Sep '14: Of Palaces and Forts: Royal Rajasthan

Dry Ice

Well-Known Member
It has been almost an year since I visited Amer Fort... Amazing place...and nice to see that guy still sitting there at the exit...:D
haha! Sharp memory! Nice pic!
Great Narration, Good Pictures. Waiting for more
Thanks!
Hey this is an awesome log. Great write and good pics. Pour in more :)

Reminding me on my trip to Rajasthan! Longing for another trip already!
Your log was really helpful plan parts of this trip! Thanks!

Achhi Suruwat...
Lovely pictures
Thanks!
 

Dry Ice

Well-Known Member
Sep 28, 2014
To Jaipur
contd...

The car AC cools us down a little and we regain some of the lost energy. The Jal Mahal and Hawa Mahal are ‘observed’ from the car.

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Jal Mahal

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Jal Mahal upclose

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Hawa Mahal

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Kathputlis on sale in the market opposite Hawa Mahal

Finally we are at the hotel by 3:00 pm. Nice little place in a quiet neighborhood. Parking is an issue though.

Where is the parking?
Deewar ke saath yahin laga dijiye
But, I had specifically asked, parking hai? Nobody told me I would have park in an alley!
Sab yahin lagate hain, sape-ti ka koi problam nahi hai.

After resting some more, in the evening, we are headed to Choki Dhaani. The newer parts of the city seem better developed, complete with wide, clean roads, glass towers by the side - modern symbols of modernization. :D
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A random clocktower

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Occasional Gajraj also steps by

Although it's around 20kms away, in no time, we are at Choki Dhaani.

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Entrance

I had first visited this place way back in 2009 and have fond memories. Back then, they had just one dining hall and there used to be a mad rush for dinner. Fearing something similar, I reach there rather early. And for the second time today, we are pleasantly surprised to see a rather ‘empty’ Choki Dhaani.

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Reception/Ticket Area

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Map of sorts - gives an idea of what to expect


We roam around the crafts shops while the ladies do a bit of shopping, have some masala soda, shoot a few ballons, enjoy the cultural show, watch a few magic tricks, laze around on the charpai, basically, enjoy the atmosphere. No camel or elephant rides though.

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Pardon me for a few 'abstract' art kinda shots there.

It’s time for food now! Proof of the pudding. :)

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Though the food is equally good this time, I somehow feel the erstwhile ‘warmth’ is missing. Let me clarify, the service is not lacking. They still are as efficient as before, but, this time, I didn’t feel the same excitement in them.

We have a paan before finally leaving the place. Tomorrow we head out to Udaipur. But, before that, will visit the Birla Temple, as it’s walkable from the hotel.

Sep 29, 2014
The Morning After

We are at the temple by 8:00 am. It’s rather peaceful and quiet. Lovely atmosphere.

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Main temple

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Some fort on a nearby hill

Though there are the occasional pee pee from the motorists on the road below but still, the setting is very serene. We roam around and enjoy the calmness. The temple itself has beautiful glass-work. Kind of like what we see in churches usually.

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Finally we move out of here at 9:00ish.

As we walk towards the hotel, we come across a few more temples in the same lane - paying respects at each we trudge along. At the next corner, I see the brilliance of a man’s brain. 3 cows are tied to a pole and this man is carrying fodder. But he isn’t feeding them. He is selling the fodder to people like us and then, asking us to feed the cows back! In the process promising punya and moksha. Right. All he is doing is getting paid to feed his cattle!

I mean if ever there was a more apt example of having your cake.. err.. fodder.. and eating it too!

Anyway, we move on. Reach the hotel in 10 mins and after settling the bills, are on our way to Udaipur! The City of Lakes.

More Soon...
 
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Dry Ice

Well-Known Member
Sep 29, 2014
Onwards to Udaipur


Jaipur - Kishangarh - Bhilwara - Chittorgarh - Udaipur. Seems simple enough. As I set up the phone, Google says I will reach in 6 hours. Understandable - firangs don’t know our country and it’s road that well. I mentally prepare everyone for an 8+ hour journey.

We are out of Jaipur quickly and before we know it, hunger pangs are here. Obviously. We haven’t had breakfast yet. It was a temple morning after all. Places are rushing by but I don’t find anything appealing.

Maybe, I am expecting too much, maybe, this stretch..
That looks good enough - pure veg too!

Being Navratri, pure veg is a constraint too when traveling with elders.

Place is nice. Has a different section for families, complete with separate restrooms, AC and the works. It’s close to 11 am and we order brunch, with the idea that we will save some time by not stopping again for lunch. Food is surprisingly good and completely VFM. We fill up the car as well post brunch. The road continues to be good and we are cruising comfortably.

