Page 2 of DavidandSara Travel Blog Posts

Africa » Morocco » Anti-Atlas February 3rd 2019

The day dawns bright but cold, like fleece cold......we set off south east towards Skoura. This is a five hour drive, first across the plain and then up into the High Atlas. All does not go according to plan. The plain is dotted with miles of olive tree plantations. In the distance the mountains can be seen, the highest peak rising to around 10,000 feet. Morocco has the third highest peak in Africa. All along the route are hundreds of Gendarmerie Royale. The King is on the move today, apparently. He is either going to visit his people somewhere, which he often does, or else he is off hunting as he likes to shoot gazelle and sangliers. Anyway, all the senior brass are out as well, resplendent in their uniforms and gaudy braid. Maybe he will ... read more
Approaching the High Atlas from Marrakech
Nothing grows up here
Skoura oasis

Africa » Morocco » Marrakech-Tensift-El Haouz » Marrakech February 2nd 2019

It’s always pleasing to set off on holiday when the weather at home is bad, but it’s a bit worrying when the first snow of the winter strikes the night before you leave. Mercifully, the roads remained clear, and BA cancelled European flights but not our flight to Marrakech. Despite a delayed departure, we arrived almost on time. We watched with a mixture of fascination and horror as the luggage carousel threw suitcases down a two foot drop, round a sharp bend and crashing onto the belt, inflicting visible damage in some cases. Mercifully ours survived unscathed! Aziz, our guide for the trip, met us outside, and in 15 minutes we were at our riad. Well, almost – building works meant we had to walk the last few hundred feet. We were welcomed with a refreshing ... read more
Marrakech spice seller
Koutabia Mosque Marrakech
Street in old Marrakech

Asia » India » Rajasthan » Udaipur December 28th 2018

Off today to Udaipur. The Udai Bilas has grown on us despite its eccentricities and slightly haphazard way of doing things so it is sad to leave. We head north on NH8 towards Udaipur, just under two hours north. The countryside becomes more hilly and less productive. NH8 is in the course of being turned into a six lane highway; of course this being India, the construction goes on around you as you travel along. With little warning the existing roadway turns into a dusty track, with men with excavators slicing away the hillside in great clouds of dust as rock keeps crashing down (causing Mr Singh to cast anxious sideways glances), or hot tar is being laid and Mr Singh has to avoid driving inadvertently over it. There are numerous overturned lorries who negotiated the ... read more
Stained glass in City Palace Udaipur
Inner courtyard, City Palace Udaipur
Entrance to City Palace Udaipur

Asia » India » Rajasthan » Dungarpur November 28th 2018

This morning we visit the Juna Mahal, the old palace of the ruling Maharajahs on which construction started in 1304. It clings to the hillside a couple of kilometres away from the Udai Bilas. It claims to be the longest continually inhabited palace in India, occupied by 22 successive generations of the same family, the Rawals of Vagad, a remarkable feat of survival considering the conflicting sultanates and dynasties on all sides of them. The Rawals were Rajputs who had broken away from the Mewar court of Chittorgarh and Udaipur. We are the only visitors and it’s not immediately clear if the place is open. Eventually Mr Singh locates a youth of about 16 who shows us round this amazing place. The outer courtyard where you arrive used to house the elephant stables. The palace has ... read more
Shish Mahal, Juna Mahal
Durbar hall, Juna Mahal, Dungarpur
Beeeater presenting moth to mate

Asia » India » Rajasthan » Dungarpur November 26th 2018

It is time to leave Poshina. We are currently the only guests and Hanu seems slightly reluctant to have us leave. We go to the private balcony to settle up and his father the Maharajah is there to greet us again and to chat. He is a charming gentleman of indeterminate age but somewhere in his 80s one would surmise. He assumed the headship of the family aged seven when his father died young, on which basis he must have been an absolute ruler of the princely state of Poshina at the time of Parttion in 1947, albeit still only a child. What a link with the past! He tells us again about the “good old days”- when the British ruled India (“They ruled it properly, not like these damn corrupt politicians now”), and left the ... read more
Courtyard at Udail Bilas Palace
Cadillac, Udai Bilas Palace
Fruit bats sweeping in

