A Travellerspoint blog

Varanasi

Ommmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm..... And breathe

So if after reading my blog so far you have thought, " Hey India can be really fun and Ya know what, I may just want to travel there too someday.." well then this entry is gonna get a little real.
Second overnight train.
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I'm not a fan but for me this one was better than the last. The train was running late and we had to change platforms but at least it wasn't as crowded as Delhi.

We got to our seats and people were already sleeping in our spots and Monty got them to move. The pillows and sheets were disgusting anyway so we just chuck those right out. Thom and I were better prepared after our first experience so we had our own silk sleeping sheets ready. Thom took the top and I took a middle one. I literally popped some benadryl put on my headphones and listened to some Radio Lab podcasts as I curled my small day bag all locked under my head as a pillow.

I only woke maybe a few times. Once mainly when an official man whipped open the curtains and turned the light on and demanded our tickets. "Monty?"
Back to sleep. I really don't like the trains and you just do your best to get through them, without having to use the bathroom if possible. Our cars are air conditioned though that is really the only perk.

The next morning I woke several times and went back to sleep, once when a tout was shouting at our sleeping bodies to buy chai. We just ignore it. When we got off and I could speak to some of the other members of our group who were in the bunkers a few sections down from us they told me all the excitement I was really glad to have missed. While not part of this story thank god, they could hear it happening.

Some drunk guy was pissing off his bunk. Ok, while thinking of the lack of personal space you get on a train that alone could have been a story. People complained, how or to whom I don't know how that works but they did. Drunk guy threatens people saying he is part of some mafia Then Monty said he could here the guy calling his friends telling them to meet him on the train at the next stop. Next enters police with riffles and Drunk guy starts crying and saying he misses his son??? Police threaten him but feel bad because now he is so pathetic and let him wait until the train stops before tossing him out I guess...
Trains....they really are such a good time

Last bit about trains. We also unfortunately found out that one of the girls in our group got things stolen from her bag on the train. She had it with her on her bed by her legs and the wall on the second bunk and someone had the balls to snatch it, take only her jewelry, a plastic water bottle and her prescription sunglasses. He left the receipt for the jewelry she had bought in Jaipur and her passport thank god by leaving the bag on the bed below hers. At first she just thought she must have kicked it over in her sleep but later realized things were missing.

Ok Varanasi, so I didn't think I could be more surprised by traffic in India but this city wins the crazy award so far. At least the part we had to drive through to get from the train to the hotel.

Varanasi, once known as Benares or Banaras and Kashi, is a historical city in northern India. The city is sacred to Hindus and also one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. In many ways Varanasi epitomizes the very best and worst aspects of India, and it can be a little overwhelming. However, the scene of pilgrims doing their devotions in the River Ganges at sunrise set against the backdrop of the centuries old temples is probably one of the most impressive sights in the world.

Unfortunately we arrived and everything had flooded. I mean all the ghats, the steps that lead to the Ganges were completely covered by water!!!!
They said this hasn't happened in over 11 years at least. So our experiences of the Ganges and Varansi will not be what one might completely expect and unfortunately no pictures to match what you will classically see there. But you can google image it that any day :-)

When we arrived at our hotel we we greats with a nice refreshing drink and leis of marigold flowers.
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After lunch we walked to where the Ghats were suppose to be but everything was under water so Monty brought us up to a rooftop for chai so we could see the Ganges.
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The Ganges is a sacred river to Hindus along every fragment of its length. All along its course, Hindus bathe in its waters, paying homage to their ancestors and to their gods by cupping the water in their hands, lifting it and letting it fall back into the river; they offer flowers and rose petals and float shallow clay dishes filled with oil and lit with wicks (diyas). On the journey back home from the Ganges, they carry small quantities of river water with them for use in rituals (Ganga jal, literally water of the Ganga). When a loved one dies, Hindus bring the ashes of the deceased person to the Ganges River.

