Travelogue Tour of Rajasthan 2010 - week 3
When reading the travel report: click at a picture and it will be increased. After clicking the photos can also be viewed as a slideshow. If you see a link, like: Namasté click on the link and it will be opened. When referring to the map of Rajasthan, the map can be accessed by clicking on the link: Map of Rajasthan. The film clips that are included in the travelogue are HD recordings. The clips can be opened and viewed in a separate window.
English is not our native language, so we apologize in advance for translation- spelling- and grammar errors.
Day 15: Saturday, November 20, 2010
Today we drive to Chittaugarh. Chittaurgarh “the town of the brave” is known for its massive fort atop a hill. The fort is the largest fort in Asia and has an eventful history. This fort was the citadel of many great Rajput warriors. Many bloody battles are fought here. But that is all past. For now the fort makes a sleepy impression. Not many people. The complex is too large to visit everything. We restrict ourselves to a few highlights that are really worthwhile. Beautiful old temples with playing monkeys. Impressive ruins. A devout old man cleaning a small temple and of course the famous Vijay Stambha or "Tower of Victory" . An imposing structure. This tower was constructed by Mewar king Rana Kumbha between 1442 AD and 1449 AD to commemorate his victory over the combined armies of Malwa and Gujarat. Dedicated to Vishnu, this 37.19 m high 9 storied tower is one of the most remarkable in India .
After having a drink at a small restaurant in the shadow of a tree we leave the fort We pay a visit to the town outside the fort. Chittaugarh is a typical Indian province town. Colorful, with a rich street life, shops and kiosks, a vegetable market and many people who sit on the sidewalk having a nice chat or a little nap. The people are very curious about us. They are clearly not used to tourists.
On the way back to the hotel we invite Kuldeep to eat something with us. Kuldeep finds us a large restaurant. Not exactly what we had in mind but a small local restaurant was taboo for Kuldeep. He dares not, "is not good for you" he says. The food was tasty. Back in the hotel Ingrid feels unwell. She appears to have fever so Jan-Arend has a romantic dinner under the lavishly decorated tree in the garden of the castle by the pool ...... on his own this evening.
Day 16: Sunday, November 21, 2010
Ingrid is still not well. Fever, 39.6 degrees. Too bad especially because today we have our next highlight of our journey on the program: Jhalawar!
We drive to Jhalawar where 20 to 22 November the Chandrabhaga Fair is held. Prior to the fair there is a religious festival. During the full moon night at 'Kartik Purnima' thousands of pilgrims take a dip in the holy river Chadrabhaga. The pilgrims believe it cleansed their soul. We will be too late for the ceremony, but that's okay because we have heard that the Chandrabhaga Fair is primarily a huge cattle market. The fair is at its peak as we arrive. This market is less known to tourists than the Pushkar fair but broader in scope. Besides camels, many cows, horses, buffaloes, and oxen. Traders from neighbouring provinces come here with their cattle to trade and socialize. There is a casual atmosphere. There is a large fairground, a goods market and there are cattle inspections, races and "mustache" competitions - who has the best mustache - held.
After our arrival we spent several hours at the market. A great experience. The traders posing proudly with their dressed up animals. The men with their beautiful bright colored turbans - pink, yellow, cyan, green, orange and brilliant red. For the photo they rotate the turban new on the head so it is not so messy and more fancy. Very authentic and not a single tourist in sight.
Day 17: Monday, November 22, 2010
The rest of the day we´ll stay at the hotel. Ingrid needs some rest. The hotel on itself is very special too. Prithi Vilas Palace is the former 130 year old hunting lodge of the last Maharajah of Jhalawar. A grandson is the host of the hotel and he takes his duty very seriously. He receives us like princes, pours a drink and tells about his family history. He also gives a tour through a number of rooms in the palace with still have the original furnishings from the time of the Maharaja. Remarkably, especially the hall of trophies with a lot hunting trophies exhibited like some heads of tigers. Very bizarre.
In this hotel, breakfast, lunch and dinner is included. Also a apéritif is included. At about 6 o'clock p.m. prior to the dinner, we are invited to have a drink and some snacks with the host and the other guests in the main reception room of the palace.
At 8 o'clock, dinner is served. All the guests assemble in the dining room and have dinner with the host. Very special. Ingrid will not join. She is to sick. But Jan-Arend has a busy evening with a number of English speaking French ladies. The atmosphere is a bit of feudal, but for once, it is very nice.
Ingrid is still sick. She keeps bed most of the time, is sleeping a lot, is not eating much and only drinks a little bit. Still she wants to visit the fair in the morning. We have a good time on the market again.
