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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
The high speed and the many curves gave us quite a sick stomach and enough near death experiences for a day, but as soon as we got to the hill top station, it was all forgotten because of the sight that met us. With the spectacular view there were bright green tea plants as far as the eye could see. We also got to stop to see how the tea was harvested and produced, and to get a taste of a freshly made cup of chai (the most popular tea in India).