I had a fairly strong disagreement with our travel agent about Mount Abu; I felt it was too far away (4.5 hours to get there and 6 hours from there to our next destination). The landscape looked too much like California; people go there to experience nature and get relief from summer heat, and of course we’re in the winter. He said, and correctly so, that all distances are far in India - it is hours from one city to the next; he added we would like it (somewhat true) and we should go. He's the travel agent, so I bowed to the expert.
Up a twisty mountain road, many monkeys.
The mosques are always painted green, according to our driver, Raj.
Raj had a little trouble finding our hotel, which was not one generally used by our travel agent. His usuals were full; it's still high travel season. We were very happy with the hotel. Among other things, they had a very talented chef. We thought the food was as good as Gulati's in Delhi which was the best food we've had in India, out of mostly wonderful food.
Starting at 9:00, spinach, crispy mixed vegetables, stuffed tomatoes (stuffed with rice and cheese, we think), steamed rice, chicken with peppers, dal (lentil) soup, roti (whole wheat) and a Kingfisher beer (not shown). Everything flavored exquisitely.
The talented chef and the head waiter at Palanpur Palace. We found out, sadly, that the staff rarely got to eat the delicious food. Where is Supermensch (Shep Gordon)? He is needed in India. He is the one who changed this situation for so many of our talented chefs in Europe and I think the US who previously had often not been able to eat the food they had cooked.
We decided to go see the sunset at Sunset Point, a popular pastime here at Mount Abu. There were quite a few people offering to push people up to the Sunset Point. We saw some in action, mostly very thin people pushing quite plump people.
A festive atmosphere; corn is big.
Bollywood stars at Mount Abu. Another photo request, this time with a group of young Indian hipsters who were actually touching and hugging in public. Unusual behavior in India.
Crowds gather in hopes of seeing a spectacular sunset from this viewing spot.
Underwhelming sunset; the sun can barely make its presence felt through the thick blanket of smog, which the Indians are optimistically calling mist. We seem to be above the smog cover here.
"Get thee forth and find some plump customers who don't want to make the trek back!"
The next day Raj drove us to "Suicide Point". Apparently there is a sign requesting young people not to commit suicide here, as has occurred on at least a few occasions. If you're old, I guess you can go ahead. "Don't worry," as they say here.
We were told it's illegal to commit suicide here if you are young and you will be fined, but there is no fine if you're old. Another money saving perk for the elderly.
The little white Hindu temple on the hill was very festively decorated inside.
The priest or caretaker was a very kind man and gave me a warm welcome, which is usual behavior in India. He looks a little serious in this photo.
We visited Dillwara Temple, where we were not allowed to take any photos inside. We had to turn our cameras and iPhones in. Hard to imagine, but this group of temples is even more spectacular than Ranakpur. The temple shown above is not one of the two most mind-blowing. There was a temple artist or a group of them who seemed to be truly prescient. They seem to have channeled Art Deco, Frank Lloyd Wright, Modernist, rocket ships. Truly amazing. We felt so almost disconsolate at not being able to take photos, but it did force us to use our powers of concentration to memorize certain things as best we could.
Something Don read and it made a lot of sense to us. When in India, the disparities are so great and the poor are so poor. When asking a price, some people, especially in tourist areas, will quote a very high price and expect you to bargain. On the other hand, never bargain with the poor, for instance someone selling small quantities of fruit or vegetables. Feel grateful that you are in a position that you can so easily make a small difference in their lives. 100 rupees can sound like a lot, but it's only about $1.50. 10 rupees is 15 cents.
We've tried to make this a practice here and it's worked for us.
Love from India,
Era and Don