Blogs from Rajasthan, India, Asia

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Asia » India » Rajasthan » Udaipur July 7th 2014

So where did I last leave off? There’s so much happening here I need to start making notes throughout the week so that when I write these reports they aren’t a mess. But I will shorten this to three big events: My trip to the villages, our group dinner, and my trip to the temples and fort around Rajasthan. On Wednesday the JJVS crew took us out to the villages. The reason being because almost all of the Gunis that we work with live in the villages. There is a guni ashram out in the villages, which is a large garden where many medicinal herbs are grown. We hopped 6 people into the jeep and took off out of Udaipur. It was about an hour drive and eventually we left behind the city streets and were ... read more
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Asia » India » Rajasthan » Udaipur June 28th 2014

Well, well, well. This has definitely been the craziest week I have ever experienced. I last left off on Saturday after my week of classes with GESI in Chicago. So I need to bring everyone up to speed on my first week in India, which may be hard in the allowed space of one blog post. But here we go! First! Let’s get to Sunday! We had classes in Chicago till around 4. These were basically formalities and the whole time all the students were not paying attention, giddy, and just ready to leave. We all couldn’t wait to get out there and finally end these long courses. As a wonderful treat our final meal provided was Jimmy Johns! (I like Jimmy Johns J). So at 4 the first group of students left who would go ... read more

Asia » India » Rajasthan » Jodhpur May 24th 2014

The Bishnois are a sect of Hinduism that take drastic measures to preserve and co-exist with the natural environment in which they reside. Primarily descendants of Jats, a caste of pastoralists from northern India and Pakistan, they have now settled in a number of small villages in the extremely dry Thar desert of Rajasthan. The name Bishnoi means 29, representing the 29 principles put forth by the founder Guru Jambheshwar approximately 540 years ago. These include several eco-friendly restrictions that aim to protect the trees and wildlife of the region. The Guru believed that hurting the environment can be equated with hurting oneself. Today, most Bishnoi do not consume meat or alcohol, fell trees that are still alive, or burn wood that may have insects on it. They also practice humane husbandry of the cattle on ... read more
My sister Leanne with some Bishnoi Women
A wild black buck outside of a Bishnoi village
Opium Tea Brewing Contraption

Asia » India » Rajasthan » Ranthambhore National Park April 28th 2014

What are the odds of seeing a Royal Bengal Tiger in the wild? It is definitely a rare occurrence, primarily due to the estimated number of tigers left in India. In the 1930's it was estimated that there were over 40,000. But, even with India's Project Tiger, poaching has reduced the number to @1500. There are 39 tiger preserves in the country, totalling @ 32,000 sq kilometers. But the slide to extinction seems relentless, and the chances of seeing a tiger is becoming rare. On my recent trip to India with Overseas Adventure Travel, we visited Rathambore National Park over two days, March 28 and 29. We had been pre-warned in our briefing that the odds of seeing a tiger was around 100 to 1. So, with our expectations dutifully lowered, we entered the National Park. ... read more
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Asia » India » Rajasthan » Jaipur April 22nd 2014

Evening everyone - it's 23:12 as I write. Today we left Delhi for a 7 hour minibus drive to Jaipur which I'm led to believe is the capital of Rajasthan. It's smaller than Delhi with a population of around 3m ish I think. The journey was pretty none eventful compared to driving in the capital, but that said still some very crazy and scary driving. Motorways and A and B roads don't really exist here. One minute you are on Tarmac the next a humpty bumbty road with pot holes and speed bumps/sleeping police men (not the human kind asleep in cars) in random places. Lots of construction work which seems to indicate that they are building infrastructure but at a vetslow rate. Small villages appear out of know where with great frequency and of course ... read more

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Asia » India » Rajasthan » Jodhpur April 12th 2014

I’ve been to Rajasthan’s famed “Blue City,” Jodhpur, three times now, and I find that on each visit some different aspect or feature that the city offers captivates me. On my first visit to the desert city I was mesmerized by Jodhpur’s centerpiece: the mighty Mehrangarh Fort. Towering 122 meters above the city, it is one of the largest forts in India. For much of modern history, Rajasthan has been ruled by clans, or Rajputs, that have remained relatively independent from the central state or Raj. It was only in 1971 that Indira Gandhi officially abolished the Rajputs’ titles and many of their special privileges. It is from the open courts and walkways of Mehrangarh Fort that one can truly appreciate the blue splendor of Jodhpur’s Old City. Blue is the color that traditionally demarcates the ... read more
Me on the rooftop terrace of my hotel
The Blue City viewed from the Mehrangarh Fort
Matt, Leanne, and I in the Blue City

Asia » India » Rajasthan April 2nd 2014

Usually when I sit down to write these blogs I am never stuck for words, but this time is different. I really have spent a lot of time thinking about what I would write about our experiences in Incredible India. What could I possibly say that could describe what we have seen while there. I personally have experienced some very strong emotions during this part of our trip , some happy times and unfortunately, some very sad times. We had been told that we would say 'wow' when we turned one corner and, 'yuck' when we turned the next, and I think that pretty much describes it all for us. We have certainly seen some of India's beauty and, I think also some of it's ugliness. The contrasts are unbelievable, from the splendor of the Taj, ... read more
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Asia » India » Rajasthan » Jaisalmer March 30th 2014

Monday 24th Had a well earned lie in after 2 weeks of partying in south india and early starts for flights. Left the brothel, sorry I mean hotel, at 10am and jumped in taxi to the airport to meet Zoe. The journey started eventfully as I jumped in the taxi, the taxi driver jumped out to chat to someone, meanwhile the taxi, with me in it, started rolling back into the road. Luckily I yanked up the handbrake saving the day, it didn't end there though! The driver nonchalantly hopped in and then reversed straight back into the road and drove the wrong way up a slip road to the main road! Entertaining! Anyway, met Zoe and we jumped in a taxi from Delhi Airport to Karol Bagh area. The taxi driver was a grumpy bastard ... read more
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Asia » India » Rajasthan » Jaisalmer March 23rd 2014

Hello you lovely lovely peeps. Yo. Happy Sunday! Just a quick update from lil ol me. Sorry it has been so long since my last post, I have been oddly busy. Well.....Delhi. I am not going to go in to huge details about Delhi as I went in to great detail on my last post about the joys of a big Indian cities. I observed that even among the filth and poverty you could find beauty and the same applies to Delhi but admittedly you have to dig a bit deeper. There does seem be a harder edge to Delhi, but like all these cities it really comes down to where you go. Delhi has some of the most expensive real estate in the world, which I visited, it is just mixed in filth and poverty. ... read more
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Asia » India » Rajasthan » Chittorgarh March 1st 2014

Chittaurgarh February 17th 2004 “..I've been told there's a sucker born everyday, but I wonder who?... Maybe the one who doesn't realise there's a thousand shades of grey, 'cause I know that's true....” Rosy and Grey – Lowest of the Low There is just a rush when you get back on the road and set off for what you always know is going to be another adventure. I had heard about Chittor but never really even stopped to explore what was there – then a friend in Pushkar mentioned how it was this amazing place with a big fort. Chittor was the main centre of Rajput power from the 7th to the 16th century. It has seen many dynasties and been seriously attacked at least three times. Each time jauhar was performed by women and their ... read more
.... getting closer
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One of the main gates climbing the escarpment




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