A fleeting visit to the one of the national Co-operatives where we were able to observe the artists paint the most intricate miniature paintings. Some are done on silk and some on paper or even camel bone. The paints they use are made from various pigments and if memory serves the yellow was either saffron or sulphur, the blue lapislazuli, green from malachite and white from zinc oxide. The artists were copying from paintings that were made for Kings that illustrate times and incidents in their history and the details were incredible. These ornate paintings were often used as a part of collections curated and commissioned by Rajput Kings such as Maharana Sajjan Singh and Maharana Fateh Singh. There was also an abundance of the most beautiful materials and scarves, silks, ties etc to tempt us and I did buy a scarf for Mum and some lotus material made from the purest cotton, such amazing quality and skill.
Apart from all the lakes, temples and palaces there are also remarkable gardens in Udaipur and we went to Saheliyon ki Bari which means Garden of the Maids and has many pretty fountains, a lotus pool and marlbe elephants which gave me and Jane the opportunity to hone our slow shutter speed skills and find as many ways as possible to photograph a fountain.
Saheliyon ki Bari was designed by Maharana Sangram Singh for his future queen with her 48 attendants who were presented to the king as part of the dowry on their marriage. The queen and her attendants spent pleasurable moments here away from the politics and the court and it was a favourite spot for the royal ladies.
It was here that we had a lot of pictures taken of us by Indian tourists who want selfies with westerners and it was good to also be in this position and made for some lovely interactions and mutual nodding and hand gestures of approval.
Some very precious photos taken by Ian Wright below, thank you very much for these Ian. Me and Jane.
We were very fortunate to be in time to observe Chhath Puja which is an ancient Hindu Vedic festival. It is dedicated to the Hindu Sun God, Surya and Chhathi Maiya (ancient Vedic Goddess Usha - wife of Sun God). The Chhath Puja is performed in order to thank Surya for sustaining life on earth and to request the granting of certain wishes. We were told that women especially took part in this festival to ask to be blessed with boys.
In Hinduism, Sun worship is believed to help cure a variety of diseases as well, including leprosy, and helps ensure the longevity and prosperity of family members, friends, and elders.
The rituals of the festival are rigorous and are observed over a period of four days. They include holy bathing, fasting and abstaining from drinking water (Vratta), standing in water for long periods of time, and offering prashad (prayer offerings) and arghya to the setting and rising sun. We were lucky to be able to observe both the evening rituals and again come down to see people still standing in the water shivering and waiting for the rising sun the following morning.
People walk for many miles from their homes to come and take part in this festival, usually barefoot and carrying their offerings in baskets. We watched one man who was laying down on his stomach over and over again in a type of caterpillar movement and apparently he did this from his home miles away all the way down to the lake.
Next time a 6 hour journey in the mini-bus to Jodhpur "The Blue City" with two very interesting stops along the way and very scenic route through the Aravali Mountains.