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Treepol
Posted (edited)

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India is a fascinating country of colour, culture and custom. It has golden temples, marble mausoleums, big rivers, wild parks, abandoned cities, lake palaces and red forts.

 

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It is blessed with an amazing megafauna of tigers, bears and elephants and smaller curious creatures such as dhole, gerbils, gharials and a plethora of birds.  

 

 

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This was my third time lucky safari – my third trip to India following cultural trips in 1999 and 2001. It was the third time I had tried to book a version of this itinerary after plans in 2016 and 2018 did not work out. Finally, in 2020 I made it with a 33 day revised itinerary, a travelling trio of friends and I arrived home on 3/3/20 before the world changed. Thanks to @Abhishek Sharma at Wild World India for putting this trip together and accommodating our diverse interests which see-sawed between culture and wildlife.

 

The main stops were:
 

Corbett NP, Chambal River Sanctuary, Agra, Jaipur, Ranthambhore NP, Udaipur, Satpura NP, Mumbai and Aurungabad.
 

The memorable cultural sights and extraordinary wildlife experiences combined to achieve a successful 5 week Indian odyssey.

 

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Edited by Treepol

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Caracal

Great intro @Treepol and great photos. Will look forward to more and am wondering if you'll send me off to my dictionary again as you've just done with "bestiary" !

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Botswanadreams

I'm glad for you that you could fulfill your dream trip to India just before the whole world changed. Thanks to your help in planing for 2016 and 2018 we got our own two month trip in 2018 very comfortable done. Looking forward to read more. 

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Treepol

@Caracal, I'm not sure about a dictionary but an Encyclopedia of History might be useful later on. @Botswanadreams thanks for the good wishes.

 


Today is a flying day - Melbourne, Singapore, Delhi. I met Jo in Melbourne Airport and we found a cafe for breakfast before boarding a flight to Singapore and onwards to Delhi. From above, Delhi blazed with lights from multiple traffic lanes which created a necklace around the city.

It was wonderful to meet @Abhishek Sharmaat Delhi International and we had a lot to talk about on the short drive to the Pride Plaza where a glamorous wedding party filled the foyer and a tired bride-to-be posed for photos.

 

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Treepol
Posted (edited)

Day 1

 

After a leisurely breakfast Jo and I returned to the airport for the flight to Amritsar where our program is to visit Jallianwalla Bagh and the Golden Temple. Jallianwalla is a walled public garden and the scene of the infamous Amritsar Massacre.    This occurred on 13 April 1919 when General Dyer ordered troops to fire into an unarmed crowd that had gathered for a peaceful demonstration and to celebrate the Sikh Baisaki festival. An estimated 379 people died and over 1,000 were injured as a result of this action. Their memory is honoured by a towering monument within the gardens. 

 

 

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Leaving this sombre place we walked through a mall with shops selling fabric and hardware and noticed vegetarian Subway and Macdonalds outlets on the way to the Golden Temple. This temple is the most significant holy site to followers of the Sikh religion and attracts pilgrims worldwide, many of whom make a once in a lifetime pilgrimage to Amritsar. We saw pilgrims prostrate themselves through the shopping mall, on the approach to the temple and at the lake.

 

 

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We wandered around the lake where people were bathing, praying and worshipping.

 

 

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The famous temple kitchens serve up to 100,000 meals a day to visitors. Simple meals are produced on an industrial scale and prepared in spa-sized cooking pots. The Chapatti Queen machines turn out 2000-3000 chapattis per hour.

 

 

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Today the kitchen is serving green lentil curry, rice porridge and chapattis. The din of the washing up carried over the temple area and ensured a supply of gleaming stainless steel plates for late afternoon visitors. The sight of the Golden Temple shimmering across the water is one of my enduring memories of this trip.
 

 

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Edited by Treepol

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Treepol

Day 2

 


Today we planned to return to Delhi and visit Humayan’s Tomb, Lodhi Gardens and the Lutyens designed government buildings. However, a thick fog settled over Amritsar airport causing a 3 hour delay so we only had time for the government buildings and the view down the Rajpath to India Arch.