After the cremation of the deceased at Varanasi's ghats the bones and ashes are thrown into the Ganges. However, in the past thousands of uncremated bodies were thrown into the Ganges during cholera epidemics, spreading the disease. Even today, holy men, pregnant women, people with leprosy/chicken pox, people who had been bitten by snakes, people who had committed suicide, the poor, and children under 5 are not cremated at the ghats but are floated free to decompose in the waters. In addition, those who can not afford the large amount of wood needed to incinerate the entire body, leave behind a lot of half burned body parts.

Later that evening we took a cycled rickshaw ride through the crazy streets to a market area.
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For as important this place is for Hindus there were tons of Muslims shopping about. Many of the women covered completely in full black burkas.
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Monty took us to a great textile shop where the owner educated us on how to tell the differences between machine made fabrics and hand woven cashmere and silk for example.

Next Monty was able to get us in to a small area where the daily worships that is usually done on the ghats was being held due to the flooding.
Aarti is a Hindu religious ritual of worship, a part of puja, in which light from wicks soaked in ghee (purified butter) or camphor is offered to one or more deities.
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Aarti is generally performed one to five times daily, and usually at the end of a puja (in South India) or bhajan session (in North India). It is performed during almost all Hindu ceremonies and occasions. It involves the circulating of an 'Aarti plate' or 'Aarti lamp' around a person or deity and is generally accompanied by the singing of songs in praise of that deva or person (many versions exist). In doing so, the plate or lamp is supposed to acquire the power of the deity. The priest circulates the plate or lamp to all those present. They cup their down-turned hands over the flame and then raise their palms to their forehead – the purificatory blessing, passed from the deva's image to the flame, has now been passed to the devotee.
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The purpose of performing aarti is the waving of lighted wicks before the deities in a spirit of humility and gratitude, wherein faithful followers become immersed in God's divine form. It symbolises the five elements: 1) ether (akash), 2) wind (vayu), 3) fire (agni), 4) water (jal), and 5) earth (pruthvi). Communal Aarti is performed in the mandir; however, devotees also perform it in their homes.
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The next morning Monty arranged for different things for people to do based on what they wanted. This is where Thom and I got to meet Amrendra Jha, a university music teacher with his Ph.D in Sitar! He took us through narrow local streets to a music school.
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There he showed me the classic female Tambura. As amazing as it was it is really too big so the only Tamburi he had already made was at his house. We sat and talked music as he showed us his sitar and explained about the wood and his family and job at the university and all the students he had taught from around the world. His wife brought us some chai and we felt so special getting almost our own mini private concert.
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I was so pleased to have obtained my instrument through him in this way.

Thom didn't know (but I did) Monty had arranged for him to come play that night for Thom's Birthday.

We headed back to the hotel to get ready for the Ganges. Some members of our group wanted to swim in the Holy River. Thom and I opted not to chance the cholera epidemic that could come with the blessing but did tag along for the ride. You see if the river had not flooded we could have maybe just stepped into the water from the ghats or enjoyed the river from a nice boat ride.
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Instead the boat took us only 30 feet off shore and you had the option to pour the water on your head from a bucket. Damion and Peter really wanted to swim. They had asked Monty if he could get them the orange cloth that was traditional for the holy men to bathe in. Ummmm don't think anyone was planning for it to be such a small loin cloth! Here is the boat man showing them how to wrap it. They had quite an audience from the shore. I'll spare you the after shot.
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So first the boys
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Then the girls
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I'm glad to say that so far everyone still has all of their toes and fingers...lol

Back to shower off and then off to Thom's birthday dinner!
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Sitar, Tablas, and Tamburi
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Birthday Cake
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Monty helped me to get a new journal for Thom since he filled up the one he brought.
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And Monty got Thom and book on Karmasutra too
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Posted by Kelly Rose 01:23 Archived in India Comments (1)

Agra

Agra
Agra was only about 2 hours from our Hotel. We would be leaving the region of Rajasthan and entering Uttar Pradesh. There isn't a whole lot to do in Agra and there was another amazing Fort and Mosque along the way so we opted for private cars so we could stop and check them out.
First Fatehpur Sikri

