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Ranthambore National Park, India

Filed under: India,Photos — she_travels at 2:26 pm on Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The quiet of Todgarh was not on my original itinerary. I was under the impression the only time were would get a break from the crazy busy that is India was Ranthambore.  I understood if one is going to travel in the park by six seat gypsy jeep instead of the much larger canter one must book said jeep safari weeks in advance.  The prices were very dear but three meals were included.  I knew going in Ranthambore was going to be a coin toss and I worried a fair amount cause it was the ONLY place I had booked.

Sawai Madhopur is the name of the town, Ranthambore is the name of the national park. For what ever reason I thought there was some distance between the two and that the hotel I had booked was in the park. I was wrong, the hotel was IN town, not so much with the relaxing quiet of nature. The drive to the park was of some distance. The food was not great, the room was not great,  the noise level was high… but all that pales when you get to the park… it was one of those who cares about all that when I have this to play in.

Our 1st trip into the park was at 6.30am, something went wrong some where, we did not leave the hotel until after 7am.  Once in the park there was much checking in of the jeep and a naturalist joined us. We went through gate 7 in search of tigers. Saw none but we did see…..


The sun, she was not up yet.


Bit o the water.. here kitty, kitty.


It was pretty even without the cats.


He was looking,  looking and looking.



As I remember we turned about and came back though gate seven to cross the road. We may have been in that section for 90 minutes. No tiger.


Tiger track… we were told he came down earlier in the morning in search of water. That is a jeep tread, check out the size of  that dude’s foot! The tigers in the park are numbered, they told us which one this was due to where he was seen. Tigers are, for the most part, solitary and territorial.

There is conflicting information on the web and what park people told us. We understood there were 45 tigers/19 cubs in the park, they are territorial, is there enough space for all of them… the answer depends on who you talk to or what web site you are reading. There are hints of poaching and poisoing still going on. As with anything in the world, tough to sort fact from fiction. In the mean time… have a look at the places we saw that morning.


Spotted Deer



This may be what they call Antelope but I could be wrong being they live most of their lives in the water.



Lone Green Tree.



Peacock, the only pic I got that morning of one that was NOT fuzzy.


Open spaces, wooded spaces, variety there is.




And a view to boot.




Sawai Madhopur from above.


Zone 7 from above. I found out later the tiger in Zone seven is a female with two cubs.

We didn’t see a tiger but we saw much variation in vegetation and terrain. We saw  few animals but it was mostly about the views.

Then there was the afternoon safari… understand seeing a tiger is all about luck and a bit of info. I understand %80 of  the tiger sightings are in the morning so I was not all that hopeful.  In the morning there were six of us plus the driver and the naturalist. In the afternoon it was Mom and I in the back, better viewing for short people, an Indian couple in the middle seats, the driver and the naturist were in the front. The moment the four tourists were settled in seats the naturalist said “There was a tiger sited this morning in zone 4, we know they stay in one spot during the heat of the day. We are going back to that spot hoping to see her.”

And we were off:


Bit fuzzy,  that happens in moving vehicles,  but ya get the idea.



They say this is the largest Banyan Tree in India, my guess is we can not see it all.  There is a wall gate behind, and a fort on the hill.


Reminds me of a photo I snapped in Ireland.







Wild boar



See the peacocks?


Deers, Alligator. Noone seemed all that concerned.


They really are water animals.


This crazy bird.. I thought he was going to land on my head. He is on the rollbar of the jeep. Ya shoulda seen the contortions I had myself in trying to get his photo but not spook him.



We hung about various parts of  the lake watching the animals do what animals do. It was very pleasant.



And then by some clock or magic I know not about we were on a road with a  curve, see the green canter.. I was not convinced I knew what was going on but ya kinda got  the idea everyone was looking for The Tiger.  I know enough about such things that it may come down to a very distance sighting, something though the trees, only of one paw or that we were not going to see her at all.  Shezzz, had I only known.


There we were all of us in various jeeps and canter, waiting, looking, peering in to the forest.  Then… the driver of our jeep stood up, leaned over to whisper in the naturalist’s ear, I saw a smile and he pointed. I didn’t see, he gave me directions I no longer remember on where to find her…poof. TIGER.  Do you see her?  My guess is by now all the other people in the area know our driver found her. Again by some bit of skill or magic I don’t know.. when Miss Tiger got up, they knew where she was going.  The driver whipped the jeep around, if you go, understand your safety is up to you, it was a short,  slightly frightening ride dodging trees, rocks and canters.. jeep stopped… again we wait…


We were NOT alone.


