Charles and Elizabeth Godfrey, who returned from their travels in Rajasthan in February 2011, share with us their light-hearted account of their travels and their personal insight into India beyond the main tourist sites.
Tuesday 25 January – Agra
Just arrived in Agra. Love the view from the Oberoi Amarvilas! Currently exercising stomach muscles sitting up!
Wednesday 26 January – Agra to Ranthambhore
Having just spent one and a half hours in the back of a Toyota van on some of India’s back roads, my admiration for the driver in avoiding all manner of fauna and flora throwing itself under our wheels is unfathomable. If the unthinkable does happen and the victim is two-legged, then freedom from prosecution is assured by copious use of the horn! On train now…
Thursday 27 January – Ranthambhore National Park
Summary of Thursday – a day of two extremes, strangely related…learning to co-ordinate coughs in the bathroom of one’s colonial tent and coping with sharing a very small part of Ranthambhore National Park with a 275kg male tiger in his prime. Known affectionately as T24, his diet recently included three hapless villagers who were collecting firewood.
Friday 28 January – Ranthambhore to Jaipur
Good news, saw Sher Khan on our morning drive!
Then later… After another wonderful morning in camp we set out for Jaipur. On our way, we overtook 57 trucks, 145 cars and 5 camels!
On arrival we entered the heart of the Pink City to be greeted by what we thought were kites. In fairness most were kites…. accompanied by a collection of paper and plastic borne aloft on the evening breeze! The city is most impressive and when you see the industriousness of folk, the cloth and jewellery and carpet factories, you realise here is a country with a great future. The Heritage hotel is amazing … We’re readying ourselves for our trip to the Jantar Mantar Astronomical Observatory, which should be great and a few more temples! Culture tank: three quarters full.
Saturday 29 January – Jaipur
Wow, quite a day – we thought we’d seen everything but then we met Raj, another fantastic local guide. He found places we didn’t even know existed. The newly qualifying World Heritage Site, the Observatory in Jaipur was nothing short of incredible. Liz and I discovered that by marrying in August we’d missed out on every blessing available to the Gods! No matter, we learned all about the very important role played by astrologers in guiding Maharajas to successful matters as diverse as marriage to waging war. A 90 foot sundial with accuracy to the nearest two seconds was breathtaking. Thank goodness the sun shined yet again. At 28 degrees (evidenced by yet another instrument) Jaipur’s winter sun is very pleasant.
The evening began with the sky and trees full of kites and that strange wailing!
Thursday 3 February – Udaipur
We take over the Lake Palace! I have a 007 Martini whilst Mrs Octopussy orders a pink Guavaberry Martini cocktail! Last afternoon of sun. I’m sure India could export that too if it put its mind to it! Great tour of Royal Island and the Palace.
And our last word…
A bit more about one of our most extraordinary experiences, we were on our way out of Ranthambhore’s National Park around 5pm when we rounded a bend in the track and who should be walking ahead of us but none other than the aforementioned tiger T24, walking purposefully and calling. Given what legend says to be his favourite item on the dinner menu, his swagger and confidence said it all.
After following him for five to ten minutes he turned to mark this tree and I got a snap of him – magnificent is an understatement. There’s something primeval about that look, it stops you dead.
All the local representatives we met were helpful, informed, very punctual and a real pleasure to be with. The tour was very well arranged by Far Frontiers Travel and the choice of hotels was exemplary. What a wonderful holiday, thank you so much. We will be returning to Far Frontiers Travel at the first opportunity and recommending you to our friends and family.