Sunday, 16 November 2014

Being a pilgrim and tourist

Visiting the Nathdwara Krishna temple and enjoying the Udaipur palace

We squeezed in a visit to a famous Krishna temple where an effigy of Krishna is uncovered to pilgrims 8 times a day so we sped across the Rajasthani countryside to reach the temple. We removed all leather items and went in without cameras, which was refreshing; every moment is being photographed here. I queued with a woman who came with her family and visited 8 times a day to cover all Krishna's waking, eating, cow-herding and sleeping moments when Krishna’s clothes are changed. She warned me that there would be “a dash” when the doors opened and so there was, we raced across a marble floor to stand in front of Krishna in blue, people cried out with ecstasy but I was unmoved. We then filed past a door where one could make a wish and then rejoined the men. I sensed that Ashok was disappointed by the crush, and I was glad that I had not made a special journey to see the effigy. The best part of the experience had been walking along the streets around the temple which were full of stalls selling interesting religious items.

After our work we visited Udaipur City Place, The city palace is awesome, a huge palace built of white marble and on the lake. The architecture is modeled on a Indian temple and the men's palace has weapons and courtyards with elaborate peacock mosaics and chittras with views over the lake; down in the zenana were silver treasures, the whole complex was an overwhelming collection of Indian Hindu wealth and culture, a contrast to the Muslim Mughal palaces in Delhi and Agra. We peeked around the hotel on the lake there and sat in the windows overlooking the lake. It was a light relief after our hard work in the field and we laughed and joked. We then watched sunset on the lake and the lights emerge on the uber expensive Lake Palace Hotel and the city. We ended our evening with a veggie meal in a garden where a Hindustani vocalist and tabla player played. Back in Jaipur spent the afternoon as a tourists visiting first the observatory and then the beautiful pink mahal

I was surprised by the rajasthani country side, I had expected desert but countryside I Typically N Indias, dry is but supporting small trees and greenery, cows and goats grazing. I also missed an opportunity to revise hindi, if I had revised my rusty Hindi before I l left I could have benefitted more from hearing the many conversations in the field in Hindi. I enjoyed many nice Rajasthani thalis.

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