Asia » India » Rajasthan » Dungarpur November 25th 2018

We go for a walk round Poshina village with our friend, the local Adivasi chieftain, who stands guard at the gate. He took the rifle just in case of trouble, but all is calm. Hanu had told us that there were local tailors who could run up a copy of a garment in a few hours for 200 rupees a piece, so we take along a pair of loose cotton trousers each. The first tailor shakes his head, a second is called, then a third and fourth. The conversation is entirely in Gujarati so we never do find out what the problem was, but the answer is clearly no. The chief leads us down some back alleys until we come across a small 15th century temple, which looked very mundane from the front, but we are ... read more
Garisia girl 1
Garisia girl 2
Garisia man

Asia » India » Gujarat » Palanpur November 24th 2018

Hanu takes us in the jeep to visit some of the local villages. He explains that the villagers are all tribal people from the Adivasis and Garasia tribes. We stop by the river, at a field growing a crop a bit like spinach. Women are filling up steel pots full of water from a hand pump, recently installed by the government. Next to that is a small shrine surrounded by armies of small terracotta horses, mostly about 18 inches tall. The tradition is to bring a horse to the shrine as an offering, with coconut, jaggery and oil, and your wish will come true. Behind the spinach field is one full of female cotton plants. All the flowers on the female plants are hand fertilised to produce seeds for the following year. Early each morning the ... read more
Village shaman
School lunch

Asia » India » Gujarat » Khedbrahma November 23rd 2018

We decide to pass on Achalgarh fort; apparently there is nothing left of the fort and it is more of local rubbish tip. Instead we elect to first visit the Ambaji temple. Mr Singh commends our choice. He tells he and his wife and 4 year old son visit the temple each year. They queue for five hours to see the deity. We'll be passing on that queue. The road snakes down through the Aravalli hills, Mount Abu town being at about 4000ft above sea level. The views and the hairpin bends are impressive. The roads here are being improved and progress can be slow. We arrive in Ambaji, which appears to be in the middle of pilgrimage season. There are groups of pilgrims, mainly young men, dressed in red shirts with matching bandanas and flags. ... read more
Ambaji pilgrims
Main temple at Khumbhariya
Khumbhariya temple

Asia » India » Gujarat » Modhera November 22nd 2018

We though the imam had kept us awake again last night. But no, apparently it was a cricket match at the floodlit ground down the road. The game went on till 4.00am! Music, drums, clapping, it somehow didn’t square with noise coming from a mosque. We make our regular 8.30am travelling day departure. Our first stop is the Sun Temple at Modhera. It’s a Hindu temple built in 1027 by King Bhimdev I of the Solanki dynasty, and is now a Unesco World Heritage Site. We walk through beautifully maintained gardens, towards the deep stepped tank in front of the assembly hall, which was used for storing water. It’s 100 metres square in size, with 108 shrines situated on different levels of the steps down, where devotees would give prayers at each one before washing in ... read more
Modhera sun temple assembly hall
Looking into the Patan step well
Patan step well carving

Asia » India » Gujarat » Rann of Kutch November 21st 2018

After tea and biscuits at 715am, we start off to see the birds at the lake. It would be nice to report a good night’s sleep, but the beds were rock hard and the imam was ranting till past 1am. One of the other guests, an Indian expat living in New Zealand, tells us that the new mosque was built with Wahhabi money from Saudi Arabia, as are most new mosques in India. They bring a more fundamental form of Islam than Indian Muslims practise, and this can cause conflict both with local Muslims and with the Hindus. So it can become another source of tension between the communities. She said that over the last few years since the Wahhabis moved in, the number of little Hindu shrines has much increased in the village, as a ... read more
Pelicans taking off
Early morning cranes
Flamingos, Little Rann of Kutch

Tot: 2.932s; Tpl: 0.051s; cc: 12; qc: 52; dbt: 0.045s; 2; m:saturn w:www (; sld: 2; ; mem: 1.5mb