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Old 16th October 2014, 10:35   #1
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Default Of Palaces and Forts - Royal Rajasthan

Yes, Ladakh!
Itís too far and with all the rains in the hills - itís not safe.

Yes, Himachal.
We have already been there and with all the rains in the hills - itís not safe.

Uttarakha.. Never mind.

Iíll pretend I didnít even hear that.

Umm, seems nice but will we get train tickets now?
What train?
Umm, yes.
** Cold stare of death **

I have always wanted to see Rajasthan. Itís very colorful!
Done. We leave on 28th.
Donít cram too many places, itís a holiday.
Jaipur, Udaipur and Jodhpur - will be easy peasy.
Ok .

Only a married man can understand the gravity of these 2 letters - "OK".

So finally I manage to convince my family for a road trip to Rajasthan. Not before a casualty though. Jaisalmer and beyond will have to wait. But I am not complaining. I do not want to spend the holidays at home. Rajasthan, here I come! Yippee.
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Old 16th October 2014, 10:50   #2
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Default re: Of Palaces and Forts - Royal Rajasthan

Sep 28, 2014
To Jaipur!

The plan is to start early. Really early by my standards. To beat the Manesar monster. But plans seldom go as per plan. I sleep a little late and get up very late. Itís 7 am and I am happily singing songs under the shower in anticipation of the road trip happiness that is about to start!

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We are out of the house only by 7:40am. Contrary to popular belief, and to my huge relief, the highway is reasonably clear and we are making good progress. Gurgaon Toll, Khekri Dhaula Toll, Bilaspur, all come and go in quick succession.

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Haldirams, 36kms ahead.
Hungry kya?
* Stern look * We havenít had breakfast yet (My intelligent play of words, mercilessly ignored!)

After a filling breakfast, we are back on NH-8.

Jaipur, 175
We should be able to reach by noon, I guess.

Soon the scenery starts to change and we start seeing hillocks on both sides of the road.

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The happiness is soured a little as we get stuck in a snarl near Shahpura - all doing of a few genius truckers. Nothing life threatening though, we are out of it soon.

Our destination is actually Amer Fort, for now. Since it lies on the outskirts, I think it makes sense to explore it first and then head into the city. Google guides me fine till Amer Road but after that, it is clueless! No sweat, I stop and ask a traffic policeman. Without even looking he waves me on to turn right. Try as I might, I donít see any right turn. Until a Jeep emerges from the turn and forces the Gau Mata to camp elsewhere. I dart in before her sisters claim the spot.

The street is very narrow - it cannot accommodate 2 cars abreast. There are Activas and bikes parked everywhere making it appear even narrower.

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As soon as I have eye contact, the slim, tall gentleman signals me to stop and lower the window. I comply. In the softest tone I have possibly heard, he says something. Unable to hear, I turn the music down.

Sir, official goverment approved guide. 22-points in fort, full detail, full history. No guide, no information. Charge only 200
Where is the fort parking?
Ispe upar chad jao.. guide lenge sir, 150 only, 22-point in f...
No, thank you!

The street he points me to, is near 45degress with houses/walls on both sides! All this time, I havenít seen a single sign of a parking. After climbing a few meters, there is rope tied to the opposite wall and a young man is holding the other end.

30 rupiyaa
Where is the fort parking?
Upar, upar..

A few hairpins later, we are in the parking lot. Itís filled with Mahindra Jeeps. I somehow manage to find a cozy parking spot for the car. The entrance to the fort is still some way up - we walk and and as we enter the courtyard, we are shocked! So many people. Maybe, itís a Sunday thing.

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Entry Gate

Sir, official goverment approved guide. 22-points in fort, full detail, full history. No guide, no information. Charge only 200
Another helpful guide brings me back.

Whatís the crowd all about?
Navratri hain na, Mata ka mandir hai udhar, fort ka entry idhar seedhi se, ticket updar hi milega

God bless the helpful guy, we thank him and move towards the 'new' entrance. The crowd is due to the festival or auspicious time of Navratri when the Goddess is worshipped. There is a temple inside the fort and everyone is here to pay their respects.

