flag GB Travelogue Tour of Rajasthan 2010 - week 2

When reading the travel report: click at a picture and it will be increased. After clicking the photos can also be viewed as a slideshow. If you see a link, like: Namasté click on the link and it will be opened. When referring to the map of Rajasthan, the map can be accessed by clicking on the link: Map of Rajasthan. The film clips that are included in the travelogue are HD recordings. The clips can be opened and viewed in a separate window.

English is not our native language, so we apologize in advance for translation- spelling- and grammar errors.

Day 8: Saturday, November 13, 2010

Around 8:30 we leave direction Jodhpur. The drive to Jodhpur will take a few hours but we don´t mind. Travelling by private car is very comfortable and there is always plenty to see when you look outside the car window. We make a stopover in Pokharan. In this town is a small fort that we visit. It is a nice stop. In the fort is a little museum. There are some local tourists. They want a picture from us with them. Photographers as we are, we cooperate. Early afternoon we arrive in Jodhpur.

Our hotel is the Niralidhani- Resort. The name sounds exotic but the hotel is a disappointment. Not at all what we are looking for. The hotel is not close to the old city ( 10 (!) Km distance). It is a big hotel with many noisy local tourists as guests. Outside in the garden is a big buffet for more than a hundred guests with life entertainment by various artists. There is even half a circus with a shooting gallery and a camel ride.

It also starts to rain a little. We notice that the people are not used to all that water and actually don´t know how to handle it. The sewer system runs over. Large puddles. One big mess. When the rain stops we take a car ride to the central square of the old city. First we eat some pancakes on a rooftop, then we stroll through the city. Nice to be here again, but it takes some orientation. Markets, slums, studios and a lot of people. We end our walking tour in a lovely coffee shop we found near the central square; they even serve real cappuccino. Delicious! We have diner in a rooftop restaurant we remember from our previous visit here a few years ago.

The restaurant has changed from an simple restaurant in to a fancy restaurant. The eating is great and we treat ourselves to a delicious meal with half a litre of wine! It is very noisy on the terrace! On our terrace they play a kind of shrill jazz music. Behind us loud Indian music and you hear the noise of honking tuk tuks and the Muslim call for prayer. Occasionally we hear the sound of fireworks. It is the wedding period. Unbelievable! We have a beautiful view on the lighted fort, the lights of the city and the illuminated clock tower called ”little Big Ben”. In short, a 100% Incredible India experience!

After dinner we take a tuk tuk back to the hotel. We give the driver an address card of our hotel but he drives us to a totally different hotel. It appears that the driver can´t read and there are two hotels with the same name. Quite confusing but after some extra stops to ask for the right direction we finally arrive at our hotel. The driver was a really nice guy.

Back in the hotel we walk around in the garden. The party is really going on there; all the attractions are in full business . We have dirty feet. We honestly don´t know in how many cow patties we stepped today! Well, fortunately we have (cold) water in the room.

Day 9: Sunday, November 14, 2010

At 9 am we drive to the old city. We first stop by the memorial for a maharaja near the fort of Jodhpur. Impressive building on a hill with a beautiful view at the fort and the environment. After our visit to the mausoleum we are dropped off at the fort. From here on we will walk so we give Kuldeep the rest of the day off.

The fort is very busy. There is a long queue. Because we’ve visited the fort earlier we decide to skip a visit for now. Instead we walk from the fort on the hill through the small alleys down to the centre of the "blue city". We walk trough handicraft quarters where the workers young and old work for little money. They make a large variety of products like baskets, furniture and ice cream sticks.

Ingrid is not feeling well; she has stomach cramps and is sweaty. She also has fever. So, after a nice cup of tea and a short visit to the market and some antique shops, we go back to the hotel early in the afternoon. In the evening we eat in the restaurant of the hotel. We go to bed early. Tomorrow we will go to Kumbhalgarh.