 

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The empty cupola beyond the arch once held a statue of King George V, however the departing Raj removed the statue in 1947 and the pagoda has remained empty. 

 

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Wildlife seen today included a house crow, bank myna, black kite, 5 striped palm squirrel and rhesus macaque. The Maidens Hotel is our home in Delhi and it was a real experience staying in this heritage property.

 

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Tomorrow we are leaving for Corbett NP,  a 5 hour drive into the Himalayan foothills from Delhi.

 

 

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JayRon

Great start and really looking forward to this report...And 33 days! Wow :) 

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janzin

So happy you started this report. Looking forward to your experiences in Corbett!

 

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Treepol

@JayRonand @janzin thanks for the encouragement, Corbett NP is our next stop.

 

 

The Maidens Hotel thoughtfully provided tea, coffee, biscuits and croissants for guests leaving early. This morning we meet the ground crew - Shankar is our driver for the next 3 weeks and Tarun is in the co-pilot’s seat. The success of this trip is largely due to Shankar’s good humour, discrete time-management and his tactful organisational skills. He was friendly, a good driver and expertly navigated around our itinerary. We were spoiled with a generous supply of snacks for the road and hand sanitiser after each stop. Tarun kept the bus clean, fuelled and took care of the white seat covers and embroidered cushions.(!)

 

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The drive out of Delhi took an hour, during which the sun burned a fiery red through the smog. Sugar cane is a common crop in the outlying rural areas and tractors piled high with cut cane chugging to the mill were a common sight this morning.  

 

We arrived at Riverview Lodge in Ramnagar in time for lunch before an afternoon game drive in the Bhijrani zone of Corbett NP with Govind and Alem, our guide and driver for the next 4 days. A pair of Chital (Spotted Deer) is our first sighting followed by a Changeable Hawk Eagle.

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Red-wattled Lapwing, Grey Wagtail and Green Sandpiper were seen at a stony river crossing.

 

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A pair of Muntjacs (barking deer) and 2 Crested Serpent Eagles followed.

 

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A Grey Bush-Chat perched low in the grass and a female Rose-ringed Parakeet sat in a dead tree.

 

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Red-vented Bulbuls perched for photos and a chital fawn tottered along the roadside.

 

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A Chital alarm call together with a sambar deer staring intently upriver alerted Govind to the possible presence of a tiger, however our patience was not rewarded. We did stop at a tree where the tiger sharpens its claws though - the claw marks were an impressive height from the ground. 

 

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We returned to Riverview Lodge for the night before a slow drive to Dhikala Forest Camp tomorrow morning for a 3 night stay.

 

 

 

 

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janzin

ah Govind was our guide in Corbett as well...he was excellent with birds! Interesting that you did a drive in a different zone in Corbett before going to Dhikala, I wonder why we didn't do it that way.

 

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Treepol
Posted (edited)

@janzin the night at Ramnagar might have been to do with availability at Dhikala or entrance times to the park. There was definitely something weird with the accommodation at Dhikala as both Jane and I had to move rooms after the first night but Jo stayed put for the 3 nights. We were talking to some people from Chennai who visited regularly and said that they had to change rooms most times they stayed. We were told it was because we were an online booking - it makes no sense.

 

Shankar drove us from Delhi and the road trip took about 5 hours which included a stop for he and Tarun to have a late breakfast. There were some checkin formalities at the gate and then we drove to Riverview Retreat for lunch and the afternoon game in Bhijrani Zone. Alem and Govind picked us up around 2 pm - Govind is a man of few words wouldn't you say? However, he does know the park and the birds very well and answered questions throughout our stay. Whatever the reason, it was good to see Bhijrani Zone and then have a very slow drive to Dhikala the next morning. 

 

Day 4 - Corbett NP

 

Corbett NP was named after Jim Corbett the famous hunter turned conservationist who in 1936 convinced the Raj to gazette an area of protected habitat for Bengal tigers. The park is 1300 sq. km.with an altitude of 1200m and includes grassland, sal forest, lakes and river habitats.