I had no illusion that tiger was going to get anywhere near this circus… and then.


There she  was plain as day walking over the hill like she owned the place.  The driver had managed to park us in a spot directly in front of her.. I kid you not, I had the best seat in the house.






Closer.. ok now my heart is starting to pump and I am a bit worried I am dinner.


Then she turned, not so much as a flicker of “hey, whatcha doing in my forest.”


She looks like two different cats.  I am told every tiger has different stripes.




Then she was gone.   He told us she was a young female of about three years. Goodness, that was all kinds of fun.. we tipped both the driver and the naturist for a job well done.


I enhanced this pic just a tad to bring out her stripes.


The last pic of Rathambore…

Someone put seed out.


Off to Jaipur next…

Todgarh, Rajasthan India

Filed under: India,Photos — she_travels at 11:22 am on Tuesday, April 10, 2012

I have always been feet on the ground, haul my own luggage, public transport gal. I was under the impression when one hires a driver one has to sort out the itinerary and hotels. I figured he was driver only. What a mistake that was… at the beginning of the trip I was checking where we were going what the prices were, concerned I had to do my part… the more days we spend with Lahku the more I came to realize..we were in such good hands all I had to do was enjoy myself.  My guess was at some point Lahku had seen the itinerary I designed when talking to Tarun at Adventure Holiday Tours. He knew all the places I had on my list to see and we did see them all. Added to that he was listening when we said we liked the quiet places… I am telling you,  the two days we spend at the Hill Valley Resort in Todgarh was pure relaxing delight.

Truly people, hire a driver, tell him the things you enjoy, tell him the places you must see then let him sort it all out for you. Better yet, contact Adventure Holiday Tours and request Lahku.

We arrived early enough to have a short amount of time before heading out on a jeep to see the village. The room we were given was huge, on a corner of the building and had two picture windows in the bedroom area and a third very large window in the bathroom. I opened all of them including the door between the bath and bed to find the most refreshing breeze.  Woohoo, no beep beep, no traffic, no people coming and going. This place was my kind of quite.

Views from the room..

It may be a different time of year there would be more green, I was so pleased to have rural openness I didn’t much mind no green.


Mom dipped a toe in the pool, said it was just this side it ice.


I think this guy was cutting tree limbs for the sheep, they sure look like if was dinner time.


Right then, Todgarh is a small rural village named after Colonel James Tod of the East India Company. He was so enchanted by the aura of it he founded this small village. He built a church, jail, post office and other buildings. One of his residence building converted into a Jain temple known as Pragya Shikhar. He spend 20 years in the area.

The gentleman  driving the jeep with Lahku translating said Mr. Tod was one of the few people from the “british time” the Indians liked.

The church, for some reason it was painted blue.


The next three are what is left of a hospital. We asked why the locals were not making use of the buildings. We were told it all belonged to the Government. Hard to say what their plan is.





The jail spoken of was converted in to a children’s school, I have no pics cause I didn’t want to interrupt classes, foreigners in the area was enough to excite them.

At some point we saw a lady on her roof with what looked like tortillas, did ya know about every culture on the planet as a variation of bread?


Who needs an oven to dry things when you have a roof and sun. She offered us a taste, they were not yet completely dried  and HOLY hannah were they spicy.


For those of your wondering about Lahku, this is he in his Reebok wind breaker. Did I mention he has been driving tourists about his county for sixteen years. The guy was all smiles,  the picture of hygiene and his car was spotless.


We were next taken to a memorial, I was under the impression is was for Mr. Tod.. now I think I was not listening.   From Wikipedia : To keep Tulsi’s teachings immortal, followers built a memorial in the village of Todgarh named Mahashila Abhilekh. I also can not for the life of me find my pics of the place.. I found one here.

I did find my pics of the view from the area of  the memorial.


I loved the rocks!


Home, harvest and goats..what more do ya need?


We saw many a lady shifting branches, cow poos or harvest plants on this trip.


I think this was snapped  near the hospital. Not only are the crafts, clothes,  paintings and the like full of color but so are the birds.

We  were asked to meet Lahku and the jeep driver at 9am sharp the following morning, the program was what  they called “Train Tracking” or “Train Treking”. Lahku was very keen to make sure I understood it was a U-Turn train. I had no idea what  that meant but I was all kinds of willing to find out.