Day 10: Monday, November 15, 2010

Although this hotel is not our first choice, there is still enough to enjoy. Like: Goal, breakfast with toast and jam. Location: a big empty room with dirty doilies on the table and lots of staff. Staff member number 1 asks what you want, tea and coffee. Number 2 brings cups, another sugar, and stresses that it's SUGAR (visible cubes in a jar). Then someone else delivers 2 thermos jugs and leaves again. Hot water is brought separately. Someone is trying to open the pouch Nescafe but is not successful so he turns away with his head and opens it with his teeth. He spits the part of the pouch left in his mouth on the floor of the restaurant. Then someone asks whether you want milk. When we answer: no thank you, he promptly brings some milk, and is very surprised that we don´t use it in the coffee and tea. We will leave the description of the episode of the toast and jam to everyone's imagination.

It's like we are figurants in a Charley Chaplin movie.

After breakfast we leave for Kumbalgarh; Map of Rajasthan. Nice ride, but quite dangerous. The people here pass when they feel like it.

Sometimes with three cars simultaneously. Like true slalom riders they find passage. We are glad we don´t have to drive ourselves. The cars drive up to 90 km on the roads. That is not feasible everywhere especially by all the large and small animals that frolics around here. You drive through the villages and in every village you pass there are high barriers to reduce the speed. The barriers are much higher than in Holland! You almost have to stand still before you can pass. Otherwise you will be bumped out of the car and he bottom of the car will be ruined.

It is not going well all the time. This is clearly demonstrated by the scrap vehicles on the side of the road. We stop at a temple in the verge of the road dedicated to the son of the maharaja who died at a motorcycle accident here. Many flowers, music and devoted people. Apparently he was very popular.

We also visit the famous Jain temple of Ranakpur. The temple is said to have been built by Seth Dharna Sah (a Jain businessman) with the aid of Rana Kumbha, who ruled Mewar in the 15th century. The temple is a masterpiece of architecture. It has 24 pillared halls with 80 domes that are supported by 400 columns. The upper and lower parts of the domes are linked by brackets that have deities' sculptures. Each column is intricately carved and no two columns have the similar design.

In the afternoon we arrive at our hotel The Aodhi. The hotel is quite high in the hills in a beautiful green environment. Nice such a great variety this journey. After the bustle of the city the purity of nature. The Aodhi is a nice hotel, and we have a very large room with an alcove with a large sofa, big enough to serve as a bed for two and a covered terrace. We drink homemade - there is a kettle in the room - tea and coffee on our terrace. Ordering consumptions is expensive here. We had a cup of soup with naan (Indian bread) and Fanta for 1000 rupees; about 17 euro´s. More expensive than usual in India but it was tasty, and breakfast and dinner are included, so no problem.

We are collected at the gate of the hotel for a jeep safari.

The safari is part of our arrangement. The small Kumbhalgarh Wildlife Sanctuary, is the only place in India where wolves live, but there are antelopes, gazelles, leopards and bears as well. It's fun, and we enjoy the unspoiled nature, but we don´t see many animals; only a few wild boars.

Back in the hotel we have access to internet; a very slow connection but it´s enough to check and send email. We have an very tasty evening buffet. The staff, in large numbers, does everything to make us feel at home. A number of staff members is openly staring at our direction while we are eating. Each bite into our mouths is followed. At home you would find that annoying but here it is funny.

Day 11: Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Today is a wonderful day. At 9 a.m. we visit the fort of Kumbalgarh. The gate of the fort is just 1 km from the hotel . Surrounded by thirteen mountain peaks Kumbhalgarh Fort is the second most important fortress in Rajasthan (Chittorgarh was more important in early ages; we will visit this fort later in our journey). Kumbhalgarh Fort was built by Maharaja Rana Kumbha in the 15th century. The fortifications of the fort are extended to a length of 36 kilometres. The enormous complex of the Fort has many palaces, temples and gardens.

It is quiet at the fort when we visit it. We have all the time and space to explore the fort. However the temperatures are very high today! We sweat a lot, especially because we have to climb a lot. Hard work! We think it's a beautiful fort. On top of the fort we have a nice view on the forests, hills the fortifications etc.

