Who was the first CM in Rajasthan

India - Delhi & Rajasthan

December 2011 - January 2012

Welcome to India! Visit vibrant metropolises such as Delhi, Agra and Jaipur on your trip and admire magnificent buildings. A spiritually diverse country whose people will greet you with an open heart awaits you.

Your chronicler

Hello dear readers,

my name is Manfred and I will keep a diary for you during the India tour.

I am 72 years old, happily married for 51 years and we raised four sons together. After an intensive and interesting professional life, we are happy about our grandchildren and enjoy traveling.

See you soon

Manfred

Day 1: Arrival in Delhi

The journey is a bit bumpy, as most of the participants had to arrive the day before, as the City Hopper from Frankfurt to Amsterdam-Schippol should start at 6:55 a.m. However, due to snowfall during the night, the departure was delayed by 90 minutes because the plane had to be de-iced first. But we were in Schippol in good time. Here we were supposed to start at 11 a.m., but here too the departure was delayed by exactly 60 minutes. At high speed, at times over 1,100 km / h, so not too far from the sound barrier, and at an altitude of over 11,000 m, the loss of time was made up for, so that we landed in Delhi at 11:22 p.m. on schedule.

Day 2: Delhi

Shortly after midnight we were warmly welcomed by our tour guide '' Vivek '', went to the bus and were given a wreath of flowers and small gifts. Around 1:30 a.m. we reached our hotel and could only sleep a few hours, because the wake-up call came at 6:30 a.m. After an excellent breakfast, we drove punctually at 8:00 a.m. to our first visit, the '' Jama Masjid '' (Friday Mosque). It is the largest mosque in India, with space for around 25,000 worshipers in the huge courtyard. It was built by order of Sultan Sha Jahan and is made of red sandstone and white marble; it is lined with two minarets.

In the foreground you can see the emigrated pigeons from St. Mark's Square in Venice. The "mosque fashion" is also particularly attractive (see picture of our tour group).

The drive through Old Delhi is breathtaking with the narrow streets and the operation in the mostly towel-wide shops. The many bicycle and auto rickshaws dominate the cityscape despite the high level of car traffic.

On the edge of the old town we visit the cremation and memorial site of '' Mahatma Gandhi ''. His ashes were scattered both in the Himalayas and in the Ganges.

Then we drive through in New Delhi, among other things. the government district and see the parliament building from the outside. On this occasion, our tour guide tells us that a new article for the Indian constitution will probably be adopted today, which should serve to fight the corruption in the country. There have often been large and peaceful demonstrations on this in recent months. As you can see, the greatest democracy on earth is proving its worth. It should also be mentioned that New Delhi was only founded in 1911 and is thus celebrating its 100th anniversary this year. Old Delhi was founded as the Delhi Sultanate in 1193 by the first Muslim conquerors who came from what is now Afghanistan. After several wars, the city was rebuilt again and again and in 1526 '' Babur '', a descendant of the first ruler, laid the foundation stone for almost 300 years of Mughal rule. In 1958 the last Mughal ruler, '' Bahudur II '', was ousted by the English.

We continue to the mausoleum of the second Mughal emperor '' Humayum ''. This tomb is located in a large garden and was built between 1556 and 1565; it is very beautiful and is considered a model for the world famous '' Taj Mahal ''.

As the grand finale of today's sightseeing, we visit the '' Qutub Minar '', a 73 m high minaret. It was built in the 13th century as an unmistakable symbol of Islamic victory. Right next to it, remains of the first mosque, which was built in 1193, testify to the power of Islam. It was built from the building material of the Hindi and Jain temples, as the well-preserved colonnades with the plastic stone figures attest. Today we still heard a lot about the history of India, the social conditions, as well as something about fauna and flora, more about that later.

In the picture you can see a typical Indian tool. Please note that it can also be used without a saddle or pedals. There is still a lot of leeway here for German engineers.

We close the day with a five-hour drive to Agra. We drive on the slightly different motorway than we know it in Europe. There are road users of all kinds here, such as pedestrians, cyclists, rickshaws, carts with oxen, donkeys and camels as draft animals and of course all kinds of motor vehicles. India has taken over left-hand traffic from the English, but that doesn't mean anything here. Most vehicles drive on the right (no matter how fast they are); accordingly, overtaking is mostly on the left, as on the European mainland; ergo the Indians have the steering wheel on the wrong side right? Many trucks have large letters on the back BLOW HORN or HORN PLEASEwhich once again expresses that the most important utensil on the car is the horn.

During our trip, we are pampered with an Indian rum that we liked. We took this opportunity to thank our tour guide for the friendliness so far. At the end of the day trip, Vivek introduced us to the ethnic diversity of the team. He is a Hindu Brahmin himself, our bus driver Ali is a Muslim and the Surander passenger is Hindu Rasput (I will go into the caste differences later). The tour group got together very well and we went over to friendship. After an opulent evening buffet, we're going to bed a little earlier today.