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Main courtyard, fort entry towards right. Shops selling religious items on far left

We finally manage to get the tickets and enter.

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View of the front courtyard from ticket spot. Majority of the crowd is concentrated towards the left - not much visible here.

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A panoramic shot after entering the fort

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View of the Amer city from the fort

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Maota Lake Garden

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Maota Lake Garden

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Maota Lake Garden - Panorama

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Ganesh Pol - entry to private quarters of the Maharajas

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Sheesh Mahal at the far end

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Sheesh Mahal - intricate carvings all around!

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Tunnel to Jaigarh Fort

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Tunnel Entry

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Met these two gentlemen at the crafts shop

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Met this gentleman at the exit gate. He is playing the traditional home/hand made instrument - Raavan Haatha.

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Womenfolk in the traditional Rajasthani dresses at the fort

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Remains of the erstwhile perimeter wall maybe

By the time we are done exploring the fort, thanks to the audio guide spot numberings, its 2:00 pm.

Perfect timing genius!
I somehow bury my face deeper into the LCD of the camera and pretend to be very involved in capturing *something*. Sarcasm aside, it indeed is super hot and we are super tired.

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The way down from parking

More in next post...

Last edited by Dry Ice : 16th October 2014 at 13:11. Reason: adding a pic
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Old 16th October 2014, 11:06   #3
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Default re: Of Palaces and Forts - Royal Rajasthan

Sep 28, 2014
To Jaipur contd...

The car AC cools us down a little and we regain some of the lost energy. The Jal Mahal and Hawa Mahal are ‘observed’ from the car.

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Jal Mahal

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Jal Mahal upclose

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Hawa Mahal

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Kathputlis on sale in the market opposite Hawa Mahal

Finally we are at the hotel by 3:00 pm. Nice little place in a quiet neighborhood. Parking is an issue though.

Where is the parking?
Deewar ke saath yahin laga dijiye
But, I had specifically asked, parking hai? Nobody told me I would have park in an alley!
Sab yahin lagate hain, sape-ti ka koi problam nahi hai.

After resting some more, in the evening, we are headed to Choki Dhaani. The newer parts of the city seem better developed, complete with wide, clean roads, glass towers by the side - modern symbols of modernization.

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A random clocktower

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Occasional Gajraj also steps by
Although it's around 20kms away, in no time, we are at Choki Dhaani.

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I had first visited this place way back in 2009 and have fond memories of the place. Back then, they had just one dining hall and there used to be a mad rush for dinner. Fearing something similar, I reach there rather early. And for the second time today, we are pleasantly surprised to see a rather ‘empty’ Choki Dhaani.

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Reception/Ticket Area

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Map of sorts - gives an idea of what to expect

We roam around the crafts shops while the ladies do a bit of shopping, have some masala soda, shoot a few ballons, enjoy the cultural show, watch a few magic tricks, laze around on the charpai, basically, enjoy the atmosphere. No camel or elephant rides though.

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Pardon me for a few 'abstract' art kinda shots.

It’s time for food now! Proof of the pudding.

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Though the food is equally good this time, I somehow feel the erstwhile ‘warmth’ is missing. Let me clarify, the service is not lacking. They still are as efficient as before, but this time, I didn't feel the same excitement in them.

We have a paan before finally leaving the place. Tomorrow we head out to Udaipur. But, before that, will visit the Birla Temple, as it’s walk-able from the hotel.

Sep 29, 2014
The Morning After

We are at the temple by 8:00 am. It’s rather peaceful and quiet. Lovely atmosphere.

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Main temple

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Some fort on a nearby hill

Though there are the occasional pee pee from the motorists on the road below but still, the setting is very serene. We roam around and enjoy the calmness. The temple itself has beautiful glass-work. Kind of like what we see in churches usually.

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Finally we move out of here at 9:00ish.

