Driving from Agra to Jaipur through a backdrop of beautiful cultivation was relaxing as well as stimulating but, arriving in the ‘Pink City’ gave a new impetus to our exploration. We entered through the old gates and the more traditional parts of the city where life goes on unchanged as it has for centuries. Having refreshed and donned local attire we travelled to the main palace of the Maharaja of Jaipur to experience and take part in Elephant polo. And what fun we had! With half a dozen lumbering steeds cavorting across the royal lawns we laughed and enjoyed this unique and unconventional game. Drinks were served while some watched and others took part in trying to overcome their charger’s ungainly gait athwart the field.
Following our fun we were guided through parts of the palace viewing some of the Maharaja’s private collections and furniture. In a particular room when attempting to slightly shift one of a group of chairs for a photograph, Steve was astounded at its weight only to be enlightened that Silver is quite heavy; it must have weighed in excess of 60kg.
Everyone was somewhat sad to be leaving Jaipur the following morning; many have come to the conclusion that Rajasthan has a better climate, and its people more relaxed, smiling and approachable.
We had a short easy drive south to Ranthambore National Park and another Oberoi property; a nice aspect here was to find a pair of elephants with Mahouts offering rides which I believe Vero and Lauren took advantage of. There was the option of a Jeep safari into the park during the afternoon or the following morning before the heat of the day. The advantage of early morning Game-watching during the cooler hours means the wildlife is still moving about and therefore easier to spot. However, I must say the Indians don’t come close to the Africans in their management of tourists and Game Reserves. Thankfully Andy Marshall’s suspension parts had cleared Customs and been delivered to our hotel so that Tim and I could easily replace the parts and put Andrew’s mind at rest before continuing south.
We made our way through a rich green landscape enjoying the harvest of Millet and Pulses bringing us to the main highway from Kota. Stopping to interact with farmers, studying their harvesting equipment and watching how the womenfolk graft has been an eye-opener for me coming from an agricultural background; by the day’s end my wild imagination had accumulated somewhere near a dozen Indian wives!
From here it was a lovely fast, clear, dual lane road all the way to Chittorgarh before twisting through the lanes to the quaint but crumbling castle where we have a break in the journey to submerse ourselves once more in traditional India. The ruling family have presided over the surrounding villages for more than five centuries, the staff are untrained and mostly illiterate but have a willingness to please which can be both irritating and endearing.