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Rajasthan, Agra, Hampi, Bangalore, Kerala, Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Sparta

The Internet cafe where I am is playing the movie 300, so forgive any violence (there was a lot of nape stabbing in those days) and degrading remarks about Persians that slip into this blost.

My trip has changed. Originally, I intended all of my trip to be focused on learning about sustainable design and earth architecture, but maintaining such a focus has been difficult during this past month or so of extensive travel. For people who know me, you must know how difficult and upsetting it is for me to put on hold that which interests me. Fortunately, there have been other upsetting experiences (e.g., riding a camel for two days, getting scabies [dirty itch mites], contracting contact dermatitis, etc.) and many other good experiences (e.g., seeing much of India, the birthday cake on my 29th birthday, spending my 29th birthday with some cool folks, etc.) to distract me from my original focus until I return to the States. Save the date, November 18.


The much heralded Rajasthan is deservedly so. After Yoko left and I left the madness of Delhi, I headed to Jaipur, the capital of Rajasthan. My first trip to Jaipur was quick and uneventful, as I planned to return. I did, however, meet up briefly with some friends who are students in Jaipur and who I'd met in the Auroville courses, Puneet and Vrushali, and they gave me some tips on what to see in Rajasthan.


From Jaipur I headed to Pushkar, a small, valley town whose blue painted buildings surround a little lake. It is said that the Rajasthani desert starts here and heads West into Pakistan, and from the mountaintop Savitri Temple just West of Pushkar, you can see a clear line dividing the green from the desert. Such a peaceful and holy town was Pushkar, that Gandhi requested some of his ashes be scattered in the lake. I say "was" because its once supposed peacefulness has been replaced with aggressive touts, and the pilgrims, if there are any, are vastly outnumbered by tourists who seem more interested in bhang lassis than, well, anything else. I did, however, have a really good tomato and cheese sandwich there.


From Pushkar I headed to Jodhpur and was refreshed. Jodhpur's Mehrangarh Fort is the most beautiful building I have seen in India, and perhaps anywhere. It is situated on a rock outcropping high-above the rest of Jodhpur, and when looking up those hundreds of feet that seem like thousands of feet, the Mehrangarh Fort is admirable both for its beauty and power. As one who is not usually impressed by power, I found myself feeling sorry for all the soldiers, those would-be sackers of the Fort, who braved hardships and hundreds of miles of desert only to rest their weary eyes on the impenetrable Fort. And I can imagine a deep laughter escape from the Fort itself when these usually mighty soldiers turned desperately, incredulously to their leaders. I am not the only one to be so impressed by this Fort, as the audio tour mentioned that Rudyard Kipling described it as "the works of angels and giants."

The other characteristics of this Fort, the more angelic parts, are contained in the Fort's palace. Unlike the other forts I've visited throughout India, the palace here was remarkably preserved. The British never occupied Rajasthan by force, and so many of the riches of Rajasthan remained there. The palace is so beautifully ornate in its stonework and architecture, but doesn't seem overly decadent otherwise. Perhaps this is due to the fact that it was more of a miniature city inside a fort than other palaces I've imagined. The next day, I left Jodhpur for Jaislmer.

Grant, a friend to be described, atop the Fort

Camel Ride in Jaislmer

Melissa, Grant and I

One gets used to inconvenience in India, and on many occasions, I have recited my Rakim mantra, "Cool, 'cause I don't get upset." I recited it during many the many train delays, when I got scabies, when a bird shat on my head in Jaislmer, etc. However, it was completely ineffective during the two-day camel ride.

I do not like camels or the rides they offer. They sound like Chewbacca and have a stupid smile on their face all the time, like they know how much they are hurting you. The camel I had was especially bad. In Jodhpur, I met an American couple, Melissa and Grant, who study together in Singapore. When learned that we were traveling on the same train to Jaislmer and that we all wanted to take a camel ride. On the second day of the camel trip, my camel who was tied behind Melissa's camel, had an itchy nose and decided to rub it against the butt of Melissa's camel. Her camel freaked out and she was thrown 8'+ to the ground. Then, her camel stepped on her arm.

Fortunately, she escaped only with bruises and a shared hatred of my camel.

Camel's aside, the trip was really beautiful and worthwhile. We three and three Europeans stayed out under the stars on the desert dunes to the West of Jaislmer. The huge, white dunes are broken up by the otherwise rocky, green landscape of the desert. This trip would have been perfect on foot or by jeep.

I spent a full day in Jaislmer, exploring its Old City. Unlike the madness of Delhi's Old City, Jaislmer's is uncongested, clean and full of friendly people. My friend Puneet, who lived near Jaislmer for three years, said that the best time to go to there is during the festivals in December. He said that homeowners in the Old City welcome you to sleep on their terraces or on their "porches" for free. Tres cool.

An unfortunate spelling mistake in Jaislmer

Back to Jaipur

After a week and a half or so of traveling throughout Rajasthan, I returned to Jaipur to see its historic sites. Puneet and Vrushali spent their Sunday, the one day that Indians do not have to work or study, showing me around the old forts of Jaipur. Most impressive about these forts are the walls that connect them and cover the hill tops for miles around. My first trip to Jaipur was a bit disappointing because it seemed like a confused, congested and modern Indian city, but the forts located just outside made Jaipur my second favorite Rajasthani city. Of course, I only really saw four and missed Udaipur, the city many claim to be their favorite.

Reader Comments (1)

Happy to know that you enjoyed your trip in India..Nice snaps too..Rajasthan the craft and Royal state of India is amazing tourist destination for national and international tourist.
Jodhpur India

June 10, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterrinav

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