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The city was founded in 1569 by the Mughal emperor Akbar, and served as the capital of the Mughal Empire from 1571 to 1585.
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Influences from Hindu and Jain architecture are seen hand in hand with Islamic elements.
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Next was Jama Masjid: It is a Jama Mosque meaning the congregational mosque, (A.D. 1571-72) as the date of its completion, with a massive entrance to the courtyard. It was the end of Ramadan so there were actually a lot of people selling things in the Mosque that are usually not there.
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The Buland-Darwaza added some five years later.
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Tomb of Salim Chishti: A white marble encased tomb of the Sufi saint, Salim Chisti (1478–1572), within the Jama Masjid's sahn, courtyard.
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You can make a wish and tie a piece of string on the window. We just observed.
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After the site seeing we walked into the small nearby town and had an amazing lunch of Thali which is where they serve you small portions of many things.
Then it was back to the hotel to relax and freshen up.
That night was Monika's Birthday so we went out to a nice restaurant and had cake.
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Unfortunately it was also this major Hindu festival for the Monsoon. For four weeks every Monday the men walk barefoot to holy places. However this was the one night where a lot of them get drunk or smoke marijuana. We were up on the roof top of the restaurant and all you could see were men mostly younger ones walking the streets in huge groups. The place next door to the restaurant was blasting music and people were dancing and getting free food and water.

When it came time to leave it was probably the most scariest moments on this trip. Monty had two other friends of his join us and made all the women stand inside all the men in our group as we started out. I just kept my head down the entire time and avoided any kind of eye contact. I could hear boys shouting at us and I just kept walking quickly. It was the worst feeling ever maybe even more so as a western women. I never felt so small and vulnerable. Luckily it was only happening on the one main road and as soon as we crossed we were all fine. Thom who had his head up said later that yes they called out at us but no one really tried anything. Home at last it was an early night as we were meeting at 5:00a.m. to be first for the Taj Mahal.

Taj Mahal
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The Taj Mahal is a white marble mausoleum located in Agra, Uttar Pradesh, India. It was built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his third wife, Mumtaz Mahal. The Taj Mahal is widely recognized as "the jewel of Muslim art in India and one of the universally admired masterpieces of the world's heritage".
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Taj Mahal is regarded by many as the finest example of Mughal architecture, a style that combines elements from Islamic, Persian, Ottoman Turkish and Indian architectural styles.
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In 1983, the Taj Mahal became a UNESCO World Heritage Site. While the white domed marble mausoleum is the most familiar component of the Taj Mahal, it is actually an integrated complex of structures. The construction began around 1632 and was completed around 1653, employing thousands of artisans and craftsmen. The construction of the Taj Mahal was entrusted to a board of architects under imperial supervision, including Abd ul-Karim Ma'mur Khan, Makramat Khan, and Ustad Ahmad Lahauri. Lahauri is generally considered to be the principal designer.
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Later that day Monty arranged for people to go to the Agra Fort, but Thom and I were tired and really just wanted to relax and get organized because we had another overnight train to catch that night.

Posted by Kelly Rose 10:23 Archived in India Comments (4)

Jaipur and Bharapur

Jaipur

First I just want to thank everyone for the comments and for checking our blog out. We love hearing from you!
I haven't had a chance to write and post in the last couple of days due to traveling and Internet availability so I'll probably post two entry's at once.
Bus ride to Jaipur
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Jaipur is a city divided by the older historic areas and then newer modern section with malls and universities. According to that time, architecture of the town was very advanced and certainly the best in Indian subcontinent. In 1853, when Prince of Wales visited Jaipur, the whole city was painted in Pink color to welcome him and after that Jaipur was titled ‘Pink City’. I think it looks more orange though.
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After our long bus ride Monty took us to eat lunch. It was so muggy and hot. Afterwards we went out into the old town/market area on our own. I was not a fan and maybe because of the heat to be fair. However, Thom and I both felt people were more aggressive and pushy here and the city was really busy with traffic and not everywhere had sidewalks so we weren't that excited about the city.
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There was only one place that I wanted to see which was the Hawa Mahal.
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It was built in 1799 by Maharaja Sawai Pratap Singh, and designed by Lal Chand Ustad in the form of the crown of Krishna, the Hindu god. Its unique five-storey exterior is also akin to the honeycomb of the beehive with its 953 small windows called jharokhas that are decorated with intricate latticework. The original intention of the lattice was to allow royal ladies to observe everyday life in the street below without being seen, since they had to observe strict "purdah" (face cover).
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Inside I was told wasn't worth it and while it is really an impressive structure it is just there as part of the busy street. We had to actually stand on this little road divider between insane traffic to take this picture. So rickshaw back to the hotel.