Take a u-turn as soon as possible
Google reminds me of it’s presence and importance.
Huh?
In 200 meters, please make a u-turn

I stop and once it has my undivided attention, says,
Continue straight on the National Highway 79 for 95 kilometers

#-o


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NH 79

NH79 is 2-laned and deteriorates somewhat in quality as compared to the 3 laned Jaipur - Kishangarh stretch. The truck traffic increases exponentially. I don’t know why people are scared of Delhi - Jaipur NH-8. I promise, drive on this road once and you will start loving NH-8. And don’t even get me started on the Gurgaon toll. What used to happen at Gurgaon toll between small cars etc, happens here even now. And not cars - 16 wheelers jumping lanes to the shorter line!

We do some sort of "off-road driving"** to bypass these turf wars but can’t avoid them all. All tolls on this stretch were horribly crowded. We cross Bhilwara somewhere around 3 pm. Chittorgarh coming up fast.

**By off-road, I mean off the road literally, not the 4x4 stuff.

At Chittorgarh, I am confused -
Board says,
Udaipur →

Google says,
Udaipur ↑

Basically, the board directs me to take the SH between Chittorgarh and Udaipur. Google, on the other hand, asks me to stay on NH-79 if I want to live and reach Udaipur tonight. Through SH, it tells me, it will take an hour longer. I figure, she must be calculating ETA based on the speed limits. SH has a lower limit as compared to NH and thus it shows a longer travel time via SH.

I turn right and take the SH-9 to Udaipur.

The road is super. More than the tarmac, my eyes are happy seeing something other than brown boxes, Horn Please, Dipper at Night, OK TATA, All India Permit, etc etc.

I start to enjoy the greenery and scenery around. There is a single railway line that comes parallel to the road and runs along it for sometime before disappearing into the far horizon again.

1.5 hours and 110 kms later we join the NH-76. Brother of NH-79 if you will. Same kind of traffic. Trucks and just trucks. In sometime though, they disappear and it’s city traffic now.

Google tries to redeem itself and guides me perfectly to the landmark near our hotel - Jagdish Mandir. From there on, locals help me find the public parking. As if my experience at Amer was not enough, roads here are even narrower! But thankfully we manage to reach the parking in one piece without any unwelcome incident. It's 6:00 PM as I switch off the car. It’s been exactly 8 hours since we started.

The hotel boys arrive soon, take our luggage and guide us to the hotel. We rest for sometime and then head to the ghat nearby.

What I see, I hadn’t expected. It’s a shady dingy place with groups of boys sitting at ill lit places. The Lake Palace is visible up front, looks glorious but the place is very dirty, filthy. It's so bad, I don't even take the camera out. We retreat and hire a rick to take us to Doodh Talai instead to better enjoy the night view. Although a little far, it is a much better place. Though slim shady guys can be seen here too, but the place is not overly crowded or dirty. Others sit around while I take some long exposures.

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The Lake Palace


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Jag Mandir

The rick drops us back at Jagdish Mandir and we try to find a veg only restaurant for dinner. Everybody seems to be recommending "Anna". So we give it a try. But later regret. Absolutely pathetic food. We entered only coz we saw a few families already there.

Teen Lemon Soda - 1 sweet, 1 sweet-sal… I try to order Lemon Soda but the guy is gone before I even complete.
Huh?
Lata hun, lata hun..

He soon brings a soda bottle, some sugar in a bowl, a spoon and 2 pieces of cut lemon.

What is this?
Yahan aise hi aata hai, aap mix kar lo.

After this rather forgetful experience, we find a good veg-only option, Maxim something nearby. We will try it tomorrow. For now, back to hotel and rest after the long day.

More later ...
 
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Dry Ice

Well-Known Member
Sep 30, 2014
Exploring Udaipur

Today, we explore Udaipur.

We wake up lazily and get ready to explore the city. The reception guy quickly hands over a not-to-scale map and with a pen in hand, starts drawing circles around the points that are must-see. I wait for him to offer his services.

Aaatuu kara deta hun, sari jagha ghuma ke aapko city palace deraap kar dega, udhar se aap idhar aa jana
How much?
Paan, che-so lega, puchta hun
Yesterday I had enquired with the fellow who had taken us to Doodh Talai. He had quoted 550.
Saadhe-paanso lega sir
Ok, but call him soon. And any pure veg restaurants nearby?
Anna..
Thanks! I’ll find something. Call the auto fast.

The auto guy arrives in the next 10 mins and we are off. 10 mins later, he points out to a lake on our left,
Swaroop Sagar hai ye sir.

Another 10 mins later,
Fateh Sagar ..

