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Old 19th April 2014, 16:18   #16
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Default Day 2 #2: Udaipur – Jagadish Temple and Vintage Cars

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Jagdish Temple was built by Maharana Jagat Singh in 1651 and is dedicated to Lord Vishnu known as Jagannath Rai or Jagdish Ji here. Legend has it that Lord Jagannath of Puri ordered the Maharana in his dream to build a temple for him in Udaipur where he would reside.

The temple is imposing and is the largest in the city of Udaipur.
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We have reached here after a short trek from our hotel (I call it trek because all the roads near the lake are sloping, like what you find on hill stations). After paying our obeisance, we moved on to our next destination which was the Garden Hotel housed within The Vintage and Classic Car Collection, the former state garage of the Mewar Maharanas.

The hotel had a veg thali cum museum combo ticket which we opted for. For ₹ 250 you get a sumptuous Rajasthani thali as well as entry to the car collection area. This was the first Rajasthani thali that we were having in Rajasthan and it did not disappoint. Post lunch we moved to the vehicle display area.

This 1934 Rolls-Royce Phantom was supposedly used in the Bond movie Octopussy. Interestingly, Udaipur is so proud of the fact that Octopussy was shot extensively here, that many of the restaurants in Udaipur still religiously screen the movie every evening.
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A 1938 Cadillac Saloon. I missed its more famous cousin, the Cadillac Convertible which is said to have carried the Queen of England and Jacqueline Kennedy among others.
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There were a couple of horse drawn buggies on display too.
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Old 19th April 2014, 20:16   #17
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Default Re: To the Land of the Royals - Rajasthan!

Wonderful pictures and nice captions.
Thanks for bringing back the memories, and ofcourse a 5 star for the narration and details
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Old 20th April 2014, 19:16   #18
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Post Day 2 #3: Udaipur – City Palace Complex

The next item on our list was the biggest draw of the city – The City Palace Complex. It is actually not a single structure, but a complex of several palaces, museums, palace-turned-hotels and gardens. For some reason we decided to enter not through the main entrance on the North known as Badi Pol but though the entrance on the south side known as the Chander Chowk.

The advantage of entering through this side is that you get to walk along the west side of the palace complex adjoining Lake Pichola thus affording you beautiful views of the Lake Palace as well as the Jag Mandir.

Taj Lake Palace. This served as the home of titular character in Octopussy.
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Jag Mandir Palace
. This palace once provided refuge to Shahjahan before he was crowned as Mughal Emperor.
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The Leela Palace Udaipur.
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You also walk through the Shiv Niwas Palace (this served as James Bond’s hotel in Octopussy) and Fateh Prakash Palace - two heritage hotels as well as past the private quarters of the current Maharana Shriji Arvind Singh Mewar to reach the Toran Pol, the entrance to the Palace complex.

Walkway along Lake Pichola and Shiv Niwas Palace
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Another view of Taj Lake Palace
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The Mewar Coat of Arms atop private quarters of the Maharana
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It shows a Rajput and a Bhil warrior holding a shield on either side. The picture on the shield is the Fort of Chittor. The declaration beneath the crest reads

--Jo dridha rakhe dharma koun tihin rakhe kartar--
The Almighty protects those who stand steadfast in upholding righteousness

You can read more about the history of Mewar Coat of Arms here

Toran Pol
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Old 21st April 2014, 12:10   #19
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Post Day 2 #4: Udaipur – City Palace Museum

At this point we hired the services of one of the registered guides available, to walk us through the museum. What will follow next is a series of photos of what we saw inside. I have tried to add names and comments the pictures as much as I can remember or Google can identify for me .

Ganesh Deori – This is the entrance to the main block of the palace.
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The armour of Maharana Pratap
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and his weapons.
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These are the original armour of Maharana Pratap’s faithful horse Chetak.
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Notice that elephant trunk like attachment. Those were used during battles to disguise the horse as a baby elephant to avoid attacks from enemy elephants (they often fought in the battle by holding swords in their trunks).