That night we all decided that we would go to the movies.
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Bollywood as you may know is huge in India and Jaipur had a great theater near buy to check one out. Monty got us all our tickets. There was a McDonalds next door and some of the group stopped in for a bite, more to just say they went and to compare the menu to the traditional Western one.

Inside we took a few pictures and got some snacks.
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We got classic popcorn.
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The movie we were seeing was called "Bhaag Milkha Bhaag" (Run Mikha Run) It is a 2013 Indian biographical sports film based on the life of "The Flying Sikh" Milkha Singh, an Indian athlete who was a national champion runner and an Olympian. Even though is was almost all in Hindu and 3 hours long (there is intermission) we loved this movie. The story was great!

However, the theater experience was quite different from home. People not only let their cell phones ring but answer and talk on them loudly all throughout the movie. People also really get into the movie and cheer and applaud almost like a live show in a way. It was funny. I was a little disappointed that this movie was more serious and didn't have more singing and dancing but the few songs it did have were highly entertaining and very humorous to me.
Overall I loved the movie and had a great time.

We then went to an outstanding tandoori/grilling place. It was called "Talk of the Town" and Monty says that it is always busy.
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That is one way to know if street food is good and safe. If the product is always being sold and moved it is constantly made fresh too. Thom and I order lemon tikka chicken and it was awesome.
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It came with onions and some spicy green chutney that was so yum!
Afterwards we headed to another restaurant for a nightcap and went to bed.

The next day Monty arranged 3 taxi cabs to take us to two forts. First was the Amer Fort.
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Amer Fort was built by Raja Man Singh I. Amer Fort is known for its artistic style, blending both Hindu and Rajput elements. With its large ramparts, series of gates and cobbled paths, the fort overlooks the Maota Lake, at its forefront.
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There were elephants there too!
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I chose not to ride them as I'm not sure how they are treated.

Next the taxis took us too Jaigarh Fort.
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Jaigarh Fort is situated on the promontory called the Cheel ka Teela (Hill of Eagles) of the Aravalli range; it overlooks the Amber Fort and the Maota Lake, near Amber in Jaipur, Rajasthan, India. The fort was built by Jai Singh II in 1726 to protect the Amber Fort and its palace complex and was named after him.
The fort, rugged and similar in structural design to the Amber Fort, is also known as Victory Fort. It has a length of 3km along the north-south direction and a width of 1km. The fort features a cannon named “Jaivana”, which was manufactured in the fort precincts and was then the world's largest cannon on wheels.
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There isn't much to the fort now but the views were great.
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After that Thom went back with some of the others while I went with Megan and Àlish to the jewelry shop. Jaipur is known for it's stones both precious and semi precious. It was kind of funny because were treated like VIP people with chai, cookies and a small demonstration on how the stones are hand polished. In the end I got some earrings.

Coffee With the ladies and then it was back to the hotel to get ready for House Party Monty was throwing for us!

Monty owns what we would call a condo in the more Modern section of Jaipur and it was really nice. He invited us all over, bought lots of different alcohol so we could have beer and mixed drinks and also cooked for us!
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Later we placed ring of fire or Kings and drinking card game. It was a good night although rough waking up the next day for the bus ride to Bharatpur.

