The trip to Rajasthan was one I had been looking forward to for a long time – even before I knew it was happening! I have wanted to travel to India for a long time and when the opportunity came up I took it as quickly as I could! It didn’t feel like I was really going until we were all on the plane and had taken off, because I had been excited about it for so long.
There were a few aspects of India that were not what I had anticipated! What I expected was different to the reality for a number of reasons:
Expectation: Bright colours and fabrics everywhere – almost every surface covered in pattern or some kind of fabric. Reality: Not every single surface was covered with colour or pattern – only within the palaces was this the case. However there was still a lot of pattern and other beautiful things (just not as much as I had presumed there was!)
Expectation: Relative cleanliness on the streets. Reality: The streets are very dirty, with litter piled up in certain areas – the litter was something that shocked me, as I had never seen piles of rubbish that big in my life, only on TV when images of landfills had been shown; but this was on the street! Admittedly the piles were nowhere near the size of a landfill plot but I am so used to clean streets that it shocked me. The litter on the streets of Cathays after bin day seems like nothing now!
Expectation: Shops would be small, and not many chain shops around. The shop owners would be friendly, but leave you to look around. Reality: Shops are small, but even smaller than I expected! Some had only enough room for one person to walk down to the end and back. Owners were most definitely friendly! Some would try to sell you every single item in the shop, whereas others may leave you to it but try to suggest items. The first was much more common though!
I think when you travel, there are always differences between your expectation and the reality. I experienced this when I went to Bolivia, and even Amsterdam.
I was inspired by the block printing that we saw, both in the Anokhi Museum and the factory the next day. The skill that it takes to carve those intricate patterns into the wood block is incredible, especially when they are making multiple blocks for the same pattern that have to line up! There is also incredible skill in the printers, being able to line up the blocks perfectly is not easy and they do it at great speed to get the work done as quickly as possible. I would like to try my own version of block printing in university – obviously I won’t be carving wood blocks any time soon, but I would like to take the basic principle of the technique and use it in my own practice.
Rajasthan was an amazing experience for me, and I cannot wait to go back to India and explore more places!
The journey home was most definitely not an enjoyable one! Almost everyone had been ill over the last few days and typically I was one of the ones to fall ill the morning we left to return to the UK.
I don’t have any photos of the return journey as I spent most of my time concentrating on not throwing up! We visited the medical centre in Mumbai Airport who kindly gave us some anti sickness tablets, which eventually helped to make me feel better.
I also didn’t return to Cardiff with the rest of the group, as the coach driver was kind enough to stop at the services near my home where my Dad picked me up so I could recover at home. After a couple of days of rest I returned to Cardiff, so I could go back to university and work.
On our free days in Udaipur, I mostly spent time in the pool at the hotel and shopping for gifts in the market. It was nice to have some time to ourselves, and to do as we pleased. The pool was freezing, but nice once you got used to it! We also took the time to do some sunbathing (with suncream on of course).
The experience of shopping in India was an interesting one! Some shop keepers wouldn’t leave you alone whereas others took a more laid back approach. Molly got dressed up by one shopkeeper in Udaipur and getting changed in a tiny changing room was fun!
Molly after being dressed up by the shop keeper!
A tiny tiny changing room!
We got henna done on one of our free days, which I loved! It’s a strange sensation while having it done and extremely annoying while it’s drying but I loved the outcome! It’s amazing how he came up with the patterns off the top of his head and all three of us came out with completely different designs!
On our last day of organised activities, we first went to a miniature painting workshop. Here we learnt the techniques used to create miniature paintings. The paintbrushes we used were made from chipmunk tail hair (just cut off I hope!) and the colour of the paint from rocks. As you can see I’m definitely not up to the standard of the experts but it was an interesting experience!
Professional Miniature Painting
My Miniature Painting
Next, we went to the City Gardens of Udaipur, a place with a variety of plant life, water fountains and trees. It was a peaceful place within a busy city and lovely to spend some time just wondering around.
The final thing we did was visit a family who own a shop which sells tie dyed products. We got to see their workshop and how they dye fabric. As a textiles student, I was very interested in the process. We watched how the knots are tied, how the dye mix is made and how it is dipped in the dye. The end result was very impressive, and after we went to their shop which had an array of scarves, jackets, trousers and lots more!
Our first visit of the day was Udaipur City Palace – located in the centre of the city, with the option to walk through it to the other side of the city for a mere 30 Rupees (40p!). The palace had tonnes of rooms, all colourful and completely different from each other. The outside garden were also beautiful, with intricate doorways filled with pattern and colour.
At around 5pm, we took a sunset cruise on Lake Pichola. The boat took us around the lake and then to an island in the middle, where there is a hotel, and they were taking down the decorations from a wedding. The buildings were beautiful and it was lovely to see it in fading light as the sun set.
On Saturday we made the long journey from Jaipur to Udaipur. In total it took 11 hours on the coach! At around 1pm we came across this group of ladies working on building a road to their village from the main road. The ladies were wearing very colourful traditional saris and are nicknamed ‘The Colourful Ladies of Rajasthan’.
Another stop was at a train station in a small village, where there was a train stopped; apparently for storage purposes. We stopped for about 15 minutes to take photos, it was very weird to be able to walk across the tracks!
Our last day in Jaipur! Friday was a busy day, and we started off at the Hawa Mahal (otherwise known as the Palace of the Winds). It was built so that royal women could look out of the screens onto the streets without being seen themselves, and most of the building doesn’t have a back to it, hence the name.
Next, we moved onto the Jantar Mantar Observatory, near the City Palace of Jaipur. The observatory is a collection of nineteen massive astronomical instruments, including the world’s largest stone sundial. It has a collection of dials for each horoscope, as well as multiple other sundials which all tell the time in different ways, with the largest being accurate to 2 seconds.
Vrihat Samrat Yantra
Laghu Samrat Yantra
Rashi Valaya Yantra, ‘Aries’ Sundial
We then went on into the City Palace, only a short walk from the observatory. One of the features that really stood out to me were the four doors pictured below. Each had a symbolic meaning, and the patterns and colours built into it were incredible and I could have stayed all day looking at them!