Day 3: Agra

The Taj Mahal is the symbol of India. Everyone knows it and everyone who travels to India wants to see it. So I have now seen it and I would like to give you the most important facts and tips about visiting here.

The Taj Mahal stands as a unique symbol of love. Because it was of course built out of love by Maharaja Shah Jahan, as a memory of his main wife, who died giving birth to the 14th child. The construction work started in the same year 1631 and was finished in 1653. A total of 20,000 people worked on it. Just a few years after completion, Shah Jahan was overthrown from the throne by his own son and was imprisoned at Agra Fort until his death in 1666. From there he could only see the remains of his beloved wife and thus the Taj Mahal from a distance. After his death he was laid to rest next to his wife.

In 1983 the Taj Mahal was named a World Heritage Site. Over the years, the white marble has suffered significantly from air pollution, acid rain and ultimately vandalism. Since 1994, only vehicles that no longer pollute the air have been allowed closer than 500 m to the building.

The Taj Mahal in Agra stands on a 100 m by 100 m marble slab. It is a 58 m high and 56 m wide building, which is surrounded by an 18 hectare garden. An elongated pool of water is the focal point of this garden. Four minarets are built around the main building. These are slightly inclined so that they fall away from the main building in the event of an earthquake. Clever huh?

The building is made up of 28 different types of precious and semi-precious stones inserted into the marble.

After this breathtaking sightseeing we drive to the nearby fort, 2/3 of which is still used for military purposes today and was built by Emperor Akbar and Shajahan expanded it into one of the largest residences in the world. The entire area of ​​the fortress is approx. 3.7 km² and is made of red sandstone. The palace area, on the other hand, is made of white marble and is freely accessible. The works, both in the fortress and in the palace area, are provided with the finest carved reliefs. As mentioned above, Shahjahan's five-year imprisonment caused by his third son after he got his eldest brother out of the way and rebelled against his father is tragic.

A small meal in a very nice garden restaurant rounded off this morning. Then we visited an inlay grinding shop and saw this extremely fine work, which we could already admire at the previous palaces, in practical production. Respect for so much craftsmanship! Before we leave, we become aware of some music and children's dance. A small reward makes dad and child shine.

We are back at the hotel around 4 p.m. and have some time; but at 5:45 p.m. we are already going to another Indian theater event. The story of Shah Jahan as a show, presented as an excellent dance, theater and Bollywood manner, is very successful. On the way back to the hotel "Clarks Shiraz", Vivek got us in the mood for tomorrow's program. We are very excited again. The subsequent evening buffet was again excellent.

I haven't reported anything about the weather yet. So, every day very nice, in the morning quite hazy, around noon always around 20 ° C and more. In the evening the temperature goes back to approx. 10 ° C. The ideal weather; we want it to stay that way.

Our hotel thinks it is winter and would like to get in the mood with this decoration (see photo).

Day 4: Fatepur Sikri

Again wake-up call at 6:30 a.m. and departure at 8:00 a.m. to Fatepur Sikri. After about 40 km we reach the city built by Mughal Akbar in the 16th century. At that time it was one of the most populous cities (approx. 700,000 inhabitants) in the world. After a few decades of bloom, it was abandoned because there wasn't enough water for so many people. Akbar, who couldn't read or write, was very smart, got almost everything right, but the location for his capital city was wrong in this case. Nevertheless, this abandoned city with its spacious buildings (today a world cultural heritage site) has a lot to offer. All buildings are made of red sandstone.

The audience hall, the Panch Mahal, is outstanding. It has a wonderfully crafted column in the middle. The house of the most important minister (Birbal), the large area of ​​the harem and the library and bedchamber of the Mogul Akbar are just as beautiful. Even the first astrologer had his own place - under this canopy (see photo).

The fine stone carvings are admirable. As we could observe, the restorations for this work are still carried out by hand according to old tradition. By the way, Minister Birbal has repeatedly impressed his mogul with his clever answers; z. For example, how big is the difference between truth and lies? The impressive answer was: about 10 cm! The explanation is very simple: what you can see with your eyes is true! What you hear can be true or a lie and there is about 10 cm in between.

After about two hours we travel on and reach the beautiful rural hotel Udai Vilas Palace in Bharatpur.

At around 3:00 p.m. we meet for an excursion by Land Rover over road-like dirt roads near the village of Badrenna. We walk the remaining few hundred meters through the Feldmark. Already on arrival we could see the fertile fields. Mainly z. Currently in the fields of mustard and wheat; but in some places rice was also grown. The many wild peacocks that roam freely in the Feldmark are striking. It is a village of around 1,000 souls and very inconspicuous by our standards.

We are greeted in a friendly manner by the mayor of the village, who is of course also a farmer. He is already 87 years old and, as is customary in the village, dressed inconspicuously - or should I say poorly - dressed. As we hear from Vivek, however, he is not poor, like most rural residents, because they usually have a good income, e.g. B. from the sale of the crops, the milk of the cows and the much sought-after cow patties.

Tea and biscuits are served and we see some of the work on the small farm, such as carrying water, cutting green fodder, etc. All people in the villages (and of course in the cities) have access to a doctor. The children go to a state school that is free and provides lunch. Of course it is also possible to send your children to a private school.