Thom was not feeling great, too much to to drink so he slept it off on the bus ride there. We made one stop for the restroom and snacks and saw some monkeys.
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When we arrived at Bharatpur our hotel was AWESOME!
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With a pool!
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Too bad we only had one night here since there really isn't much to the town except for the Keoladeo National Park.
So first it was a dip in the lovely pool, then lunch then the park.

Being a UNESCO's World Heritage Site, the duck-hunting reserve of the Maharajas is one of the major wintering areas for large numbers of aquatic birds from Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, China and Siberia. Some 364 species of birds, including the rare Siberian Crane, have been recorded in the park. The name "Keoladeo" is derived from the name of an ancient Hindu temple devoted to Lord Shiva in the sanctuary's central zone while the Hindi term "Ghana" implies dense, thick areas of forest cover. It is mainly famous for siberian crane. It was the only habitat of siberian crane in the world, other than siberia.
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You have to take ricks haws that are pedaled not motored and it was the only part I didn't like. Our guide was great but he was this tiny old man and I just felt so uncomfortable having him pedal us around in the heat even if it was his job.

The park was really nice though. My camera wasn't great at taking pictures here though so they're not that great. However we saw lots of cool birds including a beautifully colored kingfisher and of course peacocks. We saw huge antelope, not like the thin African or American ones. These things were huge almost like stags.

We saw monkeys again too. This one had part of his arm chopped off :-(

There was a spotted deer, huge turtles, a fox thing, and tons of different butterflies and birds.
After it was back to the pool!
That night Monty showed us a slideshow of some of the different gods and ethnics in India to help educate more. Then it was dinner and an early bedtime as we were still pretty tired from the party the night before.

Next stop Agra....Taj Mahal!!!!!!!

Posted by Kelly Rose 03:23 Archived in India Comments (0)

Pushkar

We woke up real early to catch a 5 -6 hour train towards Pushkar.
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The train seats were really uncomfortable but the scenery was great.

Peter, Damion and Monica were sitting together across the isle opposite of us and made good friends with this local guy Avi. He was such a character but really genuinely nice guy. He wanted pictures of everyone was such a Happy guy.

Now we are actually traveling during the off season since it is technically monsoon so it has been kind of nice that we are almost always the only ones in the hotel/guest houses when wee check in. This hotel was ummm... quite... festive!
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Now Pushkar is a holy city and there is no alcohol and only vegetarian food. However, many of the holy men smoke ganga or marijuana and there are people pushing it everywhere. It is illegal to smoke it in India and you can spend serious time in jail for it but it is not illegal,to consume or eat it. All throughout Northern India you can get those yogurt drinks called a lassi but
If you get a "special" lassi it is laced with pot.

So no one will be partaking in any of this but it's worth mentioning because Puskar is a dichotomy of very holy Hindu place and then almost hippie markets catering to cheap clothes, goods and incense.

Now for some history:
Pushkar in Sanskrit means blue lotus flower.[2] Hindus believe that the gods released a swan with a lotus in its beak and let it fall on earth where Brahma would perform a grand yagna. The place where the lotus fell was called Pushkar. Pushkar word may be derived from word 'Pushkarni' means- lake.It may be derived from word Pushpa means flower and Kar means hand.
Sunset at Pushkar Lake:
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Pushkar is one of the oldest cities of India. The date of its actual founding is not known, but legend associates Lord Brahma with its creation.
According to legend, Brahma was in search of a place for Mahayagna and he found this place suitable. After a long time, Brahma came to known that a demon, Vajranash, was killing people here so the Lord intoned a mantra on a lotus flower and killed the demon. During this process the parts of flower fell on three places which were later known as Jyaistha, Madhya and Kanistha Pushkar. After this Brahma performed a yagna to protect this place from demons. Brahma had two wives, the first named Saraswati. She was needed to offer Ahuti for the yagna but she was not there that time so Gayatri, a Gurjar girl, was married to brahma and performned yagna. This act made first wife of Brahma, Saraswati, angry and she cursed Brahma saying that he would be worshiped in Pushkar only.

