Friday 2 March 2012: Chilling at the Mehrangarh Fort
Having blipped last night's sunset it was a hard choice not to blip this morning's sunrise.
Up early with a long day ahead: first to Jodhpur to visit the Mehrangarh Fort. This is my favourite Fort in India and it was lovely to go back. I often wonder if it has something to do with the enthusiasm of the man speaking on the audio guide - his enthusiasm certainly rubs off and makes you feel each step you take is a new adventure into the past.
The Fort is a vast, imposing edifice with stunning views over the blue city, Jodhpur, and surrounding countryside. The rooms contain many treasures - miniatures, palaquins, howdahs, weapons, chests and more; and there are palaces decorated with mirrors, pearls, stained glass, golden filgree work and even Christmas balls! A feast of a place! I never seem to have long enough at the Fort (or in its lovely cafe), but today we had an important date: we were heading for lunch in the ancestral village of our friend and guide, Ranjeet.
His village, called Malgarh, is really quite remote and we had a bumpy ride to get there. The village elders had been preparing our welcome for three hours and had consumed a variety of intoxicating substances by the time we arrived. The women meanwhile had been preparing a tasty lunch for us. It was a great privilege to be invited to Ranjeet's family home and to meet his family and many of the villagers. They gave us a truly warm welcome. We asked questions and learned a lot about remote village life and they, it turned out, puzzled over just quite who we were and concluded that we spent our lives touring round India with Ranjeet - it was inconceivable that there might be others like us.
We left Malgarh just as school finished for the day and all the children came to wave us on our way. We carried on for some hours to Ghanerao where we were spending the next two nights, staying at the beautiful and crumbling Castle there.