I would like to see the situation in this village as it was in Germany about a hundred years ago. However, the situation here will change at a rapid pace, because, as we have seen, a lot of the work is already being done by machines, e.g. B. Tractors instead of ox carts. We leave the village with new information and impressions. After our dinner we are offered Indian music and a small puppet theater in the atrium. But after 9 p.m. it gets very fresh, so we retreat to our rooms. Another beautiful and interesting day comes to an end.

Day 5: Jaipur

Today we have a day's journey of 190 km ahead of us. On the way we meet this beautiful bird; his name is Mayna (see photo).

During the trip we learn a lot about Indian family life. Even if Indian society is in a state of upheaval, there are still large family ties, not only in the country, but also among the urban population. So mostly three generations of families live together and also form a common fund:

  • For emergencies and running costs, e.g. B. money for private schools,
    or

  • to have money to invest, so that the prosperity of the family and especially of the following generations is increased.

Today around 60% of the population belong to the middle class, which is divided into three groups based on income. As everywhere in the world, of course, status plays a major role and of course you also have to have what your neighbor, colleague, etc. has. The hierarchy in a family is very important and respected. So the oldest man is to be regarded as the head. The eldest female member of the family rules the house, especially the kitchen, and usually also secretly over the man; or? The kitchen is almost considered a holy place, because all ingredients are treated almost ritually. The individual elements of Ayurveda, Vata = air element, Pita = fire element, Kafa = water element, are carefully weighed against each other during cooking. Particular attention is paid to the basil.

Religion is highly respected in many families, but it is by no means made compulsory. There is often a small table and the '' Lalla '' is a small god figure who is treated with special reverence. She is washed, dressed and worshiped daily to keep away the hardships of daily life. Frequent meditation is also common.

Our journey on the expressway is progressing quickly and we see many businesses on the side. Particularly often there are stonemasons who make large figures of all kinds out of sandstone or marble. After our arrival in Jaipur we experience something very special: our tour guide Vivek invites us to his home. We consider this a very special honor. We get to know the whole family (three generations) and some relatives. We chat, see the house and our Linda is even allowed to put on and show off Mrs. Vastista's wedding dress. Thank you, dear Vivek, for allowing us to make this lovely visit.

Now we drive to the five star Hotel Mansingh and have time until 4:00 p.m. Our next attraction is a bicycle rickshaw ride through the old town of the 4.5 million metropolis of the state of Rajasthan. Apart from the fact that the traffic chaos is indescribable (there are no traffic regulations), the winner is the one who has the nose, even if only very thin, in front, regardless of whether it is a rickshaw or a truck, and so it goes forward meter by meter. In between there are a few cows on the street, but everyone knows that; I would not have expected only running pigs with piglets in this crowd. After the rickshaw ride, we visit a diamond cutting shop. There is also a purchase. How does the Turk say? A little is always possible!

Then we experience something very interesting. We visit a Hindu temple during the 7:00 p.m. devotional. In the temple (without shoes) all people (a few hundred) move around at will. Currents go around the altered altar to get close to God. Others stand individually or in groups and always sing the same text (approx. 30 minutes); still others kneel or lie down to pray for a long time. Everything looks very casual. But it does not lack an inner devotion from the individual.

After visiting the temple we go back to our hotel and look forward to the Christmas Eve dinner. We will not be disappointed. Such a large and unusual buffet is very rarely served. The meal is accompanied by hot Christmas music. Even Santa Claus appears in between. A very successful evening. We fall into bed satisfied.

Day 6: Jaipur

The hotel lobby is also decorated for Christmas. Accidentally there was no wake-up call this morning and some of them promptly overslept; but our friend Jürgen noticed this and started a wake-up call.After yesterday's opulent dinner, many only eat a stripped-down breakfast.

Today, like every other day, an interesting program awaits us. Ali first drives us through the old town, with the beautiful pink houses, in a comfortable coach. We can see all of this because the traffic is still low at this early hour. Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II built this beautiful city in the 18th century and gave up his capital in nearby Amber. By the way: Sawai means 25% more intelligence than normal. The title was only bestowed by the Shah. This Maharaja has already proven his excessive intelligence in his earliest youth through his work and knowledge (e.g. in the astronomical field).

But our goal is precisely this amber. At the end you go up to the picturesque castle by jeep or elephant. We use the elephants; a scary affair, but cozy. Above this palace is the fort and the part that is not accessible because it is still inhabited by the Maharaja. Vivek explains the individual areas to us in the spacious palace and we are amazed that a Hindu maharaja also has a harem.

Particularly noticeable is the Spiegelpalast, in which hundreds of thousands of mirrors are embedded in the stucco walls both inside and outside. In the photo you can see a detailed view.

Back in Jaipur, we visit a cooperative. Here we are shown how to print fabrics with natural colors and how to knot carpets. We were allowed to print an elephant ourselves. Gisela did it for us. Hasn't he turned out pretty? In the adjoining sales rooms we are well catered for and here and there we also do a little business.

