The name is Bond, James Bond...

Trip Start Aug 22, 2005
Trip End Feb 06, 2006

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Flag of India  ,
Tuesday, September 6, 2005

Hands up who's seen 'Octopussy'? Well if you can remember Roger Moore climbing out of a fake crocodile, a big Sikh man who crushes die in his hand and a fluorescent yellow and blue octopus then you'll know what I mean. It was filmed in Udaipur, the Lake City. I was a bit wary it might be like Pushkar in terms of tourism, but I really liked it here. The City was truly beautiful and it has changed very little in the 30 years since they filmed 007.

We took in yet another city palace. Each one has it's own story and this palace is still home to the longest dynasty in the world, dating back to c.550 AD. Part of the palace is his residence, part is a luxury hotel and part is a museum. The museum was pretty murderous, lots of war maps and metal maces i.e. plenty to keep me entertained! It even told the story of 'Pratak' a superhorse who saved his master from death by leaping over a 17ft gorge of fire or something equally unbelievable(!), you know what history and chinese whispers are like!

We took a boat ride out to the Jagh Mandir, an island built by one of the Maharajas and the views were incredible. It was so peaceful which is very rare for India! It was used to harbour European women and children during the mutiny of 1857 (see Mumbai for more details).

One of the best things I did was visit Jagdish Mandir, the largest Hindu temple in Rajasthan. It took the experience of Pushkar clean out of my mind. There were a few kids trying to give tours but this was a temple that could warrant one, due to it's special status. There were two black marble statues of Vishnu in the temple, with bulging eyes and decorated with gold. The 'crazy eyes' represent the fact that he's always watching.

It was the actual temple which was enthralling. It was supposedly carved from a single block of marble, but considering the size I wasn't sure of the truth of this. Nevertheless, the carvings around the building were so intricate and stunning that I could have stared at them for hours. The symbols started in bands around the base of the whole building, changing every 50cm or so right the way up to the top of the temple (perhaps 15m high). There were so many depictions, I wish I could have taken a photo but it isn't the done thing. There were various carvings from the Kama Sutra; mainly women dancing and playing sitar/flutes, elephants and tigers attacking elephants and all sorts of lotus flowers, orchids and strange mythical beasts. The head of one such beast had the tail of a peacock, the jaws of a tiger and the underbelly of a crocodile. It pumped out holy water (I didn't realise and just thought the floor was a a bit slimy!). I stayed until the sun started to set and the atmosphere was so intense; incense burning, people chanting, the yellow light on the marble made the temple look very eerie.
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