We're going to like India or die trying!
Hello again! We last touched base back in Jaipur when India was kind of getting the better of us. We were determined not to leave India on a bad note, so we pressed on and pressed south through the state of Rajasthan to see just what else India had to offer. I knew this going in, but there is just so much to see in India. In Rajasthan alone there are so many sites of historical and cultural importance that I have no clue how anyone could ever see them all. We tried to carefully pick and choose some of the best sites to see, and while I feel we did a good job with that, I’m still gobsmacked at what else we could have done. Jaisalmer in the west, Ranakpur in the south? I can honestly tell you that I want to return to India some time soon and see these places as well as all the other states we didn’t even go to! What changed my mind about India? It helped immensely that as we headed south, the cities got smaller. Things just felt overall less crazy. The crazy was definitely still there, just in more manageable bites. I even got hit by a car that was in too much of an apparent hurry to let me get out of the way (sidewalks are rare or in really bad shape, it was always smoother and safer to walk on the street), and clipped by a few passing motorcyclists, but hey, we survived!
Still crazy, just a little less so
I think the big thing that changed my mind about India was me just changing my mind about India. I just had to relax my expectations about the country and do my best to embrace being Indian for a few weeks. It surprised me that I had to do this, as we are pretty well traveled, including missions work in many third world counties, but you just can’t expect a country to be the way you want it to. It probably didn’t help that we had just come out of Singapore and were going next to the United Arab Emirates. So, what did we do during our last week in India? From the large city of Jaipur we took an overnight train to the smaller but still large city of Jodhpur. Jodhpur is known for being the stronghold of a warrior clan, and a massive fort on the hill overlooking the town is a constant reminder of that. The nice thing about the city center of Jodhpur is that the streets are very narrow, which means cars can’t get through, not for lack of trying. Tuktuks and motorcycles still come flying through like it’s a highway, but it is much quieter. We chose to stay in a nice Homestay right in the heart of this area and it made for a really relaxing stay. We spent our days exploring the old city and the fort and we really enjoyed it.
Massive Jodhpur fort
From Jodhpur we caught an overnight bus to the city of Udaipur which only has a population of 700,000 people! That’s super tiny compared to Delhi’s 30,000,000. We had to take a bus because there’s no rail line connecting the cities, but the bus had little compartments (honestly kinda felt like coffins) that closed off so we could sleep in peace. It was actually a pretty pleasant way to travel, and we even arrived in Udaipur on time. With train blockades still happening, it was nice to not have to worry about transportation for a change. The train we were scheduled to take from Udaipur back to Delhi was going on a week straight of cancelations, so we decided to cancel those plans and fly. These people blockading the rails were doing so to demand more money from the government, and it in turn cost me a lot of money… so where’s my cut ?
Anyway, Udaipur is situated right on a beautiful man-made lake, with a palace on the hill overlooking it all. It really is a beautiful area, with less trash than other cities and a city center full of restaurants and shops. We stayed at another Homestay here which is definitely the way to go in these cities. Being in the heart of the city, we always got to have a nice home cooked breakfast overlooking the city. Once out in the city, we were able to check out the palace, a large hindu temple, stroll through the narrow streets (where unfortunately some cars found their way in), and we even got to catch a spectacular cultural show the last evening we were there. The highlight was a 72 year old woman who was able to balance a whopping 11 pots on her head while dancing around! I couldn’t do that with one pot at my age!
View from Udaipur palace
How does she do that?
Since we only spent one day in Delhi at the front end of the trip (largely due to wanting to get to the Taj Mahal during the week), we tacked two days in Delhi onto the end of our two weeks there. The plan this time was to stay in the far south of the city, where it was supposed to be much greener and quieter. It at least sort of worked out; the Homestay we had was in a very quiet area but was still a short walk from lots of restaurants and the sites in the south I wanted to see. Unfortunately you didn’t have to go far to be reminded that you were in Delhi along with all the horns, trash, dirt, and people trying to make money off you.
Ah, a bit quieter
Due to poor planning on my part we had to travel all the way north to see the city’s Red Fort, which involved a tuktuk uber driver trying to cheat the system and get paid twice. It would have worked had I not been determined to not let him get away with it, and I can only hope that uber has removed him from their service. During our time in Delhi we explored the 500 year old fort, saw 1000 year old ruins from a much earlier Indian dynasty called Qutb Minar, and even visited a massive hindu temple complex called Akshardham Temple that is less than 15 years old! Only in India, I say…
Delhi's Red Fort
We were all glad that we found our rhythm in India, and that we largely enjoyed our last week there. We even got back to devouring the food, and it was really, really good. I am craving it even now. That being said, I think we were all ready to leave. Two weeks was a good intro, but it was hard with a 4 year old and the other challenges we faced. I am very glad we went and I look forward to going back in the future, but we were all ready to get back to first world. I spoiled our current location earlier in the blog, the United Arab Emirates! We’re hanging out in Dubai and this is about as first world as they come.