Sunday, January 31, 2010

Scary Thaipusam

BEWARE, this entry blog contain sensitive pictures.

The first time I saw Thaipusam was two years ago on my way back home without knowing anything about the procession. A year later I made sure I was available to document what I was able to see, but my camera was not working well under such extreme condition (poor lights and crowded streets).

This year I had everything ready to take the best pictures I could and share with the world this unique devotion procession that happen once a year in Singapore, and some other region where the Tamil communities reside across the planet … at least this is what I though.

Devotees Destination

The 3.2 km from Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple to Sri Thendayuthapani Temple is usually a 40 minutes long walk even on the sunny side of the street, but during the Thaipusam the distance seems way much longer for obvious reason and could sometimes takes up to six hours for participants to reach their final destination.

Spiky Shoes

The word Thai-pusam is derived from the month name Thai and Pusam, which refers to a star that is at its highest point during the ceremony which commemorates both the birthday of the youngest son of god Shiva, the Tamul's God of War, Murugan (also Subramaniam) and his wife Parvati. The legend said that the wife Parvati gave Murugan a spear so he could defeat the evil spirit Soorapadman.

Woman with Pot of Milk

Devotees usually take a vow to offer a kavadi in return for an asked favor or granted request to the God Murugan. The kavadi is usually an metallic instrument to inflict pain that has to be carried over a long period of time in recognition to Murugan.

Lime Display

Before the celebration devotees have to prepare by cleansing themselves through prayer and fasting, taking only pure food, once a day, while continuously thinking of God. Usually on the day of the festival, disciples shave their heads, covered it later on with an orange powder, before undertake the pilgrimage along the same set route between the two temples.

Tongue Piercing

Accordingly to the request granted or asked by the fan, various physical pains are undertaken during the pilgrimage. It could start with a simple iron pot of milk carried on the head, hooking lemon to the flesh, carrying a wooden temple on the shoulders, or pulling the same temple on wheel with hooks attached to your bared back skin. But the real deal is the metallic skeleton weighting 20kg minimum, surmounted by heavy iron circle to which is attached multiple spikes hooked back to the devotee flesh

Another Tongue Piercing

Mortification of the flesh by piercing the skin, tongue or cheeks with long spikes is also very common, reminding constantly of God Murugan and preventing from speaking and complaining while gives great power of endurance. Usually the greater the pain the more god-earned merit is granted.

Men with a Pot of Milk

Along the way, family and friends who have decided to help the devotee provide food and drinks, but also chants and encouragements to facilitate the contrition. It is not rare to see a group of dozen of fans dancing around drums to which the devotee respond in spinning onto himself in a frenzy painful dance.

Dancing with a Kavadi

More often than usual, spike flee out of the human flesh and land on the side walk, picked up by watcher as a souvenir for maybe another time if courage will join. What stoke me the most during this parade were on one side the quietness of the crowd fascinated by the exercise, and on the other the absence of visible blood and slow motion of the devotees.

Body Piercing

No scream, no blood, only visible pain on the face of the people who could after a while (usually many hours), under the hot and humid weather of tropical Singapore, bearably walk with their torture instrument attached to them. Watching someone suffering is never pleasant, but watching someone who self inflict pain is shamefully fascinating.

Pulling the Temple

The contrast that exists between the clean Singapore and the painful procession is striking. One of the Singapore's minorities is taking the lead during one full day over the other ones, but what they are demonstrating is residing essentially around pain, suffering and religion. Spectacular I conjure, but shocking brutal.

Back of the Flesh

Singapore is not the only place that celebrates Murugan. The temple at Batu Caves in Malaysia is a place that attracts usually over one million devotees and many more tourists for this very special public suffering procession. It is mentioned that the more impressive the more sure the wish will be granted, leading to sensational escalation of public suffer.

Corporate Sponsorship

I have to confess I was more intrigued by what I was watching but my reporter job. Maybe next year I will be able to capture better shot to render what the Thaipusam is really about. At the same time I am just wandering what the ceremony near Kuala Lumpur might look like.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Extremely India

Whatever is said about India will be subject to fierce commentaries from anyone loosely involved with the Land of the Hindus. In an attempt to save my email inbox and the rest of my overseas friendships, I am raising a full disclaimer about this travel blog entry in general and my (few) unenthusiastic commentaries in particular.