As we walk towards the hotel, we come across a few more temples in the same lane - paying respects at each we trudge along. At the next corner, I see the brilliance of a man’s brain. 3 cows are tied to a pole and this man is carrying fodder. But he isn’t feeding them. He is selling the fodder to people like us and then, asking us to feed the cows back! In the process promising punya and moksha. Right. All he is doing is getting paid to feed his cattle! I mean if ever there was a more apt example of having your cake.. err.. fodder.. and eating it too!

Anyway, we move on. Reach the hotel in 10 mins and after settling the bills, are on our way to Udaipur! The City of Lakes.

More in next post...

Last edited by Dry Ice : 16th October 2014 at 13:15.
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Old 16th October 2014, 15:14   #4
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Default re: Of Palaces and Forts - Royal Rajasthan

Sep 29, 2014
Onwards to Udaipur

Jaipur - Kishangarh - Bhilwara - Chittorgarh - Udaipur. Seems simple enough. As I set up the phone, Google says I will reach in 6 hours. Understandable - firangs donít know our country and itís road that well. I mentally prepare everyone for an 8+ hour journey.

We are out of Jaipur quickly and before we know it, hunger pangs are here. Obviously. We havenít had breakfast yet. It was a temple morning after all. Places are rushing by but I donít find anything appealing.

Maybe, I am expecting too much, maybe, this stretch..
That looks good enough - pure veg too!

Being Navratri, pure veg is a constraint too when traveling with elders.

Place is nice. Has a different section for families, complete with separate restrooms, AC and the works. Itís close to 11 am and we order brunch, with the idea that we will save some time by not stopping again for lunch. Food is surprisingly good and completely VFM. We fill up the car as well post brunch. The road continues to be good and we are cruising comfortably.

Take a u-turn as soon as possible
Google reminds me of itís presence and importance.
In 200 meters, please make a u-turn

I stop and once it has my undivided attention, says,
Continue straight on the National Highway 79 for 95 kilometers

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NH 79

NH79 is 2-laned and deteriorates somewhat in quality as compared to the 3 laned Jaipur - Kishangarh stretch. The truck traffic increases exponentially. I donít know why people are scared of Delhi - Jaipur NH-8. I promise, drive on this road once and you will start loving NH-8. And donít even get me started on the Gurgaon toll. What used to happen at Gurgaon toll between small cars etc, happens here even now. And not cars - 16 wheelers jumping lanes to the shorter line!

We do some sort of "off-road driving"** to bypass these turf wars but canít avoid them all. All tolls on this stretch were horribly crowded. We cross Bhilwara somewhere around 3 pm. Chittorgarh coming up fast.

**By off-road, I mean off the road literally, not the 4x4 stuff.

At Chittorgarh, I am confused -
Board says,
Udaipur →

Google says,
Udaipur ↑

Basically, the board directs me to take the SH between Chittorgarh and Udaipur. Google, on the other hand, asks me to stay on NH-79 if I want to live and reach Udaipur tonight. Through SH, it tells me, it will take an hour longer. I figure, she must be calculating ETA based on the speed limits. SH has a lower limit as compared to NH and thus it shows a longer travel time via SH.

I turn right and take the SH-9 to Udaipur.

The road is super. More than the tarmac, my eyes are happy seeing something other than brown boxes, Horn Please, Dipper at Night, OK TATA, All India Permit, etc etc.

I start to enjoy the greenery and scenery around. There is a single railway line that comes parallel to the road and runs along it for sometime before disappearing into the far horizon again.

1.5 hours and 110 kms later we join the NH-76. Brother of NH-79 if you will. Same kind of traffic. Trucks and just trucks. In sometime though, they disappear and itís city traffic now.

Google tries to redeem itself and guides me perfectly to the landmark near our hotel - Jagdish Mandir. From there on, locals help me find the public parking. As if my experience at Amer was not enough, roads here are even narrower! But thankfully we manage to reach the parking in one piece without any unwelcome incident. It's 6:00 PM as I switch off the car. Itís been exactly 8 hours since we started.

The hotel boys arrive soon, take our luggage and guide us to the hotel. We rest for sometime and then head to the ghat nearby.