Back in the jeep we took  roads though small villages, I did not want to look so much a tourist so I placed the camera behind mom’s back facing behind the jeep.. I was not at all sure what kind of pics I would get.





Hanuman, the monkey God.  Now, we did a bit of reading, learning and talking about Hindi gods. It seems there are either 330 million or much fewer with many faces. It is all very complex. I found both this and this interesting. Nothing like a bit of travel to peek your curiosity.



Goats and sheep often were found together. As were ladies in bright colors with branches upon their heads.


We rode the jeep taking in the villages and rural areas to find ourselves at a train depot.  There were many people about, children, locals, a few tourists.  I am still not sure if tickets were purchased, or who did the purchasing.  Lahku would have told me where to get tickets if  they were needed.  The train arrived, we all boarded, much to my surprise Lahku went with us.  I was very pleased indeed he choose the end of a car cause I spend the whole of my time standing at the door watching the world go by. Both Mom, through Lahku,  and Lahku himself were chatting with various people.




Nice view.



I decided a U-turn train was one that tracked up one side of a valley, crossed the valley by way of a bridge then tracked back down the other side. The children were feeding birds and monkeys. I think it was mostly about the monkeys but the birds were getting in on the game.


You can see the track just past mid way down those hills. We are now on the other side.

I liked this pic.






Then it was flatish again. The train stopped in a tiny place called Phulad. The jeep and driver met us there. It was good fun and a diversion from all the historical sites.


The road out of town was being re-surfaced. Ladies in their bright colors hand moving rock with what looked  like bread bowls to me.  Whew, hard work.


We had a afternoon free to do as we pleased, I parked myself at a window to observe the happenings. Mostly I counted goats but…


I watched the bird for a long time, wishing he would show be his brilliance.  He did in the end but be danged if I was fast enough with my camera.  He looks like this in flight. Wikipedia says he is an Indian Roller.


I saw this woman come over the hill from my left… she went directly to this tree, mind you there are a few to choose from so why this one.


At some point a voice came to my ears, as I looked out the window my brain realized the lady in the tree was talking on a cell phone. This seemed a bit out of place to me.


Finished with her conversation she continued with the tree.


Next thing I know she has it all bundled, on her head, going back the way she came.  Tis a wacky place India.


Mom and I walked a bit before heading off to Rathambore. I like the shadows in this one.


A few from along the road. ..


More harvesting of some sort of grain.


And then there was a cliff wall.


Ranthambore is next..

Udaipur, Rajasthan India

Filed under: India,Photos — she_travels at 7:25 pm on Saturday, April 7, 2012

The drive from the krumbly place to Udaipur is truly beautiful. Hills and curves on a very small road. It is rural valley with fields and fields of green, two different grains, sugar cane and bananas were seen. There were older men sitting on a contraption walking an ox in a circle to pump irrigation water. There were ladies in local colors of the rainbow, working in the fields.

If I had stopped Lahku every time I saw something I wanted a photo of.. I would be in India for the next year…  I decided NOT to ask him to stop at all. Because of this some of the photos are not great.. but I think worth having a look.

Where there were rocks to use, fences where made this way.  Gotta remember the cattle roam free in this land.


I tell ya, where it gets water… tis lovely.


I know,  not great  but look at the wacky cone shaped hill.


Where there were few rocks the fence line looked like this, broken limbs and brush used to keep the cattle out. Some times there was a wire fence as well, sometimes it was just brush. I did see,  more than once,  branches with a long thorn. The white-ish stuff about mid pic is seed stalk of the sugar cane. I may have a better pic from elsewhere.


These next few are random photos of the area near the hotel we were staying.. We deicded to take a walk, Mom nor I cotton to turning back..we got lost.  Ok., not really lost but we were mis placed for some amount of time. It all worked out in the end.  We never did tell Lahku.. he was working so hard to keep us safe and healthy we didn’t have the heart to tell him.


Caged booze, what is up with that?


Temple-ish in town. The design reminds me of Cambodia.




Narrow little not so much streets.



Water pump for many of the homes. While having breakfast on the roof top of our hotel one morning we saw a lady  in a dress like garment “showering” with a hose which seemed to originate from the street. We noticed she did her dishes on the roof as well.

Ahh here, view one direction from the hotel roof..

Sunrise,  I am thinking.


From Wikipedia:

City Palace, Udaipur,  built by the Maharana Udai Singh as the capital of the Sisodia Rajput clan in 1559, after he moved from Chittor. It is located on the east bank of the Lake Pichola and has several palaces built within its complex. Udaipur was the historic capital of the former kingdom of Mewar in the Rajputana Agency and its last capital.




