Jodhpur – desert heat at the Fort
Sol and I went the approx. 3h from Udaipur to Jodhpur by minivan. Including a TV, where they showed the new Bollywood Blockbuster “Sultan” (must have been an illegal copy). What a movie! 😀 An Indian wrestler wins a Olympic gold medal, wins the heart of his goddess (also a wrestler), looses her again and turns to be a MMA fighter. In between, they dance and sing like crazy. That is the story how far I was able to follow it during my wake phases. Completely bizarre, but the Indians like it. 😀
We threw our bags in the room when we arrived and moved on straight to the near by fort. An impressive fortress embedded in a hill. If you go up there by foot, like us, the way can get really tough. I felt like a piece of butter on a hotplate. The sun was burning like hell, so we had to take a break every now and then. Finally arrived, we got rewarded with a nice view over the “blue city”, were able to see dozens of eagles circling over us and walked through the cool floors inside the fort.
After another attack of sweating on the way back to the guesthouse, the ice-cold shower seemed to be the paradise on earth. Later, we met “laggard” Nicolas at dinner. He felt way better again. But for all the 3 of us, the day end pretty early and we felt in our well-deserved sleep.
The trip to the Bishnoi Village
Reunited, we started our way to the village, about 35km outside the city. The drive in the open jeep had a certain safari atmosphere. The landscape looked quite similar to the African veld. When we arrived at the village, we drunk tea with an old couple (90 & 93 years old), took pictures of the stunning and excited kids and had a glimpse in the homes of the people. The Bishnois are a religious community, founded by guru Jambheshwar, who live strictly lacto-vegeterian (no meat, fish, milk products and eggs). It is a pretty rudimentary lifestyle. The people seemed to be happy with it, though…Everywhere where we went by, they smiled and waved at us.
Next stop Jaipur – the pink city
Sol left the next morning to Jaisalmer at the Pakistani boarder, while Nicolas and I moved on to Jaipur. We decided to take the train (it had to work one day). Stakes were high, when we went to the train station without a ticket. We needed tons of patience, when we finally found the right counter. The employee was occupied by watching a youtube video. After a while he gave us at least a form to fill out. Meanwhile, they had to turn on the TV in the great hall, next to the counter, and that can take quite some time…About half an hour later, we hold the tickets in our hands. Wonders never cease! I was really about to take my first train in India. And to tell you something, it can be pretty cozy along the tracks of India.
Hungry as Lions, we conquered the restaurant of our hostel immediately, to eat the 1st time at that day. By this time it was already late afternoon. We walked a bit through the streets after our breakfast/lunch/early dinner, when we ran into a special rickshaw driver. He may be the most relaxed guy in ultra-hectic India and the only driver who does not honk every 3 sec like mad. We made an appointment for the next morning, to explore the city with him.
We let the evening die away in a sports bar near by the hostel. That was at least the official description. Alright, their were certain signs of a sports bar. They showed sports at the big screen (sort of an Inidan burning ball/capture version), there was a pool table and they had a Liverpool and a Arsenal pennant at the wall. Nicolas and I met a bunch of French guys there, which were on an exchange in Jaipur for 1.5 month. We planed to meet up again the following night, to go to a nightclub. Don’t let the chance for a Indian nightclub experience slip away.
Sightseeing tour in the rickshaw
All relaxed we had breakfast at the rooftop of our hostel. Our driver was already waiting for us in his rickshaw (probably the oldest and slowest in town), as chilled out as usual. Our 1st stop was at the monkey temple. The clue is the name, it was full of monkeys, shrewdly looking out for food. If you feed them with nuts, watch out for the big guys. They can get pretty aggressive and mixe up your hands and the nuts.
We moved on to a couple of temples and the fort with it’s huge dimension. As any tour, the driver brought us to places to buy some stuff (this time silver and suits), before the trip ended. Lots of impressions and especially the heat made us pretty tired.
Mission cellphone purchase
Braving the tiredness, I had to buy a new communication device. The oversupply of shops gave me a slightly sensory overload, though. After my beloved iPhone 5 died in the Mumbaian monsoon, I wanted to buy a cheap one to scrape by the last weeks of my travels. I decided to buy a plastic-China-stunner for about 80$. Well, it does the job…
Because it’s Lady’s Night
We recharged our batteries a bit before the evening program was about to start. We met the Frensh in our beloved “sports bar”. After a few pleasant Indian beers, we went to the nightclub place called “blackout”. The name did not say it all, but we definitely had a great time. When the doors of the club opened I started grinning. The Indians danced like crazy. Wild and unbridled. 😀
Wonder of the world 5.0
It was time to say Goodbye to Nicolas as well, who went straight to Delhi, to get a flight to the Northwest of India from there. I wanted to visit the famous Taj Mahal in Agra. Again, I planed to get a train ticket right at the station. With large choice of trains in Agra direction, it shouldn’t be a problem to get a ticket. At the end of the day, it work out and I left the train in Agra, but it was not planed that it was literally the end of the day, right before midnight, when I arrived. First of all, nobody could really tell me where to purchase the ticket at the Jaipur station. When I finally found the right counter, it was about to close. After begging a bit, the employee sold me my paper to get to my intended destination. Unfortunately, I had to take a train later then planed, which was, even more unfortunately, almost 2 hours late. It was 1am when I finally hit the sack.
Relentless, the alarm roused me from slumber not even 4 hours later. With some other guy from my hostel I went to the Taj Mahal before dawn. At this time, it is not too crowded of tourists trying to get THE best picture of the tomb.
I had high expectations on the “Crown of Palaces”. And the mausoleum, built in a shape of a mosque, commissioned by Shah Jahan for his big love Mumtaz Mahal, delivered what it promised. Even if the 2 front towers were under construction (the pollution let the marble turn yellow) and so was a bit of a fly in the ointment, the building is sublime. If you look in the water and see the Taj mirroring in it or if you enjoy the rising sun from the West side behind the “Crown of Palaces”, you get to understand why it is one of the new 7 wonders of the world.
With the Taj Mahal I checked 5 out of 7 of the new wonders of the world (Colosseum, pyramids in Chichen Itza, Christ Redeemer, Machu Picchu). I still miss the Great Chinese Wall and the city in the rocks Petra in Jordan.