 

A pre-breakfast walk at Riverview Retreat gave sightings of a juvenile Crimson Sunbird, Spotted Dove and Common Langur.

 

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The view of the river is a taster of the magnificent scenery we will discover in Dhikala Zone.

 

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Today we have a full day in scenic Corbett NP,  driving through the dappled sal forests and along shingle-banked rivers all with a backdrop of the Himalayan foothills en route to Dhikala Rest Camp.

 

The Garjiya Devi Temple is situated above the Kosi River just beyond Ramnagar.

 

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Birding begins with distant and leafy views of Greater Goldenback, a White-throated Kingfisher perched on an overhead wire and Alem spots a  Lineated Barbet amongst the paw-paws.

 

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Scarlet Minivets, of which the female is a canary yellow feed in a roadside tree and a Jungle Owlet cleverly impersonates a bunch of dry leaves in a dead tree. 

 

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Along this road we also see Himalayan Bulbul and Crested Kingfisher. A wild boar runs from the vehicle and Govind says that boars are a favourite tiger food - it must be quite a contest between these 2 as the boars are solidly built.  Plumbeous Water Red-starts chase insects along the Ramnagar River before we climb into the hills through the sal forest, passing many scheming rhesus macques.

 

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Alem stops at a lookout where 2 gharials are resting near a pair of freshwater crocodiles, aka muggers.

 

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A Golden Mahseer ‘hangs’ in the clear water, waiting for lunch to swim by.

 

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Common Langurs feed in fruit trees across the river while chital wait below for any dropped fruit. Back on the road a pair of Golden Jackals trot across the river and disappear and Jungle Babblers chatter along the roadside.

 

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We arrive at Dhikala for lunch and watch a small elephant across the river opposite a Pallas’s Fish Eagle.

 

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A small herd of male chital, a Long-tailed Shrike and Crested Serpent Eagle kick off the afternoon sightings.

 

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 Alem drove slowly to a popular tiger viewing spot and we settled down to wait.

 

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There is a good variety of birds along this stretch and we see Greenshank, Ruddy Shelduck, River Tern and Common Teal. 

 

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There are too many vehicles arriving so Alem moves the jeep downriver, passing a tree of Plum-headed Parakeets.

 

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A Streak-throated Woodpecker is perched on a log in front of the vehicle when suddenly tigers appear in the distance - the Grassland Area Tigress and her 3 one year old cubs. The cubs play in the dust watched by the tigress before all 4 disappear without posing for photos. Still on a tiger high, we stop for Crested Kingfisher and Sambal Deer on the way back to Dhikala.

 

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A pair of jungle fowl scratch for insects at the roadside and suddenly the world turns pink.

 

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The final sightings of the day are another Golden Jackal and a group of Rhesus Macaques just outside the Camp.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by Treepol

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Soukous

Lovely travelogue

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janzin

awesome start! I guess our tigress and three cubs were the same "Grassland Area" tigress...although I don't think Govind volunteered that name. 

 

Nice close-up jackal on the river rocks!

 

Such a beautiful park...

 

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Treepol

@Soukous and @janzin the words flow easily when I'm writing about Corbett, a scenic and wildlife rich park. It was Alem who referred to the Grassland Area Tigress.

 

Day 5

 

Corbett National Park


Masala chai is delivered at 6 am before the morning game drive along the misty river. Here is the Gypsy line-up at Dhikala and once the gate is open its as though someone dropped a chequered flag as drivers wrench the wheel right and tear out the gate.

 

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The guides spot a Jungle Owlet hunched against the cold and a nearby Brown Fish Owl well hidden by leaves. We are heading to the tiger view point but stop for birds - a flock of Large Cormorants flew out of the mist while River Terns, River Lapwings and a Greenshank search for breakfast. The Long-tailed Shrikes are out as well.

 

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A Black Drongo and an Indian Hoopoe watched from the shore. Further down, Little Egrets and a Black Stork wait for the sun to break through the mist. The sal forest creates interesting patterns in the morning light.

