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Published: March 19th 2008
Tribal woman carrying sugarcane
Trusting Gino we drove heigh into the Rajasthan mountains. Although we had no idea where he was taking us we were relieved to leave the cities and mayhem behind. The landscapes dramitically changed from the dusty desert into green farms and mud huts. Little streams flowed through the small communitites while farmers used wooden mills to divert water towards their crops. Children played in the lush green farms without a care in the world while people would often point and stare at the white man passing through their land.
As Gino pulled over so I could take a few photos we soon got dragged into a random house by the local children. The children and their family were extremly poor. They had few clothes and posessions, yet they still offered us food and drink. I was unsure about drinking from a sugar cain coldren but a dozen children sat around just to watch this unique occasion. As my face lit up with the dry sweet taste of sugar cain they jumped around with joy. As more of their friends came over to meet us it became apparent we had become the talk of the village. We were the biggest attraction
Back To Basics
The towns water supply
Walking into their mud home I was shocked to discover 8 children living together. They only had two primitive stools and we were sitting on them. They had 2 tin cups and we were drinking from them. The childrens toys consisted of an inner tube and an old dirty barbie doll. The roof contained holes and the floor was made of straw. A pile of dry wood sat next to the fire place that heated the sugar cain juice. Their beds were rugs and privacy was non existant.
As we left the village and said goodbye to the family we continued our adventure into the Rajasthan mountains. I would often find myself looking at Ginos reflection in the rear view mirror. From the detail in his face you could tell he had lived a full and interesting life. He told me he was an awfen and grew up at a catholic mission. He spend many years of his life serving with the Nepal army as a Gurkah. His wife passed away a few years ago and he seemed pround of his grand daughter working in England. He was a fascinating and charismatic person, very traditional, very
Drinking Sugarcane Juice
Invited into a tribal persons home to try sugarcane Juice while local children watch.
Eventually he told us we were heading to a remote mountain village called Kumbalgarh. He explained how this town was one of the worlds best kept secrets. Surrounded by ancient tribal villages it was home to the worlds second longest wall in the world. The wall is 36Km in length and was built to protected an entire castle and its villagers from invading armies. Although no one truely knows how old it was, Gino promised us it is the most spectacular sight in all of india.
As we approached the summit of a winding mountain road, Gino began to count down "5, 4, 3, 2, 1" Suddenly the wall came into view. I had to pinch myself to check I wasnt dreaming. It looked like the great wall of china stretching off into the distance, snaking its was through vallies and over mountains. It was in perfect condition protecting a fairy tale castle embedded into the side of a mountain. The view was stunning, I was speachless.
As we drove through the giant castle gates I became distracted by a cold shiver down my spine. We were well and truely off the normal backpacker trail. There
A Tribal elder and his teenage daughters
were no tourists, backpackers, cars, busses, or local indians. The place was completly deserted with the exception of a few shifty looking security guards. No one was around to charge us entry, we had all 37Km to ourselves. How this place has remained off the tourist trail is a miracle. It was indeed a spectacular sight and under the right management, a potential gold mine.
Gino left us to explore the ruins while he protected the car. We must have walked miles that day climbing over the ruins in the scorching sun. We walked along a small section of the wall and climbed heigh into the fort while discovering ancient chambers and deactivated intrusion traps. As I looked around I tried to imagine what life would have been like living within the walls of this castle. Now only a few monkeys climb and protect the walls while any invasion appears to be from the tree roots taking hold on the ancient walls.
Back in Kumbalgarh village Gino managed to get us into a deserted 5* hotel for £5 a night. We lived like kings on a raised belcony overlooking a third world village. We had a swimming pool
The Great Wall Of India
36Km wall all to ourselves!
and stunning views. The owner of the establishment took us for a walk around the village providing a glimpse of how poor tribal people live in India. It was like traveling back in time - maybe a few hundred years. These people live in little mud huts, everyone works the land, and their tools were back brakingly primitive.
The people of Kumbalgarh were extremely welcoming. The children would chase us through the street and were so excited to pose for photographs. They were so happy to see images of themselves on my digital camera. Not once did they ask for money, although I always hand out sweets to see their little faces light up. Our guide asked if either of us was married. I still regret answering honestly. For the rest of my time in the village I was followed around by a group of giggling girls. Glyn would often sing the blind date tune to me! I was half expecting to be forced into marriage. I was seriously considering running for the hills!
"In Gino we trust"
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