Bharatpur, Agr and beyond!
Trip Start Sep 15, 2007
59Trip End Jun 2008
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Helen here this time. So after we left Haridwar / Rishikesh we headed to Bharatpur on the train, connecting in Delhi. It was a long days travel and as we had been up in the hills for so long we hadn't really considered the heat and hadn't booked an air-conditioned seat meaning that we arrived in Bharatpur a bit hot and bothered. However, we got to our chosen guest house and could instantly relax as it was probably the best place we'd stayed in so far. It was spotlessly clean, served beer in your room and it even had a bath (thanks for the tip Rory and Helen)!
Bharatpur itself didn't really have a huge amount going for it but it is the gateway to the Keoladeo National Park / Bird Sanctuary. There had been little rain there this year meaning a huge decrease in the numbers of migratory birds with a proportional decrease in the number of visitors
From Bharatpur we took a day trip on the bus to nearby Deeg Palace which was a fantastic place. The enormous palce sits towering incongruously above the tiny village of Deeg where our celbrity status was restored after taking a bit of a bashing in the more touristy areas of Rishikesh. We had a little trouble finding the palace entrance and we thought we'd found it when a group of young men invited us into their building. Howver, for some reson they were inviting us to have a look around their workplace - we're still not sure what it was, possibly council offices - where loads of people were buzzing around an open courtyard with small areas sectioned off for different tasks. Men were sitting on the floor typing away at old fashioned typewriters while women poured water from pumps carrying it around on their heads in copper coloured urns. Most peculiar.
After a little chat with our hosts we eventually found the palace entrance and could explore inside. It was probably the best palace I've seen mainly because as well as being grand it was also great fun. We could really get a sense of what it was like to live in this place during Maharaja times. There were massive hand operated fans and a big marble swing outside the front door. There were also pavillions outside which had been engineered to create sounds like thunder during heavy rain. The piece de resistance though was probably the marble summer house that had been stolen from Delhi fort brick by brick then rebuilt here
We also took a second day trip from Bharatpur by taxi to take in the Taj Mahal and the red Fort at Agra as well as the 'ghost city' of Fatepur Sikri. We left our accommodation at 5am to get to the taj Mahal at sunrise firstly to avoid the crowds and secondly as this is supposed to be a 'magical' time to see it. I was a bit apprehensive about seeing the taj as it is such an iconic building I was though that it could be a disappointment. However, I needn't have worried. The Taj was truly magnificent. Even at that time in the morning however there were loads of tourists and we got sharked into paying a man Rs20 for taking some of the cheesiest photos of us that we've ever seen (we'll post some if we feel we can live up to the shame).
The fort was really more Iain's cup of tea than mine - I think due to a misspent youth playing Civilisation. He liked it a lot as did I but more for the people watching. By the time we got to fatepur Sikri - a city built by an emperor trying to design the perfect city but abandoned soon after his death due to water shortage - I think we were a bit on sught-seeing overload but it was still good to wander around the ruins and imagine the guy debating with his hired philosphers and pondering which Majarani to visit that night.
After a curious couple of hours in the train station being stared at by 17 young men (Iain counted) all standing in a semi-circle we left Bharatpur heading for Jaipur.