Gallery Rajasthan

East Rajasthan

Ranthambhore

Southwest Rajasthan

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30.03.2012

India or not India - That is the question!

India, although a backpackers’ paradise for decades, was never able to arouse that curiosity and passion we have developed for Southeast Asia, Latino American and especially Africa. Too big, too crowded, never the right season - all these were “excuses” that never made this trip happen… Another one was the extremely conflicting opinions travelers brought back. Either people raved about the country or dismissed it as a “shithole”, the place they came to hate most in all their travels. So before we started off, we wondered in which...[more]

Category: Indien

31.03.2012

Indian Efficiency?

Upon our arrival in Delhi Airport, we were struck by the well-organized infrastructure. We actually felt it was an oasis of efficiency, with swift and friendly service and an inviting ambience. Within less than 30 minutes after touch down, we went through immigration, collected our luggage and retrieved money from an ATM. Why we were surprised? Our experiences with the Indian Embassy and the visa office in Vienna were quite different, to say the least... Neither can be reached by eMail (this is spring 2012!), phones are not...[more]

Category: Indien

31.03.2012

Breath-taking Delhi

Half an hour drive into New Delhi and the smell became nauseating, a kind of mixture between sulfur and exhaust fumes. We were bursting to ask our driver if this was the normal odor around midnight. But he had not uttered a word, nothing, since he met us at the airport, holding up a piece of paper with our names. He only pointed and grunted. We came to the conclusion that his speech was impaired and we did not want to embarrass him by making him speak. Luckily, he proved us wrong when he rattled off asking a policeman for directions....[more]

Category: Indien

01.04.2012

Riding those long Indian Trains

Expectations were flying high when we arrived at Hazrat Nizzamuddin Train Station, one of the many in New Delhi… We had heard and read so much about Indian trains! Everybody will be after you, pushing their ware on you - food, drinks, porter service; they are crowded, filthy… None of it became reality, at least not on our first trip. And yes, we admit, we never travelled third class: people staring through irons bars from dark crowded compartments looked too dire to give it a try… Once on board, it felt strange to lie down on a...[more]

Category: Indien

02.04.2012

Love, beauty, death and grand architecture: the Taj Mahal

hat are the ingredients of its unparalleled fame? Millions of people who have never seen it get goose pimples when the very name is mentioned. Add myth and legends to supreme elegance and voilà! There it is: this unique recipe lifts it above all other Mughal tombs. Who would remain untouched by the story of Mumtaz Mahal, the favorite, beloved wife of Emperor Sha Jahan, dying while delivering their 14th child? Her beauty and gracefulness were raved about by contemporary poets. In her honor, Sha Jahan had the Taj Mahal built, an...[more]

Category: Indien

02.04.2012

Exchanging travel stories with Jan & Paul

Heidi met Paul Dwyer in Ruanda in summer 2011. Paul, together with his wife Jan, had been riding their motorbikes through Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda. After a few contacts through the Lonely Planet ThornTree, they met in Kigali and Heidi decided to join them and travel on Paul’s motorbike. An experience of a lifetime for her! A few weeks later, we both met Paul in the tiny fisher village of Butiaba in Uganda, on the shores of Lake Albert. Paul was then travelling alone down south from Gulu and Kitgum, where he had made a...[more]

Category: Indien

03.04.2012

Agra’s other treasures - Agra Fort

Our entire focus was on Agra’s most famous sight, the Taj Mahal, so the beauty of 16th century Agra Fort, a mélange of red sandstone and white marble, came as a pleasant surprise. For its early Mughal ruler, Akbar, it served as a mighty fort. The huge moot running around is the first hint of its defensive character during times long gone. The impressive outside walls are dark-red and the majority of the buildings are of the same color. Later, Sha Jahan used his favorite building material, white marble, to turn this fort into a...[more]

Category: Indien

03.04.2012

It is all about symmetry - Mughal Tombs

Mughal tombs and palaces are Rajasthan’s trademark. The delicate decoration inside (lots of tiles) and outside is a mélange of Islamic, Persian, Afghan and Indian styles, but the most striking characteristic is the symmetry and clarity. All tombs follow a certain format! Four giant gates lead up to the platform where an impressive temple-like building rests upon. All tombs are built overlooking the Yamuna River, which unfortunately in April, at the end of the dry season, looks and smells more like a sewage dump. Akbar’s Mausoleum...[more]

