Monday, June 21, 2010

An exquisite Jain temple & a massive fort! Ranakpur & Kumbhalgarh, India

Destination:  Ranakpur Temple & Kumbarlgh Fort
Number of days spent:  1 day
Where we stayed:  N/A
Best Restaurant:  Kachori & really yummy spicy chai in a clay pot by the side of the road.
Best of:  Ranakpur’s temple was incredibly beautiful.
Worst of:    Bit pricy excursion by Indian standards.
Most memorable:  The site of over 1400 intricately carved marble columns with no two being alike.
Useful Tip:  Despite their proximity to one another visiting the two places in the same day is nearly impossible by public transport.  While it is cheaper to rent a car from Udaipur, the difference wasn’t enough to justify giving up a day of transport for us.
We spent 2875RP for a non ac car (it was 3200 for an AC car – we probably should have upgraded as it was hot and dusty).  We booked through Lake City Travel in Udaipur which was recommended by another travel.  The owner’s name was Adittya Trivedi [].  We found him to be very honest and helpful.  In addition to the driver he hired for us he also booked us bus tickets later on. We spent a lot of time chatting with him while we were in Udaipur and found our chats informative & helpful.  We would without a doubt recommend his services to other travelers.
Sandwiched in between Jodhpur and Udaipur, two heavy weights on the Rajasthan tourist map and a little difficult to reach independently, many visitors give the temple of Ranakpur and the fort at Kumbarlgh a pass.  That’s a shame for these two sites live up to the little hype they receive.  The drive from Jodhpur to Udaipur through this area also passes some everyday, local villages giving a glimpse of rural life in Rajasthan.
Pink and Red.  Not the colors we would normally associate with rough and tumbled men, but out here every Rajasthani worth his weight in salt dons brightly colored turbans.  Old men drive ‘Camel’ carts, women with gold nose rings dressed in saris walk around burdened with children on hips and the arid, dusty air prevails over all.  Wells are still drawn by manual labor.  A man and his oxen spin a series of waterwheels bringing up the water from an open face well deep below the surface and into irrigation channels that are used for everything from washing to watering the crops.  We even saw a man riding his elephant out to be worked in the fields but we weren't fast enough with the shutter.
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One of the finest Jain temples, Ranakpur stands out for its magnificently carved columns, walls and ceilings.  We know all too well that temple fatigue can set in quite fast, but this one will not disappoint.  Made from milky white marble, the temple is nearly 600 years old and stands as a masterpiece of devotion.  The men and women who painstakingly carved the temple were no Michelangelo's, just very devout and humble peasants.  The result of their efforts is undeniably breathtaking. 
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Once considered one of the largest and most important forts in the the area, Kumbarlagh still looms ominously perched upon a hill.  The castle itself is protected by over 30 kilometers of fortifications which at one time also protected the entire kingdom as well.  The fort was only taken once in its long history, and that took the combined effort of several armies.  The fort was retaken two days later and remained that way until walls and forts became obsolete.  The castle itself is impressive, albeit a bit void of anything too interesting inside.  The views of the surrounding valleys and mountains from the top however are stunning.
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One of the joys of getting off the beaten trail is seeing the reactions of the kids.  After visiting the fort and temple, we stopped to have one last snack and some chai at this little roadside place before getting to Udaipur.  The kids all came out to check us out and to vie for a place in the shot.  The spicy chai was delicious, but it is the kids with their curious and innocent smiles who warm the heart the most.


michele Watson said...

Great posts!! You did India pre and post china?
If a person wanted to do an "easy" India trip which places would you advise?

Karen Bedsaul said...

Indeed the simple lives of the people call my heart as well. The innocent smiles of happiness. The simple things of life. Wonderful heartfelt hugs. the intrigue of the unknown. The beauty of art, carved from the heart with feeling, giving a legacy for all to see and enjoy. Honoring our ancestry...Life and love continue...wondrous