The end of the Rajasthani Road

I have fallen very behind in my writing because although Goa is beautiful and relaxing, the internet there is the worst we’ve seen.  Still, tonight it was behaving for a while so I began the process of uploading pictures into wordpress…whether or not the internet holds out well enough for me to actually finish my post tonight, is another affair entirely… (it didn’t…I’m now in Mumbai, finishing the post!)

We finished our time in Rajesthan in the city of Jodpur.  Nicknamed ‘The Blue City”, Jodpur is famous for the massive fort that sits above the city.  We stayed in a gorgeous old Haveli-turned-hotel and had a stunning view of it.  As I wrote my last post (Jaisalmer), this was the view I had to admire while I worked.

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We were pretty shopped-out by the time we reached Jodpur, so the markets were of no interest to us.  Still, we wound up in one, only to buy some water and be asked at least 20 times where we’re from.  We’ve realized, over the course of our stay in India, that people here think Canada is made up of 2 parts:  The French Part and The English Part.  They’re always very confused when I say that we live in the ‘English Part where many people also speak French…and German…’.

I’ve realized, since we left our driver behind, that Prama is like wine…he got better as the trip progressed (not a lot better…but better…).  Because the fort was so far from our hotel, we weren’t able to get around on foot and were sort of at Prama’s mercy when it came to what we would see.  But, instead of bringing us to Emporiums (where he’d make commission off of any of our purchases)…he brought us to a lovely (free!) park!  We saw monkeys, beautiful gardens and eventually stumbled upon some beautiful old temples that reminded me of Ayuttaya in Thailand.

This is where I’m going to make note of something I realized while walking along the temples in this park.  In many temples (especially active ones), you must remove your shoes if you wish to enter.  In warmer places this isn’t an issue, but in Delhi it drove me nuts because the stone was so cold under my feet that my legs were cramping.  We missed out on a lot of temples because I just couldn’t deal with the pain in my leg (my leg is doing much better these days…but it still has its limits).  In Rajesthan it wasn’t too bad so we took off our shoes and toured the old buildings.  When we were on our way back through the park though, we saw this….

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That’s all garbage…

I took this picture about 5 minutes away from the temple where we took off our shoes to show respect and to avoid tracking dirt into Hindu sacred space.  Seeing yet more garbage in a beautiful park made me wish that Indians treated their country the way they treat their temples.  For people who are so profoundly religious and deligent in their duties to the gods (not eating beef, treating animals with respect, the most devout are vegetarian or vegan), they completely ignore their duties to nature.  The number of times we’ve seen garbage like this has been depressing!  India’s current president, Narendra Modi, is putting a lot of effort into cleaning up the country, but he has a long road ahead.  It’s a good thing he works 18 hours a day, because I can’t imagine how he’d get anything done if he didn’t!! (Jay, from Jaisalmer, is a big Modi fan.  We learned all sorts of things about him!  I have hope for this president!).

Ok…I digress…

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A worthy digression if ever there was one…

Our next stop was to the big site to see in Jodpur:  The fort!  We’ve seen several in Rajesthan and it seems like every city has both a fortress and a palace to tour, but Lonely Planet spoke especially well of this one, so we paid the 500 rupees each (50 for locals) and the extra 100 rupees for our camera (free for locals) and we took the tour.  It was honestly worth the money…There was lots to see and the audio tour was very well done.  My only complaint was the hoards of Indian tour guides that all insisted on shouting above one another and pushing anyone who wasn’t paying them out of the way…I was nearly knocked over at one exibit, while looking at the ornate elephant seats from Jodpur’s history.

The audio tour was awesome…it told us the history of the fort.  I learned that it has never been taken by an enemy and I even heard the stories behind the cannon holes in the walls.  There was a lot of battling between the Kings of the different Rajesthani settlements back in the day.  It was neat learning their history.

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The red circle is around a hole caused by Jaipur canons.  The king of Jodpur had been offended by the neighboring royalty, so he ordered a carivan of wedding gifts to be seized on its way to Jaipur.  Jaipur retaliated by (unsuccessfully) trying to take Jodpur fort.

Also interesting were some of the artifacts in the museum part of the fort.  In addition to the elephant seats, there were also carriages that carried the kings and queens of Jodpur.  You can tell which carriages were womens’ because they hid the women away behind curtains and stained glass.  In the past, women in India lived in Purdah…only to be seen by their immediate family.  Women often hid in seperate rooms when guests came to the house, to keep themselves from the ‘prying and lustful eyes of men’ (my favorite line from the audio tour).  This particular carriage was of significance, because it belonged to the queen that was alive during the Brittish take-over of the country.  The Brittish were very interested in the royal families and wanted to know what the women looked like, but all they ever got to see was a flash of the queen’s ankle as she walked up the steps of her carriage.

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This carriage

A photographer managed to get a picture of that ankle and a story was suppose to be published the following day in Brittish newspapers but the royal family intereceded and the pictures never went to print.  A little different from our culture, where Kim Kardashian can ‘break the internet’

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The only picture in the shoot where she was still wearing any clothes….