Cage for carrier pigeons
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That was the seat for the representative of Mewar in Delhi Durbar of the British.
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Tripolia Gate. The more widely used entrance to the palace complex.
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Amar Vilas. This is actually a raised garden and the highest point of the city palace. Wonder how a garden is possible on the highest point in the palace? Remember that the whole palace complex has been built on a hill and Amar Vilas is the top of the hill.
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Sheesh Mahal
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Belgian crystal atop a spire. In the background is the Lake Pichola.
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Another shot of Lake Palace from the Palace top. I was fascinated by the Lake Palace and must have taken scores of photos of the Palace .
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Remember this song from the 90’s.

Well it was partly shot here.
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Royal swing
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Mor Chowk. There are three peacocks crafted here representing the three seasons of winter, summer and monsoon.
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After a tour of the palace museum, we finally emerged back on the palace facade in front of the Toran Pol.

Sun God for the subjects.
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A close up of the Coat of Arms.
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A random Ganesha statue.
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We later learnt that wedding of the Prince of Mewar, son of the current Maharana was scheduled soon and the whole palace complex would be closed for visitors in the next few days. We were lucky to have missed that by just a few days!

Another view of the Tripolia Pol, the main entrance.
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Bara Pol, which leads to Tripolia Pol
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Old 22nd April 2014, 13:31   #20
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Default Day 2 #5: Udaipur – Boat Ride and Ropeway

Next on our list was a boat ride on Lake Pichola. By the time we arrived at the City Palace complex, the 3:00 PM boat had already left and all the following boat trips were what they called the sunset boat cruise with the prices jacked up a lot. We decided to not go for it and instead try the private (not palace run) boat rides which operate a short distance away. What we do miss out in the deal though is the stopover at the Jag Mandir island. In hindsight, I would say the palace operated boat rides are probably worth the higher price but not the sunset cruise prices which we, unfortunately, could not avoid.

A short auto ride took us to the jetty and soon enough we were cruising on Lake Pichola in a motor operated boat. The boat cruises along the bank of the City Palace, goes around the Lake Palace, heads all the way to the Jag Mandir, before returning for a half hour ride.

A view of the palace complex from the boat.
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Yet another Taj Lake Palace snap.
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Here you can make out the Jagadish Mandir, the whole of the City Palace Complex along with the Lake Paalce.
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Jag Mandir
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Carved elephant statues that flank the jetty entry on the island.
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One of the island hotel boats
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Ride done, we quickly hop out of the boat and make our way for the Udaipur Ropeway. This runs from a nearby place called Doodh Talai and goes all the way up a hill. The hill top has a Karnimata Temple but we are going there for the great views it offers.

Kiddos waiting for their turn on the ropeway.
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The hilltop offers some magnificent views of the places we visited today.

Jag Mandir
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Taj Lake Palace
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The entire City Palace complex
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We skipped visit to the temple and quickly made our way down. We were getting late.
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Old 23rd April 2014, 19:28   #21
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Post Day 2 #6: Udaipur – Bagore Ki Haveli

Bagore Ki Haveli is an 18th century haveli built by the then Prime Minister of Mewar Amir Chand Badwa. It currently serves as the headquarters of the West Zone Cultural Centre which has restored the haveli as a museum.

The reason why we were rushing to Bagore Ki Haveli at this hour was because West Zone Cultural Centre organizes a cultural program here showcasing various performing folk art forms of Rajathan every evening at 7:00 PM. This was a tip from our hotel manager and we are truly grateful to him for this. Seats fill up fast here and by the time we reached and got seated, the place was almost full. The setting for the program is a medium sized haveli courtyard and the seating is quite informal with a mix of daris (rugs), steel chairs, wooden benches and any other nook or vantage point you can find. We settle ourselves on a sort of raised platform along a wall that offered a nice view of the proceedings.

They claimed all the performances were by authentic and popular performers, and none of them disappointed. Some of the performances on offer were Rajasthani folk songs, Chari Dance, Terah Taali Dance, Gorbandh Dance, Kathputli (Puppet) Dance, Ghoomar Dance and the amazing Bhavai Dance.

I have very few photos to share though since most of the time I was using the video camera.

Terah Taali Dance
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Puppet Show (sorry for the poor quality). The performer was not standing behind a curtain as is usual. This was their way of giving him recognition.
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Ghoomar Dance
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Bhavai Dance. Notice that the lady is standing on broken glass.
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In summary, it was a truly exceptional, mesmerizing performance. We would have loved to come back the next day again to witness the performances, but alas we couldn’t make it in time.

