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eirekay Ranakapur - A travel report by Eire
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Ranakapur,  India - flag India -  Råjasthån
7543 readers

eirekay's travel reports

Rajasthan Road Trip and the Places In Between

  26 votes
Page: 1 2
During our 12 day Road Trip, we quickly discovered that the things we saw along the way could be more interesting and memorable then the sites we traveled so far to see. Every day spent in the places in between destinations became precious and savored! report of the month contest
Sep 2006

Holy Men on Pilgrimage
Holy Men on Pilgrimage
A 12 day road through Rajasthan, linking Dehli, Agra, Jaipur, Pushkar, Udaipur, Jodphur and Jaisalmer meant long hours in a car, 34 hours to be exact, with stops at "lesser" sites. It also meant that we had a window to a very different world, full of spectacular scenery and even more spectacular glimpses of rural life. Our car family consisted of my daughter Lila (21) and me, with the services of an excellent, but not fluent, driver, Mr. Sham. By the time we left Delhi, Mr. Sham was charmed and would pull over to look at monkeys or take photos of water buffalo soaking. A brief 36 hours after landing in India, we saw our first dead guy on the side of the road (victim of an encounter with a bus) and we quickly realized that this trip would require adapting to our new environment:

Top Five Things to GET OVER:
1) The lines on the road are decorative only. Don't expect your driver, or anyone else, to use them.
2) Road conditions are bad, and they get worse the further you get from Delhi. You have to travel during daylight.
3) If you can pass with 10 feet to spare between you and an oncoming vehicle, pass!
4) 2 lanes does not restrict the road to 2 vehicles; not even to 3 and yes, they can all be traveling in the same direction.
5) Relax - you are not late. Time has no meaning. Enjoy. Even a flat tire can be pleasant.

Once we mastered the above, we took in amazing, AMAZING sights. Holy men on pilgrimage, riding elephants from village to village. Women pumping water at wells and balancing brass jugs on their heads, or washing laundry in the stream. Herds of camel, goat and sheep. Cattle traipsing into villages in the morning and back out at night - turns out that the cattle that roam the street do belong to farmers. They wander out at dawn to be fed by villagers and then return home at dusk. Camel carts loaded with wood or wares for sale. Fields being plowed by oxen. Villagers walking miles and miles to go to Temple. Neither of us ever slept in the car

Favourite spots:
Ranakapur - Chaumukha Temple with its 41 spires
Ranakapur - Chaumukha Temple with its 41 spires
RANAKAPUR: Located between Udaipur and Jodhpur, just getting to Ranakapur is a treat. It sits in a lush valley surrounded by steep mountains and rushing waterfalls. By far the most beautiful of the Jain Temples we saw (and all Jain Temples are beautiful), Ranakapur's Chaumukha Temple contains 41 spires and 1,441 columns, each one different from the other. Chaumukha translates to "Four Faced", referring to Adinath, "Giver of Truth", the God in the center altar who faces all four directions. Built in the 15th century, 29 courtyards separate 12 shrines and 6 foot elephant carvings, complete with rider, fill several halls. Known for its carvings, the ceilings alone are worth the trip. An ornate carving sits over the entrance that depicts the circle of life, while 29 huge, elaborately carved, domes complete the complex.

This is a site of pilgrimage, which afforded us a wonderful opportunity to meet people. We were offered fruit by one group and, later, a chance to join a family picnic.

What's really great:
Ghat on Lake Pushkar-throw in your flowers for Good Kharma!
Ghat on Lake Pushkar-throw in your flowers for Good Kharma!
PUSHKAR: This small village and the surrounding hills are filled with nearly 400 temples. Most come here to visit the only Temple in the world dedicated to Lord Brahma, and follow a Kharma Ritual. We learned the hard way that you can not walk down to the Ghats on Pushkar Lake until after you have paid for flowers to throw in, but don't be tricked into foregoing the full ritual by men claiming to be Brahma Priests who lie in wait for tourists in front of the Pushkar Palace Hotel.

