Living an everyday life in Pushkar

P1030432
Pushkar is a small and charming hill city right outside of Ajmer. The town curls around a lake that is supposed to be holy, and Hindus have to visit the lake at least once in their lifetime. Since it is a pilgrimage town, we felt like we had to take part of one of the religious rituals the town had to offer. When we came to the famous Brahma temple, we were offered a tour through the blue temples, where no donations or payment were asked for. BUT at the end of our one hour tour, they separated us by the holy lake, making us sit down in front of each our statue of Hindi gods, where a man would make us swear on our family that we would make a donation of at least 500Rupees/60NOK to the temple. After they fed us with bad consciousness, one of us gave in, and the other one refused. There is no need to say who was who in this situation, but if anyone should visit this temple in the future, one should prepare oneself for guides who will do whatever it takes to make you feel bad and give a donation.
P1030565

Except from riding camels around a mountain, we have spent the days washing clothes and shopping for new supplies. Compared to many cities in India, Pushkar has a both spiritual and relaxing atmosphere, where you will find a lot of interesting tourists, living a life where they take everything at ease. 

P1030547

The so-called “Sun City” Jodhpur

P1030410
When we arrived in Jodhpur we did not have any clue on what to expect. We had just chosen the city, as it was written in capital letters on our map, and because it was on the way on our route up North. When we arrived in the city we were immediately glad that we had put the city on our itinerary. The big market by the old clock tower was swarming with people. Some were selling, some buying, others fixing things and some, like us, were there for the sake of observing. Since our expectations had been low, we were quite impressed of what the city had to offer. We attended a dance show, got our shoes fixed at the market and had dinner on a rooftop with good view of the fortress above the city. It was a city well worth visiting, on the way between Udaipur and Pushkar.

Forts and temples in the outback of Rajasthan

P1030387
Since we had grown tired by overcrowded trains with noisy and snoring people, we decided to hire a taxi for a week. As long as we agreed to not stay longer than two nights in the cities we visited, the travel agency we booked through did not ask for money for the drivers accommodation. Gas and food the driver also had to provide for himself, and we were the ones in charge, who decided where and when to stop. On the way from Udaipur to Jodhpur, we decided to take to major stops.

The first one was in Krumbalgarh, which is known for its big 15th century built fortress. It took us quite a long time to reach the top by foot, but it was well worth the walk when we came to the top. Here we had a spectacular view of the long stretching fortress walls, which reminded us of the Great Wall of China, and we also enjoyed watching the many monkeys at close hold, until they started chasing us away.
P1030367
P1030374
P1030380
The second stop was in Ranakpur, where the famous marble Jain temple is located. After being at the architectural masterpiece of the Krumbalgarh Fort, the Renakpur temples were not that impressing, but we found a painted elephant, which we were quite amused of. The park area around the temple also had a good atmosphere, and was a nice place to stop for a chai break, before we drove 5 hours non-stop to Jodhpur.
P1030395

Udaipur “The romantic city”

DSC_0293
Udaipur is known as the romantic city of India, and is also the place where the James Bond movie Octapussy was filmed. This movie was shown in many of the hotels, guest houses and rooftop restaurants along the Lake Pichola, which is also the place you can see the famous Lake Palace (picture above).

 

The life in Udaipur was easy to get used to, and we spent as long as a week doing hindicourses, practicing yoga on a rooftop, making tailormade shirts and suits and walked along the beutiful promenade by the Lake. 
DSC_0268_2
DSC_0251_2
P1030219
P1030313
The first six days were spent at an extremely cheap guesthouse (“Jag Niwas” at 100Rupees/10NOK) pp a night. Towards the end our stay, we decided to pamper ourself with good meals and a hotelroom nicer that any of us had previously stayed in. It seemed like the market for accomodation and restaurants was pretty good here. Also the city is full of culture and historical buildings such as the City Palace and the many temples hidden away in the narrow streets. Udaipur is a beautiful city and the perfect place for harnessing chi. It is a destination we could recommend all fellow travelers to stay longer in, when visiting India.
P1030353 (1)
Above is a picture of the room we rented at a pound a night, quite cheap even for India

Ahmedabad, a city with no tourists

P1030149
As we had gotten a bit tired of long train rides, and hot and humid nights, we decided to fly for the first time since we got to India. The flight was scheduled for 11.20 from Kochi to Ahmedabad, but did not leave the ground before nearly an hour later. With a brief stop in Mumbai, the plane reached Ahmedabad in the evening, so we were struck by the northern cold night temperature as we left the plane.

As adventurous as we were, we had not booked a hotel in advance, something we highly came to regret. Because of the annual “international” kite festival, most of the hotels were fully booked, and we had to go for a hotel recommended by the rickshaw driver (which is not very smart, as the drivers usually get an allowance added to your hotel bill). It was one of the most expensive hotels we had stayed at, and certainly one of the worst, but we were too tired to keep looking and settled for what we were offered. Since several posters and books had boosted about the “huge” kite festival that was happening right by our hotel, we decided to dress up in traditional Indian outfits, and check it out. 

DSC_0236
 DSC_0247

A soon as we left the doors, people gave us fascinated looks, and soon as many as thirty people were accompanying us to get pictures and autographs. When we and our tail of locals reached the festival area, we were surrounded by people took pictures and wanted to shake our hands. It became clear to us that foreigners in Indian clothes was a big fascination to the locals, but for us it became too much. Just minutes of being at the festival area, we had to retreat to our hotel, desperately trying to force our way through the gathering crowd. It might sound very extreme, but this was the reality in Ahmedabad. Even though the kite festival is recommended by Lonely Planet, it did not seem to great to us the short time we spent there.

 

Ahmedabad is probably not among our favorite cities in India, but it had been cultural experience that will be hard to forget.  The same evening, we jumped on the next night train heading north to Udaipur, which was a whole other experience. 
P1030187