What I see, I hadnít expected. Itís a shady dingy place with groups of boys sitting at ill lit places. The Lake Palace is visible up front, looks glorious but the place is very dirty, filthy. It's so bad, I don't even take the camera out. We retreat and hire a rick to take us to Doodh Talai instead to better enjoy the night view. Although a little far, it is a much better place. Though slim shady guys can be seen here too, but the place is not overly crowded or dirty. Others sit around while I take some long exposures.

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The Lake Palace

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Jag Mandir

The rick drops us back at Jagdish Mandir and we try to find a veg only restaurant for dinner. Everybody seems to be recommending "Anna". So we give it a try. But later regret. Absolutely pathetic food. We entered only coz we saw a few families already there.

3 Lemon Soda - 1 sweet, 1 sweet-salÖ I try to order Lemon Soda but the guy is gone before I even complete.
Lata hun, lata hun..

He soon brings a soda bottle, some sugar in a bowl, a spoon and 2 pieces of cut lemon.

What is this?
Yahan aise hi aata hai, aap mix kar lo.

After this rather forgetful experience, we find a good veg-only option, Maxim something nearby. We will try it tomorrow. For now, back to hotel and rest after the long day.

More in next post...
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Old 18th October 2014, 16:23   #5
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Default re: Of Palaces and Forts - Royal Rajasthan

Thread moved from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section) to Travelogues Section. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 18th October 2014, 16:24   #6
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Sep 30, 2014
Exploring Udaipur

Today, we explore Udaipur.

We wake up lazily and get ready to explore the city. The reception guy quickly hands over a not-to-scale map and with a pen in hand, starts drawing circles around the points that are must-see. I wait for him to offer his services.

Aaatuu kara deta hun, sari jagha ghuma ke aapko city palace draap kar dega, udhar se aap idhar aa jana
How much?
Paan, che-so lega, puchta hun
Yesterday I had enquired with the fellow who had taken us to Doodh Talai. He had quoted 550.
Saadhe-paanso lega sir
Ok, but call him soon. And any pure veg restaurants nearby?
Thanks! Iíll find something. Call the auto fast.

The auto guy arrives in the next 10 mins and we are off. 10 mins later, he points out to a lake on our left,
Swaroop Sagar hai ye sir.

Another 10 mins later,
Fateh Sagar ..

The lake seems rather full - with the water rushing on to the streets.
Woo durr pahad pe Maharana Pratap Memorial

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Maharana Pratap Memorial

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We spot a few eateries and try to have breakfast here. It's worse than the food we had last night. This is not looking good. Another bad experience and I might have to drive back to Delhi all alone.

Breakfast out of the way, we purchase boat tickets to visit the island park in the middle of the lake. Boats leave every 15 mins or when passengers start making noise. It left at the latter in our case.

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Nehru Park in the middle of Fateh Sagar

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Observatory in the middle of Fateh Sagar

We roam around, shoot a few birds here and there, and we are back in 15 mins. There is an option to hire a speed boat for a 10-min ride too. Except me, nobody seems interested, so give it a miss. Must be awesome fun though - in good weather of course.

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Nehru Park Walkway

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Next up, Saheliyon Ki Baari.

Guide lenge sir, bees rupiya bass.
What? How much?
Bees, tweety only.

Hearing the guide charge, I get a feeling, it might not be worth it after all.

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Main feature

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Apparently it was built by the King for Queen's friends. That explains the name. The fountains here, as per the articles on the internet, in their prime were operated without any machines. Obvious, isn't it given the age. But now, there are all kinds of pumps and pipes fitted. Kind of spoils the fun of visitng such a place. All the modernization in the name of restoration isn't good. Why can't we preserve these things as is? As JC says, how hard can it be? There is also an adjoining museum of sorts. It contains everything except info and details about the complex itís housed in. Only in India.

We don't spend much time here and head for the next 'point'. Ropeway to Karni Mata temple. We book ourselves a private car, 4 seats for 470 something. As an advantage, we bypass the regular queue and are in the cable car within 10 mins of purchasing the tickets. As the cable car ascends, the views start to get better. Even though itís middle of the day and sunlight is very harsh, I manage to take a few shots.