There are two mountains on either side of Pushkar, each with a small temple dedicated to each of Brahma's wives. Thom and Peter decided to hike up to the one dedicated to Saraswati, the first wife. Early the next morning.
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I on the other hand opted for giving shopping in India another go as this town was way more chill and not as pushy. So I had a fabulous Ice Mocha (Yay, the ice was safe and it was real coffee not fake nescafe!) and shopped with Megan and Monica. I got some awesome baggy genie pants one green one red each for only 200 rupees= about $3.50 at most.
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After shopping and hiking everyone met back at this AMAZING cafe but on the rooftop.
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This guy waited on us both times and we loved his traditional mustache so I asked if I could take his picture.
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He was a great guy. Or bill came to 420 rupees and he started laughing and talking to Monty and Monty asked if we knew what 420 meant in the US and we did, I was just surprised that they would or would find it funny enough to point out but hey it's Pushkar I guess.
After Lunch we started walking and who did we run into by chance? Avi from the train! We gave hugs and pictures!
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Monty had told Thom and I that this was a good place to buy plain silver jewelry too. So after lunch Thom and I set out to one or two shops to look for rings. You see we had decided before we left that we would leave our wedding rings home so that nothing would happen to them and would start a tradition of buying new rings each time we traveled to special places together. This was a cool idea since it was Peru/Bolivia that Thom proposed. The first two shops really didn't have anything really nice or what we liked but we did luck out at the third shop. The man even sized them for us.
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Now at Pushkar Lake you can ask a priest to perform a blessing for you and your family and for good karma. The problem is that ther are a lot of fake priests or people who will come up to you and try to put a flower in your hand and insist that you get a blessing and pay them ridiculous amounts of money. Monty warned us of these people early and said the best way to handle it is to place your hands together and give a namaste and say you are with a group and they should leave you alone. And ya know what they did surprisingly.
Monty also told us that he knew a real priest who would do a blessing for us and that real priest ask for a donation but never put a price on it and that people can give anything that they want. He said that when he does it he usually will just give 100 rupees but that you are free to give or not give anything that you want. When the priests get huge donations like when they perform at weddings they give the money back to help take care and feed the community. We decided to do the blessings here at Pushkar since it is a one in a lifetime thing for us.
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After our Blessing Monty arranged for us to have a home cooked meal at a nearby house. He knew the family and said he had brought his group there before. We were all about it!
We started in chairs on the rooftop with some yummy snacks.
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These are fried spinach, lentils and chiles mixed together I think, soooo good!

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But the best part is the green sauce. Coriander leaves, mint, lime, chiles and oil.

Then we sat on mats on the floor with small tables, I forget what this is called.
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The family came around and served us each a little of everything and then would keep coming around to give you more until you said no thank you. It was so good. The food here is so much better then what I have seen or tried at home and I am really starting to dig it.
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Chipati bread, Some kind of chickpea biscuit thing called Bati I think??? That tasted awesome dunked in the lentil soup. Some kind of pepper stuffed with potato or chickpea flour, awesome tomato, garlic chile chutney, potatoes with spices and okra.
It was all good stuff! Finally they offered chia Marsala of course and I forget the name but it is a little donut in sweet sugar and rose water. I have had it in the States and it is always too sweet or too perfume tasting as they always over do it with the rose water, but this one wasn't either. It was pretty sweet but not undeniable :-)

On the way home we stopped at a local shop to grab some biscuits or rather cookies as we call them for our bus ride the next day.
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That night just as I started to fall asleep I heard something rustling the trees right next to our window. Then all of a sudden BANG!!!! At first I didn't know what it was because it woke me from my sleep and scared the crap out of me! I woke Thom and we realized something had jumped onto the air conditioning unit that was sticking through the wall. We could here something jumping around in the trees and Thom used his head lamp to try to see what it was but
couldn't. The next morning we were up early packing and as I sat there while Thom was finishing I saw the trees start to shake again. I looked out the window and there was a huge monkey running down the tree! Ahhhhh!
Then another one came down and stopped and growled and bared its teeth at me and I ran from the window. Thom growled back and it ran away. Damn Monkeys!!!!