Category: Indien

04.04.2012

Fatehpur Sikri taking its toll

Despite being completely exhausted, we travelled the 55 kilometers to Fatehpur Sikri early, very early in the morning. Naturally we wanted this huge complex of palaces and majestic buildings to our own. Besides, with these temperatures you cannot afford a late start and who wants to miss the pleasant soft light for taking pictures? Once outside of Agra, traffic vanished and we covered the distance in less than one hour. The 20 € for a car plus driver were well invested! We were the only visitors in this enormous compound and thus...[more]

Category: Indien

04.04.2012

Traffic in India - the survival of the fittest!

With 1.2 billion on the move, transport becomes a challenge. More and more Indians are able to afford private transport of various kinds, from scooter to large SUVs. Add an ill-adapted infrastructure in a megacity and you have got the picture… Though we came prepared, our worst expectations were surpassed: traffic in large cities can be abysmal: trucks, buses, cars, autorickshaws (also known as Tuk-Tuks), motorcycles, bicycles, some of which transporting unimaginable quantities of cargo, pedestrians, water buffaloes, cows… They all...[more]

Category: Indien

05.04.2012

Heat and Dust

Travelling for days, getting little sleep, the heat and a five-hour train ride left us in a shaky state. Nevertheless, immediately after we arrived in Jaipur, we trotted off to explore the Pink City. On foot, on boiling hot concrete, along one of Jaipur’s busiest, most congested streets… All sights were closed when we finally dragged our exhausted bodies into the Old City. Refusing to admit that this was a pretty silly start, we continued, fighting our way through the narrow alleys of the bazaar. Feet burning, mood crumbling, we...[more]

Category: Indien

05.04.2012

Jaipur and its many festivals

Festivals & processions are Jaipur’s trademark. These attract loads of visitors, India and non-Indian alike. So we were rather disappointed when the festival calendar for April showed none. The bigger was our surprise when we literally happened to run into one! Stepping out into the street from a little yard that harbored a vegetable market, we stood face to face with an elephant. With its head beautifully painted, it swayed along the street carrying an elegantly dressed man and a child. Even in India, at least in an urban area, this...[more]

Category: Indien

05.04.2012

Juwels of the Pink City

The Palace of the Wind, the name itself gives you goose pimples, let’s your imagination run wild. A huge, airy palace, with royal princes and princesses strolling around, their loose silky dresses tousled by the wind. The Hawa Mahal was none of this, it is not even a building proper. It is a façade, a most stunning one though. The ladies of the royal family would snug into one of the many niches and leisurely watch Jaipur’s famous processions shielded from the outside world, without being seen by the masses. They just needed to...[more]

Category: Indien

06.04.2012

Bus Nr. 5 to Amber Fort

Asking an employee at the Atithi Guesthouse as how to get to Amber Place we got this answer: “Take bus Nr. 5! It is a lot faster than an auto rickshaw and cheaper, of course”. We were puzzled: faster? Still traumatized from walking noisy and boiling hot streets the previous day, we were a bit hesitant first. But there was no excuse for not trying… We found the bus station in no time and a helpful elderly man immediately took us under the wings. We climbed into the modern bus, got ourselves window sits and watched the buzzing city of...[more]

Category: Indien

06.04.2012

Riding elephants to Amber Fort

We were so thrilled by Amber Fort that we returned the next morning on our beloved bus Nr. 5, primarily to take more photos of the fort in a different light. Only to find -most shocking - the place swarming with busloads of package tourists, all lined up for riding up the short ramp on an elephant. Not that this small distance cannot be done on foot, but obviously, this is THE thing tourists are told to do when in Jaipur! The queue was about 100 meter long, right in the sun that was already scorching. We were in shock: wonderfully...[more]

Category: Indien

06.04.2012

Monkey Palace

We had not heard of this place, but a quick online research revealed it as “one of the top 10 things” to do in and around Jaipur. So why not give it a try? We decided to go on foot from the center of the Pink City… Big mistake! How long it took us, we cannot precisely say, but we arrived quite late at the foot of the hill and were rather confused about where exactly this temple shall be. Only once we had climbed to the top, we passed two other visitors who gave us the bad news: we had to go all the ways down the hill again… The...[more]