After our visit to the fort we return to the hotel. We make ourselves some coffee on our terrace. At 1 pm we were picked up again by Kuldeep. We arranged a visit to a local village with a local guide. The first part of the trip we´ll go by car. After a 10 kilometre ride we will make a long walk to the village. We barely left the hotel as we have to stop at a road construction. We have to wait for about 20 minutes. The road is completely broken up. The heavy roadwork is done by beautifully dressed young women with large scales on the head containing sand and rocks. They collect the debris and carry it off. How they manage, is a wonder. They walk with elegancy in their saris! Hard work here! We have pity with the women; this is no work for children/young ladies!. Yet they still have fun together and there is much solidarity among the girls . We leave the car and take some pictures and film. Finally we can drive on.

Driving on a very small road through the hills, we arrive near a small village. We get off the car aside the road. We will walk from here on. Kuldeep will pick us up later.

The village is not at a paved road. On a narrow path and after some climbing over walls we arrive at the first house. We visited several families. It was really fun and the people were very hospitable. Our guide did not understand much English, but we manage to communicate ”talking” with our hands and feet. We are invited by several villagers to come in their house. The living space usually consists only one room. We see men working on the land with a plow pulled by an ox. And women who are sowing the land by hand. Of course we get the necessary attention of the kids, but only in a friendly matter. In front of one of the houses a group of men is smoking opium. Jan-Arend is invited, but .... he doesn´t smoke anymore and he doesn´t want to tempt the fate. We drink Chai with the family of our guide and we get - for us - unknown fruit. Strange fruit, very tasty but a lot of pits in relation to the fruit flesh.

We get a unique insight into village life. Striking is the fact that the women in the village act very submissive to men. We're not used to that behaviour and it is disconcerting to see. Time really goes back 100 years. We give the kids some toys. This is really what we were looking for, just a relaxing saunter through an ordinary average village in Rajasthan.
After our visit we return to the road where Kuldeep is waiting for us in the car. Kuldeep is relieved that we are so pleased with our visit to the village. He is a little less shy and loosens a bit. He even slaps Ingrid on the shoulders. We like it when he is less submissive. But he has learned to behave that way, and is protects him against misdoing. But it's nice that he feels more free now. He also talks about the province where he comes from (Himachal Pradesh) and his family. Nice!

We return to our Hotel. It was a nice and busy day. Tomorrow morning we will go to the camel fair in Pushkar; one of the highlights of our journey.

Day 12: Wednesday, November 17, 2010

We depart early in the morning with good weather. The ride is nice trough a rural area on narrow roads. We come across groups of people walking together with big fagots on their heads accompanied by livestock. At one of our stops it suddenly becomes very dark! And yes, a little later it starts to rain. A huge storm bursts loose. The whole ride, the rain is pouring down from the sky. A pitty, because we don´t see much of the beautiful landscape this way.

The second part of the ride today is on a main road. We have a break at a road restaurant for coffee. A man with a large patio umbrella picks us at the car for a dry transfer to the restaurant.

We arrive at Pushkar. The whole area is prepared for the fair. Many roads are closed so it takes us 1.5 hours before we finally arrive at the tent camp where we will spent the night. We skip our lunch (included) because it is already late and we want to go as soon as possible and as long as possible to the fair. We rush to the entrance of the camp where there is a collecting point for free transport by jeep straight to the fairground. Up to the camels! This is really great. What a beautiful sight all the shepherds in their camps with their families and herds of camels.

We enjoy taking pictures and just watch. It poured all day but when we finally arrive at the fair in Pushkar it is dry and sunny. Good fortune! This is truly a highlight of our trip. After our visit to the fair we return back to the tent camp by camel cart.

During the Pushkar fair there are not enough hotel rooms available to offer all visitors shelter. Therefore, they have set up several tent camps at the edge of the village. We sleep in one of those camps in a luxury tent with bathroom. In the camp is also breakfast, lunch and dinner served. For transportation to the fair is provided. Well organized all. At dinner it turns out that the table next to us is occupied by two other people from Holland who travel also with namasté. The food is very good and the four of us have a lot of fun chatting and exchanging experiences.

Day 13: Thursday, November 18, 2011

Lovely day today. We will really spent it well from start to finish!! The Pushkar fair is a unique experience. It is difficult to describe the whole event properly in words because you have to see, smell and experience it. If you ever have the change , take the opportunity to include it in your travel program. You won´t regret it.