The city palace of the Maharaja, which we then visit, is lavishly furnished. It is particularly noticeable that the former Egyptian President Mubarak still has a palace here. Sorry, a little joke on the side. Mubarak-Mahal means: Welcome Palace.

Next to the city palace there is an observatory that the o. A. Maharja had erected. As a mathematician and astronomer he had a. erect several different sundials which, as we could see, still give the times to within two seconds. So he rightly received the Sawai title at the age of 17. Respect your highness!

A few meters further in the old town is the Hawa Mahal, the Palace of the Winds. An elaborate five-storey facade construction from the end of the 18th century. There are only galleries behind the airy bay windows and lattice windows. They were used to give the numerous ladies-in-waiting an unobstructed view of the business activities on the street without being seen themselves. How do I find that?

Enough for today. It was a sunny day at 22.3 ° C at noon. We look forward to dinner together. By the way, our tour guide has just given us a Christmas present. Wake up call at 7:00 a.m. instead of 6:30 a.m. Isn't he generous?

Day 7: Nimaj

Today we tackle a distance of approx. 220 km. Vivek tells us something about the caste system as we drive. On the one hand it is quite complicated because it is complex, but on the other hand it is also simple because all people were equal before the Indian constitution. But here the constitution is also ambivalent, because it promotes the disadvantaged in terms of files through quotas, which meanwhile the castes that were predestined earlier have come at a disadvantage. But there is a wide gap between the constitution and actual life. Nevertheless, a lot has changed in recent years. The caste plays an ever smaller role in the daily routine of life. Children of all castes go to joint schools (free of charge by the state or private for a fee). People from different castes work together at work. Castes still play a major role in the personal lives of families today. So it is z. B. very difficult to marry across castes.

There are basically five castes that differ from top to bottom in terms of their ranking, in particular the professions and the peculiarities of the various Hindu religions. The uppermost caste is that of the Brahmins. I cannot go into further details here, that would fill the book. The turban is also a special chapter. They are very diverse and recognizable according to their tribes, religion and customs. But they are worn less and less in everyday life. The eldest of the ancestral family always wears a white turban.

Our overland trip ends in Nimaj after about 5 hours. Our hotel cannot be reached by bus. So we walk down the approx. 900 m long and narrow alley past the many shops and reach the Nimaj Palace, an old country estate that has been converted into a hotel. We feel right at home. We don't have much time, because at 3:30 p.m. we start a jeep safari into the desert-like bushland.

Our 1st stop is an old Hindu temple from the 9th century. It was originally about 40 m high. There is still life in the ruin. There is an altar with a god doll that the believers circle around and worship, as we could see.

Our 2nd stop was a typical village in this area. We experience up close and really authentic how people live here. Of course they knew we were coming; you could also see that the courtyard was freshly swept, but otherwise everything in the village moved naturally. We could look around everywhere and the people weren't afraid to show us their little houses. In the back of the village I saw a group of men sitting on the ground, which I had discovered by chance. The game reminds me a bit of our `` Don't get angry ''.

In a courtyard we saw an old man making pottery according to the old tradition. Impressive, with what dexterity and speed he manufactured his goods.

On another farm we looked at the premises and the farmer and Vivek demonstrated to us how opium was previously produced using the fast-track method and greeted guests with it.

It was getting close to evening and we saw many women and girls go to the well and fetch water. The older women all wore a lot of jewelry, mostly gold. This shows once again that there is no absolute poverty here. The village population makes a living from agriculture, animal products and handicrafts (see potters).

Before we reach our 3rd stop, we see a kind of antelope in the bushland; they are called `` Blue Gau '' in English. A strong bull and several females can be seen. We stalk something and take photos, but the distance to escape is quite long. Still, lucky!

At the 3rd stop we climb a small hill, we are served drinks and cookies and so we wait for the sunset. But in the end our star hides in the haze so that there is no sun glow.

After returning to the hotel, our tour guide Vivek has a surprise in store for us, of course. Before dinner there is a folkloric performance with music and dance, which is crowned with fireworks at the end. Thank you very much for that! After dinner there is still a chat and then it is `` off to bed ''. Bye, see you tomorrow.

Day 8: Jodhpur

Today Vivek could have saved himself the wake-up call. At exactly 6:00 a.m. the muezzin called the Muslims to prayer. That was loud enough! In this area about 10% Muslims live peacefully with the Hindus.