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Ascending to Karni Mata Temple hill

The temple at the top is still under construction. There is not much crowd here even though itís Navratri. Monday afternoon effect, maybe. I donít mind though. The views of the city are excellent. You get a 360 degree view from the top.

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Lake Palace

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Jag Mandir

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Panorama of Pichola Lake

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Doodh Talai in the middle left, Pichola Lake beyond it. You can also see the stairs for the climb up

At the top, there is a smallish cafe/restaurant. After last nightís fiasco, I gather some courage and order a lemon soda. Thankfully, it arrives as it should this time. And from "yahan aisa hi milta hai", I assume the guy at Anna meant only his hotel.

After the ropeway tour, we are dropped off at City Palace by the auto guy. We are to take the Jagdish Mandir exit and walk to our hotel from there. The complex is huge, but most of it is out of bounds for day visitors. Only a small section of the Palace is converted to a museum that is open to visitors. The rest of it houses a Hotel and private residences of the Royal Family. The upkeep could have been a lot better considering the entry fee that is being charged.

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Main museum complex

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Entrance from Jagdish Mandir side

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Old city as seen from the Palace

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The entry gates(Jagdish Mandir side) as seen from the Palace

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Inside Museum

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The Royal Seal

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View of the complex garden from the upper floors

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Roads leading up to the Museum - not possible to drive here though. Cars are stopped much before

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Lake Palace

Reached image limit, will continue in next post.
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Old 18th October 2014, 16:35   #7
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Default Re: Sep '14: Of Palaces and Forts: Royal Rajasthan

Sep 30, 2014
Exploring Udaipur

Now, inside, I see all sorts of people happily clicking with mobiles. I feel stupid having bought a separate ticket for the cam. We as a nation are rebels by nature, and only fall in line if we see a lathi charge imminent. Right at the time, a staff walks past people clicking pics with mobile, just warning them to not do so. I make some noise and the desi boys are pulled up by a guard. I could see them apologizing and what now, to get away from the fine. I leave it at that and move ahead.

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The Royal Post Office

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Leela Palace seen from City Palace

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Lake Palace as seen from the City Palace

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Karni Mata Temple as seen from the City Palace

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Sheesh Mahal

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The condition isn't too good - needs work

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Raja ka jhula

By the time we come out of the Palace, itís already evening. We casually stroll through the streets on our way back and also visit Jagdish Mandir. Impressive piece of work. Donít click any pics here.

At night, the hotel guy recommends attending a cultural show of sorts, a few steps down the road. The program happens daily 7 PM onwards and is a bit of a crowd puller, reaching early is recommended. We anyways donít have any specific agenda, so head out to see what this is. Turns out a great decision - we thoroughly enjoy our time there. The dance, music, energy is phenomenal. The grand finale is mind boggling. This lady carrying 11 such pots on her head - balancing and dancing at the same time.

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Bagore Ki Haveli

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The Final Act

After the show, we head out for dinner at Maxim near Jagdish Mandir. Fantanstic food! Today redeemed me somewhat from the previous dayís disasters. Happy, we go back to hotel.

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Tomorrow we start for Ranakpur!
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Old 19th October 2014, 14:57   #8
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Default Re: Of Palaces and Forts - Royal Rajasthan

Oct 1, 2014
Chalo Ranakpur

We are staring at a half closed shop. One side shutter is still closed while the other side is open. I sneak in while rest of the folks wait outside. It's totally deserted.

Koi Hai?
I hear some utensils drop and someone is hurridly coming down the steps. Though it sounds like that, but I hope someone is not rolling down.

Soon a familier face greets me.

It's Babu.

The same guy who served us last night at Maxim. While leaving we had asked about the time he opens the shop to have breakfast and then leave for Ranakpur. As per his commitment, we came bang at 8:00 AM. BUT... from his half sleepy face and semi nude attire, I was sure commitment kar ke ye sahab sab bhul jate hain!

