A Travellerspoint blog

Delhi luxury

Our train from Agra Can't station was running late. Crowds were soon brimming on the platform and we were glas to have bagged some space to sit out the two hour delay. We had to keep an eye on the over head signs for our train number as we did not understand the announcements and they would change our platform. When the train arrived we quickly found our seat sharing with a loud family of four. The berth was the highest coach available and was pretty grungy. We stuck with our no eating and drinking rule to avoid using the disgusting hole in the floor toilet which people seem incapable of peeing into. part way through the journey, the noisy nappy changing family left and were replaced by a single male who fell asleep and snored like an elephant, accompanied by another male who coughed loudly with his tongue out not doubt eager to spread his germs.
When we finally arrived at Nizamuddin station it was a battle to fight through the crowds to get out. We had learned to push as hard as everyone else and emerged to the usual touts and quickly negotiated a rickshaw ride to the Leela Palace hotel. we had a crazy drive on the expressway through heavy traffic but had an awesome driver.
We arrived with no prior booking and were stunned by the Leela Palace. A beautiful rich five star hotel. We decided to splurge after spending several nights in cheap accommodation and we mingled with the fancy people conscious of of our stinky clothes and dirty hair. We upped to a club room and were welcomed with a flower garland and red dot to the forehead. The concierge showed us to our suite.....wow. Beautiful furniture, study, marble bathroom with every cream, bath salt, slippers, robes, computer controlled entertainment, hand made chocolate and biscuits......WOW.
We quickly changed out of our stinky clothes and went to the club lounge and over indulged on the cheese and champagne which was included before movie and sandwiches in our room. We both had gut ache that night. What a way to spend our last full night in Delhi.

Posted by Rosielou 18:43 Comments (0)

Pushkar

A short ride today, just three or so hours. I was back riding Padam and Vicki was back in the saddle on Nurani. As we rode closer to Pushkar the fields changed from crops to flowers. Tea roses were very popular and the scent filled the air. The traffic began to increase and trucks were jammed with people standing and sitting, most waving enthusiastically at us. Throw in road works as we rode closer, herds of camels, horses, rickshaws, goats, cows and dogs, people on foot and yet our horses hardly batted an eye lid and forward we rode. Padam was not thrilled with the camels but still went by. We got to a very long sandy track and Dinesh took myself and the German lady for a last gallop......as fast as you want he said and he disappeared in a cloud of sand with us following. We rode over the top of a hill and there before us was Pushkar fair in all it's splendor and craziness. Hundreds of camels and horses, vendors and cooking. Tents everywhere and of course garbage. We left our horses and enjoyed sweets and chai with dinettes friends before going to the Navratan Palace hotel just a few minutes from the fair. A very basic hotel of dubious cleanliness but home for two days. There was a large swimming pool that was advertised as having a filter but no one ever ventured into it. After a hot shower and feeling clean, we headed back to the fair to meet for our last ride.....and what a ride. Dinesh led us around the grounds and it was chaos......our horses pranced their way through the throng and it was a nerve wracking ride. We were sad to say goodbye to the horses who were leaving the next morning. That night we met at a local restaurant to celebrate the Austrian ladies birthday and joined by Dinesh we spent a lovely evening indulging in another vegetarian meal. Meat, alcohol or eggs are not allowed in Pushkar........I have to admit that we did finish our whisky in the room !!!
After supper it was time to say a very sad farewell to Dinesh, an amazing host and the Austrian lady who was leaving Pushkar the next day.
It's hard to believe that the riding I had been planning for a year was done and I had ridden a Marwari horse. .....well a couple !!!
I can not speak highly enough of Krishna Ranch and their dedication to the horses and us, truly a life time memory.

The next day we met with the German lady and explored the lake and ghats. Lots of photo opportunities as we wandered the narrow streets noting that the dogs appeared in better health even though they must be vegetarian. We joined the other tourists in the fair to explore. There were Marwari horses of every colour. Many studs were there with their stallions. Most horses appeared well cared for but the odd one made you want to cry. We watched a turban tying competition but it became too busy when the moustache competition was on, so with a glance and some photos of one man with a moustache wrapped around his ears we wandered off. after a few hours the chaos over took us and we took refuge in a garden restaurant before heading put again. Getting ready for supper that night I had my bedroom door open and saw a huge monkey run by, worried he may have grabbed some of my drying clothing and ran out to see him cheekily sitting further down the hallway, thankfully empty handed......it's this stuff that makes me laugh. We had an amazing meal in a gorgeous rooftop restaurant called Sixth Sense and then it was time to say goodbye to the German
lady as she was flying to Goa.

