Thursday, May 24, 2012

India. Part Two.

Part two of our Indian extravaganza began with an enjoyable one-hour drive from Kuhri Village to Jaisalmer, which was a relief after all the time we'd been spending in that hot car the previous few days.

We spent one whole day inside the enormous Jaisalmer Fort and had a really great time perusing the camel hide products ...

Jenny modeling a camel hide cowboy hat.

... feather vendors

... "vintage" clothing and blankets

... homes

... wooden masks and ornaments

... wood blocks for printing on fabric

... ancient ornate architecture

... buying blankets

... watching fabrics get recycled

... giving right-of-way to our bovine friends

... getting henna-ed (well, Monica and Jenny did)

... and eating food.

Jaisalmer was definitely my favorite fort that we visited in India because it was full of life, day and night. Many families live in houses inside the fort, own businesses inside the fort and probably go weeks on end without ever leaving the stone walls surrounding them. It was fun to wind our way through the maze of narrow alleys inside, running into things, people and animals we weren't expecting. The fort is the main attraction in Jaisalmer, so after we'd tapped that, we made our way onward to Jodhpur, staying at the Kuchaman Hotel.

Jodhpur is knows as "the blue city" because, quite literally, the city is painted blue.

More forts.
Jenny mailing postcards outside the Mehrangarh Fort.

We went shopping for spices, teas and aromatic oils.

And were relieved to find a Mickey D's for a safe meal.

No beef or pork products were available, only chicken and vegetarian meals.

Indians like spices so much that they even want their McDonald's french fries to taste flavorful and spicy. The fries come with a bag and a packet of spices. You mix your fries with the spices in the bag, shake it up and enjoy!

There wasn't too much going on in Jodhpur--could take it or leave it. I think the McDonald's might have been the highlight of that city.

Next we went on to one of our favorite places, Pushkar. We stayed at a nice hotel called the Master Paradise.

Lobby of our hotel.
We seeked out a place recommended by the Lonely Planet called "The Pink Floyd Cafe" and it was worth it.

Monica was dressed for the occasion.

The roof had beautiful views of the city.

One hill.
Huge monkeys jumped from roof to roof.

Two more.

A day out in Pushkar...

Monica got in a knife fight!

Pushkar hosts the annual camel fair. It's also a hot-spot during the Holi festival. There was a funny sign posted in our hotel warning visitors not to go outside if you don't like colors (during the festival).

Color powder, when mixed with water, turns into a vibrant paint. Sold year-round.

Pushkar is famous for its lake, which has 52 bathing ghats, where pilgrims come to take a dip in the sacred waters (right next to cows taking dumps). I didn't take any photos because it wasn't permitted.

Next we went to another cool city: Jaipur.

Our huge room in Jaipur.
We went out to a nice Indian dinner with live music and a dance performance.

This lady was not only balancing six jugs on her head, but dancing on a bed of nails!
Jaipur is known as the "pink city." Here's the Hawa Mahal:

Monica and I went to Jantar Mantar, a collection of astronomical instruments built between 1727 and 1734.

Then we met a snake charmer.

Later we went to the Maharaja Palace.

... and then to the Albert Hall Museum, which we loved.

Someone's been feeling up those boobies. They were the only part of this sculpture that was shiny!
 Then to the famous Amber Fort...

We visited a number of shops, where the salesmen offer you a drink (usually masala chai tea) then give you a little demonstration of the crafting process, then sell, sell, sell.

On our way out of Jaipur, we stopped at Galtaji Temple (sometimes knows as Galwar Bagh, otherwise known as Monkey Temple). It was worth it.

Temple built right into the stone cliffs.

Holy bathing water.
Jenny and I bought a bag of peanuts to feed to the monkeys.
Gently handing over the peanut!
Looking back on it, this was a really great leg of the trip. The only part I could have skipped was Jodhpur. Highlights were the Jaisalmer Fort, walking around the streets of Pushkar (on our own!), the Albert Hall Museum and the Monkey Temple. Part Three soon to come...