Udaipurs Jewel on the Lake

The Raj Lake Palace was built by the Maharaja of Udaipur as his Summer Palace. Now a hotel, is is a heavenly place to stay. It really makes you feel like royalty. The Palace is stunning in the daytime, but as the sun rises, or sets, it is even more magnificent. I rose at dawn to take these shots and was helped by one of the hotel boatmen, who patiently manoeuvred me around to get the best angles.

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Raam Duwara temple in Shahpura Bhilwara

An annual celebration to commemorate the anniversary of the founding of the Hindu temple in the town over 2650 years ago. The current Guru was in attendance in the upper level of the temple. There were thousands of people in the gardens. Sara and I were the only foreigners in the town. She was getting the film star treatment. Locals demanding selfies with her and asking her to hold their babies for photos. I was taken upstairs and was gently pulled by worshipers to the front of a queue of hundreds to pay my respects to the Gura, who has millions of followers throughout India. Totally amazing.

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Rural India

We arrived in Shahpura and checked into Shahpura Bagh, an upmarket (to say the least) home stay. It’s owned by members of the local Royal family and they have turned their country house into a small hotel. It’s got a really genteel feel and the owner has recent ancestors that were instrumental in India independence.

After a very interesting night hearing lots of recent Indian history, we got up and set off on a Jeep tour to visit a small remote farming village then back into the small town. It’s off the tourist track thankfully. Everywhere we went we were met my waving, smiling locals shouting “welcome, welcome”. In the town Sara was practically mobbed, in a nice way, and they loved having their photos taken. No-one was asking for money or for anything in return. It was one of the most uplifting experiences of my life!

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Happy Holi

We started Holi, one of India’s most important religious holidays by driving out of Jaipur and snapping the locals enjoying themselves. Neon coloured powder is thrown in celebration. And generally smeared on whoever is close! When we got to Samode, the village of our next hotel, we got into our white Holi clothes and joined in the festivities. I was going to have some Bhang but our driver was dead set that I shouldn’t. So made do with beer!

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