By the time we emerge from the show its past 8:30 PM and is getting colder by the minute. We are all ready to wind up once we are through with the dinner. A quick Google search reveals Jaiwana Haveli rooftop restaurant with some decent reviews and whats more it’s a 5 minute walk from our hotel. This is a restaurant atop a haveli turned hotel on the banks of Lake Pichola. They have some cozy little seats overlooking the lake but the staff informs me that all of those are taken at the moment and we will have to wait a bit if we want one. But wait is something we absolutely cannot afford currently. You do NOT want to get stranded in a restaurant with two very sleepy kids. So we grab whatever seat is available, order whatever comes fastest and get done with the dinner. In hindsight, the food was quite tasty and I would recommend the place if you are around.

Back at the hotel, we tucked the kids in bed as fast as possible. It was quite cold, especially for someone coming from Bangalore, and the proximity to the lake added a bit more to the chill. I grabbed the camera and made my way to the terrace for some late night views.

The results were not very encouraging, pathetic even.
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Old 24th April 2014, 22:38   #22
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Post Day 3 #1: Haldighati – Nathadwara

I very optimistically asked the taxi to come over by 7:00 AM. But when you are traveling with two small kids, especially to a cold destination, starting early is the one thing that you can never do. We were resigned to the fact and tried the best we can. We finally were ready to go by 8:15 AM, a no mean feat by itself! We came out and got introduced to our driver, guide and eventually a good companion for the next 8 days, an elderly gentleman named Mr. Nemichand. The plan for the day was to visit Chittorgarh with brief stopovers at Haldighati and Nathadwara and return back to Udaipur.

Our ride for the next 8 days.
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We picked up some bread and other food items on the way to have an in-car breakfast to save time. By 10:00 AM we were at Haldighati.

Haldighati

I had been warned by many and read in several places that there is nothing worthwhile to see in Haldighati. However, for me no trip to Rajasthan can be complete without visiting Haldighati. It’s a sort of pilgrimage for me, the karmabhoomi, if you will (for the lack of an appropriate word in English), of the brave son of this soil Maharana Pratap. Reading about Battle of Haldighati gives me goose bumps to this day. The government has attempted to create a sort of memorial and museum here, but without any historical artifacts or significance, its kind of bland with only models and props recreating scenes from Maharana Pratap’s life.

At the entrance of the museum
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Our guide in Udaipur City Palace had described the scene depicted here to me earlier. I found a nice written description here
Quote:
While mounted on Chetak, Pratap made an attempt on the life of Raja Mansingh, the Commander of the imperial Mughal Army. When Pratap saw that the battle's tide was turning against him, he charged towards Man Singh, who was directing the battle seated on an elephant. Pratap made a frontal charge at the imperial army, hacked his way through the massed ranks of enemy combatants and reached in front of Akbar's elephant. Once there, Chetak reared high in the air and planted his hooves on the forehead of Akbar's elephant. Pratap threw his lance at Man Singh, who ducked in time. The blow fell on the mahout (elephant driver) instead, who was killed instantly. In the general melee that followed, Chetak received a fatal wound on one of his legs.
It is said that while wounded and exhausted, Chetak still carried his master nearly 2 miles before he came across a stream. He made a valiant effort, leapt across the stream and collapsed. Maharana Pratap erected a small monument for Chetak at the spot where he collapsed. This still exists and can be seen along the road. Unfortunately, I do not have a photo to share.

Haldighati. Imagine Maharana Pratap charging along this pass some 400 years back.
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Nathadwara

From Haldighati we moved on to our next destination, Nathadwara. This is a temple town famous for its Krishna temple, with the lord worshipped as Shrinathji here. The myth of the temple goes on like this
Quote:
The legends have it that the idol of the Lord Krishna was being transferred to safer place from Vrindaban to protect it from the destructive wrath of the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb. When the idol reached this spot, the wheels of bullock cart it was traveling in, sank axle deep in mud and refused to move further, at all. The accompanying priest realized that this was Lord's chosen spot and the Lord did not want to travel any further. Accordingly a Temple was built here.
Strangely, the temple opens up for darshan for about half an hour every two hours or so. What that means is that there is a mad rush to get into the temple whenever the temple opens and it is next to impossible to visit the temple without a panda/pujari. Also no cameras are allowed inside the temple.