Colorful Sarees, Jaipur

This experience is solely mine and is only reflecting my observations during my tiny ten days' travel in the North of India (Golden Triangle, expanded with Udaipur visit). I do understand that I could not understand anything within such a short amount of time, and will not try to pretend so (I am not sure either that one life time would be sufficient enough to grasp India; maybe that's why Hinduism has invented reincarnation). So if you abhor, dislike, detest, despise, disagree, differ, diverge, deviate, oppose, contest, dispute or simply loathe what I wrote about my Indian travel experience, please don't waste your time sending me an email, I will not respond to it.

Now, let me start travel blogging.

Mosque, Delhi

Two weeks after returning from my trip to India, I was still thinking about it, trying to figure out the best way to describe my journey in a blog entry until recently. I am usually softly enthusiastic and moderately resourceful in how to tackle a recent travel experience and translate it into words, but this time I was simply paralyzed. My ideas, recollections, and feelings about my trip were turning in my head without them being able to find their right spots in my memory shelves. This constant chaotic mindset was essentially mimicking my own experience back then. My mind was still unwinding slowly from India, and I am now left with two constant opposite pictures in my mind for every aspect of my trip. This constant duality is what I experienced of India.

Fatepur Sikri, near Agra

On one hand India is one of the poorest countries of the planet. It has the largest concentration of poor people in the world (42% below the poverty line of $1.25 a day in 2007), the highest rate of malnutrition among children under the age of three (46%, in 2007), and one of the highest rates in the world of underweight children (47%, nearly double the rate of Sub-Saharan Africa, in 2008). But on the other hand India is one of the richest countries in the world; with an average annual GDP growth rate of 6% for the past two decades, its economy is among the fastest growing in the world. India's GDP is above US$1.2 trillion, which makes it the twelfth-largest economy, and has joined recently the restricted circle of "above trillion dollar" countries in the world.

Entrance Gate at Agra Fort

By no means, the first few minutes you've been thrown into the face of India, you realize that the country is very complex, in its culture, in its societal organization (try to ask anyone to explain you the inter-caste marriage rules), or in its process (administration, business, …). But after some time, you can decipher among the constant chaos what people have in mind in their daily lives. Everyone is rushing to get an extra, be it an extra day, dollar, hour, or business contract. This simple rule for an "extra" makes the entire society stand together and move toward the same goal, (c)leaning chaos into a marching order for the extra bit.

Live Advertisement, Jaipur

India has one of lowest literacy rates in the world (61 %, 2009), well below the world average (84%, 2009). Despite large government investments, India's illiteracy rate had only decreased slowly since its independence in 1947, and a 1990 study estimated that it would be beyond 2060 for India to achieve universal literacy at then-current rate of progress. From its 113 universities and 2,088 colleges, India produced nearly 350,000 engineering graduates in 2005. All of Europe produced the same year, 100,000 engineering graduates, and America only produced 70,000. Although the poor quality of these engineers has been debated in many occasions, the sheer amount of graduate student is a living proof that India, like China and its 600,000 engineers a year, is already a major brain hub for the world. If you are familiar with numbers provided by Asian official sources, you would be inclined to think that the actual reality is way different; nevertheless the multiple headquarters recently created in Bangalore by giant US IT companies is a very good indicator that India has a large number of very well educated people at its disposal.

Street Boy, Udaipur

A close look at a map may make you think that traveling in India is an easy task and many interesting sites could be reached within a close range at the point of a pen, raising your travel expectations to a very high level of dopamine. The reality is quite different, and a short commute can easily turn into a very distant and delicate travel experience. Train could only be booked by foreigners at special office counters, which are widely imitated in signage by local tour operators, making the simple ticket booking a bundle of negotiation joy. Flight delays are so common that airports stop announcing them and propose instead a time bracket for departure. Roads are moving at the tail of the monsoon deluge, and final destinations are never quite reached unless extra money (see point above) has been asked for journey completion.

Lake Palace Morning Light, Udaipur

The immaculate palaces and other spotless museums are in absolute contrast with the outside street life. The clean hotel lobbies cannot make you forget that at the corner of the same street live entire families under temporary makeshift shelters in the dirtiest conditions imaginable. This contrast between palaces and temporary homes is equivalent to the crowds of street kids in major cities, knocking at expensive door cars for few rupees all day long.

