Saturday, 16 February 2019

February 12-13-14-15 - Four Riding Days to Mandu

A four-day riding week from Udaipur to Mandu, a total of about 430 km.

Mainly pastural scenery, generally fairly arid, especially with now being dry season - cotton, grain and chickpeas fields - some parts were well irrigated, some harvesting taking place.

The first day was 110 km with an overall descent for the day, mainly good road surfaces and a following wind, so a good average speed, in fact a spectacular average speed for me by the time we got to lunch at about 80 km - almost 25 km/hr including the first 6 km in convoy in Udaipur morning traffic. Slowed down a lot after lunch though.

Heron landing in wet area adjacent the highway

in the same wet are, but I haven't identified either of them yet
Indian peacock in field beside highway
A common sight when we pass schools... all the kids gather and wave

Classic case of the first step being a big one - highway construction is resulting in those houses being very close to the precipice. We sincerely hope that a retaining wall is planned - can you imagine the effect of monsoon rains.

Black headed Ibis
 ...arriving in Dungarpur and its lakefront...

 ...on the short ride from town to the hotel...
Oriental Darter (or Snakebird)
The surprise for the night in Dungarpur was that we had a wonderful hotel in the Udai Bilas Palace. It was on the lake with a nice clean swimming pool, huge rooms, an automobile museum with a real funky bar, and amazing dining rooms. 

our room

white-breasted  kingfisher at the swimming pool
centre courtyard

bar at the back of the museum... we had fun, danced to 70s music... and a few drinks too!

Our table just before dinner. That's real water in the middle
courtyard later that night 
the town from lakeside
temple and garden offshore from the resort
The following three days were a mix of roads, no dramatic changes of scenery until nearing Mandu when we go into a deeper valley before climbing the other side through fortifications dating back 500 years.

Alas, we're told that there will be no more overnights in spectacular forts and palaces. The day after the palace in Dungarpur, we're in Banswara and we're back to earth on quality of accommodation. This is a fairly typical with the shower and sink and toilet all in one tiled room with no separate shower enclosure.  
 What I find curious is the plumbing arrangement... 
That little black hole on the bottom right of the photo, adjacent to the floor drain...
 that's where the water from the sink drains
Banswara area is home to several lakes We were just leaving town with the sun still low when we passed this lake 

Gergo, one of the TDA staff, riding sweep today
We had a long bridge over a reservoir with Spoonbills and Pintail Ducks on one side, and on the other, almost certainly 500 ducks all in one contiguous area, we suspect because there was a school of fish below.

Later, we saw about 100 bats emerge from a row of trees, fly around in a bit of a swarm until they had all landed back in the trees and were no more to be seen.
 ... and then the very young man making do on a bike far larger then him. Note the bare feet and and just a single shaft of pedal.
That night was in Ratlam, a fairly leisurely 80 km ride - we'll pay for that tomorrow. The hotel had the makings of at least once upon a time having been a five star place with all sorts of marble flooring, etc. A separate building in the back housed a squash court with glass back wall, sauna and steam room, and an outdoor swimming pool. I doubt that very much of that was functional now. The squash court housed half-a-dozen sleeping rolls and it appeared that whoever owned them also ate in the squash court. The swimming pool has no furnishings. Sad, but it shows how easy it is to build first class infrastructure but then fail to maintain it... something we need to heed in our own western societies.

The next day we left Ratlam for a 135-km day to Mandu.
A greater Coucal in the parking lot, a heck of a lot easier to photograph that the one that tried to hide from me on the road a week or so ago
A lot of cotton growing in this area

Washing being done in the main street of a village.
Not uncommon to see dogs sound asleep almost anywhere. 
Schools always seem to be well-kept, though not necessarily as nice as this private school
At last we are within 10 km of Mandu and pass by this gorge in which they must have found some evidence of dinosaurs judging by the museum here.

grain is all cut by hand.
Getting closer to Mandu, this is one of dozens of fortifications that date back about 500 years.
A long ride, and hot in the afternoon, but we got into Mandu in good spirits albeit very tired, That was last night, the 15th. We had not had enough internet access over the past four days to do much of this blog entry, so it was all done this evening. That means our activities here in Mandu will come later. Good night all, hope you all had a happy St. Valentine's day.  

Wednesday, 13 February 2019

Udaipur - rest day

Monday February 11 - a rest day in Udaipur. I had no preconceptions of this town. There's a City Palace on the lake three or four km from the hotel. So we walked down to it after breakfast with a stop first at the Folk Art Museum.
A bit of road work... women doing some of the dirty work, leaving us amazed that they do it dressed so colourfully
The Folk Art Museum... everything so colourful...
One of their ceremonial dances
a regional mask
Ursula and Wendy looking more like cyclists on a rest day than the traditionally dressed ladies behind glass
We continue the walk through the normal downtown mass of motorcycles and tuktuks. This cow seems to have found a parking spot in the motor scooter area. Hope he doesn't eat the instrument panel.
The Jagdish Hindi temple in the middle of town...
...and then on to the City Palace which is now partly hotel and conference centre... as soon as we were in the grounds the noise level went down dramatically.
We ate lunch there and then took a boat trip on the lake rather than do the Palace Museums and interior - not enough time for both...

The palace and waterfront were in such contrast with the bustle of everyday life in the smaller streets only a few hundred metres behind the shoreline. I can see how people come up the "Venice of India" comparisons. I never expected to feel such richness. Our rest days so far have given us an insight into precolonial India and has me thinking that the biggest difference between western European life and Indian life in the last two or three hundred years is that the industrial revolution took place in Europe thereby setting it on a course that allowed European domination of trading. Maybe that's obvious to many of you who read this, but it's something I really hadn't contemplated in that way before. 

After the boat trip, we took a tuktuk back to the hotel and get ready for tomorrow's ride. It's now a matter of getting photos chosen and edited and getting an internet connection to post this.