Tuesday, December 15, 2009

the royal land of the kings ...

The first couple of travelogues on this blog, composed some 5 years ago, were about some trips in India. After that I have blogged about Japan, UK, various other places in Europe, flights back to India and all that, but no trips within India itself. Well, because I never went on a proper trip inside the country. Until now. I am not sure how and when I decided that I should visit Rajasthan, but it lodged itself strongly in my plans of what to do in the 'unending' vacation after PhD and it happened ... yayy :).

Jaipur - Pink city, first planned city by an Indian, and other such known accolades. What struck me most were the huge roads and relatively sparse traffic (relative to the cities like Hyd/Blore of course). Only the old city area is crowded. It is also the area that is most pink ;), has lines and lines of small small shops selling all the traditional stuff in the old fashioned way! The city does seem to make an effort to retain its pink hue. The famed 'Hawa Mahal' can only be gazed while passing by on the road and it only stands out only because of its unique design. So is the palace in the middle of the lake - no entry for us mere mortals. It is beautifully adorned with soft (somewhat pinkish?) lights during the night. One place which is more welcoming is the Amer fort (pronounced as Aamer but strangely, spelled as Amber in English :-ss). It has recently started a "Sound and Light show" to narrate the history of the fort and Jaipur and so on. Was pretty good, but since the fort was so majestic and the Rajputs so frightening, there were no wars or attacks. Hence the show concentrated more on the cultural aspect. Thus, wasn't as pulsating as the one in say, Golconda :P. Also had some awesome local food aka "world famous food of Jaipur" thanks to our local host and his knowledge and car :D.

Udaipur - Many many lakes abound inside and outside the city. A beautiful palace in the middle of the central lake and a much grander palace on its banks. The 'city palace' as it's called is huge. I guess, one of the highlights is the crystal gallery of the King which displays such ornate glassy stuff that you begin to wonder at all that grandeur, and at the point of amassing them :P. The other supposedly must-visit places in the city are not really must-visit. But they are advertised by all and sundry ranging from normal auto-wallas to the day-cabs to hotel receptionists. There were two highlights for the time in Udaipur. One was the gondola ride to a hilltop from where we could gaze at the whole city, including the palaces, as the sun set and the lights came on dazzling. The other was an unexpected trip to a lake outside the city and the subsequent meandering treks in the hilly growth along the lake. The lake was absolutely serene and the only other living beings we encountered were three swans!

Jaisalmer - Golden, brown, Golden hue of the sand. It was all golden golden! This quaint place was definitely the best looking part of the trip. The whole place was built using only yellow sandstone! Saw a few Jain temples and also a memorial for warriors which contained several of them set together. And then went on a drive of 40Km to the 'dunes'. Arrived at a resort kind of a place, managed by the local villagers, who took us to the sand dunes on camels. Yeah, a camel ride to the desert and return for some performances by their local artists followed by sumptuous Rajasthani buffet. And then we were planning to camp in the desert, in the dunes, in the dark, stare at the sky, shiver in the cold and sleep with a bonfire. But the organisers persuaded us not to, since we were the only people daring to do so, and it was too cold for them to organise it for us. They even returned our extra payment for the camping, and instead took us on a night-time desert safari on a jeep. On our way, we came across many deers and the ride transformed into almost a deer-catching effort. Despite the various tricks and clever tactics of the driver, the deers were too quick and too alert for them. I didn't know that deers populated the arid regions! And peacocks too, so many of them in the wild! In fact, camels were the ones not to be seen in the wild - all of them were domesticated :P. When we had a bonfire in the middle of the 'safari' the starry night sky was just magnificent. I don't remember the last time I was able to see so many stars in the night. Let us all pooh pooh the light and air pollution of the urban areas :P. And then, there was the fort of Jaisalmer. It majestically looks over the town and is all golden as well. It also houses lots of people who live in there and sell souvenirs to tourists amid other activities.

Jodhpur - It's tries to be blue, all blue. We were there just in transit. The city attempts to be blue and many of the buildings are painted blue. But doesn't look all that natural like in Jaipur or Jaisalmer. Also quite hilly around the borders with a huge fort on them. Quite a bustling city compared to the tiny Jaisalmer :P.

Throughout the trip, we visited quite a few Jain temples. It was the first time I had visited them and was an interesting experience to see how different yet how similar they are to Hindu temples. All the cities are surrounded by hills, upon which forts have been built. The food in any place is devourable, and the 'pyaaz kachoris' are just irresistible. Also, with so many Marwaris and Jains abound, non-veg food is a rarity in the state ;).

7 comments:

skp said...

it was a mistake wasting the bandwidth for opening this page .... words bloody words ... boring ...

Aniket said...

Nice reading about my home state from someone for whom it's not a home state. Difference of perspective.

Manikandan.S said...

You forgot to mention the creative name we came up with for you - rasux!

thread said...

blah
@manik: wats rasux? rama sux?

Manikandan.S said...

@pacha: bingo!

mythalez said...

@skp, better than yours, which doesnt even have words :P

@aniket, so, any observations over my perspective? :P

@mani, blaah

@paccha, ssshhh thread.

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