Dhobi Ghat at Sunset, Udaipur

The primary reason that comes to my mind to explain how come India had stick together for so long despite its extreme complexity is its omnipresent spirituality. Acceptance of faith and the circle of time are the two components that make the Indian societal miracle happen, while its extremist counterpart, religions try at each possible occasion to spark the light of disastrous populist rebellions.

Dhobi Ghat, Washers, Udaipur

With an estimated population of 1.2 billion individuals, India is the world's second most populous country after China, and is estimated to be the largest by 2030. In 2001 there were already 35 million-plus-population cities in India, with the largest cities having a population of over 10 million each, being Mumbai, Delhi and Kolkata. The large population has in reality a counter intuitive impact; with so many people, the only way to survive is to watch out for yourself, and become a unique individual fighting for your survival. This duality of individualism within a group-thinking culture is the gas fueling the new economic paradigm shift that has been reported about India. Entrepreneurship is the most successful profession in India, and is a simple result of lack of support or opportunity from every force in the societal equation: family, government, private or public institutions, religious groups, or companies. In the densest group of human beings, one must think individually to survive.

Lake Palace, Udaipur
Where James Bond's
Octopussy (1983) Was Shot

Where to start when one must speak about food in India. From its vegetarian diet in the South to its extremely rich culinary feast from the North, the Indian foods have constantly impressed generations of royal families and the not-so-imperial herd of tourists. But one must know that if Indian food is a joy for the palate, it is usually much less for the stomach. Various stories of tourists being victim of food poisoning can only underline the difficulty of travel in India. With my two weeks' post-travel recovery finally ending, I am unfortunately another statistical number in the bumpy road of taste bud exploration of the Indian continent.

Future of India

India is the world's most culturally, linguistically and genetically diverse geographical country in the world. India's culture is marked by a high degree of cultural pluralism. The country has managed to preserve cultures and established traditions while absorbing new customs, traditions, and ideas from invaders and immigrants and spreading its cultural influence to other parts of Asia, mainly South East and East Asia. Bollywood is today a close second to the well oiled Hollywood entertainment industry (Nollywood being third place, and Hong Kong fourth), and has reached far beyond its original Asian markets. On the other hand the commercial success has not helped to raise the quality of the screen plays and basic raw emotions have only been permitted only to appeal to the largest audience possible.

School Boy at Red Fort, Delhi

More often than necessary, friendly conversations started on innocuous, trivial topics. Although the majority of the touters went to the "where-are-you-from" school, a very simple test to qualify how much money you can extract from a tourist victim, usually the discussion was carried on happily despite my often evasive answers. On few occasions, each time too early for me to be able to entertain a local talkative fellow, I decided to make the conversation short or counterproductive by challenging the source of the fact (Oh really, why do you think that UK is not part of Europe?). Every time the outcome was loud and clear. The friendly talk moved rapidly into an argumentative monologue with eyebrow and voice raising. Objection was endured as an offensive defamation from someone who could never be able to understand the meaning of India. A lack of both passive and active exposure, and continual shortcoming of capacity in every single domain force people to heavily and uniquely rely on close connections, proximity communications and word-of-mouth conversations. Novelty or divergence in opinion is perhaps usually perceived with a pinch of spice.

Elephant in the Street, Udaipur

I could go on and on … about putting together two dual opposites to illustrate my point, but I guess that I would only manage to suffocate you, my dearest reader, with a feeling that sometimes travelers experience in India. Unprepared tourists in India (don't know if anyone could ever be prepared) might choke simply by the sheer amount of overwhelming opposing experiences being thrown at them, (sometimes at the same time), and this constant information assault force mono-tasking human beings to position reactively and violently after a while in front of the experience. So you love it or you hate it.

Dhobi Ghat, Bath, Udaipur

Looking back at my travel experience, I think that I have experienced it the very best way, in the face, roughly, constantly challenging my values, and during my ten days there I experienced a bluntly raw and extremely extreme India.


If China has been described as the Middle Empire, India should be defined as the Extreme Empire.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

The Taj Mahal

Bigger than a dream and more accessible than eternity, the Taj Mahal was one of the few magical experiences that I wish to see again in the hopefully distant day my entire life will go by before my eyes.

