My trip to Rajasthan was a few years ago, but I still remember each experience as if it were yesterday. It was all chaos, but it is precisely this that I love in this country, that there are almost no rules. So it fits very well with my rebellious nature. On the way between Jaisalmer and Jodhpur, we could see the harshness of rural life in the state of Rajasthan, similar to rural life in many other countries.
As always, the bus from Jaisalmer left us outside the city and from there we took a Tuc Tuc to a kind of market square in the old town of the city. As always, the Tuc Tuc driver insisted that we tell him the hotel we were going to. For what? Because they take you and earn a commission, which means that the room costs more to you than it costs.
That is why we always avoid them and look for accommodation on our own, but sometimes they become so heavy that it is difficult to get rid of them. One knows that they are doing their business, but if you can avoid them much better.
We dedicate ourselves to find a place. Almost all the guesthouses are the same. There are steep stairs, very basic rooms and a terrace-restaurant overlooking the fort. So we chose one of the cheapest.
Life happens more slowly in Bundi, so there was no rush to get up that morning. Not even for the breakfast, since it was not included and, even though there was no other plan to do nothing, it was a special day. Bundi is a small city that is about four hours drive from Jaipur and barely appears on the routes through Rajasthan. We put it on the map thanks to a good friend, who recommended it to us as a quiet and authentic place to rest for a few days.
Each day, when the first rays of sunlight illuminated our window, the macaques that live on top of the fort descended in disarray towards the town of Bundi to look for food. The problem was that they went down so uncontrollably, that one ended up slamming against our window with a loud bang while I took my morning shower. From some room the bollywood songs played on TV adds to the noise.
At the top is the Bundi Palace, and above it, the Bundi fort. We did not really want to visit this fort, but since we were there, we decided to go up to see it after breakfast. We left the hotel after breakfast toast, butter, jams and juices, almost constant breakfast in all the hotels.
The city is divided into two parts. In the upper part are the palace and fort, with hotels and tourist shops at its feet, decorated with paintings. In the lower part, the market and the daily life of the city are located. Bundi also stands out for having houses painted blue, like Jodhpur. Although being smaller the blue spot that is distinguished in the distance is more diminutive.
As soon as we left, we found ourselves with a kind of procession of a multitude of colorful women that followed a man and a boy riding a horse. It, in turn, followed a small van with loudspeakers and bollywood music at full volume.
Keeping the distances, we went along the march until in a park we met some men who told us they were going to the temple for the ceremony of a five-year-old. From what I could understand when babies are born their hair is cut and when they are 3 or 5 years old they are cut again in a temple ceremony. When they told us it was a ceremony in the temple, I was quite reluctant to go. Or maybe it was because the temple was a kilometer away and my feet did not want to take another step.
The only way to access it is on foot. No rickshaw took pity on us and did not want to take us to the top. Maybe the hill is too steep for the modest power of the engines of these vehicles to climb. So, as we could do well, we climbed the hellish slope.
When we finally reached the top, we found the ticket office at the gates of the palace. We only paid for one of the cameras. The Bundi Palace until recently could not be visited. I guess when the old royal family, who is the owner, saw that the city was beginning to be a bit visible on the tourist map of Rajasthan, she thought it would be a good idea to give the management to a private company to raise a few rupees.
In fact, the palace has a lot of charm, although they still have a lot of reconstruction work ahead of them. The palace is accessed through the elephant gate and inside we can see Krishna paintings and some very beautiful murals. Without a doubt, the best thing of all is to be able to contemplate some great views of the city. At the foot of the palace, there is a sea of blue and ocher houses.
Upon leaving the palace, we decided to continue the ascent towards the fort. While we were heading to the exit of the palace, one of the guards approached us and offered to sell us a wooden stick for 10 rupees to be able to scare away the more than a thousand monkeys that roamed the area in case they decided to attack us.
If nevertheless, we said no, that we were not worried about the issue. But then he counterattacked, explaining exactly the same story but increasing the number of monkeys to more than 10,000. We did not bother and we told him not to worry and that if we saw some monkey with bad intentions, he would take a memorial stone.
Then we turned around and continued on our way while the man continued with the same song, perhaps increasing even more the number of macaques that awaited us. A few meters above, is the palace of women . It is very beautiful and the exterior has very well-kept gardens. Too bad you can not visit inside. There we sat for a while to rest, since it was very hot.
I had not mentioned it to you, but the last few days, during the midday heat, the weather pressed and reached high temperatures to be in January, although at night it was still cold. After recovering a bit, we continued our expensive climb to visit the fort. There was still a good stretch to the fort, when a guard warned us that we had to pay 100 rupees for the entrance and another 50 rupees for the camera.
Seeing the long stretch of ascent that we had left and the heat, we decided turn around and go find a cool Coke. By the way, during the whole ascent and its subsequent descent we did not find any monkeys. One of the most difficult things to endure was the lack of hygiene. I am very careful with what I eat, with what I touch before eating and with the hygiene that surrounds everything that comes in contact with my food.
For example, having a Coca-Cola, which seems to be something quite simple, ends up becoming an odyssey when the glass they bring us is filthy. The straw has a luster five years ago and the mouthpiece of the bottle is so scabby that we cannot clean them with five wet wipes. Solution? Finish by filling the empty water bottle with Coca-Cola. Paranoid? Yes, but we did not suffer the famous Delhi Belly throughout the trip.
