Wow, I’ve been SkyScraperCitied

17 04 2010

Wow,

Checking thru my photo stats from Flickr I noticed a huge amount of traffic (by my standards at least) for one particular photo.

Lake Pichola Panorama

Seems it was snagged as a banner image for yesterday at SkyScraperCity.

As of the moment its got a 3.83 rating and some great positive feedback. I’m extremely happy. No idea how they got my pic, and they did crop out the watermark, but at least they attributed it back to me, so all is good.

Nice when it happens.

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Jojawar, small but fabulous. Day 7.

1 12 2009

Between Udaipur and Pushkar we stopped for a night in the small village of Jojawar. By far the smallest place on our itinerary, it has maybe 8000 residents. Its nice, small and flat, easy to walk.

Road to Jojawar

On arrival into our hotel, we checked into the old place. It feels like 100 years ago it was a luxury palace hotel for the British, probably hunting. Now? Its feeling a bit run down but full of character. Rather nice place actually. Seems to be about the only place in town, probably as its a good stopping point on the way from A to B.

This girl met us out the front of the place and was more than willing to chat. Everytime we asked, she came out with a different name, seemingly enjoying verbally sparring with the tourists.

Girl of many names.

The town, small, cute and rural. Cows and animals have right of way.

Holy Cow! It's Sacred

Life in Jojawar

Streets of Jojawar

Restaurants of Jojawar

Some of my favourite Indian pics came from the town, it was just so nice with friendly people.

Mother and Baby

Mother and Daughter

The kids especially were fun. Not demanding money or things like kids in bigger cities, just much more fun and cheeky.

Toy Wheel.

Kids and their toys.

Kids, Kids, Kids

Can I have some please?

More interesting was the “shopping”. Being a small local village, there are no supermarkets, shopping centers or the like. Most produce seemed to be sold on street carts, with most of it looking extremely fresh and delicious. The fish however……Nowhere near the ocean and we didn’t see any big rivers.

Local Supermarket Owner

Local Supermarket

Tomato?

Would you buy this fish?

Would you buy this fish?

The night? Well, the restaurant “buffet” wasn’t the best, but sitting in the courtyard, playing cards, drinking beverages looking at this sunset? Amazing.

Jojawar Sunset





Udaipur, city of lakes and palaces. Days 5 & 6

8 11 2009

Continuing on from Kumbalgarh, it was about 80km into the town of Udaipur. Udaipur, the royal city of lakes and palaces is justifiably famous. Why?

Udaipur's City Palace

The city is built on and around Lake Pichola and contains a vast number of royal palaces. If you can remember the James Bond movie, Octopussy, you will remember part of this city. Much of it was filmed in the Lake Palace (now a hotel) and in the Monsoon Palace. While we didn’t get time to visit the Monsoon Palace, we could see it on top of a mountain just out of town.

Lake Palace and Monsoon Palace

When we arrived into Udaipur it was a challenge to get to our hotel. We were stuck in traffic for quite a while and only once we got close to our hotel did we find out that a large tree had fallen, taken out a wall and brought the power lines down, right out the front of our hotel. This also meant no electricity for a few hours. It’s India, no big deal.

We initially went out to see some traditional Rajasthani dances. A short(ish) performance showcasing a range of different dances. Quite interesting.

Rajasthani Folk Dance

Rajasthani Folk Dance

The next morning we headed over to quite possibly one of the most amazing palaces in India, the City Palace of Udaipur. This is the largest royal palace in Rajashtan and stunningly beautiful.

City Palace of Udaipur

Entering through the gateway in the street we came into a large courtyard, still with parking spots for elephants, now used by cars.

Udiapur Palace Gateway

Udaipur City Palace

Golden Face

Like most such places it has been partly turned into a museum. The guard was rather proud of his moustache and happily posed for photos.

Mr Moustache

More pics from within the City Palace

Indian God's

Screened Tower

Need a Hand?

The next day we ventured out onto the lake for a cruise. The centrepiece of Udaipur, it gives great views of all the famous sights as well as superb photo-ops.

Lake Pichola Panorama

Gnats on Lake Pichola

Udaipur City Reflections

Our boat dropped us at one of the floating hotels, so we could wander, take pics and pay exorbitant prices for drinks. The option was there for dinner but not at those prices.

Smoking Elephant

Cats Royal Box

Reflections of a Lake Palace

Sunset came quickly with us still on the lake.

Lake Palace Sunset

Sunset over Lake Pichola





Hill Forts at Kumbalgarh, Day 5 begins

23 10 2009

Oh India, why must you be such a contrasting place? You have both the best and the worst of travel. Really you do.

Located 80km North of Udaipur is the formidable hilltop fort of Kumbalgarh. Built during the 15th century by Rana Kumbha, this fort has some of the most impressive fortifications I’ve ever seen. Its huge walls stretch 36km and are still intact. Supposedly this makes them the 2nd longest continuous walls in the world, after China’s Great Wall.

Kumbalgarh Mountaintop Fort

These walls meant that during its entire history, the fort was only defeated once, by the Emperor Akbar, and that was aided by the poisoning of the water supply. Put simply, this is one of the most secure forts around.

Defenses of Kumbalgarh

Kumbalgarh Defenses

Kumbalgarh Defenses

We were in for a bit of a surprise when we arrived, as there was a French film crew filming part of a travel documentary, using a pair of old American mustangs to travel to various forts and around India. More impressive was their use of a camera mounted on a remote control helicopter. A toy that looked very difficult to use, but loads of fun.

Filming at Kumbalgarh

The fort itself used to have a temple at the top of the hill. Unfortunately now the temple is just a bare shell

Kumbalgarh Fort

We spent a good few hours exploring the remains of the old fort and temple complex. Unfortunately much of it is ruins now, but still it remains highly impressive.

