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rglongpre’s Travel Diary

Wednesday, 16 Jan 2008

Location: Dungarpur, India

MapWe were up at a good hour after a very quiet night of sleep, a welcome difference from our noisy hotel in Delhi. I got a couple of early morning photos to remember the quietness. Breakfast ended up to be a rather long affair delaying our start for our trip into the country side. On our way to meet our driver we saw a stone carver at work which provided an opportunity for a few more photos. As we were driving through the market area of Dungarpur, we stopped so that I could try to get a photo of our hotel at a distance across the lake. Of course I got a few more photos including one of Maureen not paying attention to where she was walking which ended up in her stepping on fresh cow dung. After cleaning up her shoes we were again on our way.

We talked with Sachin, our driver, about getting to visit some schools, so just on the outskirts of the city we came upon a small private school that somehow had five hundred students and thirteen teachers according to the posted timetable. We got a full tour of the school including opportunities to talk with many of the classes and a few of the teachers. The students were learning English as well as Hindi, the national language. Their first language is Rajasthani. Many of the classes we visited were in the process of writing exams and tests. Of course, everything stopped when we came into their classrooms. The youngest students sat on the floor of their classrooms and had no desks for doing school work. One class was learning math on the floor of the outdoor hallway. Wow! What a way to start our day. We then drove slowly through the countryside stopping frequently to take photos. We came upon a tiny village school for young children which had its one class on the ground in front of the school which was open on one side to the outdoors. The students say a few songs such as Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star and the Alphabet song. That was the extent of their English as they were primarily learning Hindi at school.

Our next stop was the Deo Somnath Temple, an old Jain temple from the 12th century. Beside the temple is a huge banyan tree which served as a meeting place at the road crossing at which we found the temple. A tiny market place was busy with a number of local people at the crossroads. The temple was small but impressive. After many photos including one of two cows turning a wheel in order to crush sugar cane to make a sugar drink, we headed back to Dungarpur down a different road. Along the way we passed a small rural police station. We stopped again and got more photos as well as talking with the chief police officer of the outpost. He gave me his address so that I could send him the group photo I took of him and his staff in front of the police station. Eventually, we made it back to the palace hotel for a well-earned rest.

After taking time to download our photos and to eat some fruit we decided to go for a walk. Our accommodation at the Udai Bilas Palace, is alongside a lake called Gaib Sagar about a kilometre from town. We decided to head further away from town in the countryside. We came across a number of different ruins of Jain temples that provided a series of photos as well as a few interesting birds. Of course we also got more people pictures in vibrant colours. One of my favourite pictures showed a three-wheeled taxi and a jeep-like vehicle crammed to overflowing coming down the road toward us. We returned for a fireside gathering before supper in the dining hall. It has been an interesting day, one that will be remembered for a long, long time.