Category: Indien

07.04.2012

Touch me Tiger

Who would resist the opportunity of seeing a tiger in the wilderness? Along with a considerable number of other visitors, Indian and international tourists alike, we took this pilgrimage to see one of the very last 32 tigers that roam Ranthambhore National Park. Our expectations were low. Given the size of the park, 1.330km2, honestly, what would be our chances for a tiger to hang out near one of the tracks exactly when we were passing by? Even worse, we were not able to book a Gypsy, those small jeeps seating six, and ended up in...[more]

Category: Indien

08.04.2012

“Tiger Watch” against poaching & incompetent government

The project “Tiger Watch” was started in the late 1970s by the father of the current owner of the Khem Villas, Mr. Rathore. He devoted his life to establishing the National Park, protecting the tigers and helping and educating the villagers. Without their cooperation, the project would be doomed: cutting down trees for firewood and poaching are the real threats for both the park and the already dangerously low population of tigers. Alternatives like using biomass for cooking and job opportunities in the booming tourism industry...[more]

Category: Indien

08.04.2012

Khem Villas

Of the many luxury hotels around Ranthambhore National Park, we picked Khem Villas to relax a few days after our strenuous sightseeing in the heat. The reviews were raving, the peaceful and quiet atmosphere, set in a big well kept ground, the great rooms and what not… All this was true, especially the bungalows were stunning (avoid the tents from April onward, without AC they are unbearably hot), with their outside bathtubs and exquisite decoration. Taking a bath under the stars does have a certain charm. Nevertheless, 390 USD a...[more]

Category: Indien

09.04.2012

Delhi Transport

We are not fond of big cities, so we planned very little time for Delhi. Something we regretted as soon as we realized how much there is to see and how easy it is to get around. Even the pollution did not bother us as much as on the day of our arrival. The very efficient, highly modern subway gives you the freedom to travel independently and quickly in this huge city of 12 to 15 million people without having to haggle with obnoxious cab drivers. Most unusual were the metal detectors and security checks when entering each station. We...[more]

Category: Indien

10.04.2012

Delhi’ Sights

Even after ten days of visiting Mogul architecture, we wanted more of it. So on our first morning we headed for Humayun’s Tomb. Once inside we understood why the Farsi word for this place is heaven. Built in the mid 16th century by his widow, this Mausoleum brought Persian architecture to Delhi. Majestically it rests on a platform, overlooking the huge walled-in garden. In the midst of Delhi’s traffic jam, an oasis of green and tranquility. It was so tempting to stay, away from the heat and hassle of Delhi’s street… We were already...[more]

Category: Indien

11.04.2012

Rajasthan - Budget

With only 12 days at hand, temperatures around 40 degrees and India being a rather cheap country, we opted against travelling low budget. Instead we frequented “mid-range” hotels and restaurants. This trip could definitely be done a lot cheaper than spending 44 Euros per person per day. This amount does not include the international flight or the visa fees. Hotels Outside of Delhi, an average of 23 Euros per night was the rule. Comfortable guesthouses with air conditioning make all the difference in the pre-monsoon...[more]

Category: Budget, Indien

12.04.2012

11 days in Rajasthan - Summary

Eleven days was all we had to travel through the very east of Rajasthan in April 2012. With so little time at hand, we focused on a limited number of places, to have some opportunities to scratch below the surface. We allowed three days each for Agra, Jaipur and Ranthambhore National Park, and last but not least 1.5 days to explore Delhi. A first glimpse of India? Eleven days are just enough to get a rough overview of eastern Rajasthan’s historic highlights. Even though we only visited Agra, Delhi and Jaipur, the sheer number of...[more]

Category: Summaries, Indien

22.03.2013

Delhi - Wake-Up Call

No matter how tired you are, the orange-yellow carpet that covers all of Delhi airport (what seems acres and acres) wakes you right up. If this doesn’t, then the tinny, automated voice echoing from each escalator does for sure: “Hold the handrail and mind your step, hold the handrail and mind you step, hold the handrail and mind your step…” Why we know the airport so well? Touching ground at 01:30 am and scheduled to leave for Udaipur at 05:25 am, we had no choice but spend those wee hours there. Exhausting, but it got us to Udaipur...[more]

