As Christmas drew near it became more and more strange to be away. I have always loved the holidays starting with Halloween and ending with New Year’s Day. It is my favorite time of year. It was certainly a different holiday season this year. The negative is, I really miss my friends and family. The positive is, I will never look at the crass commercialization that Christmas has become in the United States the same again. I have been finding it increasingly depressing the way in which my culture seems to worship things over relationships and events over warm gatherings. Anyway, so here we are in India away from the commercialization of Christmas, yes, but also away from all the warm gatherings with our friends and family.

Christmas Eve started with an announcement from Sean that he was running out of socks and underwear. It is one of the things you have to deal with when you are away for 4 weeks. Sometimes you send the wash out, and other times you do it yourself.

As we were leaving for the day, one of the people who worked at the hotel asked if we wanted to see the Honeymoon Suite, which was the room next to ours.

This is the residence of the Maharajah, the present king of Udaipur, who is king in name only. There are no longer any rights of rule that come with the title.

This is a Hindu Temple just outside the City Palace Complex. It is a very old Hindu Temple. The person whose back you can see is ringing a bell. It was loud inside the temple. Twice a day it rings a call to worship.

This is looking down the steps of the temple into the town of Udaipur. When you walk out the back side of the City Palace Complex, you walk into a district full of small shops selling touristy items. The prices here are better than those in Jaipur.

We are eating at a special Christmas Eve Dinner. Here they are setting up for it.

 We decided to spend the morning touring the City Palace, which is at one end of the City Palace Complex. They started building the Palace in 1559. The rulers were from the Sun Dynasty of India, and they worshipped the sun. Do you see the sun on the wall at about 1:00? That sun could be worshipped to when the sun wasn’t shining.During the monsoon season, when the sun does not shine the court including the ruling family would worship this sun. There is also a sun on the inside of the Palace for the ruling family to worship. You will see it toward the end.

This is a glass mosaic. We saw one at the Amber Palace, but then I didn’t know the name.

This Hindu Temple is dedicated to the priest who chose this site as the best site to build the Palace.

This is the Coronation Courtyard. In 1947 all the kings of India lost their power when India became a democracy. The photo is of the throne the king would sit on. Then he would fill a pool up with silver pieces and hand them out to the citizens.

The English brought angels to India. Indian faiths do not have angels in any of them.

This is a shot of the Lake Palace Hotel from our hotel room. This hotel used to be the King’s Summer Palace. The Palace we are touring is the Winter Palace. Tomorrow we will go up to the Monsoon Palace. The Monsoon Palace is high up on a very tall hill. The monsoon season goes from the end of June to the middle of October. They are very important here in the city of lakes, because that is where all the water for the lakes comes from. In 2007, 1995, and 1972 there was no rain, no monsoons, and the lakes dried up. When this happens everyone becomes very worried about the drought.

In 2007 when the lakes dried up the last 2 wild crocodiles are captured and put into the local zoo. This painting is from a time before that obviously. I don’t have a good photo of the Monsoon Palace from here because it has been hazy for most of our stay everywhere we have gone in India. This is common in this part of India in the winter. The weather has been great though.

The hoops in the wall and floor are to secure bamboo poles to so work can be done and also to hang curtains for ladies to stay behind. The ladies could not hang out with the men. They observed the goings on behind curtained enclosures.

Here was a favorite hang out spot for the king, his friends, and his family.

I thought these were to let breezes in. They are privacy screens for ladies to use so they will not be seen.

 

He probably stayed home and hung out here. Here is the chair though.

This was the King’s favorite bedroom. Called the kinky bedroom because of all the mirrors.

There has been lots of deforestation around the lakes to build new hotels. Now there are regulations protecting the existing forests.

There are 16 secret entryways and passageways. This is one of them.

These are the ladies’ quarters.

This is a kerosene fan in the ladies’ quarters.

The King would sit and watch the ladies play games. Two favorite games were Chosar, a game like chess, and Chopad, a game like Parcheesi.

The game Chopad is 5,500 years old. It was written about in the famous epic, Mahabharata. When meeting or gathering, everyone would sit together on the floor.

At 17, the last true king got TB in his spine; he became paralyzed and couldn’t have any children, so he adopted his cousin’s brother’s son. Now there is no official king. The descendants are just a very wealthy Indian family.

Isn’t it beautiful workmanship? 

Here is the indoor sun that the royal family worshiped to.

There are more than 80,000 glass pieces making up the peacock.

The royal family could also sit in the dining room and worship the sun across the courtyard if they were at the palace when a monsoon struck.

60% of households in India still use this traditional style kitchen. Check out the churning stick to use with string to make lassi.

This was the bedroom of the last king’s third wife. Her name was Gulabkunwarji.

This is the cradle where she worshiped Krishna. She would put a statue of Krishna in the cradle every day

This vat was filled with ghee, butter, and oil and carried by elephants to feed the poor.

This is a fancy pigeon feeder.

These spikes were used to protect the gate from elephants ridden by members of invading armies. Now they are just pigeon perches.

This is where people would mount elephants.

This is a view down to where elephants would trunk wrestle each other. There would be an elephant on either side of this wall. The first elephants to pull the other elephants into the wall wins.

This painting shows it well.

Next I had a pedicure and foot massage. The woman who gave me the pedicure is 22. Her name is Arti. Her parents will chose a spouse for her next year. She will keep working or not depending on what her husband’s family wants her to do.

As I was lying there getting a foot massage I thought of my grandmother, Mommom. I come from a line of women who love to have their feet massaged. It is interesting how some people cannot stand to have their feet touched and for others people it is the best spot of all to have massaged. I spent a very pleasant hour thinking about my grandmother.

They had a very limited selection of nail polish colors, and the pedicure was done lying down. It was a good one though.

Next I went back to the room and hung out with Sean and Jim for a while. I can’t wait for tonight. They have been decorating for it since we got here. This is how they get snow on theirs trees in Udaipur.