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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Jaipur, India. January 2014

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A drive from Kushalnagar to Bangalore’s airport took 6 hours and, because our car broke in the middle of the city, we sadly weren’t able to meet up with Kunal, our Oxford classmate. We arrived just in time to catch our flights; I was going to Jaipur and Dimitris was heading back to Delhi. After spending 2 weeks together, exploring, learning and struggling through India, it was time for us to say goodbyes. I knew, Dimitris didn’t like India because of many reasons, but I also knew that my own trials and tribulations were about to begin. Traveling in India alone is equal to being in a war zone, where …

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