There were many more people here than anywhere else we had been.


I understand this palace complex is the largest in India and it is actually 11 palaces. This is one of  the four courtyards I remember.


A view of Lake Pichola and the Floating Palace,  from  City Palace roof, which is now a famous expensive hotel.



Heaps of inlaid marble. It was all very pretty, this was covered with a heavy plastic to keep visitors hands off.


Another courtyard.


The front of City Palace.


We walked through what I believe is the city gate in to the palace complex. They offer a boat ride on  Lake Pichola from the other side of the palace.  On the way over we came across a bit of space that looked like it had been rented out for a party, perhaps a wedding being is was wedding season. Then we saw these and knew it was a wedding.

Some of this is colored rice, the other bits are flowers.


The boat ramp was right behind me.


A few pics from the lake.

The City Palace.


The Floating Palace.


Part of the city with ladies washing clothes.


Right then,  next up a quiet place..away from the peep peep if traffic and peoples.

Saheliyon-ki-Bari (Courtyard of the Maidens) is a major garden, it was  laid for a group of forty-eight young women attendants who accompanied a princess to Udaipur as part of her dowry. The gardens set below the embankment of the Fateh Sagar Lake have beautiful lotus pools, marble pavilions and elephant- shaped fountains. These fountains are fed by the water of the lake gushing through ducts made for the purpose. Each water channel has its distinct sound and the mingling of these sounds complement the ambience of the place.


Truly a delightful spot.


I was just so happy to have quiet with open garden within the walls, I had no idea I would be so truly impressed by….


Holy Crackers!! Cool  huh?


Backside of the wall above.


I think there were a total of five water features.


Elephants are lucky!

We were so thankful for the quiet place we told Lahku and he had another in mind. Woohoo!


I may have this slightly wrong but I was under the impression this next place is a memorial Chetak, a white warhorse of Arabian decent. Now that I click through Wikipedia it may be a memorial for the Battle of Haldighati. Wikipedia says the statue is in the City Palace grounds.  I can tell you it is not unless there are two.

From Wikipedia:

The battle of Haldighati, lasted only four hours. Both sides fought bravely on the field. Folklore has it that Pratap personally attacked Man Singh: his horse Chetak placed its front feet on the trunk of Man Singh’s elephant and Pratap threw his lance.  In the general melee that followed, Chetak received a fatal wound on one of his legs.

My photo of the statue is not great but my pics of the views from the hill where it is are very nice.




As far as I know this is not Lake Pichola but I have no idea what the name of the lake is.


Temple at the top pf the hill one has to walk up a bizillion stairs to.




Whew, I think I am down to the last few of Udaipur, these taken from our the hotel roof.  By the by ~ I think the name of the hotel was Lake View, the staff was very nice, the food and room were also good. But, were I to go back I would choose  Mewargarth Palace, Mom and I went up the hill to use their internet. We were having such a delightful time with the owners,  Farheen and her mother,  we stayed for dinner on the roof overlooking the City Palace.


K then, last few of Udaipur:


Goats living in the roof.


This is a wedding party that was pasting by on the road below. The green at the top of the pics is the lake.  So, there is a car in front of the wedding party, that is just traffic. In front of it is a rolling PA system with a guy singing, there is also a band of sorts, a few horns and what not, behind them are young men dancing as the wedding party moves down the street, then the older men that can bee seen here behind the car… ya see the horse, it is white, all the wedding horses are white from what I understand in memory of  Chetak. The groom is riding the horse. The woman are last in the party.  They travel from the groom’s house to the brides to take her up to where ever the wedding is going to take place. Lahku told us that if you have more money you can rent an elephant or of you have a longer distance you can take a white car.

Parasol over the groom.



There ya have it!


Ok, we had been to several quite places within cities and we stayed in the hills in Rankapur. Lakhu had yet another surprise in store for us. Todgarh is next.


Filed under: India,Photos — she_travels at 9:19 pm on Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Another one of the highlights of the trip… Poor Lahku had to correct me every time I said the name, I would say “That krumbly place.” He would reply with Kum Ba La Garh. Lahku was all smiles and giggles so he was far from offended when I messed with the names of his historical sites.

From Wikipedia:

Kumbhalgarh is a Mewar fortress in the Rajsamand District of Rajasthan state in western India. Built during the course of the 15th century by Rana Kumbha, and enlarged through the 19th century.

