India – Aurangabad & Udaipur

India – Aurangabad & Udaipur

Note: this posting was written and published just after the Jaipur bombing incidents, so we are all fine..

India is a land of extremes. That is for sure.. There’s heartbreaking poverty and incredible wealth. People are generally very nice but many are only after your money. They can be very helpful while others are plain thieves. Some are wonderfully graceful however most seem incredibly rude. Landscapes are pretty but if you look closer you’ll see it’s one big dump. In the two weeks or so that we’re here, we have seen it all…

From Mumbai we flew to Aurangabad, an hours flight by turbo prop plane. It’s the gateway to the Ajanta and Ellora Caves, some of the finest rock cut caves in the country and both with UNESCO World Heritage status. Ajanta has a series of 27 caves, all with Buddhist stupa or monastery. We visited them in ascending order and it was at the very last one that Miek’s slippers got stolen while we were inside. We figured it must have been one of the Indian tourists. Foreigners pay roughly 20 times more for an entrance ticket (this is government enforced) but why pay the entrance fee to steal a pair of plastic slippers??? The Ellora caves are a mix of Buddhist, Hindu and Jain (based on a doctrine of non-violence toward all living beings, all vegetarians, some cover their mouths so they won’t accidentally swallow another living creature) temples, the highlight being the Kailasanatha Temple from the 8th century, spanning 81 by 47 meters.

We were supposed to fly from Aurangabad directly to Udaipur but unfortunately the flight got cancelled, probably because we were the only ones having booked a seat on it. Luckily we could arrange another flight but we had a long layover in Mumbai. We decided to go to the Taj Landsend Hotel, used by Bollywood stars as weekend retreat, for some quiet and air-conditioned time online. And we also got another hair cut! 🙂

We arrived in the early evening at Udaipur airport where our personal butler was waiting with refreshments and a chauffeured car to pick us up. That’s the treatment you get when you stay at the Taj Lake Palace Hotel, one of the nicest hotels in the world. It’s located in the middle of a lake, only accessible by boat. James Bond fans should immediately recognize it as it featured in the movie Octopussy. Five star hotels ain’t cheap but little princess Miek really really really wanted it and I had already promised her she would get it as a late birthday present. The hotel is one of three Maharan palaces that were built in fairy-tale city Udaipur in the 18th century and has splendid views of the old city and the City Palace. During the 24 hours we were there we seriously enjoyed the pampering and the fantastic service. We thought that it’s not just a nice hotel at an incredible location; all together it’s a fabulous and memorable experience.

The contrast with the next evening couldn’t be bigger; we were dropped off by chauffeured luxury car at the local railway station where we would take the night train to Jaipur. I wasn’t particularly looking forward to that but all in all it wasn’t that bad and, while having chained ourselves to our luggage, I actually got a little sleep…

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About Erwin

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One Comment

  • Isabell

    Hoi Erwin & Miek,

    I´m so glad to hear that you are ok and nothing happened to you in the bomb blasts. I hope your further trip will be more like the time in the 5 star hotel.. 🙂 Have fun! And thanks for this interesting blog around the world in english. 🙂 [for all non dutch speaking persons among us]

    Greetings Annette

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