 

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We return to Dhikala for a breakfast choice of porridge, veg. rice, potato curry, puri and omelettes before leaving 30 minutes later for another drive.  A Common Kestrel is perched in a tree near the gate and 2 elephants that are used to patrol the park graze the verges.

 

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Along the road a Lesser Coucal hides in the long grass and a Pond Heron fishes for breakfast. A stand of dead trees is a perfect location for a collection of interesting birds of prey - Collared Falconet, Osprey and a Black-shouldered Kite. Alem stops at a grassy area where Great Egret, Great Thick-knee, River Lapwing, White-necked Stork, Black-winged Stilt, White-throated Kingfisher and a female Stonechat are soaking up the sun.

 

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However, the big sighting is a family of Smooth-coated Otters much to Jane and Jo's delight.

 

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We drove further around the lake and found Grey Heron, Plain Prinia and a Hog Deer. Down a quiet side road a peacock displays to a group of disdainful females.

 

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After lunch the first sightings are Red-whiskered Bulbul followed by a hog deer grazing amongst the tussocks.

 

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A Pied Kingfisher stands by the lake shore and then Alem spots a Checkered Keelback in the shallows.

 

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The Pallas’s Fish Eagle has a large chick in an even larger nest.

 

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A confiding Long-billed Pipit blends into the dry grass.

 

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We leave the lake for the forest where Jungle Babblers, a Rufous Treepie, Lesser Yellow-naped Woodpecker and Maroon Oriole are having a bird party. Wild boar catch the filtered sunlight as they search for food.

 

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 Later we return to where we saw the tiger family yesterday, passing a juvenile Changeable Hawk Eagle perched above the road.

 

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Alem finds an almost ring side position which serves us well when the tigers appear and slowly make their way down to the river.

 

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 Everyone is excited when a female sub-adult cub crosses the river and walks in front of a waiting jeep before wandering through high grass, scent marking and walking off down a dry stream bed.

 

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After this sighting the competition to get close to the tiger ceased to be fun and became what I described in an email home as a free for all, testosterone-fuelled tiger frenzy. I am surprised that no one fell out of a jeep, that there were no collisions and that the Forest Dept. does not keep a closer eye on behaviour at tiger sightings.  However, the tiger did not seem phased by the behaviour and noise and ambled along near the road, contact calling rather than disappearing into the trees. Presumably the tigers don't mind the attention because they crossed in front of a river bank bristling with Gypsys and long lenses. Perhaps even the sub-adults are habituated to the vehicle pressure?

 

We have a quick trip home because all the jeeps are due back at Dhikala before 6 p.m. However, we do stop for a family of Hog Deer grazing amongst the boulders and a Green Sandpiper near the bridge at sunset.

 

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Dhikala Forest Camp

 

The operator alerted us to the "extremely basic" facilities at Dhikala as this is a government run lodge managed by the Forest Dept. However, I was pleasantly surprised and found the rooms comfortable, the bathrooms were fine and the food delicious. I would be really happy to return  and maybe split the time between Dhikala and another rest camp especially if this provided access to another traversing area.

 

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Caracal

I'm fascinated by that name  Changeable Hawk Eagle

You mention a cold night @Treepol - interested to know what sort of temperatures you experienced but I imagine they might have varied a lot during your trip.

Thoroughly enjoying this TR.

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janzin

Ah this is really bringing back good memories! I'm glad you took photos inside the camp and room, as I didn't; looks to me like we had the exact same room as you!

 

And the tiger sighting sounds much like the one we had :)

 

 

 

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Treepol
Posted (edited)

@Caracal Changeable Hawk eagle is a long and awkward sounding name for such an impressive raptor. The temperatures varied hugely on this trip, from nights close to zero at Corbett to the mid-30s across the plains in the daytime. However as we were all in single rooms it was a lifesaver to be able to use the blankets and doona from the other bed in the room, throughout the trip. We were well rugged up for the morning game drive in Corbett NP and again after about 4 p.m. in the afternoon. Fortunately, it didn’t rain during our stay as that would be quite miserable. We travelled in the Indian spring which is considerably warmer than ours. 