The lake seems rather full - with the water rushing on to the streets.
Woo durr pahad pe Maharana Pratap Memorial

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We spot a few eateries and try to have breakfast here. It's worse than the food we had last night. This is not looking good. Another bad experience and I might have to drive back to Delhi all alone.

Breakfast out of the way, we purchase boat tickets to visit the island park in the middle of the lake. Boats leave every 15 mins or when passengers start making noise. It left at the latter in our case.

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Nehru Park in the middle of Fateh Sagar

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Observatory in the middle of Fateh Sagar


We roam around, shoot a few birds here and there, and we are back in 15 mins. There is an option to hire a speed boat for a 10-min ride too. Except me, nobody seems interested, so give it a miss. Must be awesome fun though - in good weather of course.

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Nehru Park Walkway

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Next up, Saheliyon Ki Baari.

Guide lenge sir, bees rupiya bass.
What? How much?
Bees, tweety only.


Hearing the guide charge, I get a feeling, it might not be worth it after all.

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Main feature

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Apparently it was built by the King for Queen's friends. That explains the name. The fountains here, as per the articles on the internet, in their prime were operated without any machines. Obvious, isn't it given the age. But now, there are all kinds of pumps and pipes fitted. Kind of spoils the fun of visitng such a place. All the modernization in the name of restoration isn't good. Why can't we preserve these things as is? As JC says, how hard can it be? There is also an adjoining museum of sorts. It contains everything except info and details about the complex it’s housed in. Only in India.

We don't spend much time here and head for the next 'point'. Ropeway to Karni Mata temple. We book ourselves a private car, 4 seats for 470 something. As an advantage, we bypass the regular queue and are in the cable car within 10 mins of purchasing the tickets. As the cable car ascends, the views start to get better. Even though it’s middle of the day and sunlight is very harsh, I manage to take a few shots.

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Ascending to Karni Mata Temple hill

The temple at the top is still under construction. There is not much crowd here even though it’s Navratri. Monday afternoon effect, maybe. I don’t mind though. The views of the city are excellent. You get a 360 degree view from the top.

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Lake Palace

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Jag Mandir

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Panorama of Pichola Lake

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Doodh Talai in the middle left, Pichola Lake beyond it. You can also see the stairs for the climb up


At the top, there is a smallish cafe/restaurant. After last night’s fiasco, I gather some courage and order a lemon soda. Thankfully, it arrives as it should this time. And from “yahan aisa hi milta hai”, I assume the guy at Anna meant only his hotel.

After the ropeway tour, we are dropped off at City Palace by the auto guy. We are to take the Jagdish Mandir exit and walk to our hotel from there. The complex is huge, but most of it is out of bounds for day visitors. Only a small section of the Palace is converted to a museum that is open to visitors. The rest of it houses a Hotel and private residences of the Royal Family. The upkeep could have been a lot better considering the entry fee that is being charged.

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Main museum complex

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Entrance from Jagdish Mandir side

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Old city as seen from the Palace

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The entry gates(Jagdish Mandir side) as seen from the Palace

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Inside Museum

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The Royal Seal

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View of the complex garden from the upper floors

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Roads leading up to the Museum - not possible to drive here though. Cars are stopped much before

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Lake Palace

Now, inside, I see all sorts of people happily clicking with mobiles. I feel stupid having bought a separate ticket for the cam. We as a nation are rebels by nature, and only fall in line if we see a lathi charge imminent. Right at the time, a staff walks past people clicking pics with mobile, just warning them to not do so. I make some noise and the desi boys are pulled up by a guard. I could see them apologizing and what now, to get away from the fine. I leave it at that and move ahead.

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Courtyards

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The Royal Post Office
;)

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Leela Palace seen from City Palace

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Lake Palace as seen from the City Palace

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Karni Mata Temple as seen from the City Palace

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Sheesh Mahal

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The condition isn't too good - needs work

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Raja ka jhula

By the time we come out of the Palace, it’s already evening. We casually stroll through the streets on our way back and also visit Jagdish Mandir. Impressive piece of work. Don’t click any pics here.

At night, the hotel guy recommends attending a cultural show of sorts, a few steps down the road. The program happens daily 7 PM onwards and is a bit of a crowd puller, reaching early is recommended. We anyways don’t have any specific agenda, so head out to see what this is. Turns out a great decision - we thoroughly enjoy our time there. The dance, music, energy is phenomenal. The grand finale is mind boggling. This lady carrying 11 such pots on her head - balancing and dancing at the same time.

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Bagore Ki Haveli

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"Ghoomar"

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The Final Act

After the show, we head out for dinner at Maxim near Jagdish Mandir. Fantanstic food! Today redeemed me somewhat from the previous day’s disasters. Happy, we go back to hotel.

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Tomorrow we start for Ranakpur!

More soon...
 
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