Our day tour today is approx. 110 km long. Vivek tells us something about marriage habits in India. There is no such thing as forced marriage, as is customary elsewhere. But almost all marriages are arranged, mostly by parents and grandparents. In any case, it should be noted that the bride does not come from the large clan of her parents or grandparents. In the case of Vivek, one day he was confronted with three images and was pushed a bit to be interested in one. After looking for a long time, he tapped one of the pictures. First a meeting was arranged between the families and so they got to know each other. Later, at that first meeting, they were politely left to sit alone so they could sniff each other. The young lady finally asked for a week to think about it, which was then answered with a "Yes". A no would have resulted in no consequences. Now a guru (astrologer) has been appointed. Of 22 possible properties of the horoscope, at least 5 must match. In this case it was 18, so everything was fine. This guru now also set the wedding date and the preparations began. Usually, an Indian wedding is celebrated with a large group of family, relatives, friends, neighbors, etc., so that usually several hundred people take part. In this case it was about a thousand. The wedding is celebrated over four days and is divided into different sections, which I cannot show all now, because both family and religious things have to be considered. Of course, most newlyweds cannot afford such an expensive wedding, which costs around € 20-30,000. The family fund described a few days ago also applies here, in this case it applies to both families.

After our arrival in Jodhpur we drive to the fortress Mehrangarh, which is enthroned on a 125 m high hill and was never captured in war. At the foot of the fortress lies the old town with its beautiful blue houses. The 16th century fortress now houses a museum. The filigree stone carvings on the huge area are particularly striking. The halls with the elephant seats, the clothing, the weapons and other utensils, as well as the large exhibition of miniature paintings, are particularly striking. After almost three hours of interesting sightseeing, at the end we hear a very delicate, wonderfully audible midday serenade in a separate hall. Before we leave the fortress, we treat ourselves to a typical Indian thalli (plate dish) for a snack in between.

After checking in at the Hotel Palast, we have some time to rest. At 5 p.m. we meet again and take the tuk-tuks to the old town of the 1.5 million city, which is on the edge of the desert and only 70 km from the Pakistani border, and stroll through the bazaar, which unfortunately, what the As far as cleanliness is concerned, it gets the mark six minus. Of course, our Vivek has a surprise ready again, who is still surprised, and invites us to a wholesale business. The finest handcrafted textiles are demonstrated and explained to us. No obligation to buy, but you can buy at wholesale prices. A little chat after dinner, then the bed calls.

Day 9: Ranakpur

On our day tour around 180 kilometers today, we will learn something about burial rituals in India. The god Backwan is responsible for the dead. They are never buried after sunset. Funeral homes are not common in India.

  • After a person dies, they are laid down in a room in the house, washed, rubbed with herbs and dressed.

  • Then laid out on a stretcher made of bamboo.

  • The dead receive visitors who make offerings.

  • During the transfer, the stretcher is carried by four men. The bearers take turns because everyone wants this honor.

  • The corpse is cremated under certain rituals at the fireplace, of which there are several in every district.

  • After three days, the cremation site is visited again, circled three times and the remains, such as small bones and teeth, are collected. These are brought home, cleaned with milk, and then placed in a small bag.

  • Later this bag is brought to the holy river Ganges and admitted there. During the journey there, regardless of whether z. B. by car or train, the person who has fallen asleep has his own place.

If the deceased was the head of the family, this responsibility now passes to the eldest son and he wears the white turban.

We'll do one on our trip 1st stop at a small temple that is built next to the road. Here a motorcyclist has had an accident. What circumstances have now led to his becoming a saint and being worshiped has not been revealed to me. The crashed motorcycle stands next to the temple and, as is customary here with sacred pieces, is touched in order to be close to the saint.

One 2nd stop we do it at an oil mill next to the road. Sesame is being squeezed out here. The molasses tastes delicious. The ox that goes round all day has been blindfolded so that he doesn't get a worm.

One 3rd stop we do in a small town where the market is busy. We stroll around a little, take photos and once again wonder about the great uncleanliness on and next to the street. A young man was lying on his stomach a little off the road in the middle of the rubbish and was sleeping. One of the many pigs that roam free here came near him, touched his head and both were frightened. The pig kept looking for something to eat and the man put his head back in the dirt.

Shortly before our destination Ranakpur, the Kumbhal Ceich National Park begins. There are bears two kinds of monkeys and of course antelopes etc. Here is one of the most beautiful and at the same time the most important Jain temple in India. It is made entirely of white marble, with the finest motifs and figures. This main temple is called Chaumukkha Mandir and was started in 1439 and built for 80 years. It has four entrances whose figures are supposed to welcome you at your feet and alleviate fear. The temple has 1,444 columns, each of which is designed differently, but always has the same basic religious idea. It begins below with the underworld, above the earth, then the air, then the demigods. According to the Hindu religion, the soul can arise in any of these planes due to the rebirth. In rebirth there is no order of precedence, depending on your karma you can be born further up or down, this happens until you have achieved final salvation.

Vivek has a paste made from saffron and camphor and gives us a tika on our foreheads. You can move around freely in the temple and take photos, but there is no religious atmosphere here. However, only Hindus are allowed to pray in the inner area of ​​the altar.

Day 10: Ranakpur - Udaipur

According to the travel plan, we only have the trip to Udaipur in our program today. But we know Vivek by now. Before we set off, he takes us for a longer walk in nature. First we meet the monkeys (langurs), but they have a natural escape distance; anyway, taking pictures is possible.

