Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Rangeelo Rajasthan - Udaipur

A two-night stay in Jodhpur was quite an experience. Our next destination was Udaipur. I thought Udaipur was a quiet town but I was wrong. Udaipur town is huge and well populated. Whichever place we have been to in Rajasthan, traffic followed us. And Udaipur is no better when it comes to traffic. We spent a couple of desperate moments looking for our hotel Thamla Haveli. Finally, I called up the hotel and they sent a boy to look for us. We met at a specific place and were later ushered into the hotel. Since we had opted for a lake facing room, we were asked to go to the top (second) floor which had an amazing view of the beautiful lake Pichola. After checking-in, I stayed put at the window to have a glimpse outside. There were many people boating in the lake. In Udaipur, since many buildings are located close to each other, I could see nearby hotels and its residents resting and eating. Some were sun-bathing with their clothes on. 

I heard some bird-calls in the nearby tree. Suddenly a particular bird caught my interest and attention. I immediately got hold of my point-and-shoot camera and was ready to take a picture of the bird. This was it… my favorite bird.. which was on my photograph wish list since a long time. It was a beautiful and magnificent bird - Indian Grey Hornbill which was feeding on the figs. Later I realized that there were a couple of Hornbills who visited the tree daily for eating those figs.


                                                                The Indian Grey Hornbill  

On our way from Jodhpur, we visited the Shrinathji-Nathdwara temple and it was another superb experience. At the temple, there are many jhankis throughout the day. The temple doors opens and closes many times a day to give a jhanki of Lord Krishna. I was told by a friend that the temple closes by afternoon. While we were still many kilometres away from Shrinathji, I requested the cabbie to drive faster so that we reach there before the temple closes. This trucker-turned-cabbie drove rashly and gave us a few jittery moments. But we had to reach on time and therefore asked him to go on. Finally, we reached there by 11.45 AM and luckily the last jhanki of the morning went on till about 12.30 PM and we had a satisfying darshan. The delicious laddus available as prasad were something I was looking forward to and wasn’t disappointed. We bought a lot of laddus.

While in Kerala in 2010, we had tweaked our itinerary to visit the famous Guruvayur temple. The black idol of Lord Krishna in Shrinathji as well as in Guruvayur simply took the heart away. On both occasions I kept gazing at the idols and the vision suddenly turned blurry. I realized later that there was a tear sitting somewhere deep down inside my heart which oozed itself out through the eyes. These were no doubt there were khushi ke aansoo. Cameras are not allowed inside the temple which left us bereft of the images of the beautiful Lord. It was a pleasing experience nevertheless.

The following day we visited the famous Jagdish temple. It was close-by from where we were as we could see it from the hotel itself, so we decided to walk down. The temple has a huge stone architecture adorned by stoned elephants and many other dancing deities as if honoring the Lord. The idol of Lord Vishnu is massive and made of black stone and is accompanied by a brass idol of Garuda.



                                The famous Jagdish temple that belongs to the Lord of the Universe

                                                           Jagdish temple - Side ways 

Next on the to-do list was a visit to the City Palace, the prime attraction of Udaipur. We had a glimpse of the beautifully lit palace from our hotel room the previous night. The palace is another superbly built and maintained palace in Rajasthan. It had everything that you expect to see in a palace where the kings lived once.. the royal thrones, shringar rooms of the queens, the place where they rested, beautiful architecture and carvings etc. A unique statue of Maha Rana Sanga caught my attention. Rana Sanga was the grand-father of the great king Maharana Pratap. He fought many battles and had as many cuts on his body. He was a fierce fighter and had lost an eye, a hand and a leg while fighting. Maharana Pratap was deeply inspired from Rana Sanga as he renewed his fight with the Moghul emperor - Akbar. Post City Palace, it was time for lunch and nothing tastes more delicious than dal-baati churma and rabdi laden ghewar.  


                                                           The statue of Maha Rana Sanga

                                                         The City Palace in early morning light

                                                      The City Palace in fading evening light  

Later we decided to walk down to the famous Vintage and Classic car collection display (suggested by my dear friend Sumit). Amazingly these eons’ old never-before-seen cars are in working condition. I was awed looking at magnificent Rolls-Royce, 1939 Cadillac open convertibles, rare Mercedes models, 1936 Vauxhall and 1937 Opel models. Later I got a rare chance to sit inside one of those vintage cars with my dearest wifey. This was one of the most unforgettable experience travelling in Rajasthan.
 






Our next stop was Ranakpur. We did not have a reservation at Ranakpur since there aren't good hotels around the famous Ranakpur Jain temple. We therefore decided to extend our stay in Udaipur and paid a short visit to the place. Ranakpur also has a wild life sanctuary and the temple itself is surrounded by forests. The century’s old Ranakpur jain temple is dedicated to Lord Adinath or Rishabhdev and is one of the five most important pilgrimages of the Jains. The walls are made of marbles which reflect light and hance the entire structure shines brightly in sunshine. The magnificent dome of the temple is supported on more than a thousand pillars and has an infinite number of the idols of the 24 Jain Tirthankars. This beautiful temple was nominated amongst the top 77 wonders in the world but it couldn’t quite make it to the top 7.

Since it was late noon, we had an authentic lunch at the Jain bhojanshala in the temple. Apart from being the best option, it is also advisable to opt for a lunch at a jain bhojanshala because the food normally is prepared is sattvik and readily available since there are many such dharamshalas spread across Rajasthan.


                                                             The Ranakpur Jain temple entrance
                                                                The beautiful carvings
                While taking this picture I waited for a long time for a person to move outta here. After I clicked this picture, the place was immediately infiltrated by someone else.
                                                     Infinite carvings on one of the pillars inside the temple
                                                           Trying for a symmetrical picture
                                                               A few of those 1000 pillars
                                                                     Amazingly beautiful ceiling
The following day was a rest day and in spite of being tempted to go to the Karni mata rope temple, we decided to spend the day at the hotel.

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