Sunday, August 28, 2011

Trip to Udaipur in Rajasthan during Independence Day

We arrive in Chittorgarh after a 6 hours drive. It is 22.30, and we are hungry. As the city is a country town, the choice of hotels is limited. There are not many tourists here, but the city is more pleasant because it is less populated. Unexpectedly, here at 29 degrees we find it good. We therefore have the choice between a chic palace and a more local hotel. We go for the local hotel.

Anyway it is a transit city and we will leave the next day. So we wanted to stay in a haveli in Jodhpur. The manager of the hotel welcomes us. After we propose to eat on the terrace, he even offers us a beer directly before we put our things in the rooms. The manager of the hotel makes us fill out forms to register us and we go up on the terrace to eat.

We wonder when we arrive if we are not the only guests of the hotel. Once on the terrace, indeed, there is only us to eat. But the employees are available and the meal is good. They are even so considerate that they ask us at night what we want for breakfast, so they can prepare everything in advance. We go to bed as the next day we would visit the Chittorgarh Fort, an UNESCO World Heritage site.

Day 2

After breakfast where we realize that they are not really famous for coffee, we go to visit the city. I was slandering. While returning the key of the room, we meet two families leaving the hotel. So we were not the only ones. But to give a glimpse of the place, as our driver did not know so much about the city he did not dare to venture and he slept at the hotel. At least this time, we know where he was.

A beautiful fog mixed with drizzle hides us absolutely all the landscape on the 10 km surroundings. We leave to visit the Fort perched on the mountain. The drizzle stops and the weather clears. We arrive at the Fort in the middle of what appears to be a village festival on a Sunday. There is music in the background, with people everywhere, whereas so far we had seemed to be alone on earth.

People are curious, watch us insistently, follow us, say hello and shake our hands. They have an incredible facility to gather spontaneously where we are, like a snap of fingers. This manifest ability to turn the slightest movement into a crowd movement does not go without the eternal selfies. Except today it was with us that they wanted to do it like at the foot of the India Gate in New Delhi.

We spent the day taking photos with people. Some come to the point of saying hello and then one picture please. Some even pretend to take a picture in front of a monument, but we are deliberately in the background. It's a pretty funny experience, since we're here incognito in a village in south Rajasthan. We've done the profile shots of about 150 people for at least a full year. At least until the next tourists.

The children are shy about us, but the mere fact of saying hello or hi makes them come and shake their hand as if it were good luck. We also asked for pictures of families, with parents, grandparents, cousins, and children. They ask us our name, where we come from, and jump with joy when we agree to have a picture taken with them. We are their attraction.

We walk in the middle of this fort, which hides ruins and temples. I could say it's worthy of the Jungle Book, but it would be a repetition. So, let's say Jumanji. The sculptures and architecture of the temples are reminiscent of the Temples of Angkor. There is absolute peace in this setting inhabited by monkeys. We stay there for almost 3 hours. After lunch we take the road to the city of Udaipur. Almost three hours of road await us.

We arrive in Udaipur on time, as we wanted to watch the puppet show scheduled at 8 pm. The city is known for the quality of its tailors. We look for a shop and compare the quality of those already made in Jaipur. No sooner said than done, we decide on a shirt cloth in the same evening, that we will get the next afternoon. We reach the show.

The dance and puppet show is very lively. It has especially the certificate of excellence of TripAdvisor and very good recommendations in our guide, by the quality of its traditional staging. The costumes are bright, colorful and the music is played by a group of musicians on the stage. The show that brings families, children and tourists lasts an hour.

We then eat on a rooftop two blocks away, overlooking the lake. Udaipur is a city where the quality of life is higher. We notice it in people's outfits, which are richer, and more Europeanized. The city also resembles a medina, with its whitewashed facades, its cupolas, its windows cut out of lace and its garlanded terraces on the roofs. It's cool with Lake Pichola next door, one of the seven artificial lakes that make up the city.

Trip to Udaipur in Rajasthan during Independence Day wallpapers images

Day 3

The city tour begins in the rain. We go back to the tailor for the shirt, and we quietly visit the town on the way to the lake, where we do our boat tour. In passing, we leave our soiled clothes to wash in a kind of laundry. The man who takes care of it tells us that it will be ready the same evening. In addition to this good news, it stops raining.

So we continue our visit in the small streets, and find a tiny shop, family business like all the shops in India, where the spices are varied and the scents different from those we know. We have a little time, so we stop and let the seller give us his speech.

We know it by heart, as they all have the same catchphrase. It is a family business with exceptional and rare products, and appreciated by foreigners. We drink a masala chai. The products look nice and we let ourselves go. We listen without leaving the watch too much. And there, we see the manufacture of Ayurvedic oil.

The seller pulls out two plastic jars filled with crystals, one yellow and the other white. It smells strong but good! The white crystals are recognized as being menthol, but it is impossible to understand the name of the yellow crystals.