Our final stop in Jodpur was at the ‘mini Taj Mahal of Jodpur’.  A king had it built for his queen, when he heard of the Taj Mahal being built.  He thought it was a beautiful act, so he wished to do the same.  It isn’t as grand or as semetrical as the Taj Mahal (more on that in the future!), but it was beautiful in its own way!

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I’ll leave you now with some pictures of our hotel/Palace!  This was probably our favorite hotel in all of Rajesthan, not only because of the great restaurant, but also because of the gorgeous view and the beautiful rooms.  For anyone reading this and looking for a great place to stay…Krishna Prakash Heritage Hevali is where it’s at!

And the grounds were beautiful too!!

Next up will be Goa!  We seem to have better internet in Mumbai, so  I should be able to post again tomorrow! (Unless we are out exploring…)

Thanks for stopping by!!   Anyone visiting my blog with questions regarding any of the places we have been can feel free to leave me comments in the questions section!  I will do my best to answer any and all that are asked!

 

Pilgrimage to Pushkar

Oh Rajesthan:  The contrast continues!

I am writing this post from the lobby of our hotel because the internet doesn’t work in our room (it also barely works here…I’ve resorted to typing this up in Wordpad and I plan to copy and paste it later).  The internet on our phones has been working beautifully, but I’m nearly out of data now so Wifi is becoming increasingly important.  It doesn’t seem that the hotels in India care to spend more than they have to on their guests, so the toilet paper provided is minimal, the internet is sketchy if it exists at all and the facilities in the rooms are minimal at best.  For anyone who isn’t well traveled, I can’t imagine India being a very enjoyable place.  For those of us who have stayed in the cockroach infested hostels of southern China though, it’s been bareable enough.  I’m happy to have read many blogs ahead of time and I came prepared with my hair dryer and we’ve been buying toilet paper in town when we start to run low.

 

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This is our 3rd stop in this desert province, and we are so far impressed by both its beauty and also by the unique characteristics that define each city.  Jaipur, the pink city, was buzzing with bazaars that are a clausterphobic’s nightmare.   Udaipur’s peaceful lake gives the city a much calmer feel, but as soon as you enter the street, you are once more overwhelmed by the shopkeepers and rickshaw drivers.  Pushkar, our current destination, is different yet.  It’s a sleepy town (as far as India’s concerned) and the fact that it is a pilgrimage destination gives both its cuisine and its tourists some different traits.

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On the surface, all Bazaars may look the same, but this was one of the most enjoyable I’ve seen.  It was much more relaxed with a lot less traffic than others we’ve seen in India

Pushkar is one of 5 important pilgrimage sights in India (we’ll be visiting a second, Varinasi, later in our trip).  People travel here to see the holy lake where Brahma, a Hindu god, was said to drop a lotus flower (India’s national flower).  Some of Ghandi’s ashes were also scattered in this lake, so it is definitely an interesting little stop

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Pushkar Lake

People are far less pushy in Pushkar and many of the prices in the bazaar are fixed.   Even when prices aren’t stated right upfront, the barganing is way less brutal, so we did some clothes shopping while we were there.  Without rickshaws everywhere, it was a lot less stressfull here than it had been in Udaipur.  I don’t think we’d have wanted to do more than 1 day in Pushkar, but overall, the time we spent there was very much enjoyed.

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One aspect of Pushar though, was not quite to our taste, so to speak.  Because it is such a holy place, meat is non-existant there, and it was even impossible to get eggs.  This wasn’t too big of a deal for me, because my stomach took a turn for the worse in Udaipur and I was mostly just nibbling on french fries, but Dave wasn’t too pleased!  As I write this now, we are in Jaisalmer, and I have to admit that after nearly a week of strict vegetarian diet, Dave and I were very excited to order meat for dinner tonight!!

We did make some animal friends though, so that made up for the lacking diet…

My absolute favorite part of Pushkar though was neither the markets nor the lake.   Our hotel had a very special tenant that made my stay in this small city…

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A Great Dane with floppy ears and a sweet disposition

We called him Frankie because we didn’t know his actual name (or if he even had one…) and not only was he friendly and incredibly sweet, but he was also an excellent judge of character!  While he adored us, leaning up against me and always asking for more scratches… he HATED our driver, Prama.  We don’t like him either, and I think Frankie could sense that because as soon as Prama came near us, this loveable dog would start barking at him until he left.  This dog stole my heart…

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The best part was that Prama was terrified of this goofball!!!  Gawd I love Danes!!!!!

Tomorrow we head out on our desert safari!  I’m very much looking forward to writing about it!  Until then, I’ll leave you with some pictures of the beautiful Rajesthani countryside.

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We have seen SO MANY monkeys!  These are Black Monkeys: just 1 of 15 species of monkey found in India
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Our driver made himself useful today and took us to a migration sight for Demoiselle Cranes.  They spend 5 months away from their home, in Russia, and they’ve chosen this spot in Rhajesthan because Jaine Monks were feeding them regularly.  Today we saw about 1000 of these birds.

Internet permitting, I’ll be back upon our return from a night out in the desert!!!