the Golden City because of the yellow sand of the Thar Desert that surrounds it and the yellow sandstone of all the buildings there. You can stay in Jaisalmer Fort but we stayed outside the city, only a 5 minute drive away.  The fort is an endangered monument and the water that pumps through the city, around the fort, is causing it to self-destruct.  In some small way I thought not staying in the fort was a good idea.

Jaisalmer was founded in the 12th century and served as a stop for trade caravans.  Now tourism is its main source of revenue.  There are plenty of camel and desert treks you can take.  There’s even a festival in January and February.  We opted out of the camel rides and stuck to exploring the city.   More

Jodhpur, the Best

View of Mehrangarh Fort, Jodhpur

View of Mehrangarh Fort, Jodhpur

Jodhpur was my favorite city in Rajasthan.  All the elements we had seen thus far, amazing Indo-Islamic architecture, sprawling city, cows and animals everywhere, squalor, simple beauty, were at their best in Jodhpur.  The people were kind, and it seemed less crowded with tourists and cheesy souvenirs.  Jodhpur was a balance of the sleepy Bundi and the buzzing Jaipur.   More

Ranakpur, A quick stop from Udaipur to Jodhpur

Outside of Ranakpur

Outside of Ranakpur

On our drive from Udaipur to Jodhpur we stopped at the early 15th century Jain temple of Ranakpur.  It is a large white marble building, a nice refuge from the sun.  Since millions of people have walked through the temple the marble was a lovely sensory experience on my bare feet.  I love being barefoot.  I’m not about to walk around in unhygienic settings without shoes but when I have the chance to let the toes breathe I love it.

There are over 1,400 unique pillars that support the temple.  If you’re thinking I took pictures of all of them, not quite.  It is an amazing temple though with beautiful carved figures and details everywhere.

You’ll also see me in some turquoise drop crotch pants.  I’m sitting down so you won’t get to see how silly they are.  I don’t know what else to call them but you know what I mean.  Rather than the crotch of the pants being in the normal location at the top of one’s thighs, the crotch is just above the knees.  Justin Bieber has been wearing pants like this lately.  I had seen several people with these pants on and was curious.  Are they more comfortable than regular pants?  Perhaps I should try them.  In Udaipur there was a store that had them ridiculously cheap so I decided why not.  These pants are not for me.  Maybe if it wasn’t 100 degrees with 80% humidity I would have enjoyed them.  Or maybe if the top of my thighs didn’t touch I would experience delight instead of discomfort.  I didn’t throw them away.  They’re in my apartment somewhere as a reminder of a bad idea. More

Cruising around Lake Pichola

View of City Palace from Lake Pichola

View from Lake Pichola

After walking through the maze of the City Palace of Udaipur it was an ideal moment to take a boat ride around Lake Pichola.  If you walk out an exit gate from the Palace it is a short walk to the boat launch.  You get an orange life vest and a comfy enough seat.

To be cooled by the breeze as we circulated around the lake was refreshing.  It was lovely to sit in a seat in the shade of the boat and observe another side of Udaipur.  Here and there you could see city residents and tourists walking to the water’s edge to swim, bathe or wash something.  The friendly people would wave at us.  I was really into the trees lining the lake for some reason. More

City Palace of Udaipur

City Palace

City Palace

The City Palace of Udaipur is the largest in Rajasthan.  It is also one of the most well-kept palaces of the region.  I would attribute this to tourism.  There were several beautifully decorated rooms to discover within the labyrinth of the palace.  You get magnificent views of the lake and a trip back in time.

Maharaja Udai Singh II established his city here upon the advice of a holy man who suggested the protection afforded by the forests, lakes and Aravalli Hills would be advantageous for the new capital of Mewar.  Chittor was previously the capital but Akbar destroyed it.  From its beginnings in 1568 until India’s unification in 1947, Udaipur survived many Mughal attacks.  This pride and history that is reflected inside the Palace. More

Udaipur: Jagdish Temple, Babas and stickers

Baba at Jagdish Temple, Udaipur

Baba at Jagdish Temple, Udaipur

The main attractions of Udaipur are the City Palace and Lake Pichola.  Most of the hotels and restaurants of Udaipur have views of both.  We opted not to stay in the famous Lake Palace Hotel but rather across the lake from everything.  In one day we saw the City Palace, took a boat ride and had lunch on Jagmandir Island in Lake Pichola.