View from Great Gate (Darwaza-i Rauza)

The Taj Mahal was a unique and extra-ordinary experience, certainly the most astonishing construction built by human beings I was given to contemplate in my entire life. Described as "One tear-drop...upon the cheek of time" by Rabindranath Tagore, or "the embodiment of all things pure" by Rudyard Kipling, everyone recognizes the giant white marble structure, nearby the Yumina River, surrounded by gardens and with enough space around to grasp the complete shape despite the thousands of people around you. But only when on-site, can people finally embrace the sheer size of the mausoleum and the constant changes that occur before their eyes, which are what make Taj Mahal unique and magical, and could never be captured by photos.


The day before, from the Agra Fort surroundings, in the middle of the river bed next to a camel carcass, we had distinguished the white monument surrounded by its red walls from far away, and it already gave us a sense of superlative. We were very excited about seeing the well renowned iconic beauty from a close distance, and the early wake-up call was not as hard as I thought it would be. After all, one has only one chance to see the Taj Mahal for the first time. The line-up at the West Gate was already long at 6:40am when we arrived, but that did not discourage the scammers floating around the tourist line with by-pass cards, back door entrances and other special treatments. Cold morning, line-up growing and time ticking, everything was in place for a great morning.

Boy Dreaming

Split up for the long security check in a lady line and a gent line, we finally reunited to arrive at the Great Gate (Darwaza-i rauza) together at around 7:30am, past the sunrise, and with hundreds of people already marching everywhere to have a clear photo shoot. Nevertheless, the magic was still in front of us. The construction was emerging few hundred meters away from the dark gate in the early mist of the morning, and the first sign is as joyful as unwrapping the biggest present on Christmas day. The surprise comes only later, when we enter the gate and for a few minutes watched the mausoleum from the gate. Across from us were the vast garden, the water pools, the white marble platform in the middle and finally the construction above the rest.

Minaret of the Great Gate (Darwaza-i rauza)

The walk towards the white marble edifice took us many hours, peacefully and quietly like if we didn't want to break the magnificent lucky charm spell casted on us. We looked at the Taj Mahal, then walked a few meters, took a picture, then moved aside, took another picture, then moved forward again, took another shot, and so on. Finally we reached the middle platform from where all pictures are taken from and we indulged ourselves, filling as much as we could our memory (cards).

The Iconic View

We later explored the Mosque in the West, the Jawab in the East, and the Mausoleum (Rauza-i Munauwara) taking pictures now and then, smiling at each other in this now warm winter morning. Around 11 am and after some lengthy contemplation, it was time to give back the monument to tour operators and large families for their own discoveries but on the way out, looking again at the beast one last time, we decided that was not enough and we should do something about it. At the exit sign we decided to come back the next morning to have it, even for few seconds, only for ourselves one more time.

2nd Morning, Awakening from the Mist

The next morning we arrived at the East Gate foreigners' ticket booth at 6:10 am that time, and were among the front liners of the expedition, armed with cameras and fully equipped for a morning of discovery. At 6:30 am the ticket booths opened and we luckily snapped our two entry tickets at the foreigner line (the Indian lines were blocked by an Englishmen who claimed to be Indian since he was paying taxes in India). The East Gate has this peculiarity to be in a warm closed office but at a far distance from the actual entrance (over one kilometer). The fight was on for securing seats in the electric transfer bus, but a young lady stepped out just before us and we instantly jumped on it: Indian style.

Clear Shot for a Second Only

At 7:00 am sharp the three gates finally opened, we passed through security, and were among the first to discover in front of us, nothing but a large cloud of mist. Taj Mahal had disappeared under a warm white blanket of mist for the night and nothing could be seen. Experienced from the day before, we ran to the spots we preferred, without stopping. The closer we moved, the clearer it became. The structure once hidden, finally made its shape from the top to the bottom.

J. Warming Up

We were positioned at the Mosque in the West of the Riverfront Terrace (Chameli Farsh) for a well deserved sunrise. And for the next 30 minutes we watched the sun rising between the minarets and the domes, with waves of mist coming and going from the river nearby. Every second was different from the previous and the white marble edifice offered us a fantastic entertainment sometimes revealing itself, sometimes not, offering shape and colors never seen before. Only a few people were around us, mostly foreigners ecstatic of the show in which a grandiose monument built by humans was floating above ground on a cloud of mist.


