Udaipur

                  Yesterday was the first leg of our journey. First stop is Udaipur, Rajasthan. We’ll then venture to Jaisalmer, then Jhodpur. We did a lot of running around after arriving at 6:30 am. We never stopped. After a lovely ride to the hotel, we  plopped our stuff down and planned for a cab to take us to Kumbhalgarh fort, Ranakupur Jain Temple and then Shilp Kendra. We stopped on the way for some chai, which the owner of the hotel paid for, as we are his guests, and then a lovely breakfast of cachori. We had the discussion over chai how everyone is out to get you, everyone will swindle, everyone played the oppose of such a view. I can’t get it through my head that everyone will scam you.

After not sleeping for a long time (several days of 3-4 hours) I passed out several times in the car. I woke up several times to hear Gayatri asking many questions to the driver. He obliged and seemed very happy to know that we were very interested. The fort was huge and we leisurely walked up the huge hill to get to the top. At the peak of the fort there were these old women who were coming down the stairs. One of them had a cane, another was crawling down the stairs. It’s amazing to see the dedication of these women to go to a fort. We bumped into them several times along the way, smiling, them smiling without many teeth either. Their payal are not payal either, they’re kadas, which are thick silver anklets; they were very large. It’s not that hot, surprisingly. My friend takes credit for making me come here first as opposed to just going from south to north. It is warm though. The three of us wander around with hats, goggles (sun glasses) and a bit of covering on our arms.

We went for lunch right outside the fort right after. I think something that makes us different, I’d like to think, is that we speak to everyone. Our driver ate with us and we made friendly conversation with the waiter as well. Usually the driver eats separately and doesn’t have much interaction with the tourists. The food was super good, nothing typical Rajasthani, but still yummy. After getting back into the car I slept on and off again, mostly waking up because of the children. Holi just finished, but here, they celebrate it for 10 days. All along the ride there were rocks spread neatly across the road, large enough so that vehicles couldn’t pass. Children covered in colours with water bottles full of colours came to attack everyone who passes through. Our driver, Yussef, was ready with Rs10 each and every time. Some of them were so happy that they didn’t have to haggle. Sometimes, there were adults with them as well. A couple times they asked for more money, most of the time they let us through. On the way back after the fort though, it was clear that the kids were small and just following the lead of their elders. A few times the driver got out and grunted at the kids. The first time by himself, he moved enough rocks so we could pass, the second, Aaron and I got out to assist. He laughed the whole time, so I don’t think he was upset. It was quite amusing actually.

At the Ranakupur Jain temple, everything is white marble. It’s an amazing structure. Some Jains who were acting as tour guides while at the same time praying greeted us. We made our way around the temple (with one camera because you have to pay per camera). The bhuddhas (many of them) are along the edges behind wood bars. You’re not allowed to take pictures of them. There are over 1444 columns (yes, all marble) all with these beautiful intricate designs of either a bhuddha or flowers. In the middle of each turn there’s a larger structure as well, 2 of them were elephants. They were awesome. We got a tikka of wood (they grind it on a big stone to make it into a paste) and went on our way. Gayatri and I each have a clip in our hair that is a green flower (fake)and the woman outside tried to smell mine as we walked in and as we walked out she gave us a big smile offering us a real flower. It was very sweet. We ran into 2 Canadian girls who were traveling around. It was really nice to get a smile from a fellow firung (foreigner) because in Pune, you don’t get smiles from them. We popped in the car to Shilp Kendra, an artisan market where the artisans get to sit at a stall for a week to sell their items. There were very few left, but we managed to buy something from all three stalls. I did a good job of helping (I hate shopping and mentally check out after 5 minutes) as Aaron and Gayatri looked at all of the different items. We stayed long enough to shut it down, each with some purchases. We attempted to go get some mutton (goat) pulav (a type of rice) but the place had run out. It was a small restaurant in a small alley that Yussef knew about. I would have had to be a non-veg for the evening, but was saved by the rest of the city who decided to eat there and make them run out of food.

After a shower and sitting in the hotel to work out our payments for the day (our friend has an amazing excel sheet that calculates who owes what) we went to the rooftop terrace (because they kept saying we should eat there) for some dinner. It was yummy and fast and then we went fast to sleep.

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