During our big trip in India, we divided our time between the North and the South, with a brief stop over in the middle in Khajuraho.
In the North we celebrated Diwali in Jaipur then continued travelling through Rajasthan and on to Khajuraho.
Rajasthan is India's largest and most colourful state. Literally, all the cities are nicknamed after a colour: Jaipur is the Pink City, Jodhpur is blue and Udaipur nicknamed the white city. This is also the place to see some of the country's most beautiful temples, palaces and forts. Khajuraho, further south, has a large temple complex, famous for some very erotic carvings.
The Blue City: Jodhpur
Jodhpur was our first stop after leaving Jaipur. It is famous for its large Mehrangarh Fort, which sits 150m high up at the top of a hill that looks out over the Blue City.
Jodhpur is called the Sun City or Blue City because the buildings surrounding the fort have traditionally been (and continue to be) painted blue by locals. It's not entirely known why, but our favourite reason was because it was seen as a way to repel bugs.
The Mehrangarh Fort in Jodphur has been the site for many Bollywood and Hollywood films. The most famous and one of Stefan's favourites – Batman: The Dark Knight.
The White City: Udaipur
Udaiipur was our next stop, also known as the White City due to the many white coloured buildings in the city.
The most famous white building in Udaipur is the Lake Palace, a little island oasis on the Lake Pichola of Udaipur. The Lake Palace is another Indian building popular in films, such as in the James Bond film Octopussy.
We watched some incredible Indian dances in Rajasthan.
This dance is called Bhavai and originates from the West Rajasthani communities where women used to carry pots of water across the desert for long distances with obviously very good balance skills:
We were particularly astounded by this 67 years old lady who had 11 pots on her head weighing 12kg. The weight of our backpacks is around 12kg! We huff and puff carrying that on our backs, but to carry this on our heads? Just wow!
Erotic temple carvings in Khajuraho
The Khajuraho Temples in Madhya Pradesh are amongst the most beautiful medieval monuments in India. They are the largest group of Hindu and Jain temples in the world, although only around 20 remain today from the original 80 built. They are a UNESCO World Heritage Site, built during the Chandella Dynasty between AD900-1130.
The temples are scattered over an area of 9 square miles, featuring a range of really intricate carvings depicting the traditional lifestyle of women in the medieval ages. This includes some very erotic carvings, which has become their most popular feature today.
It is believed that the erotic sculptures are a way of giving importance to the love of life and to general wellbeing. During the medieval era there was a common belief that having erotic sculptures or alankaras would bring luck and considered auspicious.
After our travels in North India it was back on the train for our next stop in the City of the Dead – Varanasi.
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