For many minutes, the only sound that could be heard was the camera clicks and the monolithic noise of the early sweeper man in front of us. For once, noisy India became silent, colored India became black & white, and filled India became empty. The sun ultimately rose above the river mist, liberating the path for thousands of tourists to cross over the secluded zone we selfishly had for ourselves for a few hours.

Mist Around the Taj Mahal

Filled by happiness we reached over the sunny side of the mausoleum to discover that during all that time, the Taj Mahal was presenting to us its sleepy misty side, but on the sunny side, the white marble walls turned pink. Monkeys were flying off the surrounding walls and people were marching on the mausoleum by waves of thousands, and time was up again to give back the Taj Mahal to the others.

The fact is the Taj Mahal does live up to expectations, and one must see it in one's lifetime. I just hope to never forget this sunrise in my life.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Indian Video

According to Mr. D our driver, there is 3 things that a good driver needs in India:
  1. Good Brakes
  2. Good Horn
  3. Good Luck

This is something that is easily believable in crowded cities over the India Sub-Continent.

Here are some short video from North India Trip to capture the livelihood of the place, like the Taj Mahal at sunrise and with the crowd around, the RickShaw (yellow motorcycle that goes everywhere in India), famous Snake Charmers and the surprising encounter you can make at the bump of any road. Missing in reality some elephants, camels, cows, monkeys, and dogs to complete the urban zoo in the street of India.

Taj Mahal

The Panoramic shot is a the first step with the monument, but can be overwhelming with so many people surrounding you for taking a picture with their small camera phone.

Taj Mahal at Sunrise
If you have the chance to enter the site early enough, just before the sun rise above the horizon line, you can see the star behind the white monument emerging from the near river's mist. A magical entrance for a magical human construction.

Taj Mahal at Sunrise Again

Another video shot with almost nobody around you. The few people at that time where exchanging contemplative smile with each other, a sign that usually says that the magical moment is appreciated by everyone.

RickShaw in Jaipur
The best way to move around is by rickshaw, a motorcycle with a bench in the back that can go everywhere and full speed. It's noisy, polluting and sometime scary, but the best way to see the city street life.

Snake Charmers, Amber Fort
They do exist, and snake charmers are consider a full time profession by Indian standard. Kids loved them.

Dhobi Ghat in Udaipur
The clear sound of the bat on clothes in the early hours of the morning, next to the not so clear water of Udaipur Lake.

Udaipur at Sunset
Named as the most romantic city in the world by Leisure and Travel Magazine (Indian edition !). Nevertheless there is something about it at sunset with the white palaces at shore and in the middle of the lake.

Goat on the Road
You never know what you could encounter at the end of the road in India.

This is a longer section RickShaw journey. With many more people watching and animals in the middle of the road.

Many more video could be watched, but nothing will replace the 360 degrees experience that you can have if you book yourself a return ticket to see the Taj Mahal.

North India Addresses

Here is a compilation of recommended spots in the Golden Triangle Deluxe version: Golden Triangle (Delhi; Agra-Taj Mahal; Jaipur) & Udaipur. is urging everyone who wish to travel to India to cross-check and reference many times with multiple sources the different addresses below since places might change name, address, and certainly quality.



  • Hotel Palace Heights
    [Website], [TripAdvisor]
    The place to stop over on your way to Delhi. Small, casual, convenient, clean and very central. The spot to get if you can.

  • The Taj Mahal Hotel
    [Website], [TripAdvisor]
    Do I have to mention this 5 stars hotel for its quality of service and its central city location? The spot to get if you can afford.

, Taj Mahal
  • ITC Mughal, Agra
    [Website], [TripAdvisor]
    Well situated, prefered place to stay in Agra, not to mention that they do have a descent restaurant as well that can help you discover the local cuisine as well as the western breakfast

  • Trident
    [Website], [TripAdvisor]
    Far away from the main traffic, so quiet and difficult to move around. For families who wish to take a break from the Taj Mahal frenzy while not compromising on standards. Used to be the Hilton hotel, but downgraded recently and rebranded on Trident.

  • The Oberoi Amarvilas
    [Website], [TripAdvisor]
    Quiet and close to Taj Mahal, this nice luxury option in the area have some rooms with a direct view over the UNESCO site. For once in a life time experience of Maharadja travel style.

