Thursday, 1 December 2011

Rajasthan

I recently returned  to Mumbai after a 9 day trip on my own to Rajasthan, the Land of Kings. With both tan, dessicated desert stretching into Pakistan and waterfall splattered mountains in the east this state’s geography has produced an amazing cultural puzzle. Also contributing to the seemingly immortal telltale cultural traditions are the chivalrous and colorful figures of the Rajput kingdoms. While traveling Jodhpur - Jaisalmer - Udaipur I watched the changing landscape and sampled as much as I could of this fabulously decorated land.
Jodhpur



Cenotaphs overlooking the Blue City




Mehrangarh Fort





I went on a tour of the Bishnoi village nearby and visited potters, weavers, a textile factory and many villagers. After the tour my guide brought me to his farmhouse where I was introduced to his cousins, brothers, sisters, aunts, grandmothers, cows, dogs and chickens. I felt so welcome that I went back for dinner and drinks at night and when I was back in Jodhpur for a mere two hours (5-7 AM) a few days later they picked me up from the train station to feed me breakfast, share some laughs and give me a bed to rest on. I sincerely might return to Jodhpur just to visit this family.



An opium ceremony



Loved this

Umaid Palace




Jaisalmer

The less comfortable of the 2 train rides I took

Jaisalmer Fort

 

 




Ugh
 



If all I had done the whole week was sleep under the stars in the desert, it would have been enough. For my 2 day camel safari/adventure I was in a great group with a couple Israeli girls and some French and Spanish guys. Though I'm living in Mumbai for the year, the truth is that I'm not such a city person. At home I can't be in New York for more than two nights or I grow harried. Hiking in the Appalachians, kayaking on the Connecticut or Delaware rivers or just lying with friends in a field is more my thing. And lying on the dunes of the Thar Desert under a true blanket of stars was just what I needed. I knew the pollutants and tumult were awaiting me in Mumbai at the end of the week but for these couple of days in the desert I took in every breath of fresh air and every untouched horizon. In fact, when the rest of the group was picked up by the jeep the following morning I asked to stay for an extra day because I simply wasn't ready to leave.

Though I enjoyed chatting and joking with my new friends from the previous day I cherished the hours I had alone with camel man and the desert. Every day in Rajasthan I heard at least one song or saw one dance from a certain region or for a specific time of day. And being in the desert in the middle of the night and at sunrise I could understand how music and dance truly narrate the story of a place.





 









After these 5 minutes I could count to 10 in Hindi and he could do the same in English.




Udaipur









Surrounding Udaipur is the Aravali Range and after visiting the palaces and temples of the city I had someone from the hotel I was staying at drive me through the mountains on his motorcyle. (By the way, before this trip I had never been on a motorcycle and in this one week I had 3 separate rides!) Along the way we passed villagers carrying water and food up intimidating inclines, fantastically colored birds, hidden temples and we also had the opportunity to watch a mother goat attempt to bring her newborn to its feet.
video



.... I did have a helmet




I took two painting classes in Udaipur and here are my masterpieces! (Just disregard the tiger's teeth. I messed up.) 



 

Ended the motorcycle ride with a trip to Tiger Lake for sunset and to look for panthers.
...we didn't spot any

The tastes, sounds and sights I experienced on this trip and the fellow travelers I met from China and Germany to Canada and Argentina have urged me to continue exploring this enormous country. I intend to do just that but for now I am back in Mumbai which feels a little more like home upon returning.

2 comments:

  1. Thanks for the update, Hannah! The pictures are awesome and your experiences sound beyond amazing. Sending lots of love :)

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  2. I second Sim's comment!! Everything looks incredible. I'm serious about planning a trip to visit you in India! Miss you!

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