Sir, nau baje tak kholenge, tabhi aa jaiye
Hmm.. sure, You said you open the shop early, that's why we came here. Anyway, no problem.

No point wasting time with him, so I move on.

Find the shops are still opening and Udaipur still seems sleepy. Walking through the market, I realize the true width of the road! Its reduced to 1/4th as soon as the market opens due to all the hussle bussle - pedestrians, vehicles, animals all sharing the same space.

We come around to a smallish stall preparing kachoris, pakodis etc. Let's check out some street food, I think and order a few plates of poha, mirchi pakoda, kachori and even get him to parcel some!

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Fantastic food yet again! Experimentation works. The recommendations had failed us in this trip while the experiments actually saved me! hehe! Anyway, breakfast done, we move to the parking, to wake up the sleepy elephant. I crank, it moves and soon settles into a nice idle rythm.

Bye Bye Udaipur. Will we meet again? Can't say with certainty right now but even if we do, will mostly be a transit halt.


Google with it's own problems manages to navigate me out of the city and soon we are on these fantabulous roads, zig zaging through the hills.

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Fantastic NH 76

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Haldighati →

I am tempted, for a moment, to take the diversion. But then, the schedule is already tight for today and if we deviate, we might miss either Kumbhalgarh or Ranakpur.

Soon I get off the NH 76 and take the SH 32. The difference is drastic.

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Curvy SH 32

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Gypsy populace?

From a wide, smooth 4 laned road, you are suddenly on a 1.5 laned road. Yes, 1.5 lanes. You have to get off the tarmac at places to let a vehicle pass. Initial few kms have villages coming up pretty fast. After a while though, we enter a wildlife sanctuary and the road starts to gain some altitude. No Khardung LA here, but still, you gain some height. It almost reminds me of the drive to Mussorie from Dehradun at places. Beautiful valley views.

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A different kind of Padharo Mhare Des

As I park into the Temple complex it's 11:45am. Tourists are allowed after 12 pm. But, I don't see any such issue right now. Tickets are being issued and people are going in. Great!

We buy the tickets and enter.

The moment we have a glimpse of the huge temple (from the main gate itself), we are taken aback. But as we enter the main temple and move our heads around, we are stunned! Spell bound! The intricacy of the work is mind boggling. Trust me on this. No amount of pictures can help capture the essence of this temple or the amount of labour that has gone in.

I will let the pictures speak for now.

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Main temple

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Main temple from far

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Intricate work inside the dome

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Crafty doors

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Detailing is spectacular

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There are many more smaller temples in the same complex and this is one of them. Apparently, the workers built this in their free time.

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After the temple visit, we have lunch in the bhojnalaya run by the temple. Charge is some 50 bucks and it is open only till 1:00 PM. We barely make it at 12:30 PM. Food is a simple dal-roti-rice affair. One can have as much as one wants.

With our stomachs full, I have to fill up the ride too. Now come some shockers.
  • The route I was depending on (as suggested by Google) does not exist. We have to go back till Sayra and take the other fork from there. That means an extra 30kms!
  • No petrol pumps till Kumbhalgarh along the Sayra route. Nearest petrol pump is in Sadri Village, some 11-12 kms away.
So in essence I have to cover - 12+12+50 ~ 80 kms to get to Kumbhalgarh. Time is 1 PM now.

I make a quick dash to Sadri. Let's get one problem out of the way first. 10 kms, no sign of petrol pump. 11, 12.. nothing. After close to 15 kms, we spot an Indian oil pump on the right. As I pull in, the attendant, waves me to move out.

Diesel khatam
Haan bhai, khatam hai, full kar de
Almost giving me a death stare - pump mein diesel nai hai.

Paas mein koi aur hai?
han udhar 10 km aage

Main udhar se hi toh aaya hun, nahi hai koi. Kumbhalgarh jana hai, uss raste mein aur koi hai
hmm.. idhar chale jao phir 10 km aage

Idhar hai pakka 10 km aage? Aur kumbhalgarh idhar se he wapis jana padega? Kitna km hoga yahan se? Ye road seedhe jayegi kya kumbh..
Acha acha daal deta hun thoda. Kholo. 1000 ka
1500 daal do malik!