Built on a hilltop 1100 metres above sea level, the fort of Kumbhalgarh has perimeter walls that extend 36 kilometers, the second-longest continuous wall, after the Great Wall of China. The frontal walls are fifteen feet thick. Kumbhalgarh has seven fortified gateways. There are over 360 temples within the fort, 300 ancient Jain and the rest Hindu.

Our first view of the Krumbly place.


We followed two camels up the hill. We discussed at length what they were carrying, in the end we decided maybe it was drinking water for the workers.


We walked the wall the farthest point you can see.


One of the many gates. I think the camels were behind me here. One was sitting like you see them, all folded up and the other was standing.


Look under his belly between his legs, I had no idea they had a callas, for lack of a better word, to rest their chest on the ground.


Now we know why they do as they are told, I sure would if someone had a small rod through the soft tissue of my nose.  Cute  huh?  He was all for having his photo taken.


Bamboo and some kind of lashing to make scaffolding. We think they were washing the walls.


Part of the 36km of wall.


First Monkey sighting.


One of the several temples within the wall.


Mom and I were walking the wall.  The monkeys were everywhere. Look at  the tail…whew!


We walked some distance.


Another of the temples, if ya look hard you can see more wall going, going…whew!





Main wall from the outside.


Udaipur, comin at ya.

Ranakpur, Rajasthan, India

Filed under: India,Photos — she_travels at 12:42 pm on Wednesday, April 4, 2012

When I sorted the itinerary I was under the impression there was enough time to drive from Jodhpur to Udaipur stopping to see both the temples in Ranakpur and Kumbhalgarh Fort. I was so very pleased when Lahku decided our best course of action was to spend the night in Ranakpur. Out of the city, no peep peep, very little pollution, the food at  the hotel was wonderful and look at the view from my bed.

Woohoo, green and mountain.. yippeee.

Bit of color in the dining area of the Chandra Hill Resort. They made a chicken corn soup I could not get enough of, yummy!! 

When people talk about must see places… the Jain Temple in Ranakpur is one of those must see places. If ever in Rajastahn, find a way to visit.

It reminds me of a mini Angkor Wat, another place anyone who travels should see.

Elephants are lucky.

Here we go, the inside is truly beyond beauty.

From Wikipeia:

Light colored marble has been used for the construction of this grand temple which occupies an area of approximately 60 x 62 meters. The temple, with its distinctive domes, shikhara, turretsand cupolas rises majestically from the slope of a hill. Over 1444 marble pillars, carved in exquisite detail, support the temple. The pillars are all differently carved and no two pillars are the same.

Steps in to the temple.

The many colors of India.

My favorite of the bunch.

There were several other temples in the area.

The was our first green parrot sighting.

Cool   huh?

While Ranakpur is truly beautiful, the vast size  of Kumbhalgarh will take your breath away.

Kumbhalgarh is next.

Jodhpur, Rajasthan India

Filed under: India,Photos — she_travels at 9:20 am on Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Jodhpur is called the Blue City but before we get to that.. Lahku wanted us to have a visit to Jaswant Thada. From Wikipedia:

The Jaswant Thada is an architectural landmark located in Jodhpur. It is a white marble memorial built by Sardar Singh in 1899 in memory of Maharaja Jaswant Singh. The monument, in its entirety, is built out of intricately carved sheets of marble. These stones are extremely thin and polished so that they emit a warm glow when the sun’s rays dance across their surface. Within this cenotaph, there are also two more tombs. The Jaswant Thada is a traditional cremation ground of Jodhpur rulers.

Ya don’t really have any idea what your in for from here.

I love the combination of the white marble and the red stones.

Wow huh?

This one is my fav of the place.

Up next…

Some times I am aware enough to snap the name of where  I am. So many historical sites kinda get muddled in your head at such a fast place. The cool bit is, every one is slightly different and all of  them were very interesting. By the by ~ you can see Menrangarh from Jaswant Thada

From Wikipedia:

Mehrangarh Fort, located in Jodhpur city in Rajasthan state, is one of the largest forts in India. The fort is situated 400 feet above the city and is enclosed by imposing thick walls. Inside its boundaries there are several palaces known for their intricate carvings and expansive courtyards. A winding road leads to and from the city below. The imprints of cannonball hits by attacking armies of Jaipur can still be seen on the second gate.
There are several cannon ball marks here though tough to see.
Tis a fair impressive place being the foundation was started in 1459. Building and additions continued til 1873 or there abouts.
One must have cannons on their fort wall.
And then there is the view…
The bit of green sorta center pic is a garden.
Blue City, yes?
Lahku,  took us to the Jodhpur market, he offered to keep track of us while we wandered the streets but I was not feeling myself.  I had a nasty head cold, I had been fighting. The wacky part was, it only lasted three days. Mom never did get it and neither one of us ha any tummy issues.
A few random pics while in town…
Jodhpur clock tower.
Right then… next… one of the places NO one who visits Rajasthan should miss.