  • Golden Tulip Jaipur
    [Website], [TripAdvisor]
    Very nice option away from crazy Jaipur. Would recommend anytime, with nice room, good service and delightful restaurant. The place to go in Jaipur.

  • Panorama Guest House
    [Website], [TripAdvisor]
    Cheap, clean and quiet until 7 AM and the next door temple bells.

  • Amet Haveli
    [Website], [TripAdvisor]
    With a direct view of the Lake Palace, and City Palace, the hotel is a good bet for a relaxing vacation. Would recommend staying on the first floor in room 15, 16 or 17. Especially the last one.

  • Jagat Niwas Palace Hotel
    [Website], [TripAdvisor]
    Jagat Niwas Palace Hotel is a early 17th century haveli, situated in the lively but quiet streets of Udaipur. Rooftop restaurant experience is a must even though you are not staying at the hotel.

  • Hotel Udai Kothi
    [Website], [TripAdvisor]
    UdaiKothi is a modernish hotel, with all facilities and amenities you wish to have, expect that everything comes in small sizes. Small room, small swimming pool, small food portion, yet large bill. The romantics views from the rooftop again is great.

  • The Karohi Haveli
    [Website], [TripAdvisor]
    Great hotel, on the quiet side of the lake, usually filled with tour operator. Excellent backup plan if on the back burner.

  • Taj Lake Palace Udaipur
    [Website], [TripAdvisor]
    The palace from the Octopussy, James Bound movie is the ultimate experience in Udaipur, with private garden on the island. The white palace is usually booked in advance and for security reason does not allow non guest to have a cocktail or dinner at their restaurants anymore. Once in a life time experience.

  • The Oberoi Udaivilas
    [Website], [TripAdvisor]
    On the other side of the lake, the 5 stars hotel has the best view on both Lake and City palaces. Should be an option if you can fit the bill

  • Trident, Udaipur
    [Website], [TripAdvisor]
    New and modern hotel that seems to be even more grandiose than the Udaivilas according to the local legend.
  • Hotel Udai Niwas
    [Website], [TripAdvisor]
    Poor service, poor quality, cold water and over expensives. Staff are far more interested in your cash than actually propose any kind of service. Need to be skipped all together


  • Bukhara @ ITC Hotel the Maurya
    [Website], [TripAdvisor]
    World famous for its North-West Frontier cuisine, Bukhara is referenced in the world for its traditionally cooking prepared in a clay oven (tandoor). Rustic ambiance but the only imporatnt thing will be the food. Order the Lamb Leg and the Black Dhal. Rated amongst the top 50 restaurants in the world and the finest restaurant in Asia by "Restaurants" magazine. Hours : 12:30 PM - 2:30 PM; 7:00 PM - 11:45 PM

  • Varq @ The Taj Mahal Hotel,
    [Website], [TripAdvisor]
    In your face cooking as oppose to in your plate cooking, but this modern Indian cooking restaurant has a reputation for not deceiving adventurous gourmet. Impeccable services.

  • Golden Tulip Jaipur
    [Website], [TripAdvisor]
    Pleasantly surprise by the quality of the Indian cuisine at this new hotel, although should be working on the service sometime and try to see the difference between serviceable and casual experience. Don't make the mistake to eat western, but venture instaed in the A La Carte menu.

  • Ambrai @ the Amet Haveli
    [Website], [TripAdvisor]
    Ambrais is a fantastic place to watch the sun setting or rising on the city of Udaipur, does not hurts that the Indian food is actually tasty and good, maybe slightly heavy.

  • Jagat Niwas Palace Hotel
    [Website], [TripAdvisor]
    The view from the rooftop over the Lake Palace is astonishing. Service is great and food causally comfortable. A nice spot to celebrate any occasion.

  • Café Edelweiss
    [Website], [TripAdvisor]
    German Bakery & Coffee Shop.
    Address: 73 Gangaur Ghat, Udaipur, Rajasthan; Phone: 941/423-3573
    The breakfats place in the city filled with foreigners and ... more foreigners in constant search for comfy food. If you want a good coffee, a cappuccino, or a cinnamon roll without questioning the origin and wander the impact, this is the place to seat for a while.


Multiple Locations

  • Anokhi
    [Website], [US Website]
    Anokhi is a socialy responsible company with a mission to preserve fabric, design, and jobs in India. The company is known as an alternative role model for good business practices, and the ongoing revival of traditional textile skills. One of the few shops that has Indian fabric & pattern in Western design & size.