We have that opportunity!

At 7 o'clock we got up. After breakfast we take the jeep to the fair grounds. We enjoy the bustle of people and animals. The camels are often beautifully decorated. There are patterns shaved in their fur and sometimes the pelt is even dyed with henna. The camels also have nice beaded chains. They walk to the water reservoir with their bosses. The camel drivers are proud of their animals. They represent a lot of value. You see camel traders group together everywhere, negotiate, conduct business, counting and exchanging paper money.

After our first round in the cattle market area we walk towards the city. Along the road are stalls with all kind of merchandise: food, dresses, camel decorations, incense, flowers for sacrifice in the temple, jewellery, coloured powder for the dot on the forehead, etc. It is very busy. Tourists too but not really in large numbers, the visitors from far and wide in India itself are in the majority. The fair is an event primarily for the locals who have come for the fair, the market, as a family reunion and for pilgrimage.

Pushkar is indeed also a holy city for Hindus. Pilgrims come to Pushkar to bathe in the holy water of the lake. According to legend, the God Brahma and the devil Vajra Nabh had a fight long time ago. Brahma defeated the devil with a lotus flower. 3 petals of the flower fell in different parts of Pushkar creating 3 lakes. A dip in the waters of Pushkar and the worship of Brahma in the Brahma temple of Pushkar - the only one in the world - provides purification and salvation. A good Hindu should bathe here at least one time in his lifetime. In the city are many priests and holy men.
No lunch at the camp for us. We would loose too much time and there are enough beautiful spots in Puskar where you can have some refreshments. We have some lassi and honey pancakes in a rooftop restaurant viewing the lake. We can watch the pilgrims bathe in the lake without disturbing the rituals.

We stroll around from 8 am to 6 pm. There are 3 giants Ferris wheels turning and there is much to do for the local population. There is camel and horse racing and a wrestling competiition. We also find some really nice souvenirs.

At 8 p.m. we have dinner again with the other Namaste guests. The tent is nice, the beds are comfortable but the shower is very shaky and the toilet wobbles like a camel. .

Day 14: Friday, November 19, 2010

At 7 a.m. the alarm rings and we get out of bed. After breakfast we leave for Chittaugarh. The weather is bright and the road is fine. Even on a beautiful four-lane asphalt road you occasionally see cows on the road; sleeping, passing or just wondering around very quietly. Also whole families with their livestock climb over the guardrail and cross the road while the cars in haste sometimes pass each other left and right (or both simultaneously ).

Near Chittaugarh we spot the huge fort on the hill, but we don´t stop. We will come back tomorrow. For now we go to the hotel situated in the hills some 30 minutes beyond Chittaugarh .

Eventually we arrive at our hotel: Kasteel Bijapur in the hills of Vindhyanchal. The castle was built in the 16-th century. A beautiful building with lots of nice niches and spaces. We have a very luxuries room; a suite. So much space, especially in comparison to our tent adventure. Also a neat and spacious bathroom. The only thing we find a bit sad about the castle is that it is located at a isolated spot. We go for lunch to the restaurant. Bit complicated. We want some food from the buffet but the waiter says it is too spicey for us. A bit strange we like spicey food. Perhaps it was prepared for other guests. Anyway we can order vegetable rice, which turns out to be delicious.

After lunch we leave for a walk to the village. When we arrive at the village we see a crowd of people gathering at a open field by a tent. There is clearly something to do there so we rush to the place. It appears that the provincial government has placed a large tent on the field. They do that every year so the people from all over the region can come and ask questions and solve problems directly to/with the representatives of the government. There is much interest. Many women also. In this area there are rarely foreigners. The people are therefore very curious about us. We get explanations from everyone with a smile. Finally, an employee of the hotel takes us by the hand. He introduces us to the provincial government. Interesting

The village is very small so we return to our hotel where we can make coffee and tea in our room. Jan-Arend makes an appointment for a massage and we conclude the day with a romantic dinner under a lavishly decorated tree with lights in the garden of the castle.free analytics for godaddy  

 

week 3