My verdict after going through it all – you can give it a miss unless you are the truly devotional type. No offence to anyone, but I believe in a more intimate and less hurried relation to my God anywhere and everywhere. A heads up though, you get truly heavenly rabdi and other milk based sweets in the by-lanes of the temple, so don’t miss them if you are going there.

My son picked up a China made toy cow from one of the shops there and it almost became an inseparable part of him then on. He eventually lost it at an equally holy setting at the Tanot Rai Mata Temple. Divine designs anyone?

You can perhaps catch a few glimpses of the cow in some of the later snaps. But no camera allowed here (left it in the taxi), so no pictures at Nathadwara.
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Old 25th April 2014, 12:55   #23
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Default Re: To the Land of the Royals - Rajasthan!

Hi Yosbert

Thanks for bringing out this Rajasthan trip. Truly a Land of Royals.

I find Udaipur to be the most beautiful tourist city in India, when seen in totality. The landscapes are spectacular, the people are friendly and has best of class Hotels & Resorts.

We use to frequent Udaipur as a weekend destination from Baroda and even now we like to stop by Udaipur during Delhi-Baroda drive even though I can make it in a day.

Apart from various Indian films, many English films have been extensively shot in Udaipur.
Octopussy- James Bond is one of the famous one.
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Old 25th April 2014, 18:06   #24
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Post Re: To the Land of the Royals - Rajasthan!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wanderers View Post
The landscapes are spectacular, the people are friendly and has best of class Hotels & Resorts.
Totally agree with your observation about the people. In fact, wherever we went in Rajasthan, we were always greeted by very friendly locals.
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Old 26th April 2014, 00:36   #25
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Post Day 3 #2: Reaching Chittorgarh

Nathadwara to Chittorgarh is about a 100 kms and by the time we reached there it was already 2:30 PM. We were all quite hungry by then, so the next order of business was lunch. Driver took us to a hotel named Pratap Palace in the city which has a restaurant in and by the lawns. We ordered some chicken curry, dal, rotis and rice and were just waiting to devour them.

That is when this caught our attention on the lawns.
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Kids were very happy to see them, as were we since this will keep them engaged till the food arrives.
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I later learnt that these are called Indian Star Tortoise. There were actually two of these in the lawns, just basking and soaking in the winter sun.
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Our lunch arrived presently, and once finished, kids bade goodbye to the tortoises, refreshed and all set to explore Chittorgarh.
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Old 27th April 2014, 01:50   #26
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Post Day 3 #3: Chittorgarh

Garh to bas Chittorgarh, baki sab Garhaiya.

Thus goes an old saying in these parts. Roughly translated, it means

There is only one fort Chittorgarh, rest are all fortresses.

Chittorgarh is indeed the largest fort in India, but it is not its size or its beauty that begets Chittorgarh this unique reputation. It is the history associated with the fort that make Chittor command such respect among Rajputs. It is a fort associated with the pinnacle of Rajput pride and courage, this is the fort that has witnessed Jauhar thrice, and the subsequent tradition of saffron robed Rajput warriors riding out to certain death on battlefield. This is also the fort that witnessed the piety and divinity of Mira Bai and her single minded devotion to Lord Krishna. This fort has been glorified by the sacrifice of Panna Dai, heroic deeds of Rana Kumbha, Rana Sanga, teenage Rajput cheiftains Jaimal and Patta. This is also the fort for which Rana Pratap vowed to not sleep on beds, nor live in palaces, nor eat off metal utensils, until Chittorgarh had been regained.

I can actually go on for hours on the glorious history of Chittorgarh, but I will stop here. I would urge people to read up on this, if interested. I leave you with a link, a fascinating description of the last siege of Chittorgarh, where two teenaged Rajput warriors aged barely 15 and 16 defied the mighty Mughal Army siege for 4 months and perished in the final battle so bravely that it made their opponent Akbar erect memorials to commemorate their valiant deaths.