Jaisalmer Redux

Filed under: India,Photos — she_travels at 11:12 pm on Monday, April 2, 2012

Right then next up…

See that date? 1367… holy hannah!!

Ahh, the colors of India!  The lake is directly behind me. If ever I have a house on my own I might start collecting crafty umbrellas.

From Wikipedia:

Jaisalmer Fort is one of the largest forts in the world. It is situated in Jaisalmer city in the Indian state of Rajasthan. It was built in 1156 AD by the Bhati Rajput ruler Rawal Jaisal, from where it derives it name.
With 3000 residents, many are selling their wares within the fort walls. This is just inside the gate.

Cool huh?

Yes, random loose cows even in the fort. We were  on a mission to find a view.

That worked out. Reminds me of parts of Syria.

From Best in Jaisalmer:

Jain Temples situated in the Jaisalmer Fort are a must visit site in Jaisalmer, Rajasthan. You will find these temples to be very old and high pilgrimage as well as archeological value. These are a chain of Jain temples dating back 12th and 15th centuries and are devoted to various Jain Tirthankars. On the walls of the temples, you can find animal & human figures, carved in famous Dilwara style.
Carvings, Carvings everywhere.
Mom and I had discussions about what this might be, any thoughts?
Truly an amazing place.

Talk about balance.

Lahku took us to a temple outside of the city next.
From Time Travel in India:

Ludharwa is north west of Jaisalmer and is an important center of Jain pilgrimage It was Lodharwa Fort that Rawal Jaisal abandoned and shifted to his new capital. Ruins of the ancient township can still be seen here. The main temple enshrines an image of Parasnath, the 23rd tirthanker, and is finely wrought in silver and surrounded by fine sculptures. The temple has its own resident cobra, which is said to be 1.5 meters long and over 400 years old. It lives in a hole on the north side of the temple and it is said to be very auspicious to see the cobra.
I was, however, duly impressed.
Can you even believe the carving.  Never mind the thing is HUGE!!
From the outside….
Inside the same wall.
We did not see the cobra,  only  his hole in the wall and a bowl of milk.
On the way back to town we saw many a goat…
Have a look at his horns.
The last stop in Jaisalmer was sunset point.
One of my favs I think…
Look at that, no sunset pic from sunset point.  I did snap a shot of the fort from the hotel roof.
OK, part of the fort.
Up next, Jodhpur, the blue city.

Jaisalmer, India

Filed under: India,Photos,SunSet — she_travels at 10:09 am on Monday, April 2, 2012

Couple of pics from the road on the way to Jaisalmer.

The rock slabs are used for fence and walls of homes as well as cattle guards.

Driving east toward Pakistan, past Jaisalmer to Khuri, Lahku was kind enough to stop the car so I could have a pic of the Fort in Jaisalmer. The place is as huge as it looks. This is the only fort we saw with residents, 3000 of them.

You may remember a  small hut mom and I stayed in on the Thailand trip. This so much reminded us of that place.

We had a quick wash up and a cuppa before heading off on camels to see the sunset.

People, I have been on nine zillion horses and more than one elephant, none of this prepared me for a camel. They have four joins in their hind legs, they stand up back end first so you are thrown forward much more than you ever imagine you will be, AND they keep going up. By the time Ralph (yes I named him Ralph) was unfolded I thought I was going to have altitude sickness. I am embarrassed to say a bit of a surprised squeal escaped.  Mom having watched my distress was cucumber cool whilst  Daisy Mae rose to complete height.

The next few are from the camel ride. I don’t think riders are allowed to control the camel, we were not, there were two guys walking with us. I was truly surprised to see how sensitive Ralph was to what the camel boy asked.

The community well, I think these ladies are washing clothes.

It took me three attempt to get this pic, it was all about timing with camel movement.

Sure enough desert.

Ralph’s ears.

Daisy Mae napping while we wait for the sun to set.

Between the pollution and the dust in the air..this is what you get.

