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Of Camels And Castles

Into Rajasthan: The Lakeside Cities of Pushkar and Udaipur

sunny 29 °C
View Asia '08 on Bwinky's travel map.

Rajasthan is the India of dreams: Lying on the edge of the western sands along the Pakistani border, it is imposing fortress walls, swirls of bright-hued saris, and camel caravans into the desert. After two days, we were more than ready to leave Delhi, so we rode off into the domain of the Maharajas, taking an overnight train and morning bus to the lakeside Hindu pilgrimage city of Pushkar.

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Peaceful Pushkar, by its holy lake

The train was pretty normal, but the bus was quite an experience: a brightly-painted old school bus, packed full of excited Indian locals in their Sunday (or whatever day is appropriate for Hindus...) best. And, two bemused Westerners.

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What this picture does not fully capture is that the kids in the front are all singing at the top of their lungs

And the reason for all the hullabaloo?

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The Pushkar Camel Fair, for which we were arriving on the tail-end. It was over-the-hump several days earlier.

Sorry.

Anyway, the Camel Fair is a huge deal, one of the biggest festivals in India, with tribal people from all over Rajasthan coming into town to trade livestock...

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”OK, ten thousand camels, but only because your sister broke a glass!”

...gossip and buy the latest in deserty fashions...

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”So Vikram told Arvind that Nitin likes Kiran, but Deepti told...”

...and strike marriage bargains (I am of course not making this up).

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If you can’t read the bottom, it says “Arrangement of Marriages & Parties”

The Fair coincides with Kartik Purnima, a festival in which the Hindu faithful come to bathe in the waters of the sacred lake where Brahma, the creator, dropped a lotus flower. They go down to the ghats, steps to the lakeshore, and ceremonially wash while saying prayers.

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These are the steps down to the ghats; photos there are not allowed

From Pushkar, we travelled south to another lakeside city: lovely Udaipur, a city of grand palaces. Capital of the kingdom of Mewar, which maintained sovereignty under its proud Maharanas right through ‘til independence from Britain in 1947, Udaipur has numerous palaces ringing, and in the middle of, peaceful Lake Pichola.

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The City Palace, now restored as a museum

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Fateh Prakash Palace next door, a swanky hotel

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Lake Palace, an even swankier hotel, and James Bond hangout

Udaipur is an incredibly romantic place; wonderful for sitting on a veranda, sipping a cocktail as the sun slips below the mountains across the lake. Unfortunately, we didn’t experience a whole lot of that romance, because we were mostly holed up in our room. Stay tuned for exciting details in our next post...

Toilet Traumas II: The Squatter Strikes Back

Posted by Bwinky 23:17 Archived in India Tagged tourist_sites

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