By the time we commenced our tour of Chittorgarh, it was 3:30 PM. Our driver had already intimated a friend of his who worked as a guide there and he joined us soon. We had to rush through most of the sites since we did not have a lot of daylight left. In hindsight, my advice would be to budget for at least 2-3 hours in Chittorgarh depending on your level of interest. With that, lets get on with the pictures then.

Rana Kumbha’s Palace. This is the oldest section of the fort. The palace included stables for horses and elephants. Mira Bai is also said to have lived in this palace.
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The palace had been built with plastered stone.
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The twin Kumbha and Kumbha Shyam Temples
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Maharana Kumbha built this Lord Vishnu temple
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Garuda in front of Kumbha Temple
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When Meera came to Chittor, she requested a small Krishna Temple for her personal use. Her father-in-law built a small temple adjoining Kumbha Temple, which was named as Kumbha Shyam Temple. Now it is more famous as the Meerabai Temple.
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Vijay Stambha. This was erected by Rana Kumbha to commemorate his victory over Mahmud Khilji.
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This is the site where Rani Padmini is said to have committed Jauhar. Every year on the anniversary of this, Jauhar Mela the biggest Rajput festival is celebrated here.
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Gaumukh Reservoir. This was the main water source of the fort during numerous sieges.
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There is a small RTDC operated restaurant inside the fort. We stopped here for some tea before continuing further.

Rani Padmini’s Summer Palace. This was the place where Alauddin Khilji saw Padmini through an arrangement of mirrors. You can read more about Rani Padmini and the story of Chittor’s first Jauhar here
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Kirti Stambha. Built by a Jain merchant Jijaji Rathore
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A Jain temple opposite Kirti Stambha
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By now, it was beginning to get dark. We winded up our tour of the fort, bade farewell to our guide and started on our way back to Udaipur.

Our driver recommended a restaurant called Lal Bagh in Udaipur. On offer were standard North Indian fare, taste was good and satisfying. Finished dinner and were back in hotel by 9:30 PM. Yesterday night was shivering cold, had to ask for extra blankets in hotel today.

Last edited by yosbert : 27th April 2014 at 02:00.
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Old 27th April 2014, 17:11   #27
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Post Day 4 #1: Kumbhalgarh

I just realized that I have not mentioned anything about our hotel room in Udaipur. The room was large with comfortable beds and furnished with all the necessities. Although our room did not have a direct view of the lake, it was almost adjoining terrace from where you could enjoy good views all around. Service was basic and adequate and the staff was friendly. The owner, Mr. Satyadev was extremely courteous and he even refused to accept any money for the milk he provided over the last 2 days for our kids. Gestures like these go a long way in enhancing a visitor’s experience with the hotel.

We took it a little easy today, and were packed up and all ready to leave by 9:30 AM.

A parting shot of the Lake Palace
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Kumbhalgarh

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Kumbhalgarh was built during the 15th century by Rana Kumbha. The fort was also designed by Rana Kumbha himself, the largest and the most majestic of the 32 forts that he designed. The fort has perimeter walls that extend for 36 kilometers, the second longest next only to the Great Wall of China. The fort was virtually impregnable and was said to have fallen only once, due to a shortage of drinking water, to the combined forces of Mughal Emperor Akbar, Raja Man Singh of Amber, Raja Udai Singh of Marwar, and the Sultan of Gujarat. Kumbhalgarh is also the birthplace of Maharana Pratap.

By the time we reached Kumbhalgarh, it was almost 11:30 AM. It was disappointing to note that there were no guides available here. You absolutely need a guide here to walk you through the whole place. The basic idea though is to climb up to the top of the fort using the ramparts, passing through the seven fortified gateways.

A closeup of the top of the fort
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These walls extend for 36 kms and are 15 to 25 feet thick.
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The main gate of the fort, Ram Pol
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The fort is said to contain over 360 temples
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Walking through the ramparts towards one of the Pols
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One of the fortified gates
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These walls are broad enough for eight horses to ride abreast
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And another Pol. There are seven of them here
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Nearing the top
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And the final rampart into the palaces
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There was also a temple within the palaces
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While wife and kids rested after the strenuous climb, I climbed up to the highest point of the fort, the Badal Mahal
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On our way down, we saw the old portions of the fort
To the Land of the Royals - Rajasthan!-img_3260.jpg
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Old 28th April 2014, 00:36   #28
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Post Day 4 #2: Ranakpur

By the time we reached our waiting taxi it was already past 1:30 PM. We headed for our next destination which was Ranakpur Jain Temple. Enroute we observed quite a lot of construction activity going on around Kumbhalgarh. While Club Mahindra is already present, quite a number of other resorts are coming up soon near Kumbhalgarh.

