ultramarinus – beyond the sea


DAY 1 (1/5): IN TRANSIT TO RAJASTHAN, India, 2018.11.24

Known as the “Land of Marahaja” where Princes and Raiputs once led extravagant lives in palaces and castles of One Thousand and One Nights, the desert state of Rajasthan in Northwestern India is the most popular tourist destination in India.  In this incredible land of rich heritage, aromatic cuisines, ornate havelis, and lavish palaces, we were never far away from the stories of Rajputs and Princes, tales of desert caravans, exotic landscapes of the Thar Desert, elegant monuments of Hinduism, Jainism and Islam, and bits and pieces of the bygone glory of the British Raj.  India is well known for its vivid colours.  With “blue city” Jodphur, “pink city” Jaipur, or “golden city” Jaisalmer, nowhere in the country is more elaborate in bright colours than Rajasthan.

In 2016 we made a trip to Ladakh, the mountainous region in Northern India dotted with Tibetan lamaseries along the Indus Valley.  It was a pleasant journey in early summer when most of the Indian Subcontinent was baked in scorching heat.  This time in late 2018, we opted to experience the Classic India in the mild and sunny winter.  In 11 fascinating days, we ventured out west from Delhi, the Indian capital into Rajasthan for an extended version of the Golden Triangle route.  Undoubtedly the most popular tourist circuit in India, the Golden Triangle connects Delhi with the Rajasthani capital Jaipur and Agra, the former Mughal capital where the iconic Taj Mahal has proudly stood for almost 400 years.  Our second Indian journey began with a 6-hour evening flight from Hong Kong to Delhi.

map india 2018_2

We began our Rajasthani journey from Jodhpur, then headed to Jaisalmer via Osian, the westernmost point of our journey.  From Jaisalmer, we hopped back eastwards first to Pushkar by night train, and then Jaipur the pink city.  A hired taxi brought us further eastwards to Agra via Bhangarh Fort, Chand Baori step well in Abhaneri, and the abandoned Mughal capital of Fatehpur Sakri.  After keeping our fingers crossed and seeing the magnificent Taj Mahal without any scaffolding, we returned to the Indian capital to take on what we had left two years ago, to explore the city’s Mughal attractions.

01Our evening flight brought us westwards from Hong Kong, passing by big and small cities along the way.  At one point, we came close to the Myanmarese city Mandalay.

02From the mouth of Meghna River in the Bay of Bengal, our plane turned northwest to follow what could be the famous Ganges River, and passed by a myriad of rural villages along the way.

04After about six hours on the plane, the first thing welcomed us in Delhi was its infamous smog.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAfter staying the night at a hotel in the Aerocity, we returned to the airport for our domestic flight going to Jodhpur. The elephant statues in the departure hall was a popular selfie spot in the Indira Gandhi International Airport.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAt the departure concourse of Delhi Airport, we had a sandwich and coffee at Costa Coffee.

08A large sculpture with statues making yoga poses was another popular selfie spot at the gate concourse.

09From above, the Suburban Delhi looked greener than we thought.

10At this time of the year (early winter), it would hardly be a day without sunny weather in Northern India.

12As we headed west into the desert state of Rajasthan, arid landscape gradually came into sight.

14An hour’s flight took us to Jodhpur, the famous blue city of Rajasthan.

16The Jodhpur Airport has a simple passenger terminal.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAt the exit gateway of the airport terminal, we met our driver prearranged with our hotel Pal Haveli.

img_8558Outside the car window, we had our first glimpse of the urban scenery in Rajasthan.

18Tuk tuks were everywhere in the busy streets of Jodphur.  We reached Pal Haveli Hotel in about 15 minutes.