Saturday, May 7, 2011

India Trip Part 4: Colour Coded Cities of Rajasthan

As a rapidly approach the 1 month mark of my trip I am shocked by how the time has gone.  I've gotten used to India by now and find myself drinking 5 or 6 cups of chai (Indian tea) everyday.  It seems odd to be sipping a boiling hot beverage when the temperature exceeds 40 degrees but somehow the chai is always refreshing. I have been in the state of Rajasthan since my last post and it is very beautiful but hot, very hot.   I haven't had a heated shower since I left home but in Rajasthan the water, along with just about everything else, is always warm. 

I started the Rajasthan section of my trip with the city of Udaipur.  As I previously stated, Udaipur is gorgeous and was the backdrop for the James Bond film Octopussy.  I went to see the Maharaja's (king) car collection which included the Rolls Royce which driven by Mr. Bond himself.  The major sight in Udaipur is the City Palace, the first of many city palaces I would see in the coming week.  I went to a couple museums as well, one of which included the world's largest Turban.  As luck would have it, while at that museum I was asked to try on some turbans and pose for photos for the museum's promotional material, I'm pretty much an amateur model now.

From Udaipur I headed to Jodhpur which is aptly nicknamed "the Blue City."  Many of the houses in the old town are painted in varying shades of blues giving a stunning effect when viewed from the massive palace and fort which overlooks the city.  The palace/fort had a well executed museum but was best for the views of the Blue city.  When I arrived in Jodhpur I found myself in the midst of one of the cities most important festivals.  The festival involved all the women in town dressing up in costumes (as men, or male gods) and roaming the streets with sticks, playfully beating any males that crossed their path.  It was great to witness although I suffered a couple bruises the next day.  I also happened to eat one of the 'Free Popsicles" being given out at the festival only to realize later that they were, of course, made with local tap water.  I was sick the entire day that followed.

Fully recovered, I took a bus to "the Golden City" of Jaisalmer.  Jaisalmer is a relatively small city crowned with a massive fort at it's center.  I stayed at a guesthouse inside the fort, which was great.  Apart from the fort Jaisalmer doesn't have too much to offer so having spent just one day I caught a train (the first train of my trip) to Jaipur.  

The train to Jaipur was quite nice, as it should've been, as I booked a 2nd class AC sleeper.   Indian trains have 5 classes; I may be more adventurous with my train bookings later in the trip but as this was my first, I splurged.  As it turned out I overslept my stop and had to backtrack an hour in a non-reservation carriage for an hour before arriving in Jaipur.  Jaipur is yet another colour city; known as "the Pink City," all the buildings in the old city were  painted pink for British Royal visit back in the colonial days.  Jaipur is a pretty nice city and also has several impressive palaces and forts. 

Although I continue to travel alone I hang out with other travellers most evenings and have had no trouble meeting people. 

Tomorrow I'll head to Agra to see the mighty Taj Mahal and yet another fort....  
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