We then pass a small village and look around again. Measured by our standards, everything looks very poor, but the Tulsi family's house, like all the houses here, has a power connection and animals can be seen in the yard, some land is also part of it and Mr Tulsi has a job in our overnight hotel. So if you just look at the house and don't know the other details, you get the wrong impression, of course.

We continue walking and come to a dam wall. In this reservoir there are crocodiles that like to lie in the sun. We're not lucky enough to see any this morning; a pity. To do this, it is possible to photograph a blue jay (kingfisher type) and a cobra. We heard partridges calling, but never saw them. The mango tree is in full bloom and promises a good harvest.

After returning to the hotel, Jürgen takes all the dust off us and bravely plunges into the approx. 18 ° C cold pool. At 11:30 am we drive to Udaipur. It goes through the mountains with partly extremely narrow roads and a lot of traffic. But our driver Ali has chauffeured us well so far with courage and stoic calm and is doing that again today.

In this reserve live among others. Leopards, bears, of course the langurs and other game. On the occasion we learn that there are several reserves in India where tigers live. They are under strict protection and the population is slowly increasing.

At our 1st stop we have a very nice view of the mountain landscape and Vivek wants to show us a schnapps tree. Ha ha. Instead, he comes out from behind the corner with rum, cola and chips. Well, we'll have a good time.

At the 2nd stop we see a water pumping system that works in an environmentally neutral way and that has certainly been for centuries; only the animals need to be renewed.

The 3rd stop serves harmony. We're allowed to go to the toilet.

This is in the middle of a mountain village 4th stop and what do we get to see? It is hard to believe that there are large clusters of bats (flying foxes) hanging in several trees. The children around us are well dressed and do not beg; different than in the tourist strongholds.

Shortly before Udaipur, there are kilometer-wide businesses on the left and right of the road, all of which process marble and granite. At 3:00 p.m. we arrive at our hotel Paras Mahal. Today there is no more program. A huge pool invites you to swim and later the buffet for dinner.

Day 11: Udaipur

This morning we start our tour of the City Palace. It is the largest palace in Rajastahan. Vivek managed to get us in before the actual opening time. This has the advantage that you can make good progress in the narrow corridors in the palace. The later mass rush should prove us right. But that also means that this 17th century palace has something to offer.

The Maharaja Udai Sing II founded the city after the old capital was conquered by the Mughal Akbar. To protect his palace, he had lakes dammed and a city wall built. At the entrance to the palace you can see a large wooden ornament with, among other things, many swastikas (known here for over 7,000 years). This ornament is called gates and is kicked three times when greeting, as we have already got to know at the wedding ceremony.

In the city palace building it goes up and down in very narrow corridors. The palace was built around a hill. At its highest point (approx. 30 m) is an inner courtyard with large trees. We see a large picture of the elephant god Garnisha. There is also a picture of god Rama, an incarnation of god Krishna.

The huge marble tub is not a bathtub, as one might assume, but a collecting basin for silver coins. The basin was filled by the Maharaja at certain times and made available to the poor. The noble gentlemen probably didn't get a guilty conscience?

There are a large number of rooms, almost all of which have pictures. There are thousands of images such as Sometimes in the finest miniature work that depicts life situations. More recently, photos have been added.

The Pfauenhof is to be regarded as the most splendid area. The receptions took place here. The leaves of this Bilva tree are offered as offerings to the god Shiva, because as an ascetic he does not want any great sacrifices.

After the city palace we go a few hundred meters to a temple. He is dedicated to the god Vishna. Opposite him is the temple of the god Rama, the incarnation of god Vishna.

To relax after the many information in the palace, we then drive to a small park with beautiful old trees and playful fountains.

At the end of today's morning we take a stroll through the bazaar, eat typical Indian deep-fried pastries, once filled with lentils and once with potatoes; both quite hot, but edible. Some spices and tea are also bought. There is everything here, including also grain. Most of the grain traders belong to the yen caste. It is the third caste, that of the merchants. These grain traders make very good money. Minimum income € 15,000 / month. So all millionaires!

This sickle seller (see photo) cannot be called poor either. She is richly hung with jewelry on her feet, hands and arms.

We will be back at the hotel around 2 p.m. and look forward to the evening cruise. The boat has been ordered for 5:00 p.m. and, if the weather is fine, you can go out onto the lake. We make a stop on the island and enjoy the sunset. Back on land we visit a Brahma art studio and watch the painters with their fine and finest brushstrokes. Of course, this also encourages some of us to purchase such beautiful pieces. Here we do not acquire a mass product, but the best pieces of art. It was another day with many beautiful impressions.

Day 12: Pushkar

We start our 270 km day trip to Pushkar at 8:00 am and don't go straight there as planned, but Vivek has added something again; otherwise it would be boring. We make a stop at Nagda Temple from the 7th century. This temple, consisting of a main temple and several side temples, is a well-preserved ruin, even if, as almost everywhere, the beautiful faces or heads were destroyed by the Muslims who invaded at the time . The temple even has Romanesque elements. The rows of figures carved into the walls tell entire life stories that are brought closer to us. The lust of the flesh is also represented in all conceivable forms. I.a. there are two representations of the gods Shiva and Vishnu, who are the only ones of the many gods to be immortal. Vivek explains to us the meaning of the presented additions on the representations. It is getting too long for this report to describe. I therefore refer you to read it here under Wikipedia. Thanks. Since we are going to the Brahma temple in Pushkar today, so much should be said that the god Brahma, the only god with a beard, was created by dividing the body from god Vishnu.

