Published: January 3rd 2012December 24th 2011
December ’11 Bundi to Bassi to Castle Bijaipur
I knew it was too good to last! 6.15 am start this morning and off to get the ‘local’ train to Bassi. This we are told will be one of our highlights no less, having been on plenty of trains I am a bit sceptical.
When the train arrived we all piled in with all the Indian people and had a frantic moment of trying to find a seat, we had been told we would be lucky to find one, but as it turned out we all got them with no problems and got our luggage stowed away under and over the seats. God knows what the poor young lad who was sat on his own in our section thought when suddenly 7 westerners piled in and started yapping, let’s just say he spent the whole of the time we were there with his head wrapped in a scarf saying nothing and looking fixedly out of the window!
According to Akki this was our opportunity to make new friends and chat to the locals, well the one in our bit clearly wasn’t up for it and from what the
others said they were just stared at intently which made them feel very uncomfortable and they hated it, so much for Intrepids obsession with getting involved with the local community!
The train was really filthy with peanut shells and god knows what else all over the floor, but it was actually a sleeper train and we had no idea how far it had come before it got to us, but I don’t think a single member of the group attempted the toilet!!
3 hours later we arrived at our stop and there was a mad scramble to get off as we were told we wouldn’t have much time before the train left, we all made it and then we were in jeeps again for the 30 minute journey to the Hotel Castle Bijapur right out in the heart of the countryside.
Again as we drove through villages and past small farms the local people were really friendly, waving and shouting out hello as we passed by. We stopped by the entrance gateway to the castle and a lady put bindis’ on our foreheads, musicians were playing and as we walked under the archway flower petals were sprinkled
on us from above!
It is a gorgeous old place with lovely rooms, recessed seating areas for lounging in, bowls of flower petals floating in water everywhere and it even has a swimming pool! This afternoon we are free so plan on doing nothing!!
That night we heard lots of music and singing and made our way round to the main durbah hall where all the seats were set out in clusters round fires in the courtyard and up on the stone platform were a group of musicians and a dancer. It was great, the costumes, the colours, the music, the singing and the dancing all under the night sky I absolutely loved it!
Before going for dinner we were introduced to the Rajah of Bijapur who owns the castle and still lives in it, he was a lovely man with a good moustache! He told us the castle had been his family home passed on through the generations and in the 1980s had been converted into a hotel. He welcomed us all and then some of us (me included) got our pictures taken with him.
As it was Christmas Eve the dining room had been
Christmas Eve dancing
decorated with streamers, the tables had a few Christmas baubles and little signs saying Happy Christmas it was really sweet – it was still curry for tea mind!
We had just been served our soup when we heard all this drumming coming up the stairs and suddenly the musicians arrived accompanied by 2 Father Christmases – one with a suspiciously red army looking jacket on! They kept shouting HO HO HO and went round with a small cloth bag tied to their waists which they gave everyone sweets from. I couldn’t stop laughing it was so bizarre and so brilliant!!! Our group then gave everyone a version of we wish you a merry Christmas wether they liked it or not and all in all we had a fantastic evening. It was finished off by climbing into bed to find 2 presents hidden under the quilt!
December ’11 Castle Bijapur to Camping Bijapur!
Woke up and opened our presents, there was a miniature bottle of wine and a spot the difference puzzle game! We then opened our Christmas cards from Looci and found presents in them also!!! What a wonderful surprise and we were delighted with them
Christmas Eve dancing
– thanks so much Looci!
We had a good breakfast and like the evening meal the night before it was included in the trip so we made the most of it and ate loads of fruit and toast and jam but passed on the curried things.
We left the castle in our jeeps and on the way to our campsite had a village safari, which basically meant we got on and off to look at things. We stopped at the cemetery of one village which the guide explained was lived in by the descendants of Ghengis Khan and they have very different traditions to the other people living in Rajasthan. The people of this village are shunned by other villages as they believe they are all still robbers and villains and he said they still are but only a couple of times a year now!!! When we saw the villagers they did indeed have different facial features from the other people we had seen.
So tonight we are camped by the lake side and it is so tranquil and peaceful. Each tent has a verandah area with seats, table and deckchair to just sit on and gaze
Me and the Raja of Bijaipur
out at the view (or in my case to type up their blogs!). The tents are very luxurious with big double beds, a separate bathroom with a real toilet, shower and sink, they even have air conditioning units!!! Now all we need is some baking heat to make use of them! The temperature is still warm during the day but freezing at night and early morning.
After the usual Indian lunch we were all rounded up and then we were presented with a ‘christmas cake’ – well an Indian version made of semolina and nuts but it’s the thought that counts, we then sang a few carols in the sun and spent the afternoon lazing about.
The evening was spent round a log fire telling stories of our earliest memories, having a drink and a laugh in good company
There are more photos below