India – February 2019
A very exciting trip to India is what was needed in the cold winter. Although I have been to India five times before, there were still unexplored places and also revisited some favourites. It started with the wonderful town in the desert, Jaiselmer, with its spectacular fort and Jain temple with its intricate carvings, a place for spiritual recreation as are all Jain temples of which we saw quite a few in our subsequent travels.
Jodhpur is the microcosm of what India is about to an outsider – buzzy and busy with an amazing range of colours of saris and turbans. We stayed in a hotel in the middle of the old city, a 17th century mansion in which a beautiful modern hotel was incorporated. Three days gave us an opportunity to look at another great fort, really vibrant market with fresh vegetables to die for and interesting buildings, mansions and palaces of the past.
A five hour journey to Devgarh was accompanied by a Jain temple in a cave with hundreds of bats fortunately asleep during out visit. The photo shows my husband at the entrance between two elephant trunks. The long journey from here to our next destination to Udaipur went past some small villages with wonderful colourfully dressed women and children and turbaned males.
Udaipur, visited before, was as beautiful as ever with its lakes and palaces alongside. The most remarkable was the Royal palace with its opulent interior. To gain an idea of the Udaipur skyline we had a wonderful view from the famous Lake Palace hotel where we had lunch. Our own hotel was half an our outside the city and it was a fort converted into a hotel on top of a hill; majestic and formidable, but extremely comfortable inside with a fabulous swimming pool. A beautiful Jain temple nearby completed the visit before we flew to Hyderabad.
Hyderabad is quite a bit further South and accordingly the temperature was quite a bit higher at 30 degrees. The reason for coming here is because of its rich Islamic heritage. It is the capital of Southern India and of Islamic architecture. Nowadays it is a major centre for IT. We visited the palace that the Moghuls captured and it became the home of their own dynasty called the Nizams. Hyderabad became a princely state during the British Raj for 150 years and after 1948 it was brought into the Indian Union and became the capital of Andhra Pradesh.
The Nizams attracted artists from different parts of the world and Hyderabad emerged as the foremost centre of culture in India until the mid 19th century. The Golconda Fort, a fortress built on a hill surrounded by massive battlements of granite, 5 kilometers in circumference. In 1687 after an 8 months’ long siege it fell into the hands of the Moghul emperor Aurangzeb. Its architectural beauty is still visible with pavilions, gates and domes.
The Salar Jung museum gave a further insight into the history of Hyderabad and is full of artefacts and is one of the largest museums in the world featuring a collection of the Salar Jung family. The Chowmahalla Palace, which means four palaces, was built by Nizam Slamar Jung as is unique for its size. Restored in 2010, it is full of European treasures.
Mumbai was our last stop and by now sightseeing had slowed down and fortunately most of the sights were outside the city. The remarkable thing about out stay here were the amazing meals of fresh fish and seafood.