Jan-Arend makes a long walk on the estate of the palace on his own and sees raptors and many monkeys. When he returns at the room Ingrid is still asleep so he arranges to return once more to the market area on his own. It's just too special not to go again and now is the only opportunity. The fair is one great colour and fragrance experience with many happy encounters. Great!
Ingrid won´t join for diner this evening again. All the guests are worried. Jan-Arend gets a lot of specific questions of the French ladies. Whether Ingrid drinks enough, if a doctor must be called, whether it could be Dengue. In short, during the drink the fate of Ingrid is in everyone´s mind.
This evening the hotel was “occupied” by a group English ladies. They have a horse riding safari planned. They ride from here to Bijaipur (the castle hotel we were before). Each day they will ride about 30 km. En route they will sleep in luxurious tents. The Marawi horses they ride come from Bijapur. They were loaded on trucks while we were there and appear to be transported to here. Very coincidental. The Marawi horses are known for their inward-turning ear tips.
They ladies are typical English, some wear dresses of damask. They fit well in this colonial environment. They have their concern about the horses; Indian horses are less nice then at home you know. Fun to hear their conversations. After dinner Jan-Arend is invited to do some stargazing on the roof, but he don´t fancy that and withdraws to the room.
Day 18: Tuesday, November 23, 2010
Today we travel to Bundi. The city is surrounded by gorges. We stay in the old city center near the main street and the Fort in the Bundi Haveli hotel which is run by another eccentric English lady. It rains a lot. Until now we had good luck. Despite the fact that it rained a lot according to Indian standards, the rain never messed up our program. At the key moments it was always dry.
But today the rain is so abundant that there is no escape. We find a nice roof terrace where we can eat, but it's just too cold to sit there for long. Moreover, you really have to be careful where you sit down to avoid getting wet.
Day 19: Wednesday, November 24, 2010
Ingrid soon crawls back under the blankets because she still is ill. Jan-Arend therefore is leaving the hotel alone to explore the city. He walks around an finds at a certain moment a massage salon in a drugstore and ik takes not long before he enjoys a massage behind a dirty curtain in the shop. Great experience. When he looks further it shows that you can get a massage nearly everywhere here; at the hairdresser and even at the dry cleaners you can get a professional Ayurvedic massage for little money! On a rainy day like this with a sick maty in the hotel; the massage is a blessing.
We think we have made the right choice by including Bundi in our travel program. It is a beautiful city far away from the usual touristic tracks. Nice to experience in such a short time so much of the original India /Rajasthan.
Today we stay in Bundi. The city is famous for its intricate carvings and beautiful murals. We see many murals on houses near our hotel. Fortunately the weather is better today and the condition of Ingrid is also slowly improving.
There appears to be a festival, the Bundi Utsav festival with folkloric processions and dance groups. We walk to the fort where many Indians are preparing for the festival. Many bright colours, beautiful dressed ladies, (monkey) dancers, musicians, and acrobats. We have a quit day exploring the city, photographing and filming. Ingrid is doing well.
Thursday, November 25, 2010
Today we travel from Bundi to Pachewar. It is a journey through small remote villages in the countryside far away from major cities and wide roads. We stop in some of these small villages where we are curiously received by locals who make jokes with each other about these strange visitors. The adults are just as curious as the children and everyone wants a picture taken. The women from the village all bear the same model nose ornament.
Day 21: Friday, November 26, 2010
Pachewar is a small village you will not find in the guides. Even Kuldeep never heard of it. When we arrive it indeed proves to be a very small village in the countryside on a narrow dirt road. We like it! We take a long walk through the village. The village is situated at a small lake. On the road many people who come back from the fields where they have worked. Loaded tractors serve as public transportation. It is a very lively place.
The Pachewar Garh Hotel is special. It´s a large well-preserved fortress with massive walls, imposing gates, railings and many spacious apartments, decorated with beautiful antique frescoes. We are the only guests. Our room is really huge and the amount of personnel present suggests that several personal assistants have been assigned to us. We don´t think this hotel will make a lot of profit but for us it is great fun. Everyone is doing his best to make us feel at home. In the evening, they even have organised some entertainment for us two: a dancer accompanied by a drummer
Imagine: a very large courtyard with only 2 chairs ... surreal. Jan-Arend is taken by one of the servants into a small room where a turban is put on his head and a loin cloth folded pants is bound on his hips. Ingrid gets a beautiful sari draped around her. Well dressed we are then invited for a dance. We end the evening with a buffet for two. Delicious curries! Until late in the evening we hear the drums of a wedding. We try to find the spot but the ground outside the gate is very muddy and it's pitch black because there are no lights. An evening stroll under those circumstances is a risky adventure. Because we don´t know the environment we return to the hotel unsuccessfully.
