Our room is great we have wonderful views, a comfortable bed and probably the best shower I have had for some time. Breakfast on the roof was simple but cheap, the eggs on toast were suitable enough. At 9.30am we clambered aboard a motor rickshaw and visited an ATM and a chemist so I could get some bandages to bind my injured wrist it was then off to the little village of Badi where an animal rescue centre is located.
We arrived at the Animal Aid United compound around 10am, I had called ahead so they were expecting us and Claire a young American woman met us at the gate. Claire runs the sanctuary set up in 2002 with her parents who hold US and Australian citizenship. Claire began by taking us on a tour of the facility visiting the recovery area first, which was filled with dogs all recovering from one type of surgery or another. The treatment of dogs is particularly appalling in India; the sanctuaries education program is apparently succeeding in building community awareness as many citizens of Udaipur are now calling the hospital when they discover sick and injured animals.
Next we visited the puppy
pen and “Handicapped Heaven” where a few of the permanent crippled dogs will live out their lives in peace. The next yard was full of dogs with mange, they looked in a terrible state but a little bit of medicine and TLC and they will all be fine. Claire then showed us a couple of tortoise that someone had brought in, they had cracked shells so it seems they won’t be going anywhere in a hurry. Next came the bigger animal such as the donkeys, they are treated as bad as the dogs if not worse, Indian donkeys are small but that doesn’t stop greedy and/or ignorant bastards working them to death. The Jacks were quiet aggressive with each other, one three legged male was quite capable of delivering some nasty kicks despite his disability.
We then visited the house where we signed the guest book before giving the sanctuary a $200 donation which will go a long way towards helping many more animals. We met up with our Tuk-Tuk driver out in the street and he convinced us to visit the Monsoon Palace which just wasn’t worth the time and effort wasted to get there. It was now
time to visit the City Palace so I ordered the driver to go straight there which he did, unfortunately as is the norm in India he also started screaming for more money, even though I gave him significantly more than the agreed price, such greedy and dishonest people these Indians.
The City Palace is on India’s main tourist route so we had to line up to buy a ticket, the American woman in front of us was counting out coins for what seemed like days to pay for her ticket, in the end I told her to hurry up. The palace was a lovely building, filled with glass mosaics, paintings, weapons, armour and even swings hanging from the ceilings. There was also a large model of a Mahayana Singh and his favourite horse which had a fake leather elephant’s trunk attached to its nose, don’t ask me why. We were soon surrounded by a large group of Indian students who can’t help but make a huge amount of racket so we decided to leave, stopping briefly to look at the beautiful Peacock mosaics.
We had a pleasant lunch in a small cafe just outside the palace gates, toasted
sandwiches and milkshakes before returning to our hotel to change rooms. Our new room is in the older building but is more like a suite, it is huge, and we have a lounge area, a fridge, a bigger better TV and a lovely patio with stunning views of the lake. After a small rest we set out for the footbridge across the lake to visit the silversmith where I purchased a stunning silver inlayed dagger with a tiger head on the pommel, we then visited a small shop that sells miniature paintings. Ruth purchased one of these the day before and it was now framed and ready for collection so we took the opportunity to have our bear picture (purchased in Bannerghatta) wrapped in bubble wrap with the new one.
The last thing we needed to organise was a sunset cruise on the lake which we did on the way back to the hotel, our boat leaves at 5.30pm so we need to be waiting on the dock ten minutes before. The boat was very full all the foreigners pulling on lifejackets and wondering whether they would need them, but in the end there was no need for concern,
the cruise was pleasant and relaxing and the setting sun ensured some great photos. Forty five minutes later we were back on dry land and making our way back to our wonderful apartment, we leave for Bundi at 7am in the morning.
We were on the road a little after seven, which is something of a miracle in India as nobody likes to do anything at that time of the morning, two hours later we arrived at Chittorgarh where we stopped for a quick breakfast, I ordered the toast with butter and jam and got a toasted jam sandwich. The fort at Chittor is the greatest in Rajasthan and it needed to be as Ruth is getting a bit forted out, it is six kilometres long, towers over the surrounding plain and contains some wonderful architecture.
After driving through six gates on the kilometre long trip up from plain our first stop was the ruined Kumbha Palace which is now the home of a large clan of Langur monkeys, we took great pleasure in watching them play and fight as they leaped gracefully from building to building. It was such a wonderful spectacle that we wandered in amongst
them taking some great photos until one of the more aggressive males gave Ruth a fright when he charged her and pinched her leg. It was a bit amusing and about time as I have been attacked on three occasions by monkeys on this trip.
We then visited the Sringar Chowri Temple built by the Jains in 1448 and containing some lovely elephant carvings before moving on to the impressive Tower of Victory which was erected around the same time period. The tower is thirty seven meters high and has nine carved stories. I decided that I would climb the 157 stairs inside to the top, it was a tights squeeze at times but some of the carvings inside were worth a look and the views were dramatic.
Rude Indians trying to take Ruth’s photo plague us where ever we go, they don’t ask, they prefer to stalk you, jumping out from behind bushes is a favourite tactic. They are arseholes and I was getting really angry, this particular group were following us everywhere before they piled into a van and drove off, I told Jitu what they had been doing and he took off after them. When
we arrived at Padmini’s Palace I was making threatening gestures and abusing the bastards so they took off. Jitu then took it on himself to escort us everywhere we went.
There is a legend that Padmini often sat in her pavilion in the middle of the lake on one particular day Ala-ud-din Khilji saw her image in mirror in a tower that over looked the pavilion and decided that he wanted her band that he would destroy Chittorgarh to possess her - why he didn’t just cross the lake and take her I have no idea.
On departing the palace we made a couple of brief stops the first at the nearby Kali Temple to photograph another Langur family and later for a cold drink and to admire some of India’s native Marwari horses. It was then back into the vehicle for the 130km drive to Bundi, the last fifty kilometres of which were on a terrible road. Bundi is another of those towns where dropouts like to go; our hotel is buried amongst the alleyways of the old town and has a great view of the palace up on the mountainside. After settling in we visited a
nearby rooftop restaurant where we drank beer and ate a number of courses as the sun set behind the mountains.
The next day I awoke to a sick wife, we had some breakfast and tasty black tea and then just took it easy till around 11am when we ventured down the cobbled street veering to the left before climbing the hill to the ticket office for the Bundi Palace. As I lined up some rude little bastard tried to push in front of me in the queue so I shoved him out of my way, which I seem to do at least once every day in this country. The palace is a massively imposing building that unfortunately has been allowed to fall into a decrepit and smelly state full of bats, monkeys and goats, but on some walls the remains of some stunning murals still exist and the view over the valley is spectacular.
After about thirty minutes we headed back down towards the town throwing the odd glare at the idiots who were glaring at me before heading deeper into the town in search of a step well which we eventually found after dodging a lot of
traffic but it did not compare to the Baoli we visited near Jaipur. On the way back we stopped for a quick lunch of mashed potato,l poor Ruth is getting sicker by the minute and she ended up crawling back into bed, while she slept I wandered around the streets for a time before going out to get some food.
The next morning we left Bundi for the town of Sawai Madhapur the entry point to wonderful Ranthambhore National Park, unfortunately due to the terrible state of the road we didn’t arrive until after the afternoon safaris had departed for the park, so we checked in and a very sick Ruth went to bed while I went in search of a chemist, before settling in to watch some cricket until dinner time, the food wasn’t too bad and there was plenty of it. On the way back to our room after dinner I booked us on to the dawn safari.
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