Category: Indien

23.03.2013

Udaipur - City Palace by the Lake

For all those who have wondered all their lives why the name of so many cities in Rajasthan ends in “-pur”, like Jaipur, Jodhpur or Udaipur... here is the key. This final syllable indicates that a Hindi prince founded a city. The ending “-bad”, like in Ahmedabad, Hyderabad or Islamabad, tells of a Muslim founder. Last but not least, ending in “-er” like Ajmer, Bikaner or Jaisalmer, indicates a city of the desert. Our guide, Mr. Singh, who took us around the gigantic City Palace, enlightened us. And this is why we will always remember...[more]

Category: Indien

23.03.2013

The Maze of Lal Ghat

Lal Ghat, on the eastern shore of Lake Pichola, is a maze of alleys and lanes sprawling through a sea of crème-colored cubic houses. Inside traffic can be mad: scooters, motor-rickshaws, cows, pedestrians and even cars try to make their way through the labyrinth. Pedestrians are at the low end of the pecking order and constantly frightened by scooters cutting by within an inch and blowing their deafening horns. Nevertheless it is here, in Lal Ghat, where all tourists congregate. Here is everything they have come for: the lake...[more]

Category: Indien

24.03.2013

Kumbhalgarh - The Indian Great Wall

The huge fortress of Kumbhalgarh rests on a hilltop, 1.100 meters above sea level. Most remarkable indeed, but its 36 kilometer long wall makes it unique, the stand out among so many other stunning forts in Rajasthan. The walls of Kumbhalgarh don’t just encircle the fort, no they extends far into the hills. Very much like the Great Wall of China. There is one big difference though - we had the whole thing to ourselves! An Indian family and a couple of foreign tourists crossed our path, but otherwise our only companions in this maze...[more]

Category: Indien

24.03.2013

Leaving the Tourist Ghetto

After two days of temples, castles and tourist ghetto, it was finally time for a somewhat more genuine Indian experience… So we decided to hit the road and simply walk far enough to discover the “real” Udaipur. It did not take long until we reached what seem to be a huge bazaar, first with a construction material section, then a mix of everything that one needs or doesn’t need, starting with all kinds of food, clothes and what not. With the Holy Festival getting close, we also could see numerous stalls selling dying, beautifully...[more]

Category: Indien

25.03.2013

Preparations for the Holi Festival

After having been inside temples, castles, forts and the tourist industry around it for days, we emerged into something genuine Indian - the Holi Festival of Colors. Something we had not dreamed to experience, simply because we neither had a clue that it was celebrated during full moon in the lunar month of Phalguna nor what that translated into. In Udaipur, the Holi Festival is even celebrated a few octaves higher. The evening before Holi, the present maharani hosts a colorful ceremony and reception in the courtyard of the palace....[more]

Category: Indien

25.03.2013

Happy Holi!

We could not wait to see what this color throwing was all about and stormed into the street early morning. Whether this was a good or bad idea we will never know… This early start made us the first and actually only tourists in the small streets of Bundi… And hence a prime target for anyone. We quickly realized this was mainly a men’s party, not that lots of women are normally seen in the street. The few Indian women we saw travelled on scooters and maybe had a whiff of color on their sari. But none of them had their face, clothes,...[more]

Category: Indien

26.03.2013

Approaching Bundi Late at Night

Being on a rumbling rain riding through the pitch-dark countryside of southern Rajasthan can be a soothing experience. When we saw bright golden lights on the top of a hill, we race to the open door of our train. These are always open in India - even in air conditioned cars. It is the Indian way of getting rid of the trash and enjoying a better view of the countryside, since the windows are often too dirty to really see what’s outside. That’s how we approached Bundi. We could marvel at one of its most famous attraction long before...[more]

Category: Indien

26.03.2013

Fading Charm of Bundi’s Ancient Sights

Given the temperatures, we headed for the fort first. So high up, we could only see its walls from the distance. Before that, we had to fend off a young man who offered to show us around the fort and keep the monkeys at bay. Not that we didn’t want a guide, but he was a real turn off. The mumbled, incomprehensible words kept pouring from his mouth like an avalanche and demanding 400 rupees for his services made it easy to put our foot down and say no. To put things in perspective, we paid 350 for an excellent three-hour tour of the...[more]

