Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Day 7 - Jaipur to Nawalgarh

Off again in the morning, we check out of our amazing hotel, but on the way we stop to photograph the palace of the winds and visit the amber fort of Jaipur and the various palaces contained within it.

As mentioned earlier, for me, the Rajput architecture seemed so much more in keeping than the later Moghul styles. We have plenty of pictures, and will try to get them up soon because they offer a better explanation than words can. There were certain parts we didn’t get to see, including a fort and extensive walls around 1000years old, the amber fort being much more recent.

In retrospect, Jaipur was the first place we visited that made me think I’d like to return to India, and where it felt possible to be more than just an expensively cushioned spectator. There’s also quite a lot that we didn’t see.

So back on the coach to Nawalgarh in the Shekawati region.

Our next hotel – Roop Niwas Kothi (http://roopniwaskothi.com) - for this night was a converted colonial palace, complete with riding stables, swimming pool and bicycles for hire. Our room was beautifully furnished, and much simpler and more classically styled than the Jaipur palace. We also encounter our first fully functional bathroom of the trip so far.

On arrival at a number of hotels we’ve been greeted by a welcoming deputation, complete with red paint (of different materials in each case) rice and garlands of orange marigolds. The routine is that each person is given a spot, some rice is embedded in the ‘paint’ material and then a garland hung round the neck. We were more than a little un-nerved by this, because it has obvious religious significance (the red spot symbolises an ‘inward-looking eye’) and the marigolds are for ‘luck’). We went with it, because to object would not help anyone and would cause some fairly serious offence, but weren’t happy. I wonder if that showed?

That night we have home-cooked food, or at least some of us do, many of the others having gone down with D&V and fevers since Chris and I. We were pretty much recovered, for which I was enormously grateful.

A word on food.

By this time almost all food tasted pretty similar, just with subtle variations of ingredients, spicing and heat levels. At times we’d gone vegetarian because meat options were either dubious chicken or lumps of gristly, fatty mutton. Restaurants doing a la carte would sometimes offer Tandoori and Kashmiri styles, but most of the time it was dopiaza or kofta style main curry with chicken or paneer and vegetables, a dal curry of lentils or chick peas and accompaniment of rice, naan/roti/paratha. It dawned on us that we were eating the regional style of curry, and that’s why each time we went somewhere new it tasted so similar

Drinks were usually Kingfisher (Indian) lager, water, coke, lassi or a fresh sweetened (sometimes salted) lime juice and soda.

It more than kept body and soul together, and we could feel ourselves getting fat, thanks to the calorific nature of the food and a lack of exercise. Just one time everyone managed to get a non-curry based meal, but that was a relative disappointment.

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