Dear friends and family,

Probably the highlight of the trip (along with Ranakpur and Dillwara Temples and Bundi, and, and...) Dungarpur; the amazing location with the rather unmelodious name.

First more travel photos from the road, as the drive from Mount Abu to Dungarpur was a good 6 hours.

Pilgrims, probably on their way to Dillwara at Mount Abu.

A colorful festival going on with what appeared to be dancing Christmas trees.

These are all out the car window.

But not this pano. If you click on it, it should get larger. You may have to wait a bit, depending on your connection. We certainly do here in India. Beautiful rice paddies.

Loaded vehicles, which we found interesting and amusing until we read that one of these flipped over recently and killed a number of young students.

India is a photographer's paradise. Remember, we are taking these out the window of a moving car.

That last was taken from a slow moving car and this is from a fast moving car.

Ox carts, horse carts, camel carts, donkey carts
I'm guessing this is a women work crew taking a little break. If they were waiting for a bus they'd have bundles.

We went through a little village, which seemed rather prosperous, skirted around a lake (Gaibsagar Lake), and then suddenly, so fast that neither of us got photos of the entry, we were at Udai Bilas Palace, our next and most splendid port in the storm.

View of small temple from Udai Bilas Palace

The courtyard at Udai Bilas Palace. Other-worldly, indeed. I was so excited to be there, I felt I was jumping out of my skin. The Maharawal of Dungarpur (a variation on maharaja) resides in this palace, but some rooms are rented out to enterprising tourists. I say "enterprising" as the Maharawal and staff don't seem to market it very much, and it is rather hard to reach.

These places always need to be maintained.

This is not as old as the ancient temples we've been showing you, or the 600 year old forts.  From what I can ascertain it seems to have been built in the mid-19th century, when one of the maharawals tired of living in the old palace up on the hill and built this exquisite place. Maharawal Udai Singhi-II was said to be a great patron of art and architecture, and it seems the family has been interested in art for many generations. 

The lodge

We were given a tour of the grounds. All these maharajahs seem to have been interested in hunting. It was part of their job to kill the occasional man-eating tiger or wild boar. I doubt the deer were a threat to any of the villagers.

The organic vegetable and herb garden

Papaya tree

The Maharawal has an extensive car collection.

They asked if we would like to have a drink. Why not? In Muslim areas of India or Muslim establishments drinks are not available.

So tranquil. 

We haven't dwelled on this, but we feel we are risking our lives every time we get in a car and ride on Indian roads. Chaos and madness.

One can see how both Hinduism and Buddhism adopted the water lily as a symbol of life, hope, purity arising out of the muck. When the Mughal architects and stone carvers put the water lily into their buildings, it was a nod to Hinduism, at least that is according to our guides, both Hindu and Muslim.

Don and the infinity pool

The dining hall. 

Dinner we were joined by only one other couple, German. Breakfast was that same couple and one Brit. Everyone pretty much kept to themselves. Probably shouting across that large expanse of table was a bit intimidating. Not sure what the water runway is for; the waiters said they never put fish in it.

We heard the palace was completely full over the holidays, but we had it pretty much to ourselves.

Good night, with love from India.

Era and Don