Sunday, December 18, 2016

Marble boats and Palaces.

The city of Udaipur is considered to be the "Venice of India". There are lakes with Palaces and hotels. We stayed on an island with a land connection. The island is owned by the Royal family and comprises two luxury hotels. We stayed at one and the other was considered to be the top hotel in the world 4 years ago. We only walked through the grounds of The Oberoi.

Our first visit was to the Women's Gardens. Built for the women of the Royal court it had delightful gardens, fountains and lily ponds.

Yes these days they allow men into the gardens! Us with a butterfly.

We stopped to look at The Lake Palace. The city is seen as one of the most beautiful in India.

We moved on to The City Palace, a huge complex structure with some very ornate features.

The rooms were very ornate. This one had lots of gold!

Detail on one of the walls.

 The external walls were just as nice as those inside.

We could do an entire blog just on elephants as depicted in temple and palace art.

This is the Jagdish Temple and yes those are elephants.

After checking into our hotel we had a little time and walked to a local market. Later we went on a boat trip on Lake Pichola. The view was wonderful and the afternoon light added to the scene.

A few more photos of the City Palace and the Royal touch.

The sun set and we adjourned to our Palace to hold court.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Ranakpur Jain Temple

It was another long drive from Jodhpur across to Udaipur. The roads at times were very narrow as they went around steep hillsides with sheer drops to the side.
The only stop was at an incredible Jain Temple. The Ranakpur Jain Temple was built over 50 years dating from late 15th century. It had elaborately carved marble columns along with other excellent carvings and sculptures.

                      Make sure that you read to the very end.                       

Jodhpur: The Blue City

It was another long drive over very poor roads to reach Jodhpur, The Blue City. We actually ate lunch on the drive to get there in time to spend the afternoon sightseeing.On the way we watched this very dry landscape with its very traditional local people.

                               This shot has the full family. The clothing was mainly traditional.

After a brief stop at the hotel we visited the Cenotaph where the various rulers have been cremated and memorials constructed. It had great views over the city.

Our main stop was at the Mehrangarh Fort that was constructed in 1459. It was again both fort and palace, The entry was defensive but the palace section contained some great artworks.

                                                  The entry was a steep climb!

                                                 Stunning architecture.

                  This is the Palace of Flowers. A very highly decorated room in gold.

That night we went to the Palace of the former mistress to the Maharajah. A stunning venue and an elaborate meal of traditional Rajasthani food.

This is one of the rooms. We ate on the rooftop with great views of the current palace and the entire city.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

The Pink City of Jaipur, Rajasthan

We have travelled across to Jaipur in Rajasthan. This is the area that we will spend most time. The Mogul Empire was the richest in the world and ruled for about 850 years before the British arrived.

Jaipur is a very interesting place. It is called the Pink city and the buildings of the old city are all painted in a dark pink colour We arrived after a long drive and checked into our hotel. Again excellent! We went to the famous Raj Mandir cinema with its meringue shaped auditorium. It had a huge area to congregate and we sat through the first half of a Bollywood movie. It was situated in Paris and had a dialogue in Hindi, French and English. We had little trouble following it!

The next day was a very full one. We had an early start at The Amber Fort as we rode from the entry to the upper level on an elephant. We have some great prints of this that locals had for us by the time we reached the top! For now a few shots of our elephants.

                             The elephants arrive at the top. We had climbed up higher by this stage!

The Amber Fort is a wonderful site. The elaborate buildings with intricate patterns carved into the marble. There were rooms that served similar functions to castles in Europe as it is more than a fort and is a Royal Palace as well as a defensive fort.

                                      Rob at the gardens. It was a beautiful place to visit.

              The walls and ceilings were highly decorated and the marble carvings exquisite.

                                            Looking down over the gardens and buildings.

                                                           We loved this place!

We moved on with a brief stop to see the Lake Palace and then visited a handicraft centre with high quality goods.  We watched a demonstration of woodblock printing on fabric which was fascinating to see the intricacy and accuracy required to produce a woodblock print in multiple colours,  We bought a few small woodblocks and later a larger one - perhaps we could try going into production ourselves.  This place had very high quality goods on sale - napery, wooden articles, marble tables and of course silk carpets.  The prices matched the quality.  We enjoyed delicious snacks while we browsed.

                                                    Rob and Gail at The Lake Palace.

                                        Rob checking out the woodblocks.
Next we visited the fascinating 18th century Jantar Mantar Observatory with its collection of astronomical and astrological instruments.  It was quite amazing to see the accuracy of the sundials, one of which was told the time within 20 seconds and one which told the time within 2 seconds.  We were able to read it off ourselves!  There were also instruments relating to the astrology signs because in Indian culture, astrology plays an important role in a person's life.

                          The two sun dials. The large one at the back is the world's largest!

Our final stop was the opulent city palace, a former royal residence and now a grand museum with an extraordinary collection of paintings, costumes and armoury.

As this had not been enough for 1 day, we went out to a special dinner where we were entertained by performers in traditional attire while we ate and afterwards saw a puppet show with a modern twist on Rajasthan culture.  It had been a great day.