Monday, 25 February 2013

Friday 22nd - The Long and Winding Road

Relaxation time is over and we are back to cross country road travel. Davendra was going to arrange things for his friend to drive us but then decided that he would do it and take the chance to spend a couple of days with his family. No flash Innova this time but a perfectly seviceable Tata Indigo.  We have a final breakfst with a view then make our farewells at the Jaiwana Haveli and settle in for the ride.

The road is quite good at first and even better when we join a toll motorway. This doesn't last for long and we are then on a narrow and winding cross country road but it does have a decent surface. We head roughly north and climb steadily. Davendra tells us that we have crossed the summit between the Mewar territory and that of the Marwars. The Marwars appear to lack basic road maintenance skills. We jolt down a winding, pitted road through forested valleys getting an occasional glimpse of the temples below.

We arrive at Ranakpur at about 11.45. This gives us time to purchase our camera permit and study the various conflicting sets of rules for the admittance of tourists. At noon prompt we are given the OK to climb the temple steps. bShoes and water are left at the bottom. At the security check we discover that we should have also left our phones and R's stash of sweeties (for the chilren says R). The phones have to go back to the office while the security people take charge of the goodies.

Inside we are greeted by a youth who tells us that his family have looked after the temple for over 400 years. He takes us for a whirlwind tour, explaining some of the key features and telling us where we can and can't photo. At the end of his talk we are tapped for a donation. D ignores the prominently displayed Rs 500/- note and pitches for a lesser heaven. We are then free to wander and photograph as we wish as long as we do not take pictures of the idols.

After an hour or so we return to the car and resume our journey to Jodhpur. Pretty soon we are out of the hillsd and on the plain. The roads are not great and when we join the main highway it becomes positivelt dangerous. There is upgrade work going on to make this a dual carriageway but so far not much of this is open. Most of the traffic is heavy trucks and some of the car drivers perform near suicidal manouevres to get past. Davendra doesn't try anything silly but he is clearly frustrated by the slow progress. R now confirms that she wishes our onward travel to be by train rather than car. Harrumble!

At last we turn off the main drag and onto a reasonably good road. Almost immediately we cross a bridge over the railway and see a train of flat cars carrying about a dozen metre gauge or narrow gauge coaches. presumably they are headed to the breakers yard. Just as we are getting thoroughly sick of car travel we see the familiar site of the Meherangarh Fort which dominates the city of Jodhpur. Davendra knoews our hotel which is the Haveli Inn Pal, not the Pal Haveli Inn. The two hotels are apparently owned by brothers and share an entrance and courtyard.

6210 We book in and are shown to our room which has a rather splendid four poster bed but no window. The duty manager has instilled a certain apprehension by saying that there is no 8.30 train to Phalodi. A check with Indiarailinfo is needed but there is a fault with the wifi which is being repaired. We head out into the bazaar around the clock tower and then along the main drag in search of a couple of beers and some incense. R resists the offers from the incense stalls in the shadow of the tower and buys from a scruffy bloke with a handcart halfway up the main street for less than half the price.

The Lovely Wines" Off licence takes scruffy to a new level but does supply a couple of cold Kingfishers after D positively refuses to buy some other beer that they were keen to sell. Presumably it was about to hit its sell by date.

Back at the hotel R goes to book dinner while D eventually gets the wifi up and running. There is an 8.30 train to Jaisalmer via Phalodi. We do some online catching up until it is time to head for dinner at L'Indique on the roof of the Pal Haveli. This gives a great view of the fort and much of the city. R cannot now decide whether this is the most stunning dining location she has been in or the one yesterday. D votes for tonight's venue as the train hooters from the station are clearly audible and exerting their magic.

R notices that there is some sort of coloured light display at the fort, which we later discover is part of a Sufi music festival. Because of our early start we settle our bill and are promised packed breakfasts will be ready for our departure.

We are glad that we did not go clubbing tonight.

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