28 Oct 2013
Another early start today – ready to leave for today’s adventure by 7.00am. The local MP’s landrover and driver have been commandeered for the occasion. We weren’t sure if the excessive horn and VIP siren use was for his benefit or ours! We set off again on predictably bumpy dusty roads, driving through rural countryside and thousand year old villages alongside a lake. Then we set off cross-country out into the ‘wilderness’ (low brush, rocks and small flowers growing here and there, and woods in the distance) to see Neolithic rock paintings. We stop & walk out to a large rock ledge overlooking a river (and see a large white owl swooping across to a tree on the other side). While the drivers brew up a pot of chai for us over a fire, we scramble down to see the rock paintings in the cave/overhangs below. There are 3 different styles of paintings: stick figures from 40,000BC; open figures with partly decorated centres from 20-30,000BC and more solid figures from 6-11,000BC.
We sit on the rock ledge drinking chai and surveying the peaceful scene that continued as it has for centuries. A few houses dot the landscape and people herd their cows and goats. In the distance we can hear the roar of a waterfall.
Back into the landrovers and through more villages – rudely honking the horn to scatter the villagers who graciously wave to us despite having their peace shattered. At one point we reach a place where a giant culvert is being installed and in appears impassable with a giant heap of dirt. But within minutes a whole team of people have used their hands and picks to level it off for us. In other areas we have to ford rivers and sometimes KB jumps out and starts clearing rocks – tossing them about with great glee.
Our next stop is a wonderful surprise – we are stopping for a picnic brunch at the Royal Hunting Lodge (1510). It is an archaeological site overlooking a lake and set amongst the trees. Beautiful carvings from around the place are on display there also. We picnic on the balcony overlooking the lake, feasting on more delicious food prepared by KB’s wife: rice, boiled egg, chickpea curry, another lentil curry, spicy potatoes, chipati and a fudge–like dessert. What a magical experience!
Then it is back to the hotel to load up our bags and jostle our way on the hair-raising roads for an hour and a half to the railway station at Lalitpur.
We have had centuries of experiences this morning and it isn’t yet lunchtime!
We have 5 hours’ train ride through to Agra. Agra is fairly westernised compared to the towns we have been in – and fairly touristy (as you would expect due to the Taj Mahal). This time we are met by a minibus and driven across town to the Royale Residency. The hotel is very upmarket compared to what we have got used to and we are excited by soft beds, hot water and WiFi.
We have 40 mins to freshen up and then meet in the hotel restaurant. We are unsure whether this will be our last dinner together and so make a presentation to Bhanu of an envelope with all our tips.
Tomorrow those of us going on will meet the new groups and we are sad to be losing our good friends. But the trip isn’t over yet and we head to bed for an early night because we have a 4.30am wake-up call in the morning so that we can be at the front of the queue for the Taj Mahal.
For this and other similar tours see:
Peregrine Adventures (Comfort tours)
Geckos Adventures (for 18 to 30s)
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