Today we were up at four to pack and grab a taxi to the train station. As we waited for the cab the only sound to be heard was people hurrumping to clear their throats and spit loudly in the street.....I won't miss that part of India which is very common. We got to Ajmer train station with lots of
time to enjoy the cold and urine smell before our train arrived and we jumped on board and found our seats in a berth with a couple from England.
We chatted a while and then spent the next nine hours sleeping and reading. I had to use the washroom as soon as i got on the train, not wanting
to repeat that experience again, vicki and i decided not to eat or drink the entire journey !!!!.........super stinky hole in the floor. On the subject of
pee......the best investment we ever made was that " go girl", we used them all the time and was so quick and easy....and cleaner.

We soon arrived in Agra and negotiated a 60 rupee rickshaw ride to our hotel. We were staying at the Tourist Rest House and were a it dubious as
it was going to cost six dollars each. We were greeted by a tree filled court yard...with monkeys.....and decided that the room, although old
fashioned and tired looking was clean enough to stay a night. We went through our ritual of bed bug spray and hand sanitized on the taps and
toilets and headed out for supper. Our first pick was a no no, and we jumped in another rickshaw and found ourselves at Vedic a modern restaurant
and we ordered tons of food that we had never tried before and it was delicious. Our bellies were aching afterwards but it was worth every bite.

This morning we woke up early and were in line for tickets at the west gate of the taj mahal for six a.m. It was worth going for gates opening as we got lots of photographs before the crowds arrived. It was a truly amazing sight, words can not describe how beautiful this building is. We wandered around Agra a bit before stoping for breakfast to watch camels and cows wandering by. A quick rickshaw trip had us back at our room and now I'm sitting outside watching irate staff chase monkeys off the hotel !!

Posted by Rosielou 22:18 Comments (0)

Krishna Ranch contin.

For the next two days our horses worked incredibly hard carrying our asses up and down steep inclines. Very rocky in places, rivers to cross, stunning views and we quickly became used to the assortment of animals that freely wander around.....pigs, goats, cows, peacocks, water buffalo
and dogs being the most common. We passed through one village that had two trees brimming with hundreds of fruit bats. By the end of day two our butts were feeling a little pain. Dinesh and his team can not do enough for us, we appreciated the beer and whisky he would buy for us, and loved the price of the whisky at eight dollars a bottle !! For medicinal purposes of course. On day three we finished riding slightly earlier to be driven to Kumbalgarh fort which boasts the second longest wall after China. It was a nightmare to get to by car and we opted to walk amongst the toot toot of the cars as they got into a road block. The fort was amazing and gigantic. Vicki and I decided to walk straight to the top then work our way back down taking our time to explore. We didn't bargain for our super star status. We were only a handful of tourists and could not go more than a few feet at a time without being stopped for photographs, hand shakes, to practice English, to the extent of being asked to hold babies for photographs. We did not get to explore as much as we would have liked but enjoyed an hour of fame.
We spent the night at a farm belonging to one of Dineshes friends, even with whisky it quickly became cold and we had an early night.

We were now into a routine of waking between five and six thirty depending on how loud the temple music was. A shower would depend on if it was hot or cold outside and I think we all enjoyed being dirty girls, wearing the same clothes and jamming hats on for the really bad hair days. we were being fed delicious vegetarian food with paneer becoming one of my favorites.

On day four we started out with the steepest climb of the trip. The horses were soon glistening with sweat but the views were stunning at the top and we found ourselves surrounded bu hundreds of dragon flies. We gave the horses a break at the top before working our way on stone paths to Kumbalgarh nature reserve. The terrain changed quickly to lush jungle. We did not see any jaguar or jackal but enjoyed watching the monkeys and bird life. After lunch overlooking a beautiful lake........disappointed not to see crocodiles...........we continued our ride for an hour when we had to say goodbye to the girl from Italy. She had been so much fun it was sad to see her go. We continued onto our stop for the night at a Marwari horse farm. Dinesh showed us around his friends horses then it was back to our field camp supper and whisky !!!