About 2:30 pm we go to a restaurant with air conditioning where we ate well, calm and fresh. With the recovered forces, we decided to go down to the market and take a walk around there. The Bundi market is very lively and has many traveling stops of bracelets, bindis, fruits and vegetables. It also has many fabric stores where we stop to buy several things.
In these stores there is no bargaining, but in a sign it is already indicates that the prices are fixed. We also went into a small grocery store to buy incense. So we ended up crossing the counter of the small store and ended up spending almost 200 rupees in incense. Surely we were the big clients of the day. After the compulsive shopping, we went to visit the Rajasthan tourist information office, which is near the bus station.
The office occupies a new building and the truth is that the person who works there is very efficient. He explained everything we could visit in Bundi besides the palace. He gave us a map and indicated a small lake located about 15 minutes by rickshaw. As we did not have anything better to do, we stopped a rickshaw and agreed to pay 80 rupees to go to the lake.
The driver had a cocky look that reminded me of the Chuck Norris of the seventies movies. The lake itself was beautiful, the adjoining mountain reflected in the water and created a very photogenic effect. However, all this was marred by the amount of dirt in the water. We were walking around a bit and our driver, who wanted to make sure we were back with us, was explaining things about the place.
Finally, we told him to take us to the hotel to rest a little before going to the cinema. Yes, we went to the cinema. It's something I like to do when I'm on vacation. Like in Jakarta I saw Eat pray love. We did not want to miss the opportunity to go to the movies and watch a Bollywood movie.
I had been seeing posters and trailers of Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani, and they were just showing it in the Bundi cinema hall. The theatre is right next to the tourist office and has three types of arrangement. There is one where you sit on the floor for 20 rupees, one to sit in a seat worth 45 and one for the boxes with "a little more" privacy for 60 rupees. We sat in the box, but we did not go unnoticed at all.
While we waited to enter, there were many young guys in small groups, and a couple of girlfriends. They stood by keeping the distance, while we waited to enter the cinema, and the girls sat next to me all dressed up for the date. Out of the corner of our eyes we looked at each other with curiosity, trying not to be seen by each other. One was wearing her best sari, all full of bracelets and a few jewels borrowed and with henna tattoos on her feet.
The plot of the film was not very complicated to follow. There is a very cute guy and a girl who go on a trek to Manali, fall in love, and sing a ballad in the hills. Then comes the return and separation of the lovebirds due to the aspirations of the guy to travel the world while the girl prefers a more homely life.
The movie, like almost all of Bollywood, was quite long. Although perhaps the ridiculous thing was the people who turned to take pictures with their phones and flash in the darkness of the room. When we left, a group of girls approached us, really surprised that we were from outside but had gone to see a film.
Actually, everyone there is very curious and has no qualms about asking anything. It usually does not bother me, but sometimes it gets a little heavy. The worst thing was that when we told them we would return to the hotel in tuk-tuk (more to get rid of them than to not walk). So, for a few minutes, we went like a can of sardines until we left them at home. And we pay, of course.
Despite having slept and having a relaxed day, I was still extremely tired. One of the things that most impressed me here is the fantastic colors, very vivid and striking with which men and women dress, regardless of age. That and the smell of spices. It is common to see artisans working in the street, where they expose their objects to sell them.
In one small shop that we enter, they offer us that wonderful tea, the Masala Chai, which is prepared with milk and lots of sugar. At that point, I decided to have an Ayurvedic massage. The city has a considerable number of establishments that offer massages for tourists. In the end, we agreed to do an Ayurvedic massage and we agreed to go to the clinic a few hours later.
To spend time, we went to visit the lake that is in the city. It is next to a park and we saw that it was full of crap, which took away all the charm. Even so, we took advantage of the warmth and sit on a bench to sunbathe. Then we went to the clinic. We sit at the table with the doctor talk about life and its banalities. Sometimes, it's like when you meet someone in the elevator and you do not know what to talk about.
After the talk, we went to the room, where there were two stretchers and two women ready. The doctor told us that they would give us the massage and he left, which I understood when they told us to take off 90% of the clothes and lie on the stretchers. About the Ayurvedic massage, I think it was better than Bali since at least it did not hurt. The masseuses rubbed their hands with a lot of oil and massaged our bodies with light pressure on the muscles. It would have been ideal if it were not for the intense cold in the room and that made it almost impossible to relax.
In a kind of pub next to the Bundi hotel and in which there is air conditioning and a karaoke, we had a cool beer and we rested a bit listening to several best Bollywood songs of the 80s and 90s. The beer is, of course, the famous Kingfisher Strong variety, very good in flavor and a "tad" strong although we are already accustomed to Belgian beers, most also high graduation.
When we finished, we paid and then went to find a good restaurant to dine. While we were walking, we looked at the hotel restaurant that we had in front of ours. It was small, very cute and the tables even had tablecloths, so we decided to have dinner there.
The menu was mushroom soup to warm up and Chana Aloo Masala, a stew of potato and chickpea that itched much more than what the waiter had told us. Like the day, the evening was calm and relaxed.
We return to the hotel and after a good, well deserved and relaxing shower we go to sleep. It's 10:30 pm. We've been up since 8:00 and we have not stopped all day. Tomorrow we will continue the visit to Jaipur. We still have the continuous noise in our ears and it is difficult for us to sleep, but in the end we can get tired and fall asleep, as the air conditioning is all or nothing, and there is no way to regulate it.