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.
Day 1: Saturday, November 6, 2010
The week before departure we experienced a lot of extra hassle with our visas. We knew that it was no longer possible to collect the needed visas at the embassy in The Haque, but we didn’t know that the gouverment of India had introduced a whole set of new rules and conditions - like a employer's certificate in English - to be eligible for a visa. Thanks to an employee of the visa office everything came in order on time so we are able to fly to Delhi as planned.
Early in the morning we are brought to the airport by our daughter Marjon and her friend Bram . We have a direct flight from Amsterdam to Delhi. Very comfortable! We really look forward to the trip we are going to make!
The aircraft leaves on time. Thanks to the tailwind the flight takes only 6 hours. Very special to imagine that it only takes so little time to reach India from Holland.
Deep in the night we arrive at Delhi airport. Delhi airport really has changed. The airport is spacious and modern compared to our first arrival in 2006! A representative of our local Indian travel agency is waiting for us at the arrivals. We walk with him to the car. In the car we are introduced to our driver for this tour. The four of us drive to the hotel where we receive our travel documents and vouchers in the lobby.
We have previously indicated that we do not want to spent much time in Delhi. Therefore, the agent has booked a simple hotel (the Shanti Palace) for us near the airport . We have a comfortable room . It will be easy to travel the next day from here to Rajatshan. We settle with the driver that he will pick us up at the hotel the next day at 8:30 a.m. Our driver Kuldeep seems to be a friendly man.
Day 2: Sunday, November 7, 2010.
We leave on time. The city of Delhi has been thoroughly addressed because of the Commonwealth Games that has been here this summer. The caws and bicycle rickshaws seems to be banned out of the city but as soon as we leave the city behind us it is the for us the familiar Incredible India again.
We drive to Mandawa. When we arrive in Mandawa we have a guided city walk and admire the beautiful Havelis , the coloured walls and the frescoes on the walls. We stay in a unique hotel. Hotel Mandawa Haveli is situated in an old Haveli built in 1890 by a local jeweller as his family residence. The building is a jewel on itself. Many beautiful frescoes that are still well preserved. Our room is a picture; very authentic. Sitting in our room we can imagine how life must have been here over 100 years ago. The building forms a square, with a central open courtyard. We have our room on the first floor overlooking the courtyard. In front of our room is a kind of balcony with a balustrade. The balcony is very small and the balustrade is only 40 cm high. Ingrid is afraid that she will stumble and fall down. It doesn´t happen, she is cautious and everything goes well.
After a good night sleep we have breakfast in the hotel. The Hotel is just outside the main gate near the city centre of Mandawa. Before we drive to our next destination Bikaner we have some time to spent for an extra walk around in Mandawa. It is a very nice town. Time seems to have stopped here. There are many Havelis in this village. Too bad most are neglected and uninhabited. They almost collapse!
During the morning we drive to Bikaner (Map of Rajasthan). It is a nice ride. We are in no hurry and make some extra stops. We see a herd of cows emerging from a cloud of dust and we meet a man with a cart full of hay posing proudly for us in front of his cart with his camel. We also see 3 beautifully dressed women who carry with much grace large quantities of firewood in a bowl on their heads.
When we arrive in Bikaner the first stop is our hotel; the Bhanwar Niwas Hotel. The hotel is situated in a historic building - located at the centre of the city and we have a beautiful room. We have lunch in a restaurant opposite the Junagarh Fort. The restaurant has a concierge with a very long (dyed) moustache. He proudly unrolls his moustache for us with a big smile on his face. Wow, very impressive. After lunch we visit the Junagarh Fort itself (founded in 1593) and we wander through the city enjoying the busy streets, markets and people. Absolute chaos! Bikaner is a town on the edge of the Thar desert. After a busy day we have diner in the hotel and Jan-Arend enjoys a nice massage before going to bed.
Day 4: Tuesday, November 9, 2010,
Today we visit Deshnok. Deshnok is a small town situated 30 km from Bikaner and home to the famous Karni Mata Temple.
