We squeezed an epic distance into a one week vacation. We flew into Delhi, were picked up at the airport by an absolutely delightful gentleman who took us for some great tandoori chicken, and then to the home of the people who ran the tour company.
We had some chai and did some small talk.
Mostly we were there to pay them and settle the terms of our travel. Our understanding was that we would take a train to Jaisalmer, and be picked up at the train station there. Then the driver would drive us to all the places on our itinerary. He would be available to us 24/7 during our trip (although we didn’t anticipate too much driving once we were at our destinations).
The 3 J’s
Jaisalmer, Jodhpur, and Jaipur (with a little stop in Pushkar for good measure -that’s the black dot: it’s not big enough to make it onto the map). Agra and New Delhi get their own blog posts.
The Train to Jaisalmer
After our little meeting, we had to catch our train to Jaisalmer. There was so much traffic in New Delhi. We almost didn’t make it to the train on time. We ended up paying some dudes in front of the train station to show us where our train was and to carry our luggage as we ran. I loved that part: running through the station, slipping and sliding, dodging people, dogs, and cows, up and down stairs, chasing after a set of tall Indian dudes who had our suitcases on their heads. I’m pretty sure we overpaid them, but in my mind it was well worth it: these guys saved our asses!
We made it to the train just in the nick of time and settled in for our 18 hour journey just as the train started to roll away. It was a long journey. We ate some crappy food, and then tried to get some sleep. I did not sleep well. But it was nice to watch the world go by on the train.
We had a long stop in a little town called Pokeron. We got out and walk around. The people were all really curious about us, but very friendly. Some ladies wanted to take a photo with me, so I asked to take a photo with my phone too. The kids were great and they all wanted to pose for photos. We also had some roadside fried food…which may have been a mistake for me, but we’ll get to that later…
This was our introduction to India really. Everyone was so fun and loved to joke around. The colors were so bright and the people were so happy. I don’t know if I’ve ever connected with people as quickly as I did in India. It was love at first sight.
I wish we’d had more time in Jaisalmer. We stayed at the Gulaal Hotel for the night. It was an amazing hotel, decorated in the style of a palace. And the fort was really fun too.
We walked around the fort a little while. The fort is an inhabited fort. Unlike the other forts we ended up visiting, people live and work in this one, and you can even stay over night there. We didn’t stay in the fort because there is so much stress on the land that it’s actually making the fort sink. So we were told it’s better to stay near the fort and go for a visit.
Later that day, Erika wanted to go to a puppet show. I started to feel kind of sick. Then I got really really sick. I ended up running out to throw up. I also had awful diarrhea. It was terrible!! I was in front of this cultural center, trying to find a place to throw up, and it was just coming out of both ends. Ugh. When I was “finished”, I jumped in a tuk tuk and went back to the hotel. I’m pretty sure I had what they call Delhi Belly. It could have been from the airplane food. It could have been from the snacks we got in Pokeron. Whatever it was, it made me so sick I could barely walk.
I tried not to let it get me down. The next day we drove to Jodhpur and stayed at the Devi Bahaman Hotel. It was a beautiful hotel. It felt like we were staying in a little cottage in an English garden. We were so hungry when we arrived. We went directly to the restaurant and had some amazing curry. My stomach was still a little off, but I managed to have a good taste.
The next day, we checked out the Mehrangarh Fort:
There was beauty around every corner…
Outside the fort, we saw these women worshiping at a shrine:
On our way to the parking lot, a woman stopped us. She wanted to take a photograph with us. Then her family caught up with us and they wanted photos too. Soon, we were posing and laughing and hugging. The woman noticed Erika’s earrings and said she wanted to trade with her. So Erika gave her the earrings off her ears, and the woman put her earrings in Erika’s ears:
On our way out of Jodhpur, we swung by the Maharaja’s palace. Apparently there is a museum that you can visit and for like a million rupees per night, you can even stay over night there. We were a little early for the museum, so we didn’t go in. The price tag for an overnight stay was a little steep for us, so we just drove by and had a look.
After Jodhpur, we drove to Pushkar. I loved Pushkar. Loved it! It’s a small town that is on the banks of a holy lake. People come from all over India to visit. It also has a neat backpacker vibe to it.
The people were celebrating a lot of festivals while we were there. We asked a lot of different people what was going on, and they all said something different. So we couldn’t figure out it out. But it was a total rager!
People were constantly partying. It was amazing! These trucks were driving around everywhere, and dudes covered in purple powder and paint would just rage it. And then all of a sudden the music would stop and they’d disperse.
Pushkar is considered to be a Hindu holy place. It is located on a lake and is a destination for pilgrims. We visited the ghat (staircase into the lake) where Ghandi’s ashes were placed. I regretted not bringing my mom’s ashes. She would have loved it if I’d sprinkled a little of her in there with Ghandi. Maybe I’ll go back one day to do that.
I loved walking through the streets of Pushkar. Again, the people were so friendly. We had seen camels from the road, but this was the first place where we saw camels just hanging out in the streets.
The camels were also used in one of the parades we saw. There were so many parades. I couldn’t put my camera down. And again, no one was able to tell us exactly what was going on. People were just making party I guess.
We were told that all these parades and processions were leading to this hill where they would set some cross on fire and set off a bunch of fireworks. Not even kidding:
We ate dinner on a rooftop restaurant and watched it all happen.
We were up there for a long time.
Oh Pushkar, how I love you!! I will return one day!
By the end of our stay in Pushkar, I was starting to feel a lot better and I was able to eat whole meals without feeling sick. We then drove to Jaipur and stayed at Hotel Pearl Palace. Jaipur was a neat city.
I was pretty much over the fort scene, so I went to get a massage while Erika saw the fort. The massage was not the best, but I was tired and it was nice to have a little time to just lay around.
After the massage, I got a ride back to the hotel with a tuk driver named Jonty. He was insane. And apparently, because I had ridden with him once, he owned me. No one else around our hotel would drive me. They said Jonty had to. He was completely hilarious, a little odd, and a good time.
While in Jaipur, we visited the Amber Palace. It’s a beautiful palace with amazing courtyards, gardens, beautiful vistas, and an incredibly ornate Mirrored Palace with a mirrored ceiling.
After Jaipur, it was time to drive to Agra to see the Taj Mahal!!! Check out Part 2 to see what we saw!