The City Palace has several beautifully decorated rooms and paintings, and it was impressive, but one my favorite parts of the day was seeing the Jagdish Temple and buying stickers of Hindu gods and goddesses at a shop across from the temple.   More

Bhimlat Waterfall and the Mahanal Temple near Menal

Mahanal Temple dedicated to Shiva near Menal

Mahanal Temple dedicated to Shiva near Menal

River near Mahanal Temple

River near Mahanal Temple

We left sleepy Bundi and continued our journey to Udaipur.  We stopped to see the  large Bhimlat Waterfall, continued driving to Menal to see the Mahanal Temple and finally to Udaipur.  The temple wasn’t crowded.  There were a few guards around but for the most part it was another quiet, contemplative visit.  Parts of the temple grounds were rubble and it was easy to see how tombarolos could take pieces or sculpture of the temple.

Since the temple is dedicated to Shiva his bull Nandi is nearby.  There were locals too checking us out, having picnics and enjoying the day like us.   More

Bundi

View of Bundi from Bundi Palace

View of Bundi from Bundi Palace

On our way to Udaipur from Jaipur we stopped in the town of Bundi overnight.  We arrived around 3 or 4, enough time to check in to our hotel and explore Bundi Palace and the Star Fort or Taragarh.  Bundi felt like a sleepy gem that has yet to be invaded by tourism.  The streets are small and people seem very curious when they see you as oppose to Agra or Jaipur where tourists are part of the everyday.

We stayed at the Haveli Braj Bhushanjee which was great.  Like all or most havelis it is family run by 2 brothers who live in a private area of the building.  It was the most personal stay of our trip but one of the most pleasant.  We were asked if we would be dining in the haveli that evening, Yes!  Okay would you like to eat at 6 or 8 pm?  8 pm.  They showed us a menu and we wondered if we needed to tell them in advance what we’d like, No, just one menu, all vegetarian!  Um, okay, great!  It was one of the best meals we had.  We were the only ones in the dining room and the food was plentiful and delicious.

Dining room of Haveli Braj Bhushanjee

Dining room of Haveli Braj Bhushanjee

So after we made our dinner arrangements, saw our room and our monkey stick (No joke.  A stick just outside our room to scare the monkeys away) we walked to Bundi Palace.  No crowds to fight or guides offering tours in whatever language you speak, just us exploring.  There was a man inside who was happy to tell us the history of the palace and the stories associated with the paintings inside but it was clear that no one seemed too concerned about the place.  Good and bad I think.  Good because tourism hasn’t overrun it and bad because some of the palace could use some TLC.   More

On the road to Bundi

Colorful truck on the highway

Colorful truck on the highway

From Jaipur we drove to Udaipur stopping in the city of Bundi on the way.  The decorations of the trucks and buses are incredible.  Here in New York I see garbage trucks or 18 wheelers that have whole families names inscribed on them: Anthony, Jordan, Helen and Christina.  There may be a stuffed animal attached to the front grill or some detailing in the side but nothing like the trucks in India.  I never understood why they’re so embellished but it made watching them go by as they nearly crashed into us more interesting.  Oh look that truck is about to run us off the road!  But it’s sooo prettttyyyyyy!  And you’re dead.

I said it before and I’ll say it again, the travel insurance you buy won’t be able to save you when you’re bleeding on the side of the road and it takes an emergency vehicle hours to reach you.  Obviously we never had any accidents but our driver Soref was careful and not out to prove anything.  We told him that we were never in a hurry and we’d like to make it to the end of our trip.  He’d chuckle, smile and say okay.

Here are some scenes from the road:

Jantar Mantar, Jaipur

A Stairway to Heaven at the Jantar Mantar, Jaipur

A Stairway to Heaven at the Jantar Mantar, Jaipur

Sing in the tune of “Oh my Darling, Clementine “:

Oh my Bloggin’, oh my bloggin’, oh my bloggin’ where’s the time?

I am swamped with work laaatelyyyy, dreadful sorry Blog o’ minnneeeeee!

And I am sorry to those of you check to see if I’ve added anything new.  The gallery participated in The Art Show at the beginning of March and now we’re hosting a gallery for Asia Week so it’s been nutty.  I think the last official day off I had was March 3.  I honestly don’t know what day of the week it is.

Back to the Jantar Mantar in Jaipur.  It’s down the road from Castle Grayskull, or at least it seems like it with a name like that.  Maharajah Jai Singh II built five Jantar Mantar complexes in west central India between 1727 and 1734.  There’s one in New Delhi, but we didn’t see it.  Apparently the Jantar Mantar in Jaipur is the largest and best preserved of all of them.  There are 14 fixed structures to measure time, predict eclipses, track the stars and make other astronomical measurements and observations. More