It was already 2:30 PM by the time we reached Ranakpur, so lunch was the first order of business before we headed for the temples. Our driver took us to a resort nearby named Maharani Bagh (or something similar). We were seated in an open area with a huge bird feed area nearby. So we enjoyed our lunch in their company.
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Ranakpur Jain Temple

The Ranakpur Temple was built in the 15th century by a Jain businessman named Seth Dharana Shah under the patronage of Rana Kumbha. The temple is designed as a Chaturmukha – with four faces, is dedicated to the first Tirthankara Adinatha and is one of the five major pilgrimages of the Jains. It is said to be inspired by a dream of a celestial vehicle Viman Nalinigulma, and was architected by a sculptor named Deepaka. The temple is constructed wholly in light colored marble and there are over 1444 exquisitely carved pillars that support the temple. You can read more about the temple, its history and architecture here, here, here and here.

The last time I was at these temples, I went crazy as a loon with the camera. Those were the days of film roll cameras, and I must have finished one entire 36 roll film in these temples. I chuckled at the irony of situation today (with our almost unlimited roll digital cameras), hung the camera over my shoulders and entered the temple. You need to remove all leather items as well as your phones before entering the temple.

The exterior facade of the temple does not give away much about the treasure trove that lies inside
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To me the most fascinating aspect of these temples is the design of the ceilings of every shikhar. They are exquisitely ornate and no two are similar to each other.
To the Land of the Royals - Rajasthan!-img_3266.jpgTo the Land of the Royals - Rajasthan!-img_3272.jpg

An elephant statue inside, bearing the idol of Marudevi, mother of Adinatha. This depicts Marudevi attaining the supreme knowledge while seated on an elephant.
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Kichaka, a figure with one head and five bodies, representing the five elements
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Sahasrafana (a cobra with thousand hoods) Parshwanath, made using a single stone block
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All the beauty inside makes you forget that the temple is also beautiful from the outside
To the Land of the Royals - Rajasthan!-img_3278.jpg
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Old 28th April 2014, 19:33   #29
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Post Day 4 #3: Guda Bishnoi – Jodhpur

By the time we got back after seeing the temples it was 4:00 PM. The only thing left to do now as per our plan was to reach our hotel in Jodhpur and crash. Our driver however, seemed very keen on getting to Jodhpur as quickly as possible. The reason became apparent when about 20 kms from Jodhpur took a turn off the highway. We entered the Bishnoi country and were headed towards the Guda Bishnoi village. The Bishnoi sect is of course well known for their love of nature and environment. In 1730, 363 Bishnoi men, women and children laid down their lives to protect trees from being cut by king’s men. You can read more about the history of this Khejrali Massacre here and the fascinating story of the Bishnoi people here.

Because of their protection, deers, antelopes, peacocks and other animals can be seen peacefully grazing in Bishnoi dominated areas, and that was the reason we were headed to an animal observation spot near a watering hole in Guda Bishnoi. We were a little late in getting there and the dusk was already on us. That didn’t prevent us from seeing the animals though, it only prevented us from shooting (good photos of ) the animals. At the reservoir and en route we saw deers, black bucks, neel gais, peacocks, chinkara and a family of wild boars.

We saw this black buck grazing in a field
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The water hole hosted lots of birds too
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Another shaky picture of a black buck
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The animal observation spot
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We resumed our journey towards Jodhpur, stopping enroute at a handloom factory (as per our driver’s recommendation) and picked up some hand embroidered items.

