|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.