 

@janzin this was my first room, and the nicer of the 2. My second room is directly above the Dhikala sign in the second last photo above, in the same building as the dining room.

 

Day 6

 

Corbett NP - Delhi

 

The last morning in Corbett begins with a short, quiet riverside drive where the mist hangs low and a Crested Kingfisher perches at the bridge. There is no action at the lookout so we start back to Dhikala where a Lesser Fish Eagle is studying the river and River Lapwings fossick amongst the shingle.

 

993751273_P101-Lesserfisheagle.JPG.8275494642e78bdf011220b1beb1ae03.JPG

 

1444208800_P102-Corbettriver.JPG.6867142ed1d19d9c8e64d30bb47791e4.JPG

 

Other birds seen were Red-whiskered Bulbul, Common Kingfisher and Jungle Babbler.

 

377530026_P103-junglebabbler.JPG.ed602228dab040d28b81a2871d45264d.JPG

 

We had a final breakfast and a last drive with Alem and Govind back to Ramnagar.A family of wild boar block the road on the return and we also see Chital, Muntjac and a Great Hornbill (briefly).

 

985348681_P105-boar.JPG.36fa05e8efb747333c3a5cd3afa8d52f.JPG

 

Shankar and Tarun are ready and waiting with the hand sanitiser before the return trip to Delhi where we are staying at the Maidens Hotel. The ground crew have opted to travel to Gwalior tonight where they will meet us tomorrow afternoon at the railway station.
 
We were lucky to have a close tiger sighting in Corbett NP which I hope is an omen for other parks. Corbett is very scenic and although tigers seem to eclipse all other forms of life at certain times of the day we did see 4 species of deer, golden jackals, otters and 46 bird species. The cool, clean mountain air was welcome after the smog of Delhi and the mist hanging over the shingle rivers created a mysterious morning magic.

 

 

 

 

Edited by Treepol

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elefromoz

@Treepol, glad you've got started, it keeps the India dream and memories alive. You were lucky to catch that beautiful "bride to be" in Delhi, we saw one at Rann Riders on our first trip, which was a lovely surprise. I'd love to see an Indian wedding someday. The "Chapatti Queen" is something, wouldn't mind a kitchen size version in my own appliance cupboard, and just the thought of a "green lentil curry" makes me hungry. Seeing the Gypsies lined-up at Dikhala waiting for the Gate to open, reminded me of Kanha and the long queue of Gypsies,  where there was also a clock counting down to Gate open, talk about hectic. I'm glad you enjoyed Dikhala Forest Camp, to be honest, Ive been a little nervous of government run lodges, I feared both the standard of the sleeping quarters and also the food quality. Corbett looks to be yet another beautiful Indian Park, really looking forward to the rest of your epic trip. 

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Treepol
Posted (edited)

@elefromoz thanks for your kind comments. The bride in the foyer was a delightful introduction to India, there will be more on Indian weddings in a few days time. I was sorry that we didn't meet up in Ranthambhore, I think you were in the south when we were at Ranthambhore Kothi.

 

 

Day 7

 

Delhi-Gwalior

 

Abhishek is waiting in the foyer at the Maidens to accompany us to Nizamuddin Railway Station and on the train trip to Gwalior.  Nizamuddin is a kaleidoscope of Indian life - handcarts stacked with potato sacks, porters carrying suitcases on their heads and festooned with an assortment of bags, graceful Indian ladies in beautiful sarees and women carrying enormous awkwardly wrapped packages almost as big as themselves. Strangely the carriage is only half full and the Indian Railways pantry guys work hard to sell breakfast, snacks and hot drinks.

 

Shankar meets us at Gwalior Railway Station and from there we go to the Jai Vilas Palace Museum built for Maharaja Jayaji Rao Scindia in 1874.  The palace is a blend of Tuscan, Italian-Doric and Corinthian architecture with a gleaming white façade that gives it a Mediterranean aspect.