The place we stayed. These people were so nice and the food, holy hannah, all of it locally grow. The soup stuff was yummy.

I am out of time again… to be continued.

Mandawa and Bikaner, India

Filed under: Beginings,India,Photos — she_travels at 11:00 pm on Sunday, April 1, 2012

We had decided, do to all the stories of India being a bit much on the senses, not to spend any time in Delhi on arrival. If after the Rajasthan loop we changed our minds it could be worked out. We were in Delhi for two nights but arrived very late from the airport and late enough not to want to see much after Rajasthan. I do remember on one zip through town having the India Gate pointed out.

I remember very little of that 1st night past the hotel we had chosen was proving difficult to find. I finally suggest to Lahku (the driver) if he had some place else for the same price he would rather we stay I was all for that, I just badly needed to sleep. Mom and I later decided there was a possibility because of the location (old delhi) of the hotel we choose Lahku was not comfortable leaving us there. We never asked exactly why, we were just glad to be on our way to a place he knew.

The following morning Lahku collected  us at the appointed hour to take us to “the office”. We had not up until arriving at the office paid any money. Tarun and his father wanted to welcome us, review the itinerary and square away the fee. I had research some of the hotels I wanted to have a look at but Mandawa was not one of those places so we left it up to Lahku to make choice, it is possible he was having help via his cell phone.

If I remember correctly we left Delhi about 11am. I now wish I had taken some photos of the truly creative, down right amazing buildings, on the way out of town. Have a look at these pics of buildings in a place called Gurgaon,  just south of Delhi.  The reason I bring is up is cause India is all about the extremes.

Once completely outside of the city one sees camel carts, ox carts, horse carts, people pedaling carts, bicycles, people on foot, all shifting this and that from point A to point B. Anything from stacks of tennis shoes on the back of a bike to a camel cart moving sand, bricks or sugar cane.

Anything you have ever heard about India driving multiply by 100, there are all manner of things in the road from all the those mentioned above to loose cows, monkeys, dogs, children, pigs, broken trucks, tractors, tuk tuks, motor bikes, cars driving the wrong way down the highway. The driving alone is an experience. Thus, no pics, I was trying very hard not to express my concern for the traffic, in the end I had to stop looking out the front window, I sat in the back of the car with my head out the window.

I have one pic of the drive…

The yellow is harvested and transformed into mustard oil. The trees in the back, I do not know the name of,  the residents cut branches for fire fuel, either for heat or cooking.

We arrived in Mandawa after dark, I have no idea what time it was I just knew if I didn’t land in a bed as soon as possible I was going to go bonkers. The following morning we were up before sunrise.

From the roof and on the roof of our hotel.

This building was across the street.

Lahku told us what time he would be back to take us to breakfast. We ended up at this place…

Hotel Mandawa Heritage, a much more expensive place than where we stayed, whose name I do not remember.

Mandawa’s claim to fame is the mansions(havelis) that have lavishly painted walls. After breakfast it was suggested we go for a walk with one of the local chaps to have a look at them.

If I remember correctly these buildings are from the 1800’s.

An entertainment room inside one of the havali, see the small doors inset in the red at the top of the pic. The women of the home were not allowed to go out or be seen so they hide in those small spaces to watch the show from above.

One of the many interesting, very old doors.

From the roof looking down at the neighbors. We came to realize early on many of  the animals were keep in courtyards, this made it easier to feed, milk and to clean up the poos. The poos were then mixed with some sort of grass and used for fuel to heat with.

Another view from the roof of a haveli.

If I understood correctly all this is part of the haveli I am on the roof of but it was not open to the public. Big place  huh?

On the way back to Lahku…

Camel Carts.

I had to ask what this is. Water for those who have none.

If you wish more info about Mandawa, Wikipedia is happy to help.

We stopped for petrol outside of Mandawa. This happened by.

Lahku’s map had us visiting the Rat Temple on the way to Bikaner. 

While the italian marble is very pretty….

The carvings truly amazing…

and the door beautiful.

I could not get past the idea they are feeding rats that are breeding gang busters and to top it off worshiping them.  Being a temple ya had to take your shoes off, they gave us booties, no cameras allowed.  Yes, mom and I went in for a look, did not see the lucky white rat which was ok I was not going to spend much time looking for him. Feeding rats milk… yuk.

I was far more interested in this…

He is cute and not a soul would tell him to back off from the sugar cane juice leavings.

These next few are Fort Junagarh in Bikaner.

Gold ceiling anyone?

