Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Rajasthan with Dad - Jaipur, Monkey Temple

Our last stop of the day was at the monkey temple. No cost to get in as it is a temple, but a charge of 150 rupees ($2.50) for each camera. We walked around a few cows to get to the entrance and then up a large flight of stairs past two large outdoor bathing pools. One for men and one for women. Helen was here a year ago on a religious holiday and said the place and the pools were packed. Yesterday, we saw only four men splashing water on themselves.

At the top of the stairs we started to see lots of monkeys. They were much smaller than a chimp. The monkey caretaker came over and talked to us. He gave Auggie some peanuts and told him to hold one peanut at a time out to the closest monkey. The monkey reached out and took the peanut. The caretaker told Auggie to put a peanut in his hand and lightly close his fingers. The monkey pulled back his fingers and took the peanut.

Then I got in the act and fed a few. As we walked back down the stairs a group of monkeys sort of followed us, hoping for more handouts.

We got back to the hotel around 5 pm. A long but interesting day. We all cleaned up and took a short rest before having dinner in the hotel restaurant. Helen enjoys eating the Indian specialities. I have been sticking to anything mild and basic.

It is 8am on Friday and we are leaving for Agra at 9am. We plan to see the Taj Mahal at sunrise on Saturday. It is a 5 hour drive from here to Agra and then another 5 hour drive on Saturday back to Delhi. We fly on Sunday to Bangalore.

All for now. Stay tuned for the next installment.


Rajasthan with Dad - Jaipur, Amber Fort

(Text from my father's travel log.)
Hi All
We had an interesting day in Jaipur yesterday. We left the hotel around 8:30am and went to see the Winter Palace. OK but nothing special.

Then we went to the the Amber (pronounced with a long e like Ambeeer). It is the second largest palace/castle in the world. It is located on a hill top with a military fort on a higher hill above it. The royal family had a tunnel to the fort in case of attack.

That's where we're going!

Snake charmer - cobra is in the shade and hard to see but it's there
We rode an elephant from the base of the hill up to the palace. It cost 900 rupees ($18) for the ride. Helen and the kids were on one elephant and I had one all to myself. We got lots of pictures.

Heading up the road to the fort

The man in the white shirt is "Mr. Lucky" he's a photographer who takes our photo then tries to sell them to you at a crazy price at the exit. Last time I was here with friends Mr. Lucky followed us out of the fort and jumped on his motorcycle and followed us for many kilometers at high speed trying to convince us to buy the photographs.


Fort is surrounded by a "great wall"
The palace was completed in the late 1500's - early 1600's. It has 100 bathrooms. After touring the main rooms we went down into the tunnel. We could only go a short way. It was mainly to show the access way and of course the hundreds of bats that were clinging to the ceiling. Fortunately, the tunnel ceiling at the entrance was 20 feet high, so no worry about the bats.

From the Amber we went to the City Palace. Don't know why so many palaces in one city and so close together. This one was more like a working palace where the Raja ran the state.

Rifle art

Rajasthan with Dad - Bikaner

(Text from my father's travel log.)
The next morning we took a walking tour and saw several of the Havelis, then it was off to Bikaner in the state of Rajasthan. The countryside changed from green to brown to desert. There are 54,000 camels in Rajasthan and we saw a lot of them.

Many pulling carts on our road. So again, our average speed was around 30mph because of the carts, cows, goats, sheep and people all using the roadway.

Once we got to Bikaner, we checked into the hotel, had lunch and then took off to see the local Camel Research Institute. They provide a stud service for the local farmers to try and improve the stock. There were 331 camels that day and we saw a new born that was only one day old.

Camel milk parlour; camel milk tea, coffee, ice cream, flavored, raw, and pasturized camel milk

331 camels at the center today

This baby was only hours old

Camel cart ride!

From there we went to the Rat Temple. Yes, a rat temple! There were over 1,000 rats running around free in this temple. They were the friendly little lab rat type, not the Chicago sewer type. Caretakers feed them and they were amazing to watch. They were everywhere. There are always four white rats that represent four brothers that died and were reincarnated as rats. The rest are brown. The temple is owned and maintained by direct decendents of the four brothers.

Karni Mata - Rat Temple

Auspicious White Rat #1!!!

Auspicious White Rat #2!!!

Rats were EVERYWHERE!! In the walls, dangling from the fences, in the drainage pipes...

Wednesday was a travel day from Bikaner to Jaipur. This morning we are going to take an elephant ride to the top of a very large hill that dominates the center of the town. One of the most famous forts in India is located on the top.

More travel news to follow.


Strange Hindu God amusement park

On the way back to our hotel we drove past this huge lion's head so we stopped to take a look.

It was a strange oasis of Hindu Gods all in one place. Maybe it was still under construction

Om Nama Shivaya

This family was really excited to see us and asked me to take their photo... with MY camera... so funny.