Day five we started in the saddle by eight thirty. I had spent some time riding Dineshes horse Beauty in the last few days whom I had enjoyed riding very much, today I was back to Padam who had learned to jog since I had last ridden her and quickly became a pain in the ass. We split into two
groups with myself, the lady from Germany and Dinesh taking off for some canters and gallops. The terrain was getting flatter and the tracks sandy,
so it made for some great gallops.....I was glad to get away from the jogging !!! This turned into a very long day as we could not find camp. Still
split into two groups, it was soon dark and we were glad to get off the horses and walk with a nomad and his herd of forty camel !!! The jeep
eventually found us and the German lady opted to drive to camp which left Dinesh with three horses. With my thighs on fire I agreed to ride the
German ladies horse so he only had two horses and we jumped back on and rode the black roads to camp. I was so glad to get off that night and
the horses were very tired. We drank a lot of whisky and chatted to the other group who had also been lost in a local village but agreed it was all
part of the adventure.

Day six started out with a jogging Padam but within thirty minutes everything seemed to click for her and she began to walk out, stretching and by the end of today was walking on a loose rein.....yay for my bum!!!! Vicki and I stayed together today instead of me going for gallops and we enjoyed our first views of antelope with their babies and the changing landscape as it became more arid. Camp was set up in a field beside a temple and we arrived with the sun still out and enjoyed being able to wash our hair and some clothes before settling into a camp fire and supper.

Day Seven was a great day. Padam was still being a good girl and we enjoyed some lovely canters. Vicki was starting to experience cantering behind me, Padam has a huge trot extension so Vicks horse would break into short canters. We would stay behind everyone else if they were going faster so Vick could practice two point. Dinesh was teasing us around twelve that we still had thiry km to ride......we got a lovely surprise as we rode into
camp at one !!! We all quickly cleaned up and washed clothes before going to visit the temple we were camped beside. The temple was hand.
Carved marble and very beautiful. We arrived in time to watch a small ceremony with a visiting guru. They were chanting and burning coconut the
Guru went into a trance and became possessed during which he would jump into the air with his legs crossed. Afterwards we sat and enjoyed chai
with them. They offered us some opium as well which we learned was mixed with brown sugar. The temple put out grain for the birds and we spent
the evening playing cards and watching the hundreds of parquet and peacocks that came to feed.

Day eight started out fast. Straight into long canters. The lady from Austria was a novice rider so Dinesh had her ride by him as her horse kept taking off with her. Vicki and I stayed well away and let them ride ahead so we could enjoy slower controlled canters. Vicki was starting to adjust to
two point and was doing so well, I was so happy for her. By the afternoon I went. With Dinesh and the German lady for some long canters and
gallops. We rode 40 km again today

We camped in a field and were joined by a local family at our fire. They were fascinated by the iPad and were soon playing solitaire and listening to music. A couple of them danced for us and all in all made for a very nice evening.

Day nine and Padam had a girth rub. One of the 'horse boy's rode her without a saddle so Vicki kindly let me ride her horse and she took the role of photographer. I was not too keen on Vicks horse, a little too quiet and sweet. We had a morning break at a small temple and we were invited into a
Small dark room for chai. The guru was sitting in his orange robes smoking marijuana in front of a small fire. The local villagers soon made room for us and we were soon taking photographs of each other. After break Dinesh switched me to the Austrian ladies horse and we took off........and it was fast. This mare was only 15 hands but she could run like stink. After a brief fight she settled in her place and we whipped along the trails with sand
and dirt flying....breath taking. Camp was in a peanut field so we arrived in full gallop. Vicki was already at camp......giggling. Apparently she was changing in the tent when a nomad popped his head in. Vicki came out to be surrounded by a large herd of sheep. This was our last night camping
out before pushkar and we stayed up around the camp fire chatting about our trip and our next travels.

Posted by Rosielou 14:46 Comments (0)

Krishna Ranch

We were picked up on time....yay.....and driven to Krishna Ranch, a lovely secluded and QUIET spot just outside Udaipur.
We quickly dumped our bags in our cottage so we could explore. We had a huge room and great bathroom with working shower and very clean...but more importantly our first introduction to the Marwari horses. a line of them are hobbled in a line, we learned this is very common in India. I was so relieved to see that the photographs were accurate and the horses were very well fed. All are mares except for one gelding, ranging from 14.2 to 16.2. Piebald, black and bays. There were a couple of foals to see and charming baby goats to play with. Dogs...well fed....cows...and a band of monkeys who come in the morning.we spent the day relaxing and chatting.
The next morning we were up early for quick breakfast before meeting our riding companions......owner Dinesh, and three other ladies from Germany, Austria and Italy. I was teamed up with Padam, A lovely black four year old mare and Vicki was going to be riding Nurani, and lovely paint with a rather long back.
And we were off.........straight into the hills. A team of twelve were to look after us,setting up tents and washroom, cooking and helping with the horses.
The team were amazing, walking beside us as we got used to the horses, no mean feat in hot weather. After a couple of hours we stopped at a temple beside Badi lake for our first photo opportunity of the countryside and resident monkeys, one of whom tried to grab my leg.
Everyone seemed excited to see us, polite and waving hi...Namaste....ram ram........we stopped for our first night next to a lovely lake and watched the water buffalo, monkeys and birds. Supper was outside and as the sun went down it quickly got cold.we had ridden for about six hours and soon crawled into bed to sleep.