As is the case almost everywhere in India in everyday life, the swastika is also often to be found here. By the way, this symbol has been known here for over 7,000 years and the ancient Romans and Teutons also used it as runes. It's a shame that it was so vilified by the terrible 3rd Reich in Germany. In India it can be found everywhere as follows:

The long vertical and vertical lines represent the arms of the person.
The four hooks on these ends represent the four boxes in India.
The four dots in the fields mean the four phases of life.

The further journey is very varied through hilly landscapes, with trees, bushes and smaller fields. There are smaller and larger settlements everywhere. There is a small compulsory freeze in one place. Ali says the brakes smell. The quick check by a mechanic gives us free travel, everything is OK. Another stop is for harmony; you know! A jinglebuble bird can be photographed on the occasion. Later another break at a rest stop with a small snack. We reach Pushkar in the late afternoon and our passenger pays the toll first. 5Rs per tourist. Indians do not need to pay tolls to enter Pushkar.

Pushkhar became famous through the hippie generation of the 1970s. Since then, this Brahma temple has been heavily frequented. By the way, it is the only Brahma temple in all of India. Even today there is a lot of rush here. You have to take off your shoes before the stairs. It is very dirty both in the street and in the temple area, so it is not a pure joy to walk around here in socks. We look into the temple and see God Brahma with his four heads and on the other side his companion animal, a white goose. As in all temples, there is no sacred mood; it only resides in each individual.

After visiting the temple we go to the lake, where there are also several ghats (sacred stairs). We take part in a prayer with a priest and also receive a tika. Everything is completely uncomplicated. The subsequent stroll through the bazaar gives you another opportunity to buy a few souvenirs.

At 7.15 p.m. we arrive at our very beautiful Heritage Hotel Pushkar Palace. We are in the holy city of the Brahmins. The Brahmins are vegetarians and so is our buffet, which nevertheless tasted very good. Of course there is no alcohol among the Brahmins either. But we have Vivek.

After a short dance folklore, organized by the hotel, Vivek lit a fireworks display and during the following round with sparklers we sang lantern, lantern. Vivek has another surprise in store. He himself, the Brahmin, doesn't drink alcohol, of course, but he invites us to his room and serves the monk rum, which is now well known to us. It will be a happy group. Then good night. Most want to sleep well into the new year.

Day 13-14: Pushkar - Shekhawatri

Happy New Year 2012,
This is what the langur monkeys wish us here in the picture. We enjoy our first breakfast in the new year, of course vegetarian again and at 8:00 am we leave for Shekhawati in the village of Mandava.

As on the previous day, there are many kilometers of marble factories on both sides of the street. Later the landscape changes a bit and we drive through the savannah all day. Shrubs and trees are scattered on the light sandy soil, for the most part it is kejri (type of arcacia) that, like our willows, are trimmed. The leaves are used as camel fodder and the branches for firing.

On the way we learn a little more about the Indian school system. The structure is very similar to that in Europe. Elementary school (primary) up to 5th grade, secondary school up to 10th grade and upper grade (senior) up to 12th grade. It is impressive that the country offers all children free school, including school uniform and lunch.

Then we learn something about the game of cricket. India is at the forefront of the world's best and our Vivek has been a very good player for many years.

Around 4 p.m. we reach Mandava and take a look at the beautifully painted houses. We visit three residences, which are called Havalis here. They are very beautiful large mansions, which are, however, left to decay because the previous owners are either now impoverished or have settled elsewhere as rich merchants. But even the now rich do nothing to preserve these beautiful Havalis. They call it a shame! There are around 200 villages and around 2,000 such beautifully painted houses in this region.

At the end of the day I still have the opportunity to take a photo of a burn site in this village. They are mostly out of the way and are therefore difficult to reach for tourists.

A word again about the weather: Two weeks of sunshine and temperatures of around 20-27 ° C around noon should satisfy us very much. Our extensive program for this trip has been completed and we have seen and admired a lot. A country with a long, complicated history and an even more complex religion. We learned a lot about the country and thank Vivek very much for accompanying us on this trip. I mean, we didn't have a good tour guide, we had an exceptionally good one. As a chronicler, I also take the liberty of saying a word about my fellow travelers. Many thanks to everyone. I think we were a well harmonized group and everyone enjoyed it very much.

Tomorrow is the return trip to Delhi, final dinner and preparation for the flight home.

With this I end the chronicler duty for mountains & sea and say Phir milenge in India.

Your itinerary

Namasté in India! Discover the magical and colorful country. The ornate temples and pompous palaces in Rajasthan from the time of the Mughals and Maharajas as well as the world-famous Taj Mahal are a feast for the eyes.

