India Travel Journal: Rajasthan South
|This travel journal is part of a series of journals, which are all written during a long trip between november 2007 and may 2009.|
> On our Way to Bundi
19-12-2008 Finally we leave Pushkar, after almost an entire month. Even some of the Saddhus say goodbye when we leave. After all we were passing them daily. The ride to Ajmer is short, but the second busride to Bundi is hard for us. We're not used to sit still for such a long time anymore and definately not on a bench. When we sat at Shakti Project, we always sat on the floor.
Bundi is much bigger than Pushkar, having around 100.000 inhabitants. Still it feels much like a village here, especially between the walls of the old city. Enthusiastically we're welcomed by the inhabitants and once more we're surprised by the athmosphere that's probably characteristic for desert towns in Rajasthan. Instantly we feel at home and fortunately there's something beautiful, funny or extremely ugly to see on every corner, attracting our attention.
In our new accommodation we're really thrown for a loop. We have difficulties finding the holes in our bedsheets, someone forgot to break our toilet seat and even the leaky sink and pillow as hard as a stone have not been added to the room's decorations. Is Bundi somehow situated in an independent state outside Asia? We have a wonderful night of sleep and when we wake up we even feel almost rested.
20-12-2008 Almost... but gladly it's a drizzly day and we stay in our room to relax.
21-12-2008 An inviting sunshine lures us to go out and we stroll through the narrow streets of Bundi. The many craft shops look Medieval and thanks to the mainly Muslim population we feel the same vibe like in Eastern Turkey , with the only difference that the people here are working, instead of lazily hanging around on the streets with their cup of tea.
In the fort, situated on a mount above town, we admire the pretty murals.
After a delicious lunch we walk to the more distant backstreets of town, where the people check us out us with a surprised look and even yell at us, when they dare to. The Maharaja Museum is rather disappointing. We don't feel very touched about the wild animals shot by those fancy gentlemen.
> Further on to Chittorgarh
22-12-2008 The macaques are jumping aroud early this morning and while they hop from one roof to the next we quickly eat our breakfast. Then we find ourselves a tuktuk to take us to the railwaystation, to our own big surprise. The train is not really our favourite way of transport in India, and most definately not when there are only tickets without specific seat numbers on sale, like here at Bundis station. Our India-experience doesn't necessarily have to involve a packed railcar with three Indian people on our lap. Why we're on our way to the railway station now? According to a guy at our hotel the road from Bundi to Chittor is só bad we'd be better off taking the train and according to him this route is never so crowded. We decide to go wild and follow his advice blindly.
At the station we're curiously stared at by the other waiting passengers, but the platform is not very busy indeed. Twenty minutes before the official departure time the window opens and the card vendor patiently directs the impatient Indian guys ánd Peter in a neat line: what a hero! The train has a delay of only fifteen minutes and we find ourselves a compartment with some empty seats. Fortunately it's not packed at all and we hope it stays that way too. When the conductor is coming we find out why there are still so many seats available here; this is the numbered seats compartment and we're asked whether we'd like to upgrade. Bravely we tell him that we'd like to move with our current tickets to an unnumbered compartment, when he's so kind as to show us which way that is. Our fellow travelers are a bit disappointed about our decision, so they offer to share their more expensive seats with us, when we'd like to stay here. No one speaks any English, but using hands and feet we find out they are police officers, on their way home from their jobs. A huge rifle and the stripes on their sleeves are proudly shown and we tell them all they'd like to know about Holland and our lives. When we take out our point-it booklet they almost fall off their chairs laughing and we have to admit that, in the past year, we also noticed how much from a European point of view this supposedly handy booklet has been put together. Why would you like to show a cow in the chapter "restaurant" in India, where nobody eats this holy animal? And what about a knife and fork, we've been eating with our hands for weeks. Not to mention the wealth of products; things that will never be available anyway, no matter how many booklets you will show the people. Well, why would you need all this rubbish anyway?! The sun is shining and the food is delicious... again!
Way too soon we're there, in two and a half hours instead of the promised three and a half. We say goodbye and after a little search we find a decent hotel, not an easy task in a backward place like this. In the internet cafe we find and book a flight to Bangkok for next month, since your worldtrip is not a real worldtrip without being in Bangkok at least three times to enjoy at least two mango seasons. At night we go for a fancy diner at the hotel's restaurant where we have to pay 4 Euros. For the two of us.