The ritual involves a 2K walk through a narrow but charming Bazaar up to the Temple. At the base of the Temple, you can buy flower petals from a Temple student and then walk up the Temple stairs to a small altar where a Priest will take the flowers, mix them in and give you back a handfull. Take these down to the Ghats, but use one of the side Ghats off the Bazaar. A Brahma will then kneel with you, say some prayers and collect a small sum of money and you can throw the flowers into the Lake.

Entrance to Fort Pokaran
Entrance to Fort Pokaran
Deogarh Mahal: A stunning 17th century palace with amazing frescoes that greet you as you walk into the courtyard. Located between Japiur and Udaipur, it has recently been converted into a heritage hotel and they are trying to drum up business. We were greeted with cool limeades and when Lila mentioned that she is an art student, the owner personally took us through his 200+ painting collection, and also into some guest rooms with marvelous minature work.

Fort Pokaran: More primitive and in the midst of being restored, this 14th century Fort/Palace stands between Jaisalmer and Jodphur. The marvelous wall paintings and beautifully carved red sand stone make it a great stopping point on the long drive between cities. Walk inside - there are collections of minature paintings and costumes, but best is the collection of weapons. One particularily brutal hand weapon had three blades that popped out when released. NASTY! We were given hot tea and sweets for stopping in

Jagat Singh Pool
Jagat Singh Pool
LIVE LIKE A MAHARANI: We stayed in heritage properties once we got outside Delhi and I highly recommend it! The rates are reasonable ($30-$50/night) and the experience is fantastic! Most have restored salons and dining rooms that conjure up images of the Silk Route and Camel Caravans!

Pushkar: We stayed in the Jagat Singh, a Heritage property with beautifully painted ceilings and murals of tiger hunts, a stunning dining room and marvelous salons. The room had beautiful vintage furnishings, along with a truly vintage bathroom, but a beautiful swimming pool and gorgeous gardens more than made up for any short comings. It is outside Pushkar proper which suited us, but was not very useful for walking about on your own.

We didn't stay in either of the heritage properties I mentioned under Palaces and Havelis above, but saw rooms in both and they were everything a heritage property should be.

I ordered the blue one!
I ordered the blue one!
Guides will take you to all sorts of "Craft Cooperatives" in the cities, but there are several in the countryside that you may want to visit, where you actually see the villagers making their wares. Our favorite:
Roopraj Durry Cooperative in Salawas, south of Jodhpur. Here we watched as weavers carefully crafted rugs from local cotton dyed with vegetable colours in the most vibrant hues imaginable. The looms are primitive, made from tree branches but the work is exquisite. They spread 20 carpets in front of us so that we could choose the patterns and then the colours for the one we ordered!

An Indian Double Decker Bus
An Indian Double Decker Bus
DOUBLE DECKER BUS: We tried to explain to my husband over the phone that we kept seeing villagers ride on the top of the buses. My husband responded "Oh, like in London." Well, not quite. The next morning we told our driver about the conversation and he howled. Later, during our drive, we leaned out the window to take a photos as passengers climbed up on top of yet another bus. Our driver quickly put the car in gear and, without a word, went hauling up a set of switch backs at break neck speed. We caught his eye in the rear view mirror - "You'll see. You'll see." He swung over abruptly and said "Get Out! You'll see. Wait for Photo!" Sure enough, up the hill came the bus, with the perfect opportunity to snap a picture! So I offer you our version of a double decker bus!