Day 1 - arrival
Scheduled flight with a stopover to Delhi. Upon arrival, you will be greeted by your German-speaking tour guide and transferred to the hotel.

Day 2 - Delhi - Agra (approx. 200 km)
After breakfast you will gain a first impression of Delhi during a city tour. You will see the Red Fort (from the outside), the Mahatma Gandhi memorial, the largest mosque in India - Jama Masjid - and the India Gate. In addition, a visit to the Quatab Minaret and the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Humayun's tomb, a magnificent square sandstone building with a double marble dome. In the afternoon drive to Agra, the residence of former Mughal emperors.

Day 3 - Agra
In the morning you will visit the legendary Taj Mahal, which was built in 1631 by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his wife Mumtaz Mahal. A horse and cart (Tonga) will bring you to the entrance. The semiprecious stones of the mausoleum, embedded in white marble, catch the light of the moon at night and the rays of the sun during the day and make it shine like a sparkling jewel. The Red Fort in Agra is one of the largest fortifications in the world with its majestic gates, magnificent towers and bastions. 20 m high double walls cast their protective shadows and give an idea of ​​the power of the 3rd Mughal conqueror.

Day 4 - Agra - Fatehpur Sikri - Bharatpur (approx. 60 km)
On the way to Bharatpur stop in Fatehpur Sikri, the sandstone-red city with white marble palaces in the plateau west of Agra. Then continue to Bharatpur. In the evening there is an all-terrain vehicle safari to the nearby villages, where you can watch the farmers at work and get more information about the life of the villagers while having tea in an Indian house.

Day 5 - Bharatpur - Jaipur (approx. 190 km)
Today's destination is Jaipur, the pink city and capital of Rajasthan, which is known for its handicrafts and especially for its brightly painted enamel bangles.

Day 6 - Jaipur
Drive with the off-road vehicle to Amber Fort. In between there is a photo stop at the Palace of the Winds. Inside the classically romantic fort, marvel at painted scenes in miniature - e. B. of festivals, wars and hunting. You will also see many small mirrors on the walls and ceiling of the Victory Hall (Jag Mandir). In the afternoon you will visit the city, the city palace of the Maharajah, the arms museum and the former royal residence, which takes up almost a seventh of the area of ​​Jaipur! Visit the observatory (Jantar Mantar) - built of stone and marble, it is one of the largest in the world. At the end of the day, bike rickshaw ride across the colorful bazaar of Jaipur.

Day 7 - Jaipur - Nimaj (approx. 220 km)
After breakfast, the bus ride to Nimaj and check-in at the hotel takes place. In the afternoon you will take part in an off-road vehicle safari to the surrounding villages. Get to know the daily farm life and visit one of the farmhouses. The next stop is at the Magarmandi Mata Temple, which has a South Indian influence.

Day 8 - Nimaj - Jodhpur (approx. 110 km)
Today's destination is the imperial city of Jodhpur, which was founded in 1459 and whose old town with impressive palaces and temples is surrounded by a 10 km long city wall. Today the city impresses with the traditional and festive lifestyle of the extremely friendly people. In the afternoon, visit the Meherangarh Fort, which is located on a 120 m high hill above the city. A museum is now housed in the former rooms of the Maharajah. Also worth seeing are the Jaswant Thada and the white marble chattri of Jaswant Singh II.

Day 9 - Jodhpur - Ranakpur (approx. 180 km)
After breakfast drive to Ranakpur and check-in at the hotel. In the afternoon visit the Jain temples. They form one of the 5 most important pilgrimage sites of Jainism. This temple complex, built in the 15th century, is one of the true gems of Indian architecture.

Day 10 - Ranakpur - Udaipur (approx. 90 km)
After breakfast drive to Udaipur. The rest of the day can be used as freetime.

Day 11 - Udaipur
Today is temple day. Visit of the city palace built in 1725. This enchanting complex impresses with its decorations with glittering mirrors and countless ornaments. Continue to the 17th century Jagdish Temple, dedicated to the god Nishnu. Finally, you will see the Sahelion Ki-Bari, the garden of women. In the afternoon boat trip on one of the lakes. If the water level is too low, visit Nagda Eklingji Temple.

Day 12 - Udaipur - Pushkar (approx. 270 km)
In the morning long bus ride to Pushkar, the city dedicated to the god Brahma. In the late afternoon visit to the famous Brahma Temple and walk along the lake.

Day 13 - Pushkar - Shekhawati (approx. 260 km)
After breakfast, bus ride to Shekhawati, a small town with numerous temples and magnificent manor houses, so-called havelies. You will visit one of the courtyards.

Day 14 - Shekhawati - Delhi / Manesar (approx. 270 km)
The morning is at leisure. In the afternoon drive back to Delhi. Upon arrival, drive to a hotel where some rooms will be made available for you to freshen up. Followed by dinner in a local restaurant and transfer to the airport.

15th day - departure
Shortly after midnight, the return flight to Germany takes place with a stopover. Arrival in Germany on the same day.