Our entry into Rajhastan, world of Camels!!

Trip Start Aug 28, 2004
Trip End Aug 2005

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Saturday, December 4, 2004

We arrived in Jaipur, and were collected from the station and taken to our Hotel which was extremely calm and collected unlike other occasions where we have had to negotiate to just get to the place of our choice and out of the train/bus station!!!
Jaipur is aptly named the Pink City as all of it's buildings funnily enough are painted Pink! It's a big old place and we decided to do a one day whiz around the place visit the forts and Palaces which was all very interesting. Whilst we were at the Palace we witnessed a Parade of Elephants, Horses and Camels which was a really colourful affair indeed, very fitting for the setting as the Palace is carved beautifully around all of the windows and doorways. The exhibits inside the museum were really worth seeing and lets your imagination run away with you, picturing the Mahraj and all the finery of the clothing etc....Our time in Jaipur was a nice break away from too much decision making, it can get pretty tiring and is nice once every so often to do something organised by someone else. It's a choice that you make as and when you feel it's right, so often you hear people going on about Independent travelling and how tour groups etc are not really travelling, it depends very much on what you want to get out of your time and what you make of it ditto. Each to their own we say.

Close by to where we stayed there was a famous Indian artist Mr Krippal Singh, he has created some truly wonderful miniature paintings and ceramics work (all made from Quartz) using some of the most wonderful glazes to hand paint all of the vessels. We got to see both his studio and the kilns that have bee purpose built to fire all of the clay work, had we been there longer I'd definitely taken some painting lessons with him as I do admire the talent and skill behind miniature painting, there is definite skill there. Obviously we came away with some of the items mentioned above as a wee reminder of Jaipur.

From Jaipur we moved onto Pushkar to join in the festivities of the "Pushkar Camel Fair", a huge annual event every year at this time, we were lucky to have gotten a contact thro' Mr Anwar in Faitpur Sikri, and so only paid normal prices, as opposed to inflated prices which would be easily be ten times the normal rate because of the fair. Here it is Camel city all the Camel owners come to sell and trade camels but there's also an arena where both Indians and visitors come to compete in all sorts of competitions, some of these I took part in especially the Musical chairs for women, what a competitive affair that was!!!! Never get into a competition with more matronly Indian women, as they'll give you a run for your money every time!!! It was a close call between an Israeli girl and a matronly Indian woman! The Israeli gave it to the Indian woman, which was very sweet, even if she did cheat! Other events were Cricket, the Indians are just mad about it and always ask who you think the best team is etc....Water pot smashing, where two teams have to reach up to pots on a tall stand, it's all about teamwork, obviously the Indian team won as they've been practising all year round but it's all good clean fun and a laugh to watch in progress and finally the best moustache competition.

In the evenings there was plenty of entertainment, from firework displays (with light) to all singing and dancing competitors on stage, giving us a full insight tot traditional dancing and all the rest of the local entertainment industry. There's a great market in Pushkar selling all manner of things and we picked up great silver jewellery, as well as camel leather shoes for Tom (Martins dad) & Martin (for his New Years Bollywood outfit/gardening!). The shops are all open until quite late at night. The view of the lake behind the main town is stunning and just so pretty with all it's white buildings surrounding, in the background there are Temples upon the mountains and the whole place is just buzzing away with activity. The monkeys are still rife and you can spot them running along the walls of the local temples in town, playing and fighting. There are children always running about the place and full of beans.
We got to drink many glasses of excellent Chai, "Rajhistan style" and see the real camel trading by taking a Camel ride thro the living quarters of all the families whom have travelled here just for the fair and to trade Camels! The men in their big cury toed shoes and brightly coloured Turbans, with some of the most amazing moustaches we have ever seen, walking their camels alongside to exercise them and feed them etc.... The daylight in such dry land and climatic conditions varies from crystal clear in the morning to really dusty and warm glows further on into the afternoon. It is a wonderful vision and many people try to capture this on camera, but it never does the real experience justice.

A great place to see, and a great time to visit and savour the experience, don't miss it if you want to see camels full on!!! Be warned it is hot, hot!!

The trains thro' Rajhastan going south are limited and so we took a bus down to Udaipur, for a 16 hour stint, but in typical H&M style we manage to grab the one and only straight thro' bus which because of some elections taking place we have to change midway, great! Finally we get to Udaipur and book into the nearest Hotel available (and close to the train station) at 5am, get some extra kip and then go exploring this lovely city. Udaipur is home to the filming of "Octopussy" with the floating Palace in the middle of a lake, only when we found it, the lake was half dry and the sight is somewhat less impressive and a tad disappointing to see........It was exceptionally hot on this day and so we took refuge in some of the local shops whilst looking fro some miniature paintings to send home. We finally found some, but martin felt we could get a better deal, so we left it a while and eventually went back to collect the very same ones after a lot of inspection of other shops. One includes a scene of all the three cities, Jaiselmer "Golden City", Jodphur "Blue City" and Jaipur "Pink City" and the other is of Elephants as that is what signifies India for me.
We discovered a wonderful Black and White Photographic Exhibition on at a local museum and indulged in some lovely representations of India throughout the western part of India, Rajhistan, Goa, Kernataka and Kerala.........We even got to speak to the man himself Waswo.x.Waswo, he's trying to introduce the idea of Photography into India and develop the viewing of work further a very interesting guy.
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