Category: Indien

27.03.2013

Trekking to the Stepping Wells

We did not really know what to expect when we set out to find Bundi’s famous stepping wells. Considering we had only a vague idea of where to look, we did pretty well. Our little expedition took us through the bazaar and some busy market area. It was a constant struggle - taking in the chaos that surrounded us or to move forward. Basically we were busy avoiding to be run over by scooters meandering their way through these narrow lanes, honking loudly as if this could make the crowd disappear. Our favorite section of the market was...[more]

Category: Indien

28.03.2013

Kukki’s View of Other Indians

With a big smile, the receptionist of our hotel brought to our attention the existence of pre-historic site art near Bundi. Alerted we did find a small entry in our travel guide. Before we could wreck our brains as how we could possibly find those - help was offered. Again by our receptionist. His father Kukki had personally discovered paintings that are 5.000 years old and if we wanted, he would take us there. Another careful look into the Lonely Planet revealed that Kukki had found his way into the “Bible”. The price for Kukki’s...[more]

Category: Indien

28.03.2013

Prehistoric Rock Art by Kukki

A small mountain range was where we stopped after an hour drive. Marching for another hour on parched lifeless grounds took us to a beautiful gorge with lots of green trees at the bottom, once the hunting ground of the Maharana. The large pools at the bottom and a few overhangs in the steep walls of the gorge must have provided a gorgeous environment for those pre-history dwellers, who drew animals and people onto the rock. Kukki described with great enthusiasm how he had searched the area since his youth and had come across a lot...[more]

Category: Indien

29.03.2013

Chittorgarh - Hot Fort, Firing Our Tour Guide

The long, long wall of the Garh (fort) running along the top of a hill greeted us long before arrived in Chittor. Thirty overwhelming kilometers of wall encircle the fort. Our hearts fell - how could we possibly visit this place during one afternoon - a very hot afternoon. Was this doable? Yes, it was and quite easy and pleasant. First we sought shelter on the patio of the Hotel Pratap Palace, looking into a garden with flowers and a tortoise showing the signs of the Holi Festival. An extensive lunch provided us the stamina to even...[more]

Category: Indien

29.03.2013

Ajmer Junction - Crazy Station, Crazy Ride

Except for firing the tour guide in Chittogarh, the day had passed with the preciseness of a Swiss clock. Ajmer Train station finally offered a bit of excitement. At around 11:00 pm it was nothing short of a shelter. The floor was completely covered with people wrapped in shawls, sleeping on the hard concrete. Outside it was as busy as any train station in India. The way the three of us tumbled from the station around midnight drew a group of young men. Of course they knew we were heading for famous Pushkar, 25 kilometers away. The...[more]

Category: Indien

30.03.2013

Pushkar - The Holy Cash Cow

Over three thousand (3.000!) pilgrims arrive daily in tiny Pushkar, Hindi from all over India and even abroad. They come for one reason - to leave money with the countless priests and temples. Even the most devout Hindi commits the odd sin that hurts his karma… A pilgrimage to Pushkar and a pile of money can undo that. There are plenty of opportunities to get rid of your cash - the most obvious ones wait at the many Ghats (bathing places) on the holy lake. Priests prey for the never-ending caravan of pilgrims and they are tough...[more]

Category: Indien

31.03.2013

Rural Pushkar

Pushkar has changed, Mr. Sharma explained. And he should know, a 5th generation descendant of a Brahman family. Now his family lives next door to the Seventh Heaven Hotel and advertises their services there: walks around Pushkar, Henna Painting, Indian meals... Mr. Sharma then walked us to the outskirts of Pushkar, an area that was farmland until not long ago. Now guesthouses and hotels have sprung up to cater the ever-growing tourist crowd. Farming has moved to the foot of the hills that surround Pushkar, quite a distance from the...[more]

Category: Indien

31.03.2013

Money-Driven Pushkar

With high hopes we met Mr. Sharma again: the descendent of one of Pushkar’s oldest religious family was to enlighten us about temples and the holy lake. But what a difference to the walking tour the previous day! Mr. Sharma’s narrations were tedious and above all, hardly intelligible. Poor Kelly suffered thorough all this without complaining once. Exciting it got once we reached the famous Brahma temple from the 14th Century. To be the only one in the world is hard to beat! So was the crowd, shoving each other up the stairs through...[more]

