Saturday, August 30, 2008

North India - Day 5: Jodhpur

It's been about 3 weeks since North India trip but work and travels have been keeping me from blogging so I'm opening up to guests. Here's one by Joe.

Johdpur! Yours truly (Joe) was project manager for Day 5. FYI we decided as a group to take turns deciding the days’ itinerary. We being overly nice beings could not for the sake of Shiva decide on anything; hence someone had to take the daily lead. At the end of the day, there will be a meeting in the room, and someone will be fired.

Putting my trust wholly on Lonely Planet; the itinerary was going to be something like a balanced meal. We’ll get a decent serving of Sleep, Sightseeing, Activities and Drinking. Here’s my plan:

>> Sleep in
>> Breakfast at Newton’s Manor
>> Tour the incredible walls of Meherangah fort.
>> Lunch at someplace
>> Shopping at Sardar Market
>> Free time – yoga or massage
>> Dinner at Restaurant/bar called On the Rocks
>> Dancing and drinking!

The girls excelled at the “sleeping in” part of the itinerary. But the guys never blamed them. Their beauty had to come at the expense of something. In this case, I'm guessing its sleep.

Breakfast at Newton’s manor was a pleasant continental serving with baked goodies. Here’s where we met the French family on a India excursion similar to ours. We mentioned we might check out Sardar Market today; and they’re face lighten up. “Yes! The Market!”. … and I thought, “Ok … cool.”

Meherangarh fort is quite a sight. It was a proud contribution of the Sultan as a show tell the story of the lives of those who lived there for the people. It was well maintained, organized, with a great audio tour.

View of "blue city" from the Palace

Candice and myself visited the palmistry at the end of the tour. The guy had a mild case of Dr.Jekyll and Hyde; who seems tired and sleepy while reading our fourtunes (yet had the energy to pick up his cellphone); but friendly while greeting us in and wishing us well on the way out. With 200Rupees, I found out that I will live to 75 years old, and will find love at 30, 34 and 38. This is a good year ladies! As for Candice, … she is adaptable, good PR skill, with good fortune and comfortably financially. I could have been a palm reader myself.

On the rocks came highly recommended. We stopped here for lunch instead (My PM skills were challenged by our friendly driver insisting on seeing the place. After a few detours unable to find our restaurant, … On the rocks it was) There was a lot of buzz in this restaurant. The food was good, despite the constant fly swapping. Recommend cleansing the gut with a whiff of whiskey.


Shopping was next on the agenda. One word to describe Sardar market is “Wow”. I see now why our breakfast companions brighten up when we mentioned “the market”. It’s a busy local market serving up the unimaginable, from grains, candy, clothing, food, to dudes playing gin rummy, carefree wandering cows to rattan furniture and black smiths.

The rest of the day’s activity was spent shopping at the handloom house – a fixed price joint ran Stevie Wonder. The girls shopped their hearts our. Me, I enjoyed my Masala tea while Mervyn helped to bargain. Small place India can be, because we ran into Stevie Wonder again on our walk back from dinner later in the evening.

We never got to dancing and drinking. No yoga nor massage… It’s cool cause we were way beat by then.

More Jodhpur Pictures

North India - Day 3: Udaipur

I bought train sleeper seat tickets beforehand online and had assigned seats but they weren’t confirmed. When we got to Nizamuddin Station (one of three railway stations in Delhi), we had to first look for our train class and then search for our names on pieces of paper pasted on entrance of each car.

The whole ride took 13 hours but with a little help from Dramamine, we slept through most of it.

Not too big of a deal but baby roaches were crawling all over and one ended in our curd.

Triple deck.

13 Hours later.

The weather was perfect at Udaipur City.

A living proof that skinny people can be strong.

View from Hotel Wonderview rooftop.

Jagdish Temple

We had to pay them Rs10 each for this picture.

City Palace
Each room, courtyard and tower had different themes and colors and each one equally beautiful. City Palace is supposedly the largest palace in Rajasthan. Just when you thought you are down to the last tower, you have 5 more to go.

This room is filled with mirrors. Joe thought it was kinda kinky.

Lake Palace
A long time ago, a Maharaja decided to build a palace on Jagniwas island.

The palace has since been turned into a luxury hotel and non-guests can only go for lunch or dinner, which we couldn't afford so we took a boat to Jagmandir Island (another palace on the same lake) to have overpriced masala chai instead.

Jagmandir Palace

Sajjan Garh (Monsoon Palace)
We hired an auto-rickshaw to take us to the top of a distant mountain to watch sunset from the Monsoon Palace.

Shopping: Lal Ghat. I had linen pants made to fit for a whopping Rs250 (US$6). The tailor/shop owner was even going to deliver it to our hotel.

Food: Taj Restaurant and Whistling Teal - again, not a big deal (or at least Mervyn thought it wasn’t a big deal). Only had I finished the last slice of mughal pizza, he then said he found a dead baby roach on stuck on his slice. Yummy.

Hotel: Hotel Wonderview. Right outside our room was a balcony that has a view of the City Palace.

If I had to re-plan this trip all over, I would spend more time here. I have decided that Udaipur is my favorite city amongst the other 4 because the climate is comfortable, the city is colorful, not too smelly or too crowded and the people here are warm and friendly, a total contrast from Delhi.

More Udaipur pictures

North India - Day 4: Chittogargh & Ranakpur

We left Udaipur and back-tracked to Chittogargh, which everyone thought was a waste of time but I think it was worth the trip.


Rana Kumbha Palace

Rana Kumbha Palace

Singa Chowri Temple

Singa Chowri Temple

Singa Chowri Temple

Jaya Stambha Tower

Gaumukh Reservoir

This lady came to us and put some red powder on our forehead and insisted we pay her Rs10 for her blessings. I told her in return, I’d make her a little popular by taking this picture.

Padmini’s Palace

First, these people cornered us and insisted we take a photo of them with our camera.

And then this group of men cornered us and refused to let us go until we girls take a picture with each of them... one by one.

Here’s my most favorite photo of the trip.


Ranakpur is about 6 hours away. On our way, we passed hundreds of people walking on the road and Bhavan, our driver explains that they would walk for 20+ days (500km) to get from their village to a temple in Jodhpur to show dedication to God.

Here’s my most favorite temple - Chaumujha Mandir, a temple made of carved white marble has 1444 pillars and no two alike.

More pictures

North India - Day 2: Mervyn joined us at Delhi

While waiting for Mervyn's arrival, Nan, Joe and I went to Lakshimi Narayan Temple. I wasn’t too impressed and won’t recommend it unless you have absolutely nothing to do in Delhi. Then to Cannaught Palace; not too exciting around there either.

When Mervyn arrived, we went to Jama Masjid.

Inside Jama Masjid.

Shoes were not allowed and girls have to put on these hideous shawls even though we had sleeves while the guys had to cover their calves.

It's quite normal for a foreigner to be stared at but somehow being stared at in here felt a wee bit uncomfortable.

We drove by Chandni Chowk after that but got overwhelmed by the crowd so we left right after our auto-rickshaw driver had a sip of water.

Next stop is Humayun’s Tomb. This is a World Heritage monument and is a bit of a distance from Old Delhi but it was worth the trip. According to LP, the impressive architecture and the beautiful surrounding gardens were to be refined over the years to create Taj Mahal.


Why is my outfit so uncoordinated, you asked? I forgot to bring a belt and my linen pants were falling off so I had to put on a neutral bottom and this was my only option.

More pictures of Delhi