  • Rajasthali
    Government shops that help you to avoid the constant bargaining that occurs outside markets. Prices are fix, as well as quality and variety. At least one Rajsthali in every city in Rajasthan
  • Sadhna
    Old Fatehpura. Phone: 91 294 2454655. Fax: 91 294 2450947. E-mail:,
    Sadhna is a Women’s Handicraft Enterprise registered under the Mutual Benefit Trust Act, and was started under an NGO in 1988, with the aim of providing an alternative means of livelihood to the women of rural, tribal and urban slum areas in southern Rajasthan. Starting with just a small group of 15 women, now it has grown to a large family of 625 women artisans. The ownership of the organization lies in the hands of these artisans and the entire surplus earned goes to them only. Quality, variety and design are all authentic but the small shop is part of the Fair Trade in India and Europe now. Prices are worth the good cause. RECOMMENDED

  • Ganesh Handicraft Emporium
    City Palace Road,. Telephone: +91-294-523647. Email: Indian supplier of, Clothing, Soft Furnishings, Bags, Cases, Furnishings, Handicraft Products, Handicraft Supplies, Craft Products, Skirts, Sculptures, Cushion Covers. This Ali Baba's cavern is a delight to be lost into. Prices are there to confess that original Radjasthani cloths and fabrics have a value in the market, but the quality is amazing so are the colors. Like Ali Baba's cavern, the Emporium is hard to find, but if you ask around you will find the use warehouse behind the small front store.

  • University of Arts
    166 Jagdish Marg, City Palace Rd. Phone: 294/242-2591. Mr Durgesh Gurjargour, Email: Friendly people providing qualiy painting work. Worth the time to spare.

  • Sai Arts
    Mr Shyam Kumar Gothwal, and Ms Vimala Gothwal. 91, Near Jagdish Temple, Gangour Gat Marg, Udaipur. Mobile: 92521 77461. Nice gentlemen in a tiny shop in a busy street. Should stop at least to say hey!
  • Gulab Chand, Jaipur
    102-105-106, Ground Floor, Mall-21, Opp. Rajmandir Cinema. Phone 0141-2363320.
    Kuta shopping frenzy, with millions of designs and size for every women of the planet

  • Roop Lakshmi, Jaipur
    181, Johari Bazaar, Jaipur 302003. Tel: +(91) (141) 566520/564060/444520; Textorium M. I. Road, Jaipur 302001.
    The Saree place in Jaipur for those interested in buying expensive and high quality product (have a wedding soon?)

  • Train is the best way to travel from Delhi to/from Agra. Seat61 has a great explanatory tutorial about Trains in India. Online Booking should be done way in advance at IRCTC website []. Note that foreigners have dedicated and pre-reserved seat numbers in majors train. Make sure you check your waiting status few hours before departure, you could be surprise to have a seat even though you are in the double digit waiting list.

  • Rajasthan Four Wheel Drive
    [], [] Mr. Anil Sinha @ mobile: +91 98297 66640, +91 98292 48899
    Mr Sinha is the person to call if you need transportation in Radjasthan. In one phone call, and a SMS confirmation back, driver and car could be arrange anytime anywhere. Price are high, but what can you say when you have the master of the "defensive driving" method in front of view. Would RECOMMENDED anytime

  • Falcon, Udaipur. "Faster Than Faster"
    Friendly staff who could arrange some trips around Udaipur, and even in Rajasthan if you insist.

  • Proto Travel Concept, Agra
    KD @ mobile +91 97566 03702. Used his services to go around the city of Agra.

  • Puja Tours & Travel, Jaipur
    Mobile +91 98291 52067. Ok service for an airport pickup or drop off.

  • Perfect Holiday Travels, Delhi
    Ok service for an airport pickup or drop off.

Mintalo recommend to
  • Land in New Delhi
  • Visit the Red Fort & Old Mosque near by in Old Delhi
  • Take an early train to Agra
  • Visit Fatepur Sikri near Agra
  • Visit the Taj Mahal in Agra (twice)
  • Fly on to Udaipur
  • Transfer to Jaisalmer (Fly + Train, or Fly)
  • Should avoid Jaipur and Jodpur if possible