jodhpur and udaipur

nicknamed for obvious reasons.

next on the itinerary were the cities of jodhpur and udaipur (with a stay between the two in a village, which i’ll get to later). jodhpur, “the blue city” and also the birthplace of jodhpur trousers (the mahajara was a polo fanatic), was a major trading center and the capitol of the now-dissolved kingdom of marwar, so naturally it had a major fort. unlike the other forts we saw, this one – mehrangarh fort – had a good museum in which some of the more luxurious rooms were preserved and open to the public. (again, no furnishings, but the walls and windows provided enough evidence of the luxury that must have been on display.)

mehrangarh fort; detail from an interior courtyard; the “palace of flowers” room, where the dancing girls performed for the maharaja; the sitting room for the last maharaja to live in the fort

the next major city on our tour was udaipur, which is also known as “the city of lakes” and “the venice of the east.” there are some impressively large man-made lakes in the area (and the people who built their houses below the dam will be very unhappy if the city ever has to open it), but there wasn’t anything venice-like about it, at least not that i could tell. the palace museum wasn’t bad, but this being the fourth palace we’d seen, we were kind of “up to here” with palaces. outside the palace walls was the jagdish temple, which is an impressive enough structure, but the people inside the temple and those begging on the steps made for better photographs:

forts and camels

on to the state of rajasthan. first stop: jaipur, the capitol city. this is the amber fort, a major tourist attraction. you can access the fort by riding on an elephant, which we did.  the adventure began before we got on the elephant, however, when abby and i saw a man hawking some fairly nice kids’ t-shirts and shouting out “twenty! twenty!” twenty rupees is pretty cheap for a shirt, so we inquired, and he came back with the price: 1,500 rupees, which is about 20 euros, or 30 dollars. we declined, and the haggling began –

riding an elephant is great fun, but it’s not unlike riding in a boat on choppy water, including the spray that comes up when the elephant sneezes.

that is, the one-sided haggling began, because for every number we refused, the hawker came back with a lower figure. as we were boarding the elephant, he was down to two for 500 rupees ($5 apiece), but we still said no, and away we went.

the amber fort has a fascinating mix of hindu and mughal architecture; there is some beautiful glass and tile work and a lovely garden; yet nothing is going on inside. unlike the palaces one sees in european cities, very little of the furnishings has been preserved here. there is no furniture, no tapestries, no fixtures, nothing to let you see how people actually lived. i took a lot of photographs, but when i went back and looked at them, i didn’t actually see much that was actually interesting from an artistic point of view.

amber fort: ceiling detail from outside the maharaja’s hall of mirrors which, of course, we weren’t allowed in to see; a segment of the wall surrounding the fort.

pushkar, the next stop on our tour, is a holy city, very much like varanasi but on a lake instead of on the ganges. there were sadhus, ghats, and lots of hippies – i mean, spiritual seekers. (after seeing a white guy with long hair done up in a bandanna, a beard, a tie-dye t-shirt, baggy harem pants, and rose-tinted granny glasses, i started to wonder whether was a depot somewhere specializing in hippie uniforms, or whether he’d just bought a kit off the internet …) one reason that pushkar is such a spiritual place is that it has one of the only temples to brahma in india – nearly all of the other temples in india are devoted to vishnu or shiva, the other two gods in the trinity of creator-maintainer-destroyer, or to the lesser gods and goddesses. (according to wikipedia, there are only three such temples in all of india, which is pretty amazing for a country of 827,000,000 hindus.)

we were there for the start of the pushkar fair, which gathers rajasthani villagers from across the state (and lots of tourists) for five days of livestock trading, primarily in camels and horses.  the villagers decorate the camels with dyes, saddles and jewelry, and they set up camp on the outskirts of the city. i ran out the afternoon we arrived in pushkar, and then went back out early in the morning, to take some shots.


i’ve been working on a photography lecture/lesson using my bhutan images, so i haven’t gotten around to posting anything about the three-week trip through india that abby and i took with her parents until now.  so we start with agra and the taj mahal.  what can be said about the taj mahal that hasn’t already been written?  the taj was opened in 1990 as donald trump’s third casino property in atlantic city.  it has over 2,000 hotel rooms and the second largest poker room on that famed boardwalk with 75 regular tables and 14 tournament tables. pretty impressive.

four views of the taj majal.