Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Ranthambore National Park

We spent a few days in Ranthambore National Park looking for tigers.  We didn't see any.  Not a one.  But, you know, tigers are notoriously hard to spot, especially at the time of year we were visiting.   Still, I must admit, it was great fun to go out and look.

And, oh, my....there were wonderful things to see.  Like the Indian green parakeet.  Isn't he cute?  And such an improbable color of green.  I tried very hard to find a feather somewhere, on the ground, to have as a memento, but no such luck.  That color is branded into my head, though.  It is especially lovely with the orange-y-red bill, don't you think?

I have no idea what kind of ducks these two might be.  The are lovely, though---beautifully colored little quackers.

And here we have the paw print of a tiger.  Oh, how that print excited us!  We were all in hyper mode, scanning the brush alongside the road, listening for a tiger cough.....hoping....

No luck.

snub nosed marsh crocodile

 Now, this fine fellow was just basking out in plain sight.  Big as can be.  HUGE.  I am so glad I wasn't just out strolling along side the stream and happened to come to find him awaiting.  Oh, so glad....

It was such pretty land, though, that you really wanted to get out of the safari vehicles and go for a walk.  (Although, had I been able to do so I must admit my immense fear of cobras and their cousins would have kept me from doing so.)

This is a sambal, a sort of deer.  A big deer-type thing.  Very noble looking fellow, I think.

These are chital deer.  They are so pretty with their beautiful spots.  We saw lots of them all through the park.

Langur monkeys are commonly found in the park.  We saw several troops.  It was nice to see the babies.

Throughout Ranthambore there are ruins.  The massive Ranthambore Fort is within the park and rides along a ridge line.

Ranthambore Fort
a chattri, or Hindu Temple ruin 

Wednesday, January 23, 2013


After Puskkar, we traveled about 3 1/2 hours by bus to Jaipur.  The next morning we got up early to get in line at the entrance to the Amber Fort---more correctly called the Amer Fort.  You have to arrive early if you want to ride up to the Fort in elephant.  Now, I ask you, who wouldn't?

It was readily apparent that everyone wanted to travel up the hill to the Amber Fort by elephant, judging by the line of people ahead of us.  The line moved pretty quickly and we all were patient.  It was worth the wait, too, to be assisted onto your elephant (okay, you elephant for the ride up the hill, anyway).  Nonie and I got a speedy one.  Our "driver" seemed in a great hurry to get us up the hill and off his elephant.  Maybe it was his tea break time.  Maybe he had to make a phone call.  Maybe he just didn't like our faces?  For whatever reason, we flew up the hill.  It was like being in a elephant race, where only one elephant is racing.  The others just walked along, leisurely, up the hill, giving their passengers ample time to snap photos.  Ah, well, at least we won the race!

Some of the elephants were beautifully decorated with colored chalk designs.  Ours was not.  He was in too much of a hurry to just stand around, waiting while he was decorated.  Our elephant was a speed demon.
Maota Lake in the background

 The view from the top was beautiful.

The Fort was built by Raja Man Singh I and was the headquarters for the Rajput Maharajahs for the next 150 years until the capital was moved to Jaipur.

The palace within the fort is a beautiful amalgam of both Hindu and Rajput design.

Everywhere you look are embellishments, carvings, marble inlaid into the red sandstone that was the main building material.  Floors, walls, ceilings....everywhere there are marvelous little details.

There are four levels to the palace and each of the levels has it's own courtyard.  The garden is spectacular, with a pool in the center.

As we were leaving (we sped down the hill in a Jeep, rather than an elephant), we came upon these gentlemen and their cobras.  I can not begin to tell you how much I did not want to see them and their snakes.    I abhor snake charmers.  I abhor cobras.  I could have happily have missed this detail at the Amber Fort!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Pushkar---The Rest of the Story

As I have mentioned, riding in a camel cart is a lot of fun.  It's not comfortable, mind you, and you do a lot of lurching, but it is fun.

Everywhere we went at the Pushkar Fair, we were surrounded by vendors.  These ladies were trying to sell Nonie mehndi (henna for her hands) and bracelets made of camel bone and puppets and anything else they might have had.  The male vendors mostly seemed to have books on Pushkar, camel bone bangles, marionettes, chess sets (also made of camel bone and wood) and postcards.

And there were wandering musicians....

....and ladies shopping for foodstuffs, vegetables and a bobble or two.

These brightly colored rings are for putting on your head.  You use them to keep the big pot you place onto the rings in place while you carry it around.  Usually the metal pots contain water.

There were stall selling vermilion for making the tika (the forehead dot sported by Indian women) and for coloring the center part of the hair (a mark of a married lady, as is the tika).  Some of the vermilion powder was sparkly with the addition of glitter.  I'd never seen that before.

The cubes seen above are a sort of Indian sweet.  Our guide Ritu told us all about this one and I, of course, don't remember what she said.  I believe it is made of cane sugar and....uh....something else.  I do remember that Ritu thought it quite fine.  We, naturally, were not allowed to try it.  (Ritu was very protective of our touchy stomachs and would only let us eat and drink where she knew it would not offend our delicate Western systems.  I don't believe any of us had any intestinal trouble on the whole trip.  She knew of what she spoke!

It was a very festive time at the fair, and many women were out, shopping and looking, eating snacks and having a fine time.

And then we ran into the gentlemen who had been the finalists in the Best mustaches and beard in Rajasthan contest!  Really!
That's Ritu, our amazing guide, on the left.  Isn't she pretty?
 The gentleman on the very right was the winner, but I must say, the fellow in the left was quite a dandy and very proud of his spectacular beard and mustaches.  All three were quite amazing!