An unpleasant discovery. Ingrid feels better again but when she looks down she discovers that she has serious rash. Legs, knees and arms are thick and warm. Bad luck again. We ask if there is a doctor in the village. A doctor is called and arrives a little later on the moped. We sit on our terrace when the doctor arrives with 5 man staff. Everyone want to see and “help” because this of course is sensational. According to the doctor Ingrid is allergic to the temperature changes. A bit strange because we are already 3 weeks in India and the temperature has not fluctuated much. Anyway, an allergic reaction is obvious. Ingrid gets 2 kinds of pills and a ointment prescribed, and indeed the allergic reactions slowly but surely disappears.
Today we have a village tour by foot with a local guide. Very nice. We stop the workshop of a woman with a small oil mill, we see a female nomad smith with a lot of bracelets. In this area many nomads. They travel by ox cart (including full household) by the land and earn their money as silversmith.
We visit a school, the washing at the lake and finally we get a cooking demonstration in the courtyard of a house. The woman bakes and cooks over a wood fire in a short time delicious snacks for us. Especially fascinating is to see how many different herbs the woman mixes in the hand so she has just the right flavour combination.
In the evening we spot 2 chairs on the courtyard again. This evening there is a puppet show scheduled. Our room has a balcony overlooking the courtyard. Once Jan-Arend - on the balcony reading a book - sticks his head above the parapet, the puppeteer on the courtyard start to play flute. Once Jan-Arend sits again he stops. This happens a few times so we conceive it as a lure to go down. We get a nice performance. At the end we want to give a good tip, especially because we are the only guests. But as the puppets appear to be for sale, we think it is a better idea to give a normal tip and buy a doll that his family has made itself. We finish the day with a buffet dinner at the Fort. Tomorrow will be our last stop for Delhi: Alwar (Map of Rajasthan).
Day 22: Saturday, November 27, 2010
We leave for Alwar and make a stopover in Jaipur, the capital of Rajasthan. We didn´t include Jaipur in our schedule because we were there before, but it is a very nice city. We decide - now the opportunity arises - to make a stop for several so we can walk around in the city.
The organized chaos of an Indian town remains fascinating! We buy some souvenirs for home and Ingrid scores a beautiful silver pendant with chain.
Day 23: Sunday, November 28, 2010
After our stop in Jaipur we go on to Anwar. It is quite a long drive. Our hotel in Anwar is the Hill Fort Kesroli hotel. It is small fort from the fourteenth century! Nice rooms and courtyard. Around 5 o'clock they serve a high tea at the courtyard. The hotel appears to be very popular by young rich couples in love from New Delhi who have settled in for a nice weekend together .
Incredibly all the loving couples were sitting romantic close to each other; ear to ear and a smart phone at the other ear.
During the tea a group of men sings traditional music. They also perform a kind of cabaret. The Indians certainly are amused, but we don´t understand anything. The food in the hotel is very extensive and inexpensive.
Our last day in India. The flight to Amsterdam will be a night flight so we will still have a full day at our disposal. We decide to leave for Delhi in time. We want to visit the old city. Kuldeep initially understands us wrong. We have asked him to drop us at the center of the city so he brings us to a shopping centre in the new part of Delhi. Very modern, clean, high skyscrapers. . . in short, not what we are looking for. It makes us become acquainted to reality. We enjoy the traditional India with its chaos, cows in the streets and small shops, but for modern Indians that is history. They are very proud of the modern - Western - India and want us to take notice of the progress they make.
We respect that, but ... we still want to go to Old Delhi. Because it is Sunday, many shops are close. We make a tour with a bicycle rickshaw and still find some nice things to take with us to Holland. A few beautiful stone and marble nandi's, the sacred bull in Hindu religion . Nice but quite heavy!
At 6 o'clock p.m. we meet Kuldeep. We will have dinner with him in a restaurant of his choice. Then it's time to go to Delhi airport. Chaos. Endless waiting in a queue in front of a quill-driver who tries to be important. Luckily we have all the time. We have excess baggage, so we have to take some nandi's from the trunk into our hand baggage. Finally, around 2 o'clock a.m. our flight takes off. The plane is loaded. We fly on schedule and arrive at 6 pm Dutch time at Schiphol. Our daughter Marjon and her friend Bram are already waiting for us . They bring us safely home. It was a great trip.