We'd heard good things about Rajasthan so were looking forward to spending some days there; it didn't disappoint. We had about 7 days visiting Jaipur, Pushkar and Jodhpur. Despite the unbearable 40+ heat, we survived a few days of sight seeing. Rajasthan means the land of kings so of course lots of palaces and forts everywhere. I think our favourite forts were Amber Fort near Jaipur and the Mehrangarh fort in Jodhpur, the views over the town were stunning. The pictures don't really do the forts/palaces justice!
In Jaipur we also checked out the City Palace and Jantar Mantar which is an outdoor site full of lots of weird structures formed in 1700's that were used to calculate time, distance of stars and lots of other things that we didn't understand but still took photos of!
Jodhpur was our favourite town, it was quiet (for India), friendly people and everywhere you went there seemed to be a good view. All the city walls of the old town are painted blue which gave the place a nice feel. We stayed at a great guesthouse with really friendly helpful owners. Like all Indians, the owners were big cricket fans so we
got to enjoy another night of cricket watching with the locals.
In Jodhpur we also went on a jeep safari to check out the villages on the outskirts of town. It was a really worthwhile tour, which included a visit to a Muslim family who make pottery and a weaving cooperative that has been set up in one of the villages. We also saw lots of camels and the cutest little kids that came running out waving and shouting "hallo" when they heard the jeep.
We didn't do much in Pushkar, the town seemed to have gone to sleep because of the off season. Our Lonely Planet guide talked about reflexology courses, yoga, massage but whenever we asked about it the people had left or in one instance we were told the reflexologist had died! So we didn't do much in Pushkar, but we did have a funny Hindu experience...
Our first evening we decided to go check out the lake in the middle of town. Pushkar is a big Hindu pilgrimage town and in the evenings people head down to the bathing ghats beside the lake to bathe, pray and perform a karma ceremony. We just
wanted to check it out but before we knew it, we had been whisked down to the side of the lake by some overly friendly guy claiming not to want money and being told to "repeat after me" some karma ritual. Tom wasn't haven't any of it, they managed to paint a red dot on his forehead before he fled. I wasn't quite so good at getting away, I ended up going through the whole 20 minute ritual, repeating every line, making a prayer and then of course at the end being told I had to make a donation to them to avoid bad karma! We ran off without making a donation, seems everyone in India is in the tourism business!
We really liked our few days in Rajasthan but were ready to drop a few degrees in heat and head to Rishikesh. After a 10 hour train ride, 5 hours hanging around Delhi to find out if we had a seat on the next train (we didn't), a 6 hour bus ride and 1 hour taxi we eventually made it to Rishikesh! We're now enjoying doing very little other than yoga and reading.
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