Showing posts from November, 2012

The Pushkar Camel Fair

Elvis lives! Imagine camels as far as the eye can see with their distinctive silhouettes and fancy tetherings in illuminous colours, horses with unusual turned in ears native to these parts and people, people everywhere. Men selling chai, calling out the word in that distinctive tone, women dressed in the most exquisite colourful saris with bangles stretching the full length of their arms and with nose jewellery in the style of ornate gold discs that are larger than most earrings attached by a delicate gold chain to their ears, turbans galore in all shapes, twists and sizes, contortionists and tight-rope walking minors, sadhus dressed in every shade of orange, smoke and smells from street food stalls and a funfair with no less than 4 ferris wheels. And cows of course, cows of all colours, shapes and sizes roaming free - that's a taste of the Pushkar Camel Fair . Pushkar Camel Fair happens once a year to coincide with the full moon in October or November, fortunate

Colours of Rajasthan: Pink & Amber

Amber Fort And so into the colourful state of Rajasthan and to its lively capital Jaipur , just in time for a VERY special day... my birthday :) And fit for such an important occasion (ahem), we bagged ourselves another extravagant hotel, Dera Rawatsar , for a couple of nights. It's becoming a little too easy to spoil ourselves... At the heart of Jaipur is the Old City, aka the Pink City , so named as they painted it pink (the traditional colour of hospitality) in 1876 to welcome the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII). As we wandered its streets and bazaars I wondered why they hadn't thought of giving it a fresh lick of paint ready for my arrival (& my birthday)? Must have been an oversight... See, it's pink! (or rather a dirty orange colour) There were plenty of sights to see, here are a few in photo form... City Palace, Jaipur Hawa Mahal, Jaipur We also experienced our first Bollywood movie 'Jab Tak Hai Jaan' (The Man Who Never Dies) at the pi

Good old-fashioned romance

We almost skipped Agra and the Taj Mahal , put off a little by talk of infuriatingly persistent hawkers and seas of day-tripping tourists. Thank God / Allah / Shiva / Vishnu / Ganesh (& the 100,000 or so others) that we didn't. The Taj rightfully holds the title of the 'Crown of Palaces', even though its not actually a palace. The majestic marble mausoleum is a monument to love, built by Emperor Shah Jahan as a memorial for his third wife, Mumtaz Mahal, who died while giving birth to their 14th child in 1631. We took a lot of photos at the Taj , it's incredibly photogenic of course, but while very pretty that would be a little dull. So instead here are some really rather poor jumping photos! Agra also lays claim to the massive red sandstone Agra Fort and, nearby, the incredible ancient city of Fatehpur Sikri . Poor old romantic Emperor Shah Jahan spent the last 8 years of his life imprisoned by his son in the former (& could only gaze on the Taj in the d

Drinking lassi down in Varanasi

After a rather epic journey from Nepal in great company, Marine and Romain from Nice and Mikesh from NZ, encompassing bus, taxi, auto-rickshaw, train (unreserved 2nd class ie. the Indian local carriage, hard seats, no lighting and lots of curious locals) and another auto-rickshaw we reached the holy city of Varanasi on the banks of the Ganges, or Ganga as they say here. We were forewarned via Lonely Planet and fellow travellers that Varanasi would be intense. So we booked a hotel a little above our regular cheapo option: Hotel Ganges View , and very nice it was too. A proper bed and a room adorned with peacocks, lots of peacocks. Duncan likes peacocks. A lovely haven from the noise, smells, hawkers, and Delhi-belly incite-full lassis that I was to encounter. Walking along the ghats is fascinating ; a people / goat / buffalo / cow / dog / cricket match watching paradise. And then you reach the burning ghats, wood stockpiled in anticipation of the impending cremations. Appar

Stupas and steps

Bodhnath Stupa Our final two weeks in Nepal were pretty hectic and largely internet-less, so this post is long overdue. Let's start with our time in the capital... Kathmandu and it's sister cities/neighbourhoods, Patan and Bhaktapur , are awash with incredible ancient Hindu towns and Temples with some amazing medieval architecture in and around each of their Durbar Squares. Sadly though many have been damaged by earthquakes while others are simply not maintained very well and are quite run down. Impressive none-the-less, and also fascinating to observe daily life that goes on in and around these places. Spot the monkey Durbar Square, Kathmandu Durbar Square, Kathmandu Bhaktapur On the flip side, there are also some wonderful and very photogenic Buddhist Stupas at Swayambhunath and Bodhnath , which are far better maintained and have an air of tranquility about them as you circumambulate, spinning the prayer wheels as you go. That is until the monkeys arrive. I like