Monday, February 27, 2012

!ncredible !ndia

India is:

Beautiful
Serene
Chaotic
Colorful
Crowded
Forgiving
Spiritual
Dirty
Delicious
Fragrant
Rural
and so much more

India is a marvel and cannot be described sufficiantly in words.  Experiencing India is the only way to grasp a bit of what is India.

If you've enjoyed this blog, give me a call and I will help you plan the land trip of your dreams.  Goodbye from Delhi.

February 27 Udaipur to Delhi

We had a free morning to relax and then boarded our bus at 3PM for the short ride to Udaipur airport.  Our Jet Airways flight arrived in Delhi at 6PM.  At the luggage claim area we all said our farewells; all of us are flying home late this evening or early tomorrow morning.  Lyn and I are staying in Delhi for two days at the Aman New Delhi.

We all agreed that this trip far exceeded our lofty expectations.  We are returning home with many indelible memories, lovely gifts and things for ourselves as well as overweight suitcases!  Thanks to all of the terrific folks who joined us; we will always cherish this trip with you.  Safe travels home.

February 26 Udaipur

The group had a morning walk through the streets of Udaipur.  It was a terrific way to get close to the local tummult that is the streets of Udaipur.  Our afternoon was free and many of us did some significant shopping; stuffing our suitcases full of goodies and gifts.  At about 4:45PM we boarded the Oberoi's small boat for a sunset cruise on Lake Pichola.  It gave us an hour to view the lakeside buildings from the lake.  It is quite special (see attached photo.)

This evening we had a magical Farewell Dinner at Bada Mahal (an old temple which was here on the hotel grounds long before there was a hotel.)  We had drinks and delicious appetizers served to us as we sat at round tables on the top of the building.  The hotel grounds glittered below and around us.  Conversation was warm and we all found it hard to believe that our 14-night special trip was coming to an end.  The hotel had prepared a fabulous buffet dinner of biryani, lamb, chicken vegetables and wines.  There was quiet Indian music playing as we dined.

At about 10PM we all headed for our rooms and our last night at this magical hotel.

February 25 Udaipur

We went to the glorious City Palace.  Our first stop was the Crystal Gallery which displays an amazing array of crystal objects including crystal beds, hookahs and every possible household (for a palace) item.  The crystal was ordered by the last reigning Maharajah of Udaipur but when the huge amount of goods were delivered, the maharajah died. It was determined that the crystal was a bad omen so the large array of goods was kept in the wooden boxes and stored in the palace.  During the following 175 years, the goods were forgotten.  (The palace is that big!)  About 15 years ago, the boxes were opened and everyone was astonished as the contents had been completely forgotten.  They are now on display for everyone to enjoy.

We tour the rest of the palace which was built over three centuries and is a series of four interconnecting palaces. 

We enjoyed the afternoon at leisure.

February 24 Jaipur to Udaipur


Well, the best laid plans....We were to drive back to Jaipur and fly from there to Udaipur.  Unfortunately, the only airline that flies between the two cities has declared bankruptcy so we had to drive.  It was an eight-hour ride but when you share the road with elephants, camels, goats, cows and bulls (oh and cars) it is a very interesting drive.  At about 6PM we arrived at our last desitination: the Oberoi Udaivilas.  It is a spectacular hotel with just 87 rooms.  I have attached two photos of the lovely hotel.  Several of us had dinner outside with a view of glittering Lake Pichola.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Ajabgarh

February 23 – We sat outside enjoying the tranquility around the pool as we had breakfast.  After breakfast, most of us went to visit the local fort.  One of the great advantages here is that there are very few tourists, so the fort is devoid of people.  Those that didn’t take today’s morning tour, stayed at Amanbagh to enjoy the spa, the pool and/or the solitude.  When you sit outside, all you hear is the chattering of birds and monkeys.

Although the evenings are cool, during the day it’s in the mid-80s.  Several of us thought it too bad that we didn’t stay here for an extra day or two.  This quiet place is a stark contrast to the chaos and dust that is India’s cities.

At 3:30PM we left for our “cow dust” tour.  This tour allowed us to drive through some very rural towns at the traditional evening preparation time.  (When the cows go home and create dust as the move.)  We saw smiling faces everywhere even though the life here is not great.  This is the dry season and everyone is working the land.  The monsoon starts in late June and ends at the beginning of October. These farmers are far more successful than the extremely poor people we’ve seen in the cities.  Everyone waved at us as our little three-jeep caravan moved very slowly through their tiny villages.  (See photo below.)

We got back to the Amanbagh at about 5:15PM and all of us went off to our rooms to prepare for cocktail hour and dinner.  Because Kingfisher Airlines has declared bankruptcy, our flight tomorrow to Udaipur is in jeopardy.  Therefore, Peirce and Leslie have decided to drive us.  It is an 8-hour drive and although we all understand the reasons for driving, none of us is thrilled with such a lengthy drive.  We will be in cars instead of the bus, so that is a great help.

Jaipur to Ajabgarh

February 22 – We left the hotel in Jaipur at about 10:15AM for the two-hour ride to Ajabgarh. The drive through rural India was really terrific.  We saw very few people and many of them waived to us as we slowly passed them.  We arrived a Amanbagh (a 39-room ultra-luxury hotel) at about 12:15PM.  We were given a short welcome chant while strings were tied around our wrists (right for men and left for women.)

We were escorted to our palatial rooms.  One of our group said they could rent out half the room and still have plenty of space!

Our lunch was a buffet and our table was set in the shade outside overlooking the huge pool and gardens.  Since we have the afternoon free, we all went in different directions.  For our dinner tonight we are guests of Amanbagh and since the restaurant is open 24/7, we decided to each go to dinner when we felt like it and tonight not be a group.

We all met at about 7:30PM and had drinks together.  The dinner we had (as guests of Aman) was nothing short of wonderful.  This unique resort has 39 rooms and today there are just 10 occupied!  It makes an already intimate resort even more so.  After dinner we all went to our rooms for bed.  At night this is an even more serene setting.