Rajasthan 8

It’s Sunday, the sun is shining and we’ve booked a late breakfast; things are as they should be. Or are they? We’ve been on the go for two weeks now and it’s taking its toll. Travelling, packing, unpacking, trains, cars, Tuk-Tuks, on foot, navigating, strange food……I’ve hit the wall and need a break. I’ve also managed to get dehydrated and Mrs Sixwheeler isn’t far behind but she’s a woman so obviously much tougher than me.

A day of rest it was then, not stepping outside the hotel grounds even. Reading books, writing notes, blogging, posting photos – there’s plenty to do. In between quite a lot of sleeping too; on an adventure like this, and it is an adventure for us, you have to remind yourself that it’s also a holiday. So we have booked a car for tomorrow morning. 

Monday and the start of our last week. Met our driver and headed out to see the Amber Fort just outside the city, perched up on top of a hill. The newer part of Jaipur outside the Pink City is very different, much newer with wider roads and bigger shops. We remembered this part from our last visit, so to the beautiful Jal Mahal or Water Palace  built out in a lake so that the Maharaja’s family could enjoy themselves without being overlooked by the riff-raff. 

We also remembered the road to Amer, the village below the fort, with its sweeping blind curves and a driver determined to overtake going into them; not to mention the additional road hazards of sacred cows and camels being taken to the village to give rides. Last time we visited we rode an elephant up the switchback cobbled road to the top and saw them doing so again today. I confess to mixed feelings about this and would not do it again. On the other hand about one hundred elephants are used for this and it’s tremendously popular for tourists; the elephants are well cared for and the whole operation is controlled by the government to protect the elephants’ welfare. We drove to the top.

The Amber Fort is really most impressive and combines a fortress and a palace, when we came before we had a guide who obviously wanted to pass on all his facts and figures and show us everything and it became one of those times that we both wore dark glasses so that he couldn’t see that our eyes had glazed over. This time we already knew the basic geography of the place and enjoyed the freedom to wander where we wished, take photos or just sit in the shade and people watch, and, boy was it a great place to people watch. 

As with the other forts and palaces we’ve seen over the last couple of weeks, it’s both beautiful and magnificent; perched up on top of a hill and defended by walls there’s also a huge wall running along the crest of the ridge and it’s further protected by two more forts higher up. There’s a lake below with lovely gardens on an artificial island and, historically, water was drawn up from the lake by a series of buckets on ropes inside one of the towers. Once we’d had a nice gentle wander round we headed back to the car park but on the way found the rather good souvenir shop of which we took full advantage. 

Our plan was to head back to the hotel for lunch but on the way we stopped off at Mojari, a UNESCO supported project for rural leatherworkers, where I bought myself a nice pair of Rajasthani slippers.

Now back and relaxing; photos posted and ready for some supper. Tomorrow we’re going to the Albert Hall. No, not that one!

6 March 2017

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