Within the vast 36km walls are other settlements and temples. Obviously at 36km long we couldn’t walk the whole walls, in fact we barely had time to do a few hundred meters. There was plenty to be seen in and around the main area. Numerous temples are right there, mostly allowing entry.

Temple at Kumbalgarh

One of my favourite views was through the main entrance/exit doorway of the final set of defences, the entry into the main fort. It opens out and shows the vastness of Rajasthan and the defences of the fort.

Grand Exit

And of course, how could I forget the monkeys? These cheeky buggers were hanging around the entrance, where the restaurants were. They obviously want nothing better than to steal food from tourists.

Monkey at the Fort

After the fort, we endured the next few hour onwards and into Udaipur, our home of the next few days, and the goal of the next post.





Day 3 continued. Textiles and “downtown Jodhpur”

25 06 2009

After the photographic ramblings of the previous post, I felt the need to trim and compose the latter half of the day. I promise, short and sweet. No, really.

Previously we had been to the Meherangarh Fort, and the Jaswant Thanda. Now it was time to head into town. Being an old town our bus couldn’t fit, so we abandoned it on the outskirts and tuktuk’d it in.

We almost died only a few times in the traffic, Indian drivers have this amazing ability to know exactly what is going on around them all the time (something Korean drivers really need to learn).

Still, we arrived at a (very famous they say) textile shop. 4 or 5 floors of mountains of fabrics. They claim to have had many famous people buy from their store as well as selling lots of “overruns” of things they make for high end western fashion houses. How true is it all? No idea, but all the girls got excited and shopping commenced.

Ignoring the textiles, it was time for a brief wander into town. The old town is a maze of tiny narrow streets, bustling with all forms of commerce.

Delivery drivers are not quite the same here as back home, more of the pedal powered vareity.

Delivery Driver

Also nice to see are the locals just going about their daily business. This lady was just having a laugh with her friend in the house over the road.

Stopping for a chat

Not everything was bright and cheerful. Being an ancient place, the water supply was not what we expect in a city. Many people are still serviced by pump well’s in the town squares, sending their kids down to collect water for the family whenever it is needed.

The Water Boy

Getting late, so we headed back to the textile shop. Girls still shopping (another central theme of any Indian trip). Lucky for us the owners took us up onto the roof, gave us delicious chai and let us take sunset pictures. A perfect end to a day.

A Jodhpurian sunset

The next day is a big travel day, so back to the hotel for dinner and bed. Delicious food, shame about the 90 minute wait for it 😦

Next, the amazing moustache, Jain temples and cute village kids.





Day 2, an Indian Beginning

23 06 2009

Day 2. It begins for real today. Our first day touristing around.

The itinerary states :

Day 2 Delhi
Dive into the heart of India’s capital to explore both Old and New Delhi. Visit Delhi’s famous Jama Masjid, or walk through Chandni Chowk, one of India’s oldest and busiest markets.

Sounds a bit ambitious and it was. Still an amazing day out, if not frustrating.

We began at 11.30am. Why so late? Nobody knew. Most of us wanted to dive in a bit earlier than that and see as much as possible. Not to be. Looking back I believe Anna, our tour guide, wanted a sleep-in.

We Jumped on the metro and headed downtown into the Old city. Even more chaotic than Mumbai if that is at all possible. Absolutely crazy place.

Our first visit was to a large Sikh temple. We were shown around by an elder but by far the most interesting was the food hall behind the temple. Here they feed the people with food that is prepared or donated by the people. Amazing place.

The people working in the kitchen spent hours on end making chaparti breads for the people.

Making the Chapartis

Cooking Chaparti's

A young boy enjoys his lunch.

Boy at Lunch

Next stop was the Jamar Masjid mosque, a short(ish) walk through the market district of Old Delhi.

An amazing blend of old world shops, transport, etc.

India Shop

An amazing number of deliveries are still done by old fashioned means, in this case a modified bike loaded beyond what would be expected (not uncommon in this country).

Deliveries

Cockbrand Fireworks?

Mentally exhausted we arrived at the Jama Masjid Mosque.

Jamar Masjid

Built between1644 and 1656 by Shah Jahan, it has a fantastic view over Old Delhi, down to the red fort.

Red Fort of Delhi viewed from the Jamar Masjid

We came in a side entrance, but the royal gate is the main entrance, opening onto a large 90mx90m square.

The Royal Gate, Jamar Masjid

Detail of tower at Jamar Masjid

Part of the walls, Jamar Masjid

Just to prove I was there, and because some people say there are not enough pictures of me here,

Me at the Jamar Masjid

After all this, it was truly lunch time. Some of the group went back to the hotel and a restaurant near the hotel. We on the other hand headed deep into the markets to a small local place, so small that you would never consider going into it. Great food, bizarre atmosphere.

Following all of this, we headed back to the hotel for yet some more waiting, and then off to the train station for our overnight sleeper train to Jodhpur, and Day 3.

One more photo, possibly one of my favourites. An old bike that had been chained to the wall so long it had become part of the atmosphere.

Indian Bike





India, Oh India. Day 1 of many

23 06 2009

Oh India. Again we visited. Its just that kind of place.

Last year we had travelled for our winter vacation to Mumbai and down through Goa and Kerala. Fantastic and difficult all at the same time. Some of the best travel memories as well as some of the worst. How can any country be so split?

Anyhow, we arrived in New Delhi for our second Indian attempt. This time was a 15 day tour through Rajastan, Delhi and Agra.

Day 1 was the usual of this kind of tour. Meet the group and leader, maybe have dinner together, but no actual activities. Why this is called Day 1 and counted as part of the tour is annoying. Probably in order to make a 13 day tour sound like a 15 day tour. Oh well.