The surprisingly peaceful lakes of Udaipur

Udaipur was the place where I was closest to finding the ‘magic’ of India. The lakeside palaces, the palaces on the lake itself and temples made for an unexpectedly quiet and peaceful atmosphere with more than a touch of grandeur. Dare I also say that the cleanliness was decidedly un-Indian… Moving from Udaipur I tried successfully to find some countryside and wildlife in Mount Abu before travelling to Mumbai and my flight out.

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Udaipur was a wonderful surprise. I walked down to the lake in the morning and was just in awe at how beautiful and amazingly peaceful it was there
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There are many different points and entrances to the lake for doing washing or other things

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This guy was fishing with a simple line and hook

 

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I was mightily impressed by the City Palace in Udaipur
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There were many unique and intriguing rooms inside the palace
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Overlooking the subjects. Hi mum
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The City Palace is a beautiful but still imposing sight above the city and lakes
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Quick visit to a temple
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Wonderful cravings
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The lake and city looked incredible at night
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I then moved on to Rajasthan’s only hill station; Mount Abu. A great diversion out of the city and into the countryside. It gave me a chance to meet the locals
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I wanted to visit the nature reserve. The owner at the guesthouse strongly advised me not to go alone but instead take a guide as there were crocodiles, bears, troublesome monkeys etc. So I did as I was told and asked the guide to take me. His reply: “Actually I am busy tomorrow, you can just go by yourself.” So I did and I was happy to see some wild grey langur in the trees
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I needn’t have worried about chasing monkeys through trees though, as tame ones are to be found everywhere, on top of cars for example
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A group of guys on motorbikes stopped to talk to me. They were spending the weekend in Mt Abu as it seems a bit of an easy getaway for Indians from Gujarat state. So the place really had a holiday atmosphere but rather for Indians than for Western tourists (which is generally what I’m used to). This nice guy insisted I take his photo
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Traffic, Indian style

 

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A thali. Notice the onions. Certainly not suitable for Jainists. I was excited to visit my first Jain temple. I had read that Mt Abu had some famous ones so I was eager to visit and learn more about Jainism. If you’re wondering, onions, garlic and other root vegetables are not permitted for Jains as insects may be harmed during the harvest

A visit to the Dilwara temples in Mount Abu might just rank amongst the best things I did and saw in India. The level of craftsmanship and detail of the ornate and intricate cravings inside the temples was an absolute wonder to behold. The temples also rank highly on my list of “most amazing places that you’re not allowed to photograph” so instead take a look at Google Images if you are interested: Dilwara Temples

 

I also took some time out to learn about Jainism; a religion of which, I might boldly assume, many in the West know little about. I, of course, include myself in that category save the oft-repeated fact that Jain monks carry brooms to sweep the ground in front of them when they walk or sit down so as not to harm any insects or small animals. I won’t repeat what I’ve learnt, instead, again if you’re interested you can read the Wikipedia article like I did. However I will just say I was stuck by two of the main principles in Jainism: ahimsa and anekantavada or non-violence and non-absolutism. Apparently Gandhi was inspired by the principle of ahimsa and this is also the origin of broom-sweeping, non-onion-eating rules where non-violence is taken to its extreme logical conclusion that every living thing, insects included, must not be harmed. Anekantavada, in my limited reading of the principle, states that no one single viewpoint can possibly observe the entire truth of reality. I guess that would mean that no person should impose their singular world view on others as they cannot be assured that theirs is the only truth. This principle is very well presented in the story of the blind men and the elephant.

 

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During my visit a monk struck up conversation with me. He was happy to share his knowledge and invited me back to his temple which was close by. Needless to say I was a little hesitate at first being wary of scams. Although then I took a look at his ears amd decided he was probably a genuine monk (or a scammer with a high level of dedication to his role). Although I later learnt that he was a Hindu monk but I couldn’t understand the exact details of which sect and who exactly he worshipped. I also later learnt that he couldn’t possibly be a Jain monk as he was wearing clothes which Jain monks generally do not
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His guru instructed me to take some photos and happily posed mid-draw
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I think he relished being the subject of a photo
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Dosa! A filled savoury pancake-like dish. Really delicious
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From Mount Abu I moved to my final destination in India; Mumbai. I must say I was a big fan of sleeper class on the overnight train
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You can just open the door and pop your head out if you need some fresh air
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Busy Mumbai. I was thankful for the elevated walkway above the traffic. It turned a 30 minute obstacle course into a 15 minute stroll
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Some interesting colonial architecture is to be found in southern Mumbai

 

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I always select window seats when flying because I know there can be some seriously spectacular views to be seen
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A mist created a mysterious and a little bit eerie feel
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I must admit that I was a bit grumpy when I was told by the flight attendant that I had to close the window blinds. But I just lifted it a crack to peek outside every 10 mins and snap a few photos
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Amazing patterns in the snow. I have basically no idea in the world this is though. Iran? Azerbaijan? Turkey?
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This is why I always choose the window seat

 

Next up: Who knows? Suggestions welcome

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