Fatehpur Sikri and Keoladeo National Park
Jaipur Travel Blog› entry 6 of 13 › view all entries
November 7th, 2005 – by: portia
Since it is an abandoned palace, Mulsims have taken the courtyard for a market day today. Unfortunately we had to remove our shoes at the great gate and walk the inside barefooted. It was not very clean to say the least, since it is "market day". We "acquired" a Mulsim guide who was very "helpful", pointing us here and there and shooing away random kids and people in the palace. We were told by our Indian guide to ignore him. At the end where we were cleaning our feet with wet wipes, he asked for one so I gave him a wipe, and he proceeded to clean his face. And what do you think we did with the used wipes? We threw them on the ground (in a pile of existing trash) because apparently in India they expect street sweepers to come around to sweep the trash away.
Next stop was the Keoladeo National Park about 50km west of Agra.
The park was the former duck hunt reserve of one of the Maharajas of Bharatpur, who was inspired by the British during one of his trips to Britain. As a major stop of the migratory birds, more than 300 species can be seen in the park. Although famous for the rare Siberian Cranes, none had been spotted in the last couple of years. We saw several (male, female and baby) Nilgai (an India antelope), and a big lizard among the birds.
As the noon heat approaches, we headed to the Bharatpur Palace where the Maharajas stayed during his duck hunts for lunch. It now is a restaurant and rest stop. In the restaurant, we saw photos of several "after duck hunt" group portraits with many dead ducks in the foreground. On the walls were several tiger heads from more than 1/2 century ago. There was even a painting of the Maharajas in his fine coat and jewels.
We opted to take the long drive to Jaipur instead of staying at the Bharatpur ITDC in the park since none of us were real birders and 3 hours were enough to get an idea of the park.
We made one more stop before arriving in Jaipur. An ancient step well in the desert. Its architecture is not something I have seen before. Many sculptures were seen at the ground level niches. The well is supposed to be able to supply the local people for up to one year. We saw some gypsy woman making clay cups, which supposedly they only use once, then break it so it can be made again.
We arrived in Jaipur after dark, through the old city gate. After a while, we saw the first stop light since we left Delhi. And we also spotted street signs and address numbers on buildings. Why is this a big deal? Because we haven't seen any for days! Our driver obviously knew the roads but not by using any maps or street signs! People obviously did not receive mail or package deliveries because they had no addresses! All along the way, even in small villages, we saw many signs for STD, ISD which were phone huts (not booths) for making and possibly receiving local, national and international calls.
At our hotel the Radisson Country Inn & Suites, we received welcom of flower leis and a good luck red dab of paint between our brows. We were pleased to find the suites large and comfortable. Dinner was again buffet style in the hotel restaurant, but some dishes are somewhat different from what we had before, and the mango ice cream was very good.
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