A Travellerspoint blog

India

THE LEAST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL

‘TIS AN ILL WIND THAT DOESN’T BLOW SOME GOOD

overcast 20 °C
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Having loved our time at the Haveli so much, our guide asked us If we wanted to spend another night and do an early drive to Delhi the following day. It seemed like a good plan since neither of us were keen to go back to the big city. Unfortunately, the place was sold out so we were given the option to try another Haveli. We said yes. The online pictures looked lovely but when we arrived to this lovely property saw that our rooms were a bit of a dump as was the town.

There wasn’t much to do but our guide took us out for a wander around the town. Once again there was beautiful architecture intertwined with run down building and garbage everywhere. Our walk was a bit of a downer although we did stop at a small local museum where we had to turn on the lights ourselves in each room. Not much of a tourist town.

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So, a bit of a sombre day.

But, as my mother says, “’tis an ill wind that doesn’t blow some good”. Just by the hotel was a group of women celebrating an upcoming wedding. There was drumming and dancing and the women dragged us in to dance with them. We totally sucked but had a great laugh. We were invited to participate in even more festivities. I actually went back to watch the women’s dance contest later in the evening. So beautiful and I felt so welcome. They insisted I stay for supper and some very spice Indian food but given the way my tummy has responded here, I felt this was not the best option.

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I was less enthused about this pre-wedding event at midnight, one o’clock, and two o’clock in the morning since we had a 330 am rise to depart for Delhi. The music was blasting all night long. Crazy.

So here I sit in Delhi airport, way too early for my flight but ever so grateful for our amazing driver who got us here safely after 2 weeks of navigating the worst traffic and roads I have ever seen. I think the ride to Delhi this morning may have been the worst. Almost impossible to nap as our car scrapped the multiple speed mountains (not bumps) and we weaved in and out of a million trucks in the dark. Yikes.

Anyway, that’s a wrap for India…. I am off to Kathmandu and Sherry is heading home.

Posted by curlygirl 12:53 Archived in India Comments (0)

SHERRY'S HIGHLIGHTS FROM INDIA

SHERRY'S TOP TEN INDIA

sunny 24 °C
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I have just landed in Nepal and have settled in with my group. I have not yet finished the last day's blog or my reflection on India but Sherry has. Tonight, Sherry is our contributing writer for the blog highlighting her memories of out trip.

No matter what she says, we had many laughs, great experiences and lots of good memories to add to our large pile.

Here’s what she remembers most....

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Animals. The song Old MacDonald always comes to mind. You feel like you are constantly on a farm when walking the streets, driving in the city or even on the highways! Everything is sacred so you share the roads with cows, camels, pigs, dogs, monkeys etc.

Horns. I will probably need therapy to get over the constant sound of horns blowing at you. I now jump every time I hear one.

Food. All curry tastes the same. Curry is not a breakfast food.

People. The people are very gracious and obliging and generally welcome your presence. It’s the first time in my life that I have felt famous. I think there are more selfies with me in it than I have pictures. Be wary of the men with the long mustaches!

Children. “Photo photo” “biscuit”. They loved having their pictures taken but they didn’t always want to share the spotlight with others and they loved to look at their images on your phone. They love biscuits and candy.

Poverty. They level of poverty that they live in will forever be etched in my mind. There is lots of beautiful architecture but the beauty is overshadowed by the environment that surrounds it. We are very privileged to live in a country like Canada where something as simple as clean water is a given.

Temples. The rat temple is a place no human should visit

Faith. The level of faith among people who have so little and go without some of the basics of life astounds me

Traffic. Driving is complete and utter chaos at all times. I can’t understand how more people and animals are not run over. Highway driving is nerve wracking! There is no system. It appears to be a free for all! No matter how many lanes there are they try and make more. Never be fooled by distance! 300km usually translates into 5-6 hours of driving. Very thankful for our amazing driver Govid

Garbage. Everywhere you look there was garbage! As the temperatures got warmer the smell became increasingly harder to deal with.

This was not a vacation, it was an experience. One that I am proud to say I survived without a meltdown! I was told before I came that travel in India was hard on many levels but I didn’t think it could possibly be that bad. I was wrong. For me the hardest part was the children. They don’t have a choice. They often don’t have the option for education as their families can’t afford it or the schools are too far away. They seemed very happy but I can’t help feeling sorry for them given how lucky our children are. Grateful for the experience but more grateful for our amazing country Canada!

Sherry’s Top Ten India

I love Indian ice cream and rice pudding

Camel dismounting is harder than it looks

Squat toilets are not my thing

Is peeing in the street necessary ?

I can’t believe that neither of us stepped in any form of poopie.

It is possible to go to India and not get Delhi belly!

It’s not hard to get invited to an Indian wedding!

Havelis can be hazardous

Inequality of women is still an issue

Shelley and I need dance lessons

Posted by curlygirl 07:33 Archived in India Tagged india Comments (2)

THE MOST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL

THE INDIA I DREAMED OF FOUND IN MANDAWA

sunny 25 °C
View Rajasthan and Varanasi on curlygirl's travel map.