We were booked at Hotel Madho Vilas in Jodhpur for the next two days. It was a 40s built home of some nobility and came with large, comfortable, well-appointed rooms and lovely gardens. We finished our dinner at the hotel and retired as soon as possible. Tomorrow we were going to Mehrangarh.
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Old 1st May 2014, 18:34   #30
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Post Day 5 #1: Mehrangarh Fort

Mehrangarh – Citadel of the Sun

Mehrangarh fort was built in the 15th century when Rao Jodha, the fifteenth Rathore ruler decided to move his capital to a safer location. A rocky hill that rises 400 feet above the surrounding plain in what is now known as Jodhpur, was chosen for the purpose. The hill was known as Bhakurcheeria, the Mountain of Birds, or Cheeriatunk, the Bird's Beak. According to legend, the hill’s lone human occupant at the time, a hermit called Cheeria Nathji, upset by his displacement cursed Rao Jodha thus. "Jodha! May your citadel ever suffer a scarcity of water!". To this day the area is plagued by drought every 3 to 4 years. To appease the gods and the hermit, Rao Jodha built a house and a temple for the hermit. Also to ensure that the site proved propitious, he buried a man named Raja Ram Meghwal alive in the fort’s foundations. In return he was promised that his family would be looked after forever by the Rathores and to this day Raja Ram’s descendants continue to live in an estate bequeathed to them by Rao Jodha and enjoy a special relationship with the Maharaja.

Mehrangarh derives its name from the word Mehr a Rajasthani word for the sun, the chief deity of the Rathore dynasty. The town that grew in the plains at the base of the hill was named after Rao Jodha as Jodhpur.

Most of the details in the above as well as subsequent write-up are derived from here, here and here. Some of the details are also from the audio guide that we used during our visit to the fort.

We arrived at the fort after a restful night and a lazy morning around 11:00 AM. I will fill in the details and the pictures in sequence as we walked through the fort.

Jai Pol, the main entrance to the fort was built in1808 to celebrate the victory of Raja Man Singh over Jagat Singh of Jaipur.
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Paintings on wall next to Jai Pol
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Once inside, we bought the entry tickets for the fort. We decided to use the audio guide here instead of a regular guide since we had heard good things about it earlier. The audio guide also gives you the flexibility to pace yourself through the tour as you wish. Tickets are also available here for the elevator that takes you directly to the fort palaces avoiding climbing up the ramparts of the fort through its seven gates (and in the process missing out on the views and delights of walking up an important part of the fort). We, of course, gave the elevator a miss.

All along the fort ramparts till the palaces you can see such musicians presenting their art to anyone who cares to listen.
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Jodhpur is also referred to as the Blue City due to the vivid blue hued houses around the feet of the Mehrangarh fort. Traditionally blue color signified the home of a Brahmin and only brahmins were allowed to paint their houses blue. The blue tint is thought to repel insects and helps in keeping the home cool. Seen here is a view of the blue quarters of old Jodhpur as seen from the fort ramparts.
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Kilkila Cannon, supposedly a very famous one.
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There are as many as seven such gates in the Mehrangarh fort. As you have probably inferred by now, such fort gates are called Pol in local language. So we have Jai Pol, Fateh Pol, Amrit Pol, Lakhna Pol or Dedh Kangra Pol, Loha Pol, Gopal Pol and Suraj Pol.
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Rudyard Kipling once described the Mehrangarh thus "A Palace that might have been built by Titans and colored by the morning sun".
To the Land of the Royals - Rajasthan!-img_3306.jpgTo the Land of the Royals - Rajasthan!-img_3307.jpg

A stone plaque commemorating Raja Ram Meghwal. Seemed to be a recent installation, going by the script and the English dates used.
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Jodha’s outer limit of the boundary. This was the extremities of the original fortress during Rao Jodha’s time.
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Another set of musicians right at the entrance of the Loha Pol. They even sang a Bengali song for us, such is the influence of Bengalis on Rajasthan Tourism!
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As you enter through the Loha Pol, these handprints will attract your attention. These are the handprints of the royal satis, Jodhpur queens who burnt themselves on the funeral pyres of their husbands. Some of the prints looked so tiny and vulnerable, a tragic reminder of a barbaric custom in practice not so long ago.
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Beyond this is the Suraj Pol, one of the oldest gates in the complex and the entrance to the palaces, museums and displays of the fort complex.
To the Land of the Royals - Rajasthan!-img_3314.jpgTo the Land of the Royals - Rajasthan!-img_3315.jpg
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