2019 -11 Rajasthan – Udaipur / Devigarh / Ranakpur / Jodhpur / Jaisalmer / Bikaner / Shekawati / Jaipur

The passage through Delhi was very fast and marked by pollution. The visibility was very limited, the air nauseating. We went through avenues and bazaars, but we mostly walked in the parks and wooded and less dense areas of the city, which reduced the inconvenience.

Our first stop was in the Udaipur area at Devigarh Fort. A sumptuous fort converted into a hotel that overlooks the village which is included in its fortifications and is surrounded on all sides by hills. A magical place, a truly beautifully renovated property. We really enjoyed this place, its magic. When we made our visit to Udaipur, the noise, density and harassment of the vendors was a little uncomfortable. Udaipur was invaded by tourists from neighboring Gujarat who was in the middle of a post-Diwali holiday. The fort was overcrowded, the streets also. We could still taste a bit of the magic of the place, the vision of the lake, but we were really happy to return to the calm and the beauty of Devigarh and did not want to leave the place. However, we had to pack our bags and take the road to reach Jodhpur, the blue city. On the way, the temple of Ranakpur is unavoidable and once again its purity, its lightness and its beauty was breathtaking. Jodhpur was also up to par, the meanders of the old city, the colors, the smiles and the sweetness of the inhabitants, without forgetting the majestic Merangarh Fort, which overlooks the city and the hotel where we stayed.

To reach Jaisalmer I had chosen the night train. The road is long and monotonous, the train is to my taste more comfortable and very practical. My friend did not really like this mode of transport, probably because of the promiscuity, noise and inconvenience, it was a bad experience. This created a small tension that took time to dissipate. Jaisalmer is a citadel built on a hill and the building stone is the same color as that of the earth and sand, its natural environment, a yellow color, the color of gold. This is a rather unique vision because of its complete integration into the decor. The decorum and architectures of the rich mansions of the city are impressive with detail and lightness. The moucharabiehs, the balconies and the carved ornaments are magnificent. The city being in the desert, water is rare, no mortar, only interweaving and stratagems make the assembly of buildings possible. Today water is the major concern of the city and its constructions because it is now present and damages what was planned to survive without. I chose a hotel of recent construction in the desert, it was a little overrated and very symmetrical which took away some of the charm we can find in old buildings, more quirky, full of mazes and surprises. We took the road to Bikaner, the train was no longer an option.

Bikaner surprised me, the paintings and murals are wonderful. The buildings are more recent than in the cities visited until then, the decoration has been influenced by Europe in the representations, colors and patterns, the architecture retains its mogul influence. From Bikaner we visited several cities in the Shekawati region to see Havelis, trading houses, passageways, relays on the Silk Road. Today mostly abandoned and in a state of disrepair, some have been preserved and restored, we were able to visit many, understand their function and admire the decorations. It’s now  the end of the tour and we are spending a few days in the capital of Rajasthan, the pink city of Jaipur. Jaipur is a medium-sized city but it is populated, dense and a center of production and commerce of various crafts, it is surrounded by hills, it is also in the list of the most polluted cities of India. We started our visit with parks and gardens and the palaces converted into luxury hotels, we then went to Galta Ji, a hill that overlooks the city, a pilgrim road lined with temples and teeming with monkeys. There is also on the other side of the hill, a series of temples with pools, the path is also a place where malformed cows are lined up to collect offerings. This Sunday we went to Amber Fort. The vintage Ambassador car ride, the climb to the fort on elephant back, its was the total experience. This was followed by a tour of the city palace and some of the private apartments of the royal family before looking from the front and climbing to the back of the wind palace. A beautiful day filled with the splendors of this city of Jaipur. Tomorrow will be the last day of the journey, it will be quite calm with a last visit of the old city in the early morning and then rest in the palace where we stay, which is a very intimate palace, very cozy and that is decorated with a lot of style, beauty and refinement. In the early evening will be returning to Delhi. My friend flies straight back to Paris,  I will spend a day in the hell of the pollution of Delhi for a little shopping before flying south, Varkala, to open my winter residence and prepare for the season and yoga classes that start in a few weeks.

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