A journey back to Middle Earth…

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Alavidā Rajasthan, Namastē Gujarat

Today we had what was probably our earliest start yet, a 7:30am, drive from Udipur to Ahmedabad, leaving behind Rajasthan, probably my favourite state in india so far, and entering Gujarat, where papas parents, our grandparents, were born and spent their early years. After our drive and checking in to our hotel, we went to to Gandhi’s Ashram where we learned even more about Gandhi and his achievements as well as seeing the site. An ashram is a place where people can live as long a they follow it’s rules, pray and work within it. Gandhi created this ashram and it was his headquarters for 13 years between 1917 and 1930.
So far we have been to 3 places dedicated to Mohandas K. Gandhi (Raj Ghat, a memorial park for him, Gandhi’s Smitri, where he lived between 1942 and his assassination in 1948, and his Ashram). We have also been watching the film “Gandhi” learning about most of the things he had to do in order to gain independence for India from the British. The Salt March to name one where Gandhi walked 241km between the Ashram he founded, which is where we went yesterday, to Dandi beach where he made salt, breaking the law and in protest to the taxes on salt.
After the Ashram we headed to the ‘old town of Ahmedabad’ where we walked around and looked at a market. After our afternoon of driving and discovering Ahmedabad, we went back to finish the Gandhi film we were watching whilst eating takeaway pizza from “Dominos”!
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The Museum of Random Things

Friday was more of a relaxing day. After breakfast in a “french bakery cafe” down the road of our hotel where I couldn’t  eat my full breakfast of porridge,  we went for a walk nearby the lake and an old man asked to have a photo with Mama (shown below). On the way back we bought a stone carving from a man on the street who said he made all of the figures himself.
In the afternoon we went to a museum also just down the road (everything is quite near) called Bagore-ki-Haveli where we learned about all sorts of stuff from Rajisthani puppets to turbans. There was a whole room full of puppets, elephants camels and people, there are a few photos below.  There was also polystyrene models of buildings like the Eiffel Tower and the Leaning tower of Pisa which was a bit random but cool.  And then finally we looked at the turbans which included the biggest turban on earth (not meant for wearing). After the museum we went to a Mandir (Hindu temple) and did a prayer then listened to women singing bhajans (similar to hymns) inside. We couldn’t resist one last opportunity for lake views where we had dinner at the top of a hotel where there was a lake view restaurant.

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Eye Catching

Our hotel, located in the old city by Lake Pichola, had immediately brought us right into the action in Udaipur. Even though clearly a tourist area, the overall atmosphere created by the mix of hotels, restaurants, shops and village type of life supporting this important industry made us decide this would be a nice place to slow down for a couple of days, and experience the immediate surroundings and attractions on foot.
Obviously a boat ride on the lake could not be missed and allowed us to be immersed into the picturesque scenery, although I think it will take a few more visits before I feel like being immersed into the water! The stop on Jagmandir Island (a former Island Palace built in 1620 which now contains a small hotel), also created a few good photo opps and allowed us to imagine the grandness of this prime location. All the while we could see the all famous Lake Palace Hotel which we’ll save for next time or another life. The afternoon was spent at the City Palace (Rajisthan’s largest) giving us a glimpse of the life of the various maharanas over the centuries.
Amidst all of this and a constant experience as a tourist in India are shipowners, rickshaw drivers, hawkers, restaurant owners, and guides etc.., waiting for the ever so slight glimpse of your eye or indication of interest in their products or services. On one hand, from their perspective it could be the difference between a bad and a good day in this highly competitive industry. On the other, a sad reality of requiring to ignore the attention of many whom in other circumstances may either exploit your naivety or engage an interesting and insightful conversation and honest transaction. I guess we may never know out of the few transactions that we did conduct which was the outcome, but I guess it is only our own point of view that matters…