Delhi, India. January 2014

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January 19, 2014 Sunil and I left Mandawa in the morning, shortly after the breakfast. After 16 days in Rajasthan and 35 days in India, it was my final road trip before reaching Delhi. Despite all the extremes that happened to me in Rajasthan, I made a right decision to come there and see with my own eyes this beautiful land of incredible scenery and rich history, learn about half-dozen of ancient kingdoms still co-existing within the Union of India, visit extravagant palaces and hear the secrets of zenana, witness the sunrises in Thar desert and spend a night on camel safari. At times, I felt exhausted to constantly look over my shoulder and …

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Bikaner, India. January 2014

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January 16, 2014 Pictures from Bikaner Having been told a day prior that Bikaner, a city about 330 kms away from Jaisalmer, was having a yearly Bikaner Camel Festival, Shu and I decided to drive there as soon as possible. Against Sunil’s pleas to leave at the later hour, we embarked on the trip at 6.30 am and witnessed another beautiful sunrise in Thar desert. Along the way we stopped at the restaurant/gift-shop road-stop so that I could in n-th time be ripped off. My advice – never stop at the road stop even if it is recommended by your driver. I ended up buying a box of cookies that …

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Jodhpur, India. January 2014

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January 11, 2014. Pictures from Jodhpur. After spending 5 days in the old Mewar kingdom (Chittorgarh, Udaipur and Kumbhalgarh), it was time to move on and get acquainted with Mewar’s arch-enemy – the Marwar dynasty and its capital Jodhpur. Second largest city in Rajasthan, Jodhpur has a few names and all of them are correct. It is called the “Gateway to Thar”, implying city’s strategic location on the border with the Thar desert; it is referred to as “Sun City” for the bright, sunny weather it enjoys all year around. But the most obvious name, which I could witness with my own eyes, is “Blue City”, a name given because most …

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Kumbhalgarh and Ranakpur, India. January 2014

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January 11, 2014 Pictures. The great advantage of having a chauffeured car in India is freedom – freedom to drive anywhere, stop for as long as you wish and more importantly, flexibility to come up with a new destination a few days or hours prior, pointed it to your driver and have him get you there. After spending two full days in Udaipur, Sunil and I left for Jodhpur, however, on the way, I had instructed him to stop by two places that were recommended by every travel guide: romantic fort Kumbhalgarh and the largest Jain temple in India – Ranakpur. We left at 7 am and 2 hours later reached Kumbhalgarh, …

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Udaipur, India. January 2014

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Pictures. January 9, 2014 After a good and warm night of rest, delicious home-cooked breakfast and a thoughtful present from an affectionate and beautiful Parvati’s daughter, it was time to say goodbyes to the magnificent Chittorgarh fort and follow the steps of Maharana Udai Singh II, who in 1568 abandoned the fort for good and moved the Mewar dynasty capital 118 kms west to a place he called Udaipur. Legend has it that Udai Singh II came upon a hermit while hunting in the foothills of the Aravalli Range. The hermit blessed the king and asked him to build a palace on that spot, assuring him that it would be …

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Chittorgarh, India. January 2014

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January 8, 2014 After observing the early morning rituals by the holy Pushkar lake, Sunil and I continued our car journey through Rajasthan  and proceeded to another spectacular site, usually skipped by most travelers, Chittorgarh Fort.  Located about 180 kms from Pushkar, Chittorgarh is the largest fort complex in India regarded as the epitome of Chattari Rajput pride, romance, spirit and tragedy, for the people of Chittorgarh  on three occasions chose definite death (jauhar) before surrender. Even though, it is presently nothing more than a ruined citadel, for people of Rajasthan, it remains a symbol of all that was brave, true and noble in glorious Rajput tradition. They say, Chittor, …

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Ajmer and Pushkar, India. January 2014.

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January 7, 2014 After 3 fantastic days in Jaipur, I had to abandon the world of luxuries and start a real road-trip around Rajasthan.  On January 7, I planned to pay a visit to two most important religious sites in Rajasthan – Ajmer and its Dargah of the Sufi’s saint Khwaja Muin-ud-din Chishti  and an ancient Hindu  pilgrimage town of Pushkar. It is a very common itinerary since Pushkar is a huge touristic hub for both, hippies and spirituality seekers. Sadly, Ajmer always stays in a shadow, however, it was my favorite place out of two. Ajmer, the Rajasthan’s most important site in terms of Islamic history and heritage, was founded …

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Agra, India. December 2013.

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After spending a day discovering the ancient cities of Vrindavan and Mathura, Dimi and I arrived to our hotel, ITC Mughal, in Agra very late at night. The hotel is an oasis among the dirt and ugliness of the city. I have read a lot about Agra and its importance as a Mughal capital, 300 years ago, but, unfortunately, very little dignity is left from that time. Behind the car window, it seemed hectic, over-crowded and filthy. Agra was first mentioned in Hindu epic Mahabharata and by Maharshi Angira in 1000 B.C. However, it is generally accepted that Sultan Sikandar Lodhi, the ruler of Delhi Sultanate, established the city in 1501 (or 1504) and it stayed …

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Varanasi, India. December 2013.

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December 20, 2013 Oh, Varanasi! Brace yourself, you will either love it or hate it! Many say, it is a place of the best and the worst India has to offer, and even though it is only my 2nd and 3rd days in the country, I feel I’ve experienced India. The history, the river, the ongoing funeral ceremonies, the garbage, the animals, the holiness, the sadhus, the temples, the amount of people and touts – incredible! As one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, Varanasi won’t leave you unmoved. Varanasi, also know as Kashi (City of Life) and for locals as Banares, is regarded as one of the seven …

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