Posted by Rosielou 00:56 Comments (0)

Last day

Back to the German bakery for breakfast. An order of sausage for our doggie friend. She seems to sleep on the street next to our hotel and is always easy to find. Clearly two sausages and bread soaked in the fat was not quite enough and she escorted us back to our room where she waited only a minute before taking off. We had no plans so once again we took off on foot this time to explore more of udaipur across the other side of the river. It is Diwali today, business as usual. We were handed treats of some kind but we had no idea what they were. After offering them to some street children who turned them down, they went into our pocket for later use. We initially ended up in a residential area. The locals paid us no attention, just an occasional hello and we ended ip at the lake where we met a huge goat. After a couple of photos he was rewarded with some left over trail mix which he gobbled up. A small boy came down the street pushing a wheel along with a stick, he seemed very happy and entertained and we wondered how the kids back home would feel if they were given this for Christmas.
We continued our walking, meeting no other tourists, passing the small shops until in the distance we spotted an elephant. We were very excited as the elephant lumbered down the road decorated with bells and paint. His mahout stopped and allowed us to take pictures, for which we had to pay. The elephant took the money in his trunk and passed it to the mahout who was sitting on his back. We asked if we could feed the elephant and with permission granted gave him the two sweets we had been given earlier. This made our day and we were glad to see the elephant appeared to be well taken care of, but still a bit sad to see him having to negotiate all the traffic and smog.
We eventually turned around to explore another section of the river and were soon stopped by Yusef riding his pink moped. After much hand shaking he issued an invite to visit his art shop and have chai. We were about to turn back before he stopped us but he told us there was a bazar further up that we should visit to see the real India. We carried on and soon found ourselves in chaos. We had been on busy street but this was crazy. Total gridlock as bikes, tuk tuk, mopeds and pedestrians try to get by each other and the noise was unbelievable. A large lady bustled through Vicki and in behind me a shoved me forward. It took several minutes to get through and by the time we found our bearings we had walked a couple of hours and needed a break from the noise....and people. We headed back to the tranquility of the Whistling Teal and sprawled on their large seats. We lazed and watched birds and chipmunks while snacking on masala peanuts. Bliss. After a couple of hours we braced ourselves for the walk back to the hotel and a well earned sleep.
We had booked dinner at the Palace on the lake front and arrived at 730 pm tone shown to the "best table in the house". We sat for a few hours working our way through Aloo Gobi........potato and cauliflower, tikka, nan, rice, whisky and beer.....delicious. We were entertained all this time by fireworks being set off in every direction, quite stunning. Wended up chatting to a couple of Aussie girls after dinner and entertained ourselves with our travel stories so far.
We stole the tin foil off the nan bread basket and made up a large package of chicken and rice for our favorite dog and headed back to the hotel. When she sees us her face lights up now and her tails wags. She seems to know vickis voice and every time Vicki talks to her her tail wags. She starts to eat our offering and is soon joined by an even skinnier dog and she willingly shares. Our hearts warmed we return to our hotel room and google how to bring back a dog from India !!! I contemplate sending an email home to ask how they would feel about another four legged companion, but I know in my heart it is not practical.
The following morning it is chilly and we pack up our stuff and head to the German bakery......I know, we are getting boring, but they make sausages !!! So we pedestal rounds of sausages and soak up the fat with bread and go to find our dog to offer her a farewell meL. She is fast asleep in her usual spot and we let her have breakfast in bed which she seems to relish. We sneak off to our room while she eats.
Anyone want a dog ?????
Today we are heading to Krishna Ranch which is in Bedi just a few km from udaipur and tomorrow we start our horse safari for ten days.

Posted by Rosielou 21:04 Comments (0)

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