We are staying at a “wilderness camp” in view of ancient mountains, older even than the Appalachians, in Rajasthan. The walls of the cabins are stucco and the doors and windows are of wood, so this isn’t as primitive as the brochure made it seem. However, the roof is of thatch, and a couple of creatures (a cross between squirrels and chipmunks) are chasing each other through the bamboo struts and the thatching above the porch. The sun is setting gently behind the hill-like mountains. The others have gone on a camel ride, which I declined. The last time I took a camel ride (in Egypt), I got saddle-sore. And I am simply enjoying the quiet of this place, as I did the courtyard of the lovely hotel where we stayed in Ranthambore.
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On the third day in India we took the bus from Delhi to Jaipur. On the way, we stopped at Chomu Palace, which has been turned into a hotel/restaurant. We had a wonderful lunch beneath the portraits of the rajas Ram Singh II (who painted Jaipur pink) and his grandson, Madho Singh.
After dinner that evening at the hotel, we went to the “Polo Bar” at the Rambaugh Palace, since converted to a tourist complex. This bar was a favorite watering place of a recent raja (Man Singh II) who was also a famous polo player. I ordered a non-alcoholic drink called Moksha - largely fruit juice and tonic or soda water - quite good.
|Mountain view from the Amber Fort|
The following day, we visited the Amber Fort (actually Amer in Hindi – misunderstood by the Brits), or more precisely, the beautiful marble and sandstone structure associated with the fort. (I lost my photos of this part of the trip; these photos are from Pete, another traveler.) The wall décor and paintings are exquisite: flowers and images (e.g., Ganesha) painted al fresco into wet stucco using a ground stone paste as paint instead of vegetable dyes; it hasn’t faded in three centuries of exposure to the elements. The palace is high in the hills and the air is dry, so mildew seems not to have affected the exterior or interior walls. Again, we were mobbed by hawkers, mostly children, outside the gate and in the main courtyard. We did buy some things once we were back at the bus.
|Wall decor, Amber Fort, near Jaipur|
In the afternoon, we roamed the shops of central Jaipur in a group, with our guide. I bought some Masala tea and some spices at the market. That evening, we had another home-hosted dinner with a lovely family. He was retired from the Indian military and she is a school teacher. He and I had a rather lengthy discussion about gurus (“guru” means teacher in Hindi), his (spiritual) guru having recently died. Their 13-year-old daughter joined us for the meal.