> Chittorgarh Fort
23-12-2008 Chittorgarh is a noisy town on a main road, where trucks keep racing past for the entire night, while horning every two seconds. So we haven't had a good sleep and we decide to travel on to Udaipur today. After breakfast we do check out the giant fort though, as this is the reason we came here after all. The fort measures a couple of kilometers in length, is situated on a mount of almost two hundred meters high and completely surrounded by thick walls. It's a short tuktuk ride up and we can easily check out all the sights in a couple of hours. Especially the richly decorated temples are very impressive. They are on no account less interesting than the average Angkor-temple.
Just after noon we catch a bus to Udaipur, a city in a one thoasand and one night athmosphere, with richly decorated, majestic houses and a wonderful, somewhat foggy sunset above the surrounding hills.
24-12-2008 Udaipur is a crafts city, where, for example, wonderful dolls are being made. We visit a shop, where they're able to repair our two Rajasthani dolls, a handmade gift from Mukesh of Shakti. The female figure of the set has some damages in her face, since the paint wasn't completely dry when we got them. We're glad to find out the workman here can make them as good as new.
Furthermore, we do a desperate last attempt to buy clothes, but we conclude that it will have to wait untill Delhi or Bangkok.
25-12-2008 It's another wonderful, sunny day and unsuspectingly we climb to our rooftop terrace with a view over all of Udaipur, when the waiter wishes us "Merry Christmas". Whahaaat?! Ah, well... it is indeed Christmas today. A good excuse for an extra large banana lassi, so Yvonne doesn't openly have to admit her addiction.
After breakfast we walk to the City Palace, where we admire all the pretty things the Maharajas have collected here through the years. The mosaics are very colourful, very detailed and very shiny. The Dutch tiles on the ceilings and the walls in the highest room come as a surprise to us; they must have traded them for spices.
After an early lunch of real brown bread we hop on a tuktuk to the dolls museum, where we find many kinds of puppets, but also costumes, jewelry, henna patterns and masks. At the end of our tour we're able to see a real puppet show. How clever, what they can make these puppets do by pulling the right strings.
To stay in a cultural mood on this first Christmas day our next stop is the Shilpgram Museum Village. This week there's a festival and next to the different desert dwellings we can see and hear the crafts, food, dances and music of the various desert tribes. Everything is so colourful and nicely decorated and since we'd like to try everything we have some selfmade pakoras with hot sauce.
Then we continue our tour further out of the city, up a high hill. There's the Monsoon Palace, from where you have a 360 degree view Udaipur and the surrounding hills.
Back down in the city we go for another brown bread, as it's Christmas after all and so we'll sure have to stuff ourselves with the best foods.
Early in the evening we go see a dance performance, where various Rajasthani dances are represented. It's a spectacular show, where women turn around in dizzying circles with braziers on their heads and the eldest lady dances with no less than nine pots on hear head.
> Moving on to Jodhpur
26-12-2008 Even before the roosters crow we leave our hotel and we're surprised to find out that the bus, for which we reserved tickets, is already waiting, even before the official departure time. This bus is an interesting one, with three luxurious seats per row and above them cots, singles on one side and double on the other side of the bus. Our tickets are for two seats and we almost fall off them when the bus departs right on time. Before we really leave the city we make quite a few stops though and now there are also people climbing up in the cots, even though it's eight am. Ah well, this is India, where anything is possible. Eventually it gets so crowded there are even three or four people in each double cot. Ah well, this is India, where anything is possible.
When we arrive in the afternoon, after some seven hours of bumping through desert landscapes, we take a tuktuk to one of the hotels from out guidebook. Full. On to the next one. Full as well. The third one is a suggestion from our tuktuk driver, but that one's full too. What's this, we've never had anything like this before, except for that one time at the beach in Turkey, in the middle of summer holidays. We make some phonecalls, but it seems like there are no rooms available. There's a congress in the city and therefore three thousand beds have been reserved. Eventually we find a room way above our budget, where we can stay at least for the night, so for now this will have to do.
At a first exploration tour through Jodhpur we see immediately that this is another real Indian city, bustling and noisy. The old city exists of narrow streets, filled with mopeds, motorbikes and rikshaws and at the market we end up in huge crowds. From time to time we see horse carts passing too. We go for lunch at the roof top terrace of a hotel where they'll have rooms available tomorrow. It looks nice, so we book one right away.
Rajasthan folk dance videoRajasthan folk dance video will show here
Udaipur entertainment videoThe Udaipur entertainment video will show here
Click on the films up here to look around in Udaipur, almost live.
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