I was happily surprised when Mr Singh said we were to Kumbalgargh as I had presumed it too far out of the way. Although a very deep ascent (bringing back fond memories of going up the hard knot pass without power steering) the fort was in some of the most remote and stunning countryside we have seen in India. The drive up was a real throw back in time, with cattle pulling water wheels and tiny wooden huts on the sides of the road.
The fort 80km North of Udaipur was only besieged once in its history, when Akbar poisoned the water supply. As Andrew pointed out, Akbar doesn't half get around. After a good climb to the pinnacle of the palace and stopping for the now customary photos with the locals, we stopped to take in the amazing views of the Hindu and Jain temples bellow. After a hot footed poke around the beautifully carved temple, we headed down the valley to Ranakpur.
Ranakpur's main attraction bar the countryside views, is the huge Jain Temple which lies at the bottom of the valley in a wood. The temple's construction is based around the number 72 – there are
72 carved shrines, 1440 pillars the main deity is 72 inches in height and the temple measures 72 x 72 yards. The four faced deity in the centre of the temple was quite different from any we have seen so far, but the stone carving was unbelievably detailed.
We drove a little further down the road and checked in at the Ranakpur Hill Resort. was seemingly quiet when we arrived and noticeably absent of guests. Agoda.com again turned out to be a reliable website and we enjoyed a nice big room with a good hot shower. We were in the pool within about 20 minutes of arriving. The only annoyance being the workmen having a good stare at us while we swam. We learnt very quickly that the reason for the hotel being so quiet was because they were preparing for an Indian wedding the next day. I meanwhile went to look at the prize horses.
After discussions with Andrew, I decided to go on a hack. Given the size of the horses and the fact that Andrew wasn't massively fussed, I set off with a guide for a 2.5 hour ride through the local countryside.
can only say that it was probably the most fun I've ever had on a ride. My horse, Ganga, wasn't a big fan of following on and much preferred leading. He needed me to be fairly bossy, and I have to admit it is something I take easily to. Luckily the lessons with Amy of the Boyington in third year seem to have left some residual memory and although I found it very difficult to keep my toes down in the stirrups, I managed to successfully keep my balance whilst cantering and galloping around the arid countryside. We paused to watch the sunset and all children from the village houses came out to wave. Language note - “tata” means “hi” in Hindi. I had a fantastic time, but am glad that Andrew didn't ride one of the horses as I would hate to scare him off with a baptism of fire. I must definitely go again with Aunty Hazel/Amy when we get back.
In the evening we settled down to start Game of Thrones (again thank you to Smelly and Cat) before heading to bed.
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