Category: Indien

01.04.2013

Ajmer from Different Angles

On our very last day in Rajasthan, we got a good dose of sacred places. Gilles insisted on visiting the Dargah (shrine) of the Sufi Saint Khwaja Muin-ud-din Chishti in Ajmer. It made sense, since this is where we boarded our night train to Delhi that night. It left us with a few logistic questions though. Where to leave our luggage and where to spend the hot hours? The staff in the first hotel we checked out seemed surprised by European tourists arriving, so we moved on. Our driver, a native of Pushkar, did not know his way around...[more]

Category: Indien

01.04.2013

Staring us down at the shrine of the Sufi Saint Khwaja Muin-ud-din Chishti

The TukTuk dropped us in a maze of small, busy lanes, which opened into a wide street packed with people. But bang - without any traffic! It came almost as a shock. None of the screeching and honking that seems inseparable with motorized vehicles in India. Why? We could only guess. Most likely a precaution after a bomb went off near the shrine in 2007. Other strange experiences lay ahead. One was the staring. The eyes of what must have been thousands of people were upon us for the next two hours, as if we were brightly colored...[more]

Category: Indien

02.04.2013

Getting Around Delhi the Hard Way

As if travelling around Delhi was not crazy enough per se, we did our best to make it even wilder… Arriving at 05:30 am by train from Ajmer, we thought it a good idea to take the metro to our hotel. In the darkness we dragged our suitcases through the usual ramble of vehicles and people. The first open counter we saw was besieged by hundreds of people. We immediately decided to call off the metro-plan, but found an empty ticket counter twenty meters away. God knows what this other place was selling. What we did not expect was the...[more]

Category: Indien

02.04.2013

Highlight Hunting in Delhi

During our trip in 20012, we came to believe that Humayun’s Tomb, the shrine of the Sufi Saint Hazrat Nizam-ud-din and Gandhi Smriti were Delhi’s three must-sees. So off we went again, sharing these incredible places with Kelly. Humayun’s tomb, a landmark of Mughal architecture, was tranquil and majestic as we remembered it. Despite arriving early, temperatures were harsh. And despite the haziness, we managed to take a few good photos of this tomb garden built in the 16th century. Enthused we decided to walk to Dargh Hazrat...[more]

Category: Indien

03.04.2013

Havelis as a Great Lodging Option

Travelling with a teenager for the first time ever, we figured that taking chances with accommodation was not a wise thing to do. So a bit more comfort than usually was planned. Another first timer was that we used TripAdvisor for all four locations. And they did not let us down. We still were looking for reasonable lodgings, none of those grand palaces that once were the homes of Maharajas. Of course there is a certain thrill to stay at world famous places like the Lake Palace Hotel, where you get pampered in a unique environment...[more]

Category: Indien

04.04.2013

Southwest Rajasthan - Budget

Like on our first trip to Rajasthan in 2012, we opted against travelling low budget. Instead we chose “mid-range” hotels and restaurants. This trip could definitely be done a lot cheaper than spending 40 Euros per person per day (which does not include the international flight nor the visa fees), but allowed us to enjoy some incredible comfort. Hotels In all three cities, Udaipur, Bundi & Pushkar, we stayed in Havelis, former homes of noblemen. There, we enjoyed a great atmosphere and good comfort for 33 Euros per night on...[more]

Category: Budget, Indien

28.04.2014

Rajasthan: 2 Trips & 23 Days - Summary

In April 2012 we had our first brush with India, to be precise eastern Rajasthan. For eleven days we gazed at the most incredible Moghul architecture in Agra and Jaipur. We also threw in a bit of wildlife by visiting Ranthambhore National Park. When we returned in March 2013, we headed for the southwest of Rajasthan for twelve days, to marvel at these impressive forts & palaces in Udaipur, Kumbhalgarh, Bundi, Chittorgarh and last but not least Pushkar & Ajmer. Delhi was our hub during both trips. On the beaten tracks… Those three...[more]

Category: Summaries, Indien