Katie's Live and Unleashed 05/06 Worldwide Tour travel blog

On our travels

Ranakpur Temple Jain roof

Each of the 1444 pillars are different

The centre-piece

Extremely ornate

Pillars everywhere

Did like the pillars!

Me at Ranakpur admidst the pillars

With ceiling to match

The detail was incredible

The elephant for good luck

The bell to wake the Goddess

One of the 4 identical entrances

The mist came down...

Jodhpur's Clocktower

Dinner at "On the Rocks"

On the road...

Meherangarh Fort towering over the Blue City

Dressed in audio-tour equipment

The Blue City

Hands of widows leaving the before jumping on their husbands pyre...

The Fort's guards...

...having a good gossip

Different sections in varying colours

The once stunnning facade still looks pretty good

Phul Mahal - Palace of Flowers, early 18th century



The Blue City from the fort

Moti Mahal - Pearl Palace

Latticed windows

A little bored???

I want a door like this!!

Public transport has now been experienced once and come to an end!! A private a/c bus appeared to take us off to Jodhpur via Ranakpur. These 2 places were founded by a Hindu as the names end in 'pur'; Names ending in 'bad' are founded by Muslims.

Ranakpur is a remote temple complex, built in milk-white marble and forming a complicated series of 29 halls, supported by 1444 pillars (no 2 the same), and the interior completely covered in intricate, knotted carvings. The complex, originally built in 1439 but destroyed after Independence in an attempt to stop Hinduism spreading southwards, is constructed on the Chau Mukha principle - that each of the 4 sides is identical, and the main temple, Chaumukha Mandir (Four-faced Temple), is dedicated to Adinath. It was originally planned to be 11 stories high, but ended up with only 3. All the same, this is India's largest and most important Jain temples and an incredible piece of architecture. The Jain people were business men who believe all animals are sacred and consequently are vegetarian and strict observers even sweep their path before stepping in order not to kill any insects. Hindi Priests, dressed in red and yellow, may be seen in Jain temples, as Jainism has no priests. In the center of the temple are 4 statues (facing each direction) of Adinath, who is one of their Gods, and treated like a human. Each morning the bells are rung as a wake-up call, before breakfast is prepared and the statue is washed and dressed.....Only a quarter of the temple is open to the public, but the carvings on each of the many pillars are so detailed and stunning.

I may start gushing here, because following Udaipur was another wonderful city - Jodhpur, after which the riding trousers are named! Approaching this city there was a very dramatic change from the lush, monsoon-effected area and this dry semi-desert land. Rain here is very rare (2/3 times a year) due to the mountain range trapping the waters on the other side, (3/4 of Rajasthan is semi-desert / desert) so a 600Km canal had to be constructed to bring water in from the Himalayas.

Jodhpur, known as the Blue City as so many of the house walls are painted blue to help keep the building cool and also to scare off the mosquitoes. The Old Town is the bluest and surrounded by a 10km-long 16th century wall. Jodhpur was founded in 1459 by

Rao Jodha, a chief of the Rajput clan known as the Rathores, who also ruled various other states, Jodhpur was on a vital trade route - the city grew out of profits of opium, sandalwood, dates and copper. Rathore kingdom was once known as Marwar, the Land of Death.

We arrived late in the evening, so rushed out to see the Clock Tower in the Old City - then dinner called after taking a brief look at the busy local market.

The highlight was the next morning's brilliant audio tour of Meherangarh Fort, a huge fort perched on a 125m-high hill overlooking the city. It was this fort that inspired Rudyard Kipling's writing and the architecture is based on a series of deep-terracotta latticed courtyards and palaces with abundant flowing air. There is a combination of symmetry and asymmetry which marks Rajput buildings. The fort was never taken-over, despite supplies being stopped in attempts. Inside, we were talked through various collections of miniatures, armoury and ephemera - from 19th century ivory-inlaid ladies dumbbells to camel-bone carpet weights. There were numerous palaces, such as the Pearl, Pleasure and Flower Mahals which were beautifully decorated and all very different - I loved it!

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