At half past 9 a.m. we are picked up at the hotel for a city tour in Bikaner with a Tonga. A Tonga is a horse with a wagon. It's a fun ride through the narrow streets of a town that slowly awakens. We stop at the Bhandasar Jain temple built in the Middle Ages where a priest gives us a tour. In other Jain temples decorations are carved out of wood or stone. This temple is the only painted Jain temple there is. Very nice!
After our tour we are dropped at the Junagarh fort where Kuldeep waits for us. On to Phalodi!
The journey to Phalodi takes us through the desert. At a few miles distance of Phalodi we make a stop at Khichan. Khichan is a small town with a lake were thousands of Demoiselle Cranes (Anthrapoides virgo) gather. They are here from Siberia to hibernate. People for centuries give the birds food here. It is truly an amazing sight as the blue-gray birds fly low over the sand dunes. The place seems to be more structured than 5 years ago. There is now a path to the lake and a kind of lookout tower. We can come pretty close to the birds.
After our stop at Khichan we drive on to Phalodi. Our hotel in Phalodi is the Lalniwas Heritage hotel. It is a very atmospheric and nice hotel. The hotel is one of the reasons that we wanted to revisit Phalodi. Unfortunately for the hotel owner we are the only guests . It is a pity that not more guests find their way to the hotel, because it is really worth wile. The hotel is an old haveli situated in a very authentic street. Many blue walls and stairs, and of course cows in front of the door. In the afternoon we take a walk through the town. Phalodi is not at all touristic. We take a lot of pictures. Almost everyone likes to be photographed. There is even a man with beautiful turban who took a handful of candy and nuts from his pocket, and gave it to Ingrid as a sign of gratitude for the fact that his picture was taken. Again many beautiful havelis but also many expired. India will look different in 20 years. Let's hope that the government and / or individuals will realize in time that they must keep their heritage alive because it is really unique. A lot of cows and turbans will probably disappear from the streets, but currently that is not the case here in Phalodi. There is a lot to see. It is quite warm due to the typical desert climate. The city of Phalodi is larger than we remember.
Day 6 Thursday, November 11, 2010
Today we have breakfast at 7:30 a.m. After breakfast we make a last walk through the town. Phalodi is really a must to visit, especially since there is ......... nothing special to do. So just enjoy watching the people; it´s a showcase of traditional life in Rajasthan with the beautiful women with nice traditional jewellery. Especially the ornaments on the forehead are striking. The men with their colourful turbans, small streets. Even without heavy traffic, traffic is chaotic with a lot of tuk -tuks, bicycles, people, carts and the cows. The people of Phalodi are not used to tourists so for them; we are the main attraction.
At a vegetable market Jan-Arend is suddenly attacked by a bull. He can jump away in time, but can´t avoid that his pants is completely ripped open. So he continues his walk almost in his underpants! Ingrid got the giggles when she saw it and all the people had to laugh too. They hang out of the windows to see the strange white man in his boxers. The clown of the town!
At noon we arrive in our hotel in Jaisalmer. Fifu hotel.
At 1 o'clock p.m. we are picked up at the hotel for a ride in a 4WD in the Thar dessert. The ride is not very spectacular. After a short visit to a small village we drive further into the desert to an abandoned village called Paliwal Brahmins. After the Mughal invasion 400 years ago, all the inhabitants of the village had to flee the city at night leaving everything behind. This village was a remnant. Ruins of houses and a beautiful temple still quite intact. Special!
At 9 o'clock a.m. Kuldeep collects us at the hotel. He will accompany us to a lake nearby. Primarily a destination for domestic tourists. There are many local tourists here because November is a month with many celebrations. The Pushkar Fair also attracts many people.
There are a lot of catfish swimming in the lake The catfish are fighting for the bread you give them and if the bread is on the lowest stair they even jump out of the water to grab it. Sometimes they lie almost entirely on dry land! It is fun to visit the lake but we do not stay long.
There are a lot of catfish swimming in the lake The catfish are fighting for the bread you give them and if the bread is on the lowest stair they even jump out of the water to grab it. Sometimes they lie almost entirely on dry land!