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Friday, November 22, 2013

Udaipur and Jodhpur Yatra

I had palnned Sikkim/Bhutan Trip in festival session of Nuakhai. That trip was cancelled due to backing out of the friends. Hence, I was looking towards other options. I do view it as a now or never situation in planning travel schedule. I took quick decision with help of my friend at IIM Ahmadabad. Udaipur and Jodhpur were prime destination of two days short trip of Rajasthan. I was lone traveler this time.

A balanced tourism is more about connecting with the local people and their culture, rather than site seeing like Maharajas of distant land. Talking for long session (1/2 -1 hour) with remarkable people like Shambhu (auto-rickshaw driver at Udaipur) and Yarden Gerest- Mar (Student of Computer Science at Hebrew University, Israel) were good experiences of the whole trip. Touring India is always mixed bag of praise, platitudes and panning. Foreign tourists are confronted with unfamiliar sights on a daily basis, such as open defecation that are no longer seen in the developed nation. India has both sides, some exciting and some negative.

Best moment was a small interaction with an unknown artist at Jaswant Thada. A great source of frustration creeps in people with a strong sense of entitlement face either unnecessary criticism or unmet expectations. Creative people like writers, actors, humanitarian aid worker or fashion designer have some similarity with such street artist as they work (initially) for peanuts in their respective professions. I was lost in bliss moments on listening to such beautiful music amid thirst and heat. Such non-material aspects of a life are truly divine.

“From the bastions of the Jodhpur fort one hears as the Gods must hear from Olympus,” said author Aldous Huxley about the Mehrangarh Fort ramparts. I covered Mehrangarh Fort early in the morning. Flying fox tour was too expensive (Rs 1500 for traveling to the wire around fort) and adrenaline rush doesn't suit me. What I like is slow and steady romance with medieval history and an ancient culture. I was unable to find location where a prison scene of 'The Dark Knight Rises' was shot. The exotic murals of the self-exiled Polish art Stefan Norblin in Umaid Bhawan are still fresh in my imagination.

Guided Trip in auto-rickshaw was plan for touring beautiful city of Udaipur. Most of the places shown were redundant for me. Folk Art Museum at Bhartiya Lok Kala Mandir was a surprise revelation for the day. I watched Daily puppetry show and gathered information about popular Ghoomar dance. Both Lake palace and City palace were full of scenic beauty. Camera charges at city palace was so high that appears more irrelevant in this era of high resolution mobile camera. I was unable to visit Sajjangarh fort due to time crunch.

Medieval painting, historical exhibits and cultural objects like arms, protective elephant howdahs, palanquins, armors, turbans, costumes and paintings at both places were preserved with great care. Impregnable defensive architecture have always been plus point of forts of Rajasthan. I took audio tour at Jodhpur and personal guide tour at Udaipur. I find audio tour better for those who are alone and have plenty of time and interest. I have always been in dilemma that vacation can't be a photo opportunity. Sometime it seems wrong to constantly capture the beauty as champion trophy, instead of savouring the moment. Sometimes the wrong path can take us to the right destination. But, having an smart app like Google Maps was useful. 'Baati Dal Choorma' was the only local cuisine tasted by me.

Tour of Jodhpur belonging to Marwar state and Udaipur belonging to Mewar was completed. It was very hard to grasp disparity in lifestyle of Bhil culture as seenin folk museum compared to luxurious lives of aristocracy.  Boredom tends to cause excessive pleasure-seeking since, lacking other goals, people often use pleasure as a goal. Thus was the era of Kingdoms and Feudal lords full of extremes in war, love and art. As Walter Benjamin famously wrote, “There is no document of civilization which is not at the same time a document of barbarism.”

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