More in next post...

Last edited by Dry Ice : 19th October 2014 at 15:05.
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Old 19th October 2014, 15:04   #9
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Default Re: Of Palaces and Forts - Royal Rajasthan

Oct 1, 2014
To Kumbhalgarh or not?

Phew! with the fuel concern out of the way, we start back for Kumbhalgarh retracing our steps. At the Sadri junction I stop and enquire again with the locals if there is any route as google shows.

gufa se kaise jaoge? Ghoom k jao Ranakpur se hi. Mandir k baad ek chadhai aayegi, wo le lena, shaartcut hai, 10 kms shaart padega.
Great thank you!

We take the shortcut. Its bloody steep. At one point there is a bike coming down and I have to stop. Even with the handbrake applied, the car is moving backwards. I dab the brakes in time to stop it! This is at only one point though, a few steep u-turns, after that the route is fine. Google is confused all this while as to where am I headed - and switches itself off once it realizes no one is listening to it. After I join the main route at Bhanpur though, it comes back to life with its usual, "continue straight on state highway xx for xx kms" chant.

We look around accomodation here. Find one very near the fort but don't get a good deal. Fellow passengers are tired and not in mood to explore more, so I give in and finalize the deal after reducing the rate a bit. After some rest we reach Kumbhalragh fort at 3:45pm. The climb is very steep, again. But this time we are on foot. So even worse in a way. Now I see the reason why nobody bothered to attack this fort. For one, it's located high up on a hillock and second it's kind of remote!

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Fort Main Gate

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Front wall

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Fort wall snaking it's way around the hills

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Stretches far and wide

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View from the top

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You can see the wall remains on far away hills

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Deadly - To prevent elephants ramming against the door, I guess

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Mata Mandir, within the fort

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Shiv Mandir, L&S show seating on the right

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Shiv mandir soaked in evening light

The state of things is pretty bad and there is some renovation work on going. They have applied some makeup to the front walls but rest of it needs attention. We purchase the light and sound show tickets as well. It starts at 7:30 pm, so we explore and kill time till 6 pm or so and then take the seats. The narration is good and bollywood celebrities have lent their voices to several characters. Overall, it was entertaining and informative. But what disappoints me is they don't turn on the fort lights after the show! I was hoping to capture some of its grandeur in the evening but my plans are spoiled.

Anyway, we head to the hotel to crash.

Tomorrow we head to Jodhpur by retracing our today's steps yet again (all the way to that petrol pump) and then taking the NH 14 - NH 65.

More in next post...
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Old 19th October 2014, 16:54   #10
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Default Re: Of Palaces and Forts - Royal Rajasthan

Fantastic travelogue. Makes me feel being there, in that beautiful place. Super writeup and pictures to complement brilliantly. Looking forward to more....
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Old 20th October 2014, 13:51   #11
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Default Re: Of Palaces and Forts - Royal Rajasthan

wonderfully described travelogue. I have been to Rajasthan last year and this pics really refresh my memories
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Old 21st October 2014, 09:37   #12
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Default Re: Of Palaces and Forts - Royal Rajasthan

Beautiful detailing. Gives very good insight into the volume of things to see in Rajasthan, and definitely caused an upgrade in the position of Rajasthan in my to-go places list by many. Thanks for the beautiful pics and detailed narration.
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Old 21st October 2014, 10:47   #13
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Default Re: Of Palaces and Forts - Royal Rajasthan

Oct 2, 2014
Suncity Jodhpur beckons..

Morning at Kumbhalgarh is chilly! We had never thought we would experience such cold weather on this trip. And of all the places, in Rajasthan, in October! We have our breakfast and leave the hotel by 8 am. Back to the same narrow, undulating, curving village roads. Google yet again is asking me to go through the cave. I simply ignore it, and after sometime, it switches itself off. Peace.