I do love a garden view.

Big place inside a wall.

Cool   huh?

The place we stayed in Bikaner, it was clean an simple. The room was huge as I remember.

We were out for a walk early the following morning. I think it was Sunday. Just us and the local cows.

We saw countless homeless dogs, some starving, some hurt, some in very good shape.  I saw three on leashes,  of those three two were Shepard looking.

Cattle guard at the hotel, rock slabs instead of metal.

Right then I must away to sleep.

We continue tomorrow with Jaislmer and a camel trek.

Paramount Planning

Filed under: Beginings,India,Travel Plans — she_travels at 3:47 pm on Sunday, April 1, 2012

At some point last summer my Mother asked where  my annual adventure might take me. When I replied. “India”. She said,  “May I come?”  I had been considering India for some amount of time and knew, after the emotional challenge of South East Asia, I was not going  solo. I didn’t know who would join me, I just knew I was not going alone. Unbeknownst to Mom she saved me the hassle of finding a travel partner.

Those of you who know me or those who have been reading my rantings know I don’t do itinerary. I choose a international airport destination, deplane and allow  wind and whim to guide my path, choosing from one moment to the next when and where to make a choice.   The more research I did on India the more I came to understand plan is paramount. The county is so densely populated it is recommended you book public transport (trains are the best way to go in India) weeks in advance.  Weeks?! Hell,  I have changed my mind on direction in bus stations just cause the bus I wanted was full. Who wants to waste an hour waiting for the next bus when I can take a different one.

My mother is going to be 74 next month, we knew she may choose not to visit India a second time. I asked if there was anything she wanted, beyond a doubt, to see. Her reply was the ” Taj Mahal”.  Good Choice!

Several years ago Mom went to Thailand with me, the only thing she said she wanted to do was ride an elephant. I laughed thinking she must be joking. She wasn’t,  we found her a elephant to ride, have pics to prove it too. I figured if elephant was on her list last time perhaps we should add camel to this trip.

My understanding is India’s National parks are one of the few places one can see wild tigers.

The least expensive flights from Denver landed in Delhi.

These four points, (Delhi, Camel , Tiger,  Taj)  became the back bone of my first planned Itinerary.

Though I do buy and take a guide book (one never knows when ya might need one), most of the time I do not open them. I met a guy in Syria who was living by his. He complained it was not a current issue, I gave him mine.  Most of my research is done by way of computer before I leave, travel forums, travel blogs.  Amen to Google Images, type the name of anything or place, bingo!  images abound of what you seek. I found the “Well of Stairs” mentioned on a blog, typed it in to Google Images and poof. I gotta see that place.

I researched, planned, printed, and made choices. I found train numbers, schedules. I found out the new train from airport to town is finally running. I found the hotels I wanted to stay in, I found the sections of travel that would have to be done by hired taxi others by bus.  Three months later I typed up my fresh off the presses itinerary and posted it to two travel forums asking two things, is it possible and do I have all the info right. What I got back was “Itinerary seems cool but why don’t you get a comfortable car.”  Huh?!  “Ya mean drive it myself? or hire a driver? what would that cost?”  Thinking , Holy Crackers, drive it myself, no way! In the end what they meant was hire a car and driver. This way you can see more of the country, have a guide of sorts and most of all not have  worry about transport at all not from city to city, not from site to site and best yet not to the out of the way places.  Sounded good to be..what is that going to cost?

More research, more conversations via email and travel forum..one of the tour companies I contacted was Holiday Adventure Tours. Tarun,  was  attentive, considerate, accommodating and informative. I would get replies to my questions so fast I found a world clock to put on my computer, I wanted to know what time it was in Delhi.. several emails later I asked Tarun if he ever sleeps cause I was getting mails very late his time. I emailed Tarun my much belabored itinerary to see what he thought, he said “Thanks for your response towards us, we will serve you with our best. We can make your itinerary the way you want but the itinerary we will propose you is.”  Over the course of the next 40 something emails we hammered out a driving itinerary with his car/driver that would was feasible on the India roads. I will tell you, the plan he suggested was over night stops more often.. I am so very glad we took his advice, that 1st day on the road was a challenge, jet lag, no sleep and India roads..whew!!

by the by ~ the cost was worth every penny we paid Holiday Adventure Tours plus the tip we gave the driver.

Right then the final itineray before I left Denver was:

16 days in Rajasthan with a stop in Arga to see the Taj.

4 days in the north with Tarun.

Right then..here we go!

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