Other recommendations:
Lila with the boys - we still don't know the name of the fruit but it was tasty!
Lila with the boys - we still don't know the name of the fruit but it was tasty!
Okay, I admit that there is some advantage to traveling with a pretty young blonde but once we got out of the Golden Triangle our blondness was an issue. In rural cities, people came up and touched our hair and our skin. At least twice a day we were photographed with some newly met family or friends - this was true even in Delhi and Jaipur. We had fun with it and were offered terrific bonuses as a result. People told our driver about unique places to take us. We got fed on several occassions. People tried out their English and we shared laughter. We brought 100 packs of gum and 150 toosie pops. On one occassion, we realized as we walked toward the last two seats in the back of a bus, that we were the only non-Indians and people were turning to stare. We quickly opened five or six packs of Juicy Fruit gum and started handing out sticks. Suddenly everyone was our best friend. We came home with 3 gum packs and no tootsie pops, but with incredible memories!

Published on Tuesday October 10th, 2006

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Mon, Mar 26 2007 - 04:37 PM rating by biya67

Beautiful pictures and a well written, entertaining and informative report!

Thu, Nov 30 2006 - 04:55 PM rating by picasso

Dear Eire,you had incredible trip, and your travel report even more
incredible with your own recommendations ,observations and expertise.
What an experience! No wonder you have the highest rating –the rating of the

Tue, Nov 21 2006 - 03:04 AM rating by hieronyma

What a wonderful, vivid report. I want to pack and to hit the road. Rajastan will be my next trip, I promised myself.
Take care.

Sat, Nov 04 2006 - 08:19 AM rating by horourke

Congratulations you have not only achieved an outstanding report of great use to many people but you have also included the exquisite Pokaran entrance picture. Very well donw

Thu, Nov 02 2006 - 09:48 AM rating by magsalex

Congratulations on report of the month. Well deserved.

Wed, Oct 25 2006 - 01:48 AM rating by downundergal

Lovely report filled with helpful travel tips and some fabulous personal observations, I guess the old adage "blondes have more fun" does ring true. 5* Cheers Kerrie

Thu, Oct 19 2006 - 07:06 AM rating by frenchfrog

talking about road safty reminds me my time in Nepal, Do they really have a highway code? I stop counting the number of time I nearly got run over by things on wheels! Any way great report, what else to say apart from 5*! well done, I hope you have more reports comming as it is nice to read!

Sun, Oct 15 2006 - 08:48 AM rating by sajjanka

nice and great

Sat, Oct 14 2006 - 07:14 PM rating by gloriajames

Thanks for sharing with us your greatest journey and this is by far the best of your best reports! Well done! So when's the next mother & daughter trip? 5*****

Fri, Oct 13 2006 - 11:22 PM rating by st.vincent

An entertaining account of what must have been a great adventure. The little pieces of humour work very well in the report.

Fri, Oct 13 2006 - 11:13 PM rating by terje

Well written, with fresh and personal facs. I enjoyed this report!

Thu, Oct 12 2006 - 02:27 AM rating by marianne

Your TOP FIVE is truely the top. Add this: buses have priority over trucks, trucks have priority over cars and cars over rickshaws, pedestrians have no rights. That is why I was hardly ever afraid when travelling on a bus in the wrong lane, in a blind bend. (Unless the bus from the other direction would do the same, but this never happened). The view from the car / bus window is the best part in India, but also in Indonesia, Malaysia, Tanzania and quite a few other places.
This report deserves to be RoM

Wed, Oct 11 2006 - 10:12 PM rating by jorgesanchez

Lovely report!
I guess it will be a good candidate to receive RoM for October.

Wed, Oct 11 2006 - 09:19 AM rating by mrscanada

I thought most people in India spoke English. I guess I was wrong.

Eire I'm too old to fly to India so I'll have to see it throught your eyes. Unless I won a lotto then I could have a private jet. :)

Wed, Oct 11 2006 - 04:20 AM rating by mistybleu

What a fab report. Fill with good memories and wonderful humour. I'm still smiling.

Simply wonderful

Tue, Oct 10 2006 - 11:59 PM rating by rangutan

Ha Ha - double decker bus! A superb report, very well written and well illustrated report!

Tue, Oct 10 2006 - 08:53 PM rating by ravinderkumarsi

wonderful report ,more of a persoanl touch,great pic too.

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