Soon, we cross the Ranakpur temple and reach Sadri. From here, we can either take a left or a right. Google recommends taking right. I have a feeling, we should take the left as it seems to merge with a NH after some distance. I enquire with the locals and they confirm, right fork will take us through villages and roads are not good. Not Google's fault per se, Westerners are generally attracted to our villages and rural life. I forget, forgive and turn left.

The road, though narrow, is good. We cross a village every now and then. As I join the NH 14 at Sanderao, I see a big board,

Jodhpur →

And yet again Google doesn't agree,
At 200 meters, turn Left

I turn right and continue on NH14. I have the route in mind. Turn left at Pali on NH 65 - that will take us straight to Jodhpur. We keep on fighting with Google, which keeps advising us to turn into any and every turn that comes up.

At 100 meters, turn Left
Turn Left

Dejected, I turn it off. Peace. Maybe it was something in the Kumbhalgarh air.

Anyway, roads are fantastic inspite of many diversions, and truck traffic. We make good progress and are on the outskirts of Jodhpur by noon. I especially enjoy the roads more as the tolls are non-functional for now on this stretch. Nice feeling to zip past the tolls without paying a dime!

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NH 65

I turn on Google for directions to the hotel, scared it will not guide us anymore for the disrespect we have shown it since morning. Thankfully, it has a big heart and forgives us. We check-in the hotel, order lunch and relax.

In the evening, we head out to explore Umaid Bhavan Palace. Umaid Bhavan Palace, is part hotel, part residence and part museum. The area open for general public is rather small. The exhibits are mostly articles of daily use of the royalties and some pictures. The museum also has a detailed histrory of the place. There is a separate vintage car and a model train display at the other end of the complex.

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Umaid Bhavan, entry to public is restricted to the left most wing

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In the courtyard

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A Royal dinner table?

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A scale model

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Painting on the roof. Note Mehrangarh fort is depicted here

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Side view

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Views from the parking

After the palace, we park the car at hotel and take a tuk-tuk to the crowded and chaotic Nai Sadak & Sadar Bazaar for some shopping. Manage just 1 photo from my phone.

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Clock Tower at night

More Soon...
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Old 21st October 2014, 10:59   #14
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Default Re: Of Palaces and Forts - Royal Rajasthan

Oct 3, 2014
Exploring Jodhpur

First up, Mehrangarh.

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Fort on the right, overlooking the old city

We reach pretty early around 9 am, but are shocked to see the crowd! Navratri - Mata ka mandir - inside fort. The entry is same but then for museum, there isn't much rush. We take one way elevator tickets as well.

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City view

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Fort Garden, and city beyond the fort walls

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Blue Blue Blue!

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Clock Tower in Sadar Bazaar

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That's Jaswant Thada

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Umaid Bhavan

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Amazingly fine worksmanship

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All this from stones!

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Some neglected parts

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Royal Court

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Forgot the name! But very beautiful

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Canonball marks

After the fort, we head out to Jaswant Thada. It's a stone's throw away from the fort.

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Jaswant Thada, main building

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This is inside. Seat of power?

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Mehrangarh Fort, City and the Cenotaphs

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Umaid Bhawan

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Admiring the fort!

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An Artist with the Raavan Haatha - a regular feature outside forts/palaces in RJ

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And a random 'artistic' shot

Everything covered in Jodhpur, we head to Bishnoi Village Camps. Days are still pretty hot and thanks to the thoughtfulness of the hosts - there are ACs in the huts. Or maybe, that's why it's so popular afterall. Everyone wants a taste of rural india but in 'reasonable' comfort

More Soon...
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Old 21st October 2014, 11:06   #15
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Default Re: Of Palaces and Forts - Royal Rajasthan

Excellent travel blog. And bang on the google maps, I too recently completed the rajasthan circuit, and sadly took the route from Jodhpur to Udaipur as advised by the maps. Must say, I had an overdose of broken roads, non-existen t roads, huge potholes, streams running through the road, and gaping citizens staring at the impossibility of a punto running through those narrow lanes
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