Enchanting Travels guest Melody Fisher reflects on the stark contrasts of daily life during her travels in Rajasthan with her friend Chris in January 2013.
The bustling street life and narrow gullies of Amer and Deogarh enclose the grandeur of their stately palaces.
Today we go about eleven kilometres out of Jaipur to the Fort in Amer. It is an old fort, built in 1592 by Raja Man Singh in red sandstone and marble besides the banks of the Maotha Lake, which adds a certain charm.
To get to the top where the fort is we ride on the back of an elephant! It is slightly uncomfortable but definitely a new experience, and quite funny! A man took photos of us and spent the rest of the morning chasing us to buy them!
The fort was totally beautiful. It is sometimes difficult to equate the insides of some of these palaces and forts with the outside where ordinary people live in shacks.
After we had explored the fort, the car met us at the top so we didn’t have to go to the bottom on the elephants – just as well!
We encountered the man who had taken our photographs, who was asking Rs. 1000 for them. Chris got him down to Rs. 100 for the FOUR! Bargain.
We made our way back to Jaipur, stopping at the Water Palace en route. This is a beautiful old palace in the middle of the lake; now empty, it is being renovated for use as a restaurant.
You have to get a little boat to reach it and the area in front of the water palace was full of hawkers and tourists. Lively!
We had a free afternoon then and sat and read our books until dinner which was dal and rice and a nice sweet (rice pudding I think!).
The next morning, we left at 9am for our journey to Deogarh which is a journey of four hours along a nice, but unremarkable, road. We stopped for a loo break and some delightful shopping. We arrived at around 3pm and WOWOWOW!
This was a real palace, set off the main road and accessible through a maze of shops and market stalls.
Once at the Deogarh Mahal, we were drummed in as a greeting, had petals showered on us from above and given a drink while checking in. We were taken to our very pretty room at the back of the hotel.
The windows were stained glass and the room had stone alcoves, our own balcony and two nice loungers where we could sit and watch the sun move right across the sky from one side to the other. Once we had ‘unpacked’ we went for a walk into the town, a few minutes away, and I bought a beautiful shawl.
At night there was a little show on the first floor open courtyard. When we got there the chairs were set in a semi-circle around two large braziers with coal which were being lit.
We got a drink from the bar, and waiters brought around hot papadums with spicy nuts and sauce.
There was a family of four performing, with the mum and daughter doing the dancing and dad and nephew playing the instruments.
Coming through the large courtyard earlier, we had noticed a large very old vintage car. In the restaurant sitting opposite us was a couple – Mr and Mrs Fwa Fwa! Very Posh indeed!
They were also from London and had been in India on and off since October and were planning to drive the vintage car- theirs- all over India.
We found out that they were part of the Classic India Car Rally and several more guests would soon arrive to also join the rally. The dinner was very nice – Mahal Special. An early night followed.
We woke up at 6am with the natural light streaming in through the stained glass windows!
Had a lovely breakfast with not only an egg man but also a toast man! After breakfast we left the hotel at 9.30am to make our way to the local train station for an hour-long ride to see birds, monkeys and countryside.
We had lunch on the terrace of the hotel – spinach kebabs and potato kebab with mint dressing – yum!
We sat and had a beer and watched some of the other cars arriving for the Rally. They were piped and drummed into the courtyard and had petals showered on to them from a window above the entrance!
We spent a lovely afternoon on our terrace reading our books in the sunshine.