The magic trick operates after mixing the two crystals. The chemical reaction makes them melt and mix to become a single oil, Ayurvedic oil. This is the cultural moment of the day. Of course we buy some spices. Then we go for a boat ride on one of the seven lakes of Udaipur. Lake Pichola is in front of us near which we ate the night before.

This visit allows us to see more closely the palaces of the current Maharana (title of nobility superior to the maharadja. These palaces were divided to become partly luxury hotels. But it's true that it's superb. The summer palace floats in the middle of the lake, as are the luxury hotel parties, while the Monsoon Palace sits at the top of the mountain.

We eat, and then visit the museum in which we saw the puppet show the day before. It is an 18th century building formerly inhabited by the royal family, in which each room is converted as at the time. It is very interesting, even if the stagings are dusty and sometimes a little murky. Child-sized dolls reproduce the traditional wedding ceremonies, behind glass showcases.

The visit of the City Palace that we wanted to do next was only possible for the outside. The building was closed earlier due to Independence Day tomorrow. It's already sumptuous. We find a friendly guide, which allows us to have a tour of the place effective and without headaches. We understood everything, and we even cracked jokes.

The cherry on the cake, says our guide, is that there is the sound and lights show on the facade of the Palace. We take places and we go quietly to sit on an outdoor passageway, in the garden. The location is superb. We are in the first row. The show begins after an hour of waiting. It is 8 pm.

This is a tale about the history of the city and the royal family, told in Hindi. There is sound, but we are still waiting for the light. The building is lit at times, the niches, the entrance door, some balconies too, which are architecturally superb. All this against the backdrop of sounds of horses, hearing scenes of fighting and people. We are perplexed, but the people around us are attentive. So we wait patiently for the finale at 9 pm.

When the show gets over, we decide to eat and pick up our clothes. We arrived at the laundry. The metal door was being lowered and the owner was about to leave. Although it's past nine, the old man has waited for us until then. He opens the shop again, makes the linen impeccable, clean, folded and ironed, recounting the clothes to be sure he does not miss them. We leave him a generous tip that surprises him, but he accepts with a big smile. It was a minimum. After all, it's celebration night.

On the other hand, the second tailor in which we ordered a suit is closed. We gave him trousers as a model for the desired cut. We hope it will be open tomorrow morning at the time we plan to leave, because there is a day's drive and we must not be late. The costume is not paid yet, but it would be stupid to have lost trousers.

Day 4

We have a hearty breakfast on a rooftop in Udaipur City before heading to Ranakpur and then Jodhpur. We are served crepes called pancakes, croissants not bad at all and excellent fresh pineapple juice without water, ice, and sugar. You must know that they add a quantity of aberrant sugar in their pressed fruit juice.

It is already 9.00, and it's time we had to leave. We will see if the tailor has opened. Yes! The shirts are tried, validated, and we pay. We find our driver, and we start. It is 10 am. We will visit the temple of Ranakpur, the largest jain temple in India, supposed to represent on earth a heavenly abode. The road crosses mountains where greenery abounds. It's like a Japanese landscape, a print where only the pagodas are missing.

But no. We know we are in India when we see a motorcycle carrying two men and four goats. Then further, we see another man alone on the handlebars of his bike, but with fifty chairs of all colors stacked behind him. At the same time, today is Independence Day in India.

The road is thus strewn with tricolour flags and garlands. We see rivers in which families bathe and wash their clothes. We find monkeys and impossible crossings with buses on mountain side roads no wider than 2.50m. In spite of everything, we arrive at the temple. It was built in 50 years on behalf of a rich merchant (understand opium seller).

To better understand what is here, It is 33 m high with 24 domes, 84 halls, 1444 pillars, 20 priests, and only one material of marble. And with all that, we do not feel oppressed by all the sculpted details or the forest of pillars that supports the domes. I'll even say it's a 3rd King Louie's Palace, in The Jungle Book but we find that there is repetition.

It's beautiful, it's quiet and as we are barefoot. I forgot to tell you that in Udaipur we started to get some sunshine. For two days (despite the small rain of the morning) there is real light and true heat. Moreover, Jodhpur where we go next is also called Sun City. It has only 18 days without sun in the year.

We take the road to Jodhpur, the blue city, where we will stay only one night. It takes 5 hours by car. We arrive around 8 pm. We visit in the evening this city and see the market the next morning, before leaving for Jaisalmer, the Golden City in the desert and then Karauli.


Anonymous said...

nice and meaningful lines...


Jeevan said...

Beautiful poem kalyan! Loved the photo.

Felicity Grace Terry said...

Lovely and the picture complimented it beautifully.

Leovi said...

Beautiful photo with a delightful message of peace. Greetings.

Anonymous said...

Awww... so very very lovely!

kalaiselvisblog said...

nice snap with apt words... loved it...

Lisa Gordon said...

This is so very beautiful Kalyan!
Sending you wishes for a wonderful weekend.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your comment on my blog :)

Peace is importaint. NOW. :)

Kalyan Panja
Kalyan Panja is a photographer and a travel writer sharing stories and experiences through photographs and words