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Today we drove 4 hours, heading back towards Delhi and the end of our trip, to a town called Mandawa. We expected nothing. We had planned a one hour walk thought the town to see all the Havelis and knew we would be staying in one just a few kilometres just outside of town.

This has turned out to be a favourite accommodation and stop for photography. I love rural areas. I love seeing people going about life and Mandawa had that.

But our first surprise was pulling up to a building that looked just ok, on a street that was less than ok, only to find this most beautiful hotel. We tried to stay an extra night but it is sold out.

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The road outside.

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The inside beginning with the always welcoming and protector Ganesh

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Then I went for a little walk around the hotel.

First this guy chased me

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And at 5pm we went back to the town of Mandawa. Many Bollywood movies are filmed here. I can only imagine its beauty in its hey day about 200 years ago when trading on the Silk Road was prosperous. If only this town was restored it would be magnificent. Always the contrasts of India. The poor, the garbage, the dilapidated mixed in with the exquisite beauty of the past. But the people were working hard in their sewing shops, wood working shops, confectionary store etc....and I had a field day.

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These ladies invited me in to see their home and kitchen

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So many photos but this was truly a photographer's dream

Posted by curlygirl 09:37 Archived in India Tagged india faces mandawa portraits Comments (4)

BIKANER

THE OLD CITY,TUK TUKS AND CAMEL RIDES

sunny 28 °C
View Rajasthan and Varanasi on curlygirl's travel map.

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It was really nice to have two days in one place instead of packing up. This meant a later start to the day and a leisurely breakfast which was nice.

After breakfast we went to visit another fort. Junagarph fort holds the distinction of having never been captured and is built of red sandstone and marble. It was constructed in 1588 by Raja Rai Singh, one of Emperor Akbar’s most distinguished generals. This fort, like all the others is an unbelievable display of pure grandeur…gold, jewels, intricate paintings along with an abundance of weapons.

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It is also is home to one of the only two models of the biplane used by the British during World War I. They were presented by the British to Maharaja Ganga Singh, then ruler of the city.

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From here, Sherry got her first tuk tuk ride down to the old city. This was a great, albeit, crazy ( like all the others) street walk. When we were not smelling garbage in the 28-degree weather, the smell of spices was amazing. Again, amongst the chaos, was incredible beauty in the form of the Havelis, these were aristocratic homes of the merchants. Again, magnificent detail in the doors, latticed windows and wood carvings.

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We walked through this area. Stopped to visit another beautiful temple before walking through the market to see the street food being prepared even the famous weed drink known as the Bhang lassi. Lassis are popular Indian drink that’s made of yogurt, nuts, spices, rose water, and then there is the Bhang lassi which has added cannabis. The sellers were proud to show us their loot. The cannabis, is ground and mixed with water, then formed in the shape of balls and is known to make tourist so sick they vomit for days.

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Here are some common street scenes from our walk.

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Just before sunset we headed out for a camel ride. This was a real hoot and we were like real professional until our final dismount when I got stuck in my stirrup and Sherry feel off onto her ass in the sand. Yet another good laugh.

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Tonight, we decided to chill in our room. Sherry went for a lovely head massage….a nice reprieved from the sketch massages we had yesterday.

Tomorrow, we head out for our final stop before heading back to Delhi

Posted by curlygirl 08:21 Archived in India Comments (0)

KARNI MATA TEMPLE

THE RAT TEMPLE AND A VISIT TO A CAMEL FARM

overcast 24 °C
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The Karni Mata Temple is home to 20,000 rats all in one place. It doesn’t exactly feel like they are swarming but there are tons of them in all the nooks and crankies.
The Temple, which is a very famous holy shrine dedicated to Goddess Karni, is in the small town of Deshnoke, 30 kms far from Bikaner where we will stay the next two night.

As the story goes….( as stolen from the internet)

Karni Mata lived in the 14th century and performed many miracles during her lifetime. When her youngest son, Lakhan, drowned, she ordered Yama (the god of death) to bring him back to life. Yama said he was unable to do so, but that Karni Mata, as an incarnation of Durga, could restore Lakhan’s life. This she did, decreeing that members of her family would no longer die but would be reincarnated as kabas (rats). Around 600 families in Deshnok claim to be descendants of Karni Mata and that they will be reincarnated as kabas.

It is hard to believe that people have such deep beliefs. They leave food for the rats and at the main temple the food is put in a bowl for the rats to eat. Then the remainder is given back to the people and they will eat it later ( at least that’s what we were told and it appeared to be what was happening). People consider this to be a very holy experience and can be seen laying on the floor, rubbing their faces after touching the floor and just practicing rituals.

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You do have to take your shoes off to enter the temple: “it’s considered highly auspicious to have a kaba run across your feet – you may be graced in this manner whether you want it or not”. Fortunately, we were not AND we wore booties. Well ,Sherry wore 3 pairs of socks and booties. It also very lucky to see one of the rare white rats. We did not.

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All I can say is that this was a fascinating experience but one I will not need to repeat. It really is as gross as it sounds.

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After the temple we went to visit a camel farm which houses and breeds 4 types of camels. Tomorrow we plan to take one for a ride.

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Posted by curlygirl 09:04 Archived in India Comments (0)

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