 

514207360_P106-JaiVilas.JPG.88cf00589f8143e02d65c2ed74629924.JPG

 

Jai Vilas has 400 rooms including a 35 room museum that contains European and Indian furniture, artworks, an armoury and sumptuous former royal living quarters that are an ode to opulence.
 
This small, ornate dining setting is made in the Malabar style. 

 

1212889311_P107-Diningroom.JPG.713d0c7b5bf9a3abc653ae5e4cb14a8b.JPG

 

Queen Chinoo Rani, the ‘little queen’ was just 4’ tall and all of her furniture was custom made.

 

1845801182_P108-ChinooRanisbedroom.JPG.b1941db1dbfca896f34089e1cd945a01.JPG

 

The Maharajah’s art deco style bedroom.

 

404535400_P109-Jaivilas3.JPG.8b8d93cdc2e6104ad9f21ef8252ef43a.JPG

 

This Krishna Jhula is adorned with mirrors, gilded metal and peacocks that surround the Krishna figure.

 

1538629112_P110-KrishnaJhula.JPG.a3c3c478f833c2648772f102aad9bc99.JPG

 

The drawing, oriental and billiards rooms reflect the opulence of palace life.

 

784468888_P111-Scindiafamilydrawingroom.JPG.fdbb17a19b855e5203ed26106c2e8c7c.JPG

 

1248607325_P112-Orientalroom.JPG.66ac081482d761d60b3ae34dc8138c52.JPG

 

781832500_P115-Blliardsroom.JPG.f97db2fa39264789139c14f2d78a941c.JPG

 

Taat Paat Bhojan Hall is a dining hall set for a Marathan dinner. The taat are the cushions designed to hold the thals or silver plates whilst the low wooden seats are called paat.

 

52206912_P113-TaatPaatBhohanhall.JPG.aec43d66bf7e9e9126765d4e99bd1297.JPG

 

The piece de resistance is the electric silver train with cut glass wagons that delivered liqueurs and cigars to guests at the dining table along the track on the table behind the train. The Maharajah ‘drove’ the train from controls at the head of the table.

 

P114Jaivilas.JPG.f634ee4b09327bc76ba22a6c3299f97b.JPG

 

A crystal staircase leads to the opulent durbar hall which is world famous for the pair of crystal chandeliers that hang from the ceiling. Various stories tell of suspended elephants or elephants standing on the roof to check if the structure could hold the 12m and 3.5 tonne chandeliers.

 

863573564_P116-Jaivilas.JPG.661ae2555b92ffa1d42dd6e2b01451b3.JPG

 

1614535063_P117-Jaivilas.JPG.d2e4f227876685c62d549c8a8da61af2.JPG

 

Wandering through the gold, glitz and glamour at Jai Vilas was similar to sliding into a parallel universe. The richness, colours and quirkiness of Jai Vilas epitomized by silver train and crystal staircases cast an Alice-in-India spell.  

 

Our accommodation tonight is at the nearby Usha Kiran Palace Hotel built in 1902.

 

P121Ushakiran.JPG.406b9b17947992817a31458dc56e7f30.JPG

 

407942169_P120-Ushakiran.JPG.77506b61bb5d0528b6e9dbed8e03655d.JPG

 

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Tomorrow we are visiting Gwalior Fort before a short drive through rural India for a 2 night stay at Chambal Safari Lodge. The Fort was occupied for a short time by Akbar, the third Great Moghul Emperor.

 
The Great Moghuls

 

Great empires have been founded and fallen in Northern India from the ancient Indus Valley civilisations to the Moghuls and the British Raj. Our itinerary included visits to forts, palaces, temples and monuments most of which have a connection to the golden age of the Mughal Empire that flourished between 1526-1707. This 200 year period saw the construction of Agra Fort, the Taj Mahal and Fatehpur Sikri. There were 6 Great Moghuls - Babur, Humayun, Akbar, Shah Jehan, Jehangir and Aurangzeb who rampaged across the plains of northern India to leave a conflicting legacy of bloody warfare, religious persecution and taxation contrasting with a peaceful empire, unique architecture and a glittering lifestyle. After the death of Aurangzeb in 1707 the empire was weakened by pressures from the invading Marathas and the British East India Company.  The dynasty was eventually dissolved by the British after the 1857 rebellion.


Interwoven with the Moghul legacy is that of preceding and successive Indian Maharajahs, some of whom were also great builders, rulers and warriors. Once powerful forts loom over the plains and spiked gates designed to withstand battering war elephants open to reveal crooked ramps leading to opulent palaces as the austere and functional give way to fantasy and opulence.

 

P701F.JPG.88b81c3489b303e651812772b6d4286f.JPG

 

1162525152_P272-Tiger3.JPG.d80bc68635e337962ed7bc53dafa68a6.JPG

 

Sculpted marble, ornate fountains and stained glass decorate both public venues and private pleasure palaces.

 

P263A.JPG.775cea198fe4df0748adaea2e05bf5a7.JPG

 

Many Maharajahs lived grand lives of fervor, flamboyance, folly, finery and frills.  Together, the Great Mughals and the Maharajahs made enormous contributions to the rich tapestry of Indian history much of which is on display today. Our first taste of this heritage is tomorrow at Gwalior Fort, a well preserved Hindu fort built around the 10th century.

 

 

 

Edited by Treepol

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Soukous

Looking forward to your report from Chambal @Treepol, I was there 6 months ago and really liked it, and the area. Curious to know what you thought.

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TonyQ

I am really enjoying your writing and your excellent photos. You had some great sightings in Corbett. The palaces are certainly a contrast to ordinary Indian life.

It sounds like you were well looked after by your drivers and guides.

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michael-ibk

A really lovely report Denise, and I´m happy we are getting much much more with a whopping 33 days! I too have very fond memories or Corbett and found the forest camp better than expected.

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Treepol
Posted (edited)

@Soukous I enjoyed Chambal too. I would have liked a third night to do the blackbuck excursion and visit Rapri. I've decided that every Indian itinerary is a tussle between spending more time in fascinating places or moving on to discover new sites. I thought Chambal Safari Lodge was very comfortable, well organised and the food was exceptionally good. 

 

@TonyQ Corbett was certainly very kind to us. The palaces and forts are far removed from an everyday experience in India. I was trying to think of other countries/dynasties who built such fabulous palaces and forts - maybe Russia under the Czars, the UK, central Asia, maybe China? Its the scale of the building in India which is impressive because there are so many sites. Yes, our ground crew were excellent. 

 

@michael-ibk thanks for reading along, there is much more to come including school children, weddings and stepwells as well as forts, palaces and wildlife.

 

Day 8


Gwalior-Chambal River

 

The Gwalior fort precinct includes defences, 2 palaces and several temples. It was captured twice by the Moghuls, the invading Marathas and for a short time in 1780, occupied by the British East India Company. The Man Mandir Palace built between 1486-1516 towers over the city and despite many occupations retains its original character.

 

780588472_P122-Gwalior.JPG.3ab8fa325af783a0b9266a6be53e6695.JPG

 

1636626755_P127-Gwalior.JPG.804376e0e84de9eb4976719a115f3577.JPG

 

The Man Mandir is also known as the Painted Palace due to the decorative tiles used throughout and the colourful exterior elephant, tiger, parrot and crocodile images that symbolise prosperity, power, love and purity.

 

846252464_P122A-ManMandir.JPG.01616f6528b6fe78517a72433f88b341.JPG

 

P123Gwalior.JPG.20b0ac95c63b094e14c3d82137b4619e.JPG

 

The palace includes dancing pavilions, halls of public and private audience, summer and winter bedrooms for the Maharajah and cool internal chambers on the lower levels, one of which held a swimming pool back in the day. 

 

P124Gwalior.JPG.5ebb36ab53e684bf911580ced9cf1969.JPG

 

1896668652_P125-Gwalior.JPG.d5e985a5040ed724fa64b70cd9980f16.JPG

 

710853926_P126-suncarving.JPG.bef314fb6452097a28588bd575076dad.JPG

 

260331255_P124A-GwaliorFort.JPG.d01330fa49503370ad8f50d3cd2cd142.JPG

 

Moving on from the Palace, the Teli-Kar-Mandir temple is built in the South Indian style. 

 

1364385959_P128-Teli-ka-mandirtemple.JPG.8f91bf3b6d0f864b5d23ccb1f8a49a92.JPG

 

Rose-ringed parakeets share a fountain with Five striped Palm Squirrels in the temple garden.

 

1130968330_P129Gwalior-Rose-ringed.JPG.f46f402587c5343f7b4eaf8520186f55.JPG

 

The road winds downhill past the Siddhachal Caves where Jain statues have been carved into the rock face below the fort. This group is carved in the Jain style characterised by open eyes. 

 

168052041_P130-Gwalior.JPG.a7a011af48131aea2054cf2a09bada6d.JPG

 

We descend into the smog of Gwalior before driving west to Chambal. Shankar turns off the main highway onto a ‘small’ road and suddenly we are treated to an impromptu ‘village safari’ through rural Madhya Pradesh where the yellow mustard crop dominates the countryside. This region was alive with people working, eating, shopping, travelling, worshipping and child-minding - another microcosm of Indian life. We arrived at Chambal Safari Lodge around 2 pm in time for a late lunch.

 

Later in the afternoon Denash, a Lodge naturalist took Jane and I birding around the Lodge.

 

1064737966_P131-Indianscops.JPG.4e698ccaa0fc3c69cfe16e40db682510.JPG

Indian Scops Owl

 

1477852889_P132-BrownHawkOwl.JPG.bf7cbf0275d6e3aa82089b06a0b82b57.JPG

Brown Hawk Owl

 

482158282_P133-SpottedOwls.JPG.a1e68eccfccf3c9296b781c6d97630f9.JPG Spotted Owls

 

425710554_P134-Paintedstork.JPG.3e9aff1d23b0d10746aaac122fef2d77.JPG

Painted Stork

 

680263142_P135-Junglebabblers.JPG.2e0277e94511583a4c1c0a8c3d579a31.JPG

Jungle Babblers

 

1667079304_P137-Short-nosedfruitbat.JPG.e23877a0fd0c64b0d0fc1f151fc22f15.JPG

Short-nosed Fruit Bat

 

247962225_P138-Junglehare.JPG.0565cb8e16ed53f2ffcf5e4be0830f84.JPG

Indian Hare

 

736317830_P139Indiangreyhornbill.JPG.72394a52b98071d3c0bfa1e76a4a4bb7.JPG

Indian Grey Hornbill

 

496448600_P140-OrientalMagpierobin.JPG.646546b455f1ab3700ee7bbe461f3ecc.JPG

Oriental Magpie Robin

 

735400215_P141Yellow-wattledlapwing.JPG.0670c61ce9283abe6bd606184ee4f068.JPG

Yellow-Wattled Lapwing

 

1019614125_P142Spottedowlet.JPG.9c94a2dcb0b544edff0cdffc6d85da48.JPG

(Another) Spotted Owl

 

1369395165_P143-Nilgai.JPG.cae9d3fe49feba74e43f2d8026657bb5.JPG

Nilgai

 

1282617516_P145-coppersmith.JPG.f3fa7a6a32a17d0a320f80022212e693.JPG

Coppersmith Barbet

 

Chambal Safari Lodge is a comfortable eco-lodge and a great place to have a "holiday from the holiday." 

 

184782098_P177D-Chamballodge.JPG.2dfb602c5779aaaef5280651c11b1d12.JPG

 

156349100_P177E-Chamballodge.JPG.3780b6b98e2decb559b2918ac9472971.JPG

 

1107817336_P146-Chamballodge.JPG.9c5ecd256cb246c2ee65c5ec1748c71c.JPG

 

