24 Oct 2013
A more relaxed start today – some go to a yoga class held on the roof. After breakfast in the garden we set off on foot to the Western Temple Complex at Khajuraho and meet our local guide. The temples were incredibly intricate and spectacular and none of us can believe that we hadn’t previously been aware of them. They are known as the Kama Sutra temples because of the erotic carvings but in fact only 5% of the carvings are erotic and appear to be depicted alongside other ‘events’ of everyday life – although some of the positions were so complicated that the couples needed assistance from others! Overall the temples are dedicated to various gods, including Suriya the Sun God (and name of our hotel). The most important Hindu gods are Brahma the creator, Vishnu the preserver, Shiva the destroyer. The 10th century temple apparently shows male and female equality, and homosexuality. It appears to have been a more liberal society than exists today. The women are depicted as being voluptuous but in adjoining more recent temples the figures are more slender. The temples are also set in lush beautiful gardens and we are struck by how peaceful and uncrowded they are.
This is in stark contrast to the streets outside – firstly there is a giant ditch outside the hotel with tangles of wires (and the reason why there is no WiFi at the hotel); then the touts here are a special breed approaching in packs and with extreme persistence. They seem amazed that you aren’t interested in the very thing you said no to just minutes before.
We have lunch scheduled with a local family of artists who specialise in miniature paintings. We walk through the more residential streets with Dilip Singh to his family home. His wife’s father has died so she and 2 sons have gone back to Rajasthan but his mother has kindly come to cook lunch for us. We are able to talk with her in the kitchen and see how she makes the delicious food. This is made even more difficult for her as the water main to the house is broken and there seem to be constant power cuts. But she excels and our host plies us with food and drinks and tells us about his art. He gives us each a miniature painting of an elephant on silk. They live in the house as an extended family including his 4 children. It is a modern style house with artistic decoration in bright colours (a lot of purple).
Most of us have jumped at another chance to see tigers and Bhanu has arranged for us to go to Panna National Park where Ken River Lodge is. This means we have to rush back from lunch to board the now very familiar jeeps and head to the park to pick up our naturalists. The jungle here is quite different again being about 70% teak and the rest mixed trees. It also has the river where crocodiles can often be seen. Unfortunately it has clouded over so we aren’t able to see them (they like to bask in the sun). We have some great views of samba and spotted deer, and a wild boar with piglets. The tigers here have radio trackers and we meet the park rangers who have picked up a female in the area (she has 5 month old cubs but isn’t bringing them out yet). We wait for her to come down our way but twice she gets spooked by other vehicles. So we are very close but still don’t get to see the elusive tiger.
On the way back we get stuck in a ‘cow jam’ and what appears to be rush hour through the villages with large trucks playing ‘chicken’ with cows, bicycles and tuk-tuks. It generally pays for us not to be able to see where we are going. We have a near miss with a defiant cow.
Back at the hotel we are too late for the Sound & Light show and opt for dinner instead. Marcia and I dine at the hotel again because she wants to be close by for Yvonne who still has a fever and the doctor is calling regularly.
For this and other similar tours see:
Peregrine Adventures (Comfort tours)
Geckos Adventures (for 18 to 30s)
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