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Posted by Kelly Rose 04:53 Archived in India Comments (4)

Udiapur

Udiapur

Our first morning in Udiapur we went to tour the City Palace.
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The Palace is half open to the public as a museum and half private for the king of Udiapur now. There is also a private hotel as part of this structure as well.
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The palace was built and added onto by different maharajas throughout the years. You can really get the sense of how the kings and queens lived.
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Many off the steps were uneven and that was done on purpose to make it harder for enemies to run up and down. The doors are also very small not because people were short but because again in enemies ever got into the palace they would bend forward to duck through the door and guards could easily chop their heads!

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After city palace we went to use an ATM and our cards weren't working so that put a little stress on us both. We went to have some coffee and cake at a restaurant with the rest of our group though to figure things out. Eventually Thom's card worked so we are ok. I am still trying to figure things out with my bank at the moment. Ahhh the troubles of traveling abroad...lol

Anyway, Next Monty had set up an Indian cooking class for us which was fantastic!

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We actually all helped to cook everything and then the best part we got to eat all of it too!
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We started with masala chai, made a few vegetarian dishes and even rolled and cooked our own chapati which is like Nan bread or a tortilla.
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We also got all the recipes so we'll need to cook and share when we get back.The chef teaching us was hilarious.

We walked around a bit and stopped in another one of a Monty's friends shop who was an artist. He was trained to paint miniature paintings. Very small detailed paintings using a brush that thins out to one hair. He painted an elephant with both of our names on it on my nail to demonstrate.
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We wanted to support this artist and so be bought one of his elephant paintings that took him 20 days to complete. They framed and wrapped it for us as we'll so we could ship it.
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Later that evening we met up again to go to the cultural center in town where we got to see many traditional dances performed with live music.
Women danced with fire pots on their head
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Finger cymbal dance
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Puppets
And more...
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That night we had dinner on a different rooftop owned by one of Monty's friends. It was kind of modern with a flat screen TV on one wall and a pool table set up near another. Unfortunately people from our group were beginning to get sick. So our group was getting smaller and people went to bed right after dinner. My stomach wasn't bad but it wasn't feel too great either so I also took some medicine and went back to the hotel. Thom and Peter a great guy from the UK stayed to have a few drinks and talk with Monty and some of his friends from the area. They had a good night.
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The next morning we went to this nice place to have a good breakfast and then walked around to do some shopping.
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We got some spices, tea and tins. Thom got two shirts tailored and made and I got two dresses although one is still a little too big. Nothing is a fixed price and you have to haggle for everything. I find it extremely stressful and don't enjoy it at all. It is also hard to just look because people are always shouting at you to look at their shop and even if you just want to look they take EVERYTHING out to show you. Even when you agree to actually buy something they keep asking you if you want more things. It is super stressful to me personally. I just always feel either bad or guilty or like a sucker. Maybe I'll get better with this in more time.

After we went to ship a box with most of our goods including the duvet cover we got in Jaisalmer back home we met up with the group again for a boat ride on the lake.
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Jag Mandir is a palace built on an island in the Lake Pichola. It is also called the "Lake Garden Palace". The Lake Palace is now one of the most expensive hotels in the area.
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We toured around the lake checking out more views of the City Palace we toured the day before
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Then we had a fancy dinner on top of rooftop hotel across the water with the group.
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Thom and I splurged on a bottle of wine as it is not common to find and there is only one that Monty recommends as good. It was Sucra Red a cab/Shiraz blend and it was yummy!
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We had a nice evening watching the sun set and the palace light up.
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Then back to the hotel to pack and early to bed as we need to be ready in the lobby at 5:00a.m. to catch a 5 hour train to Pushkar. Monty said this might be a good spot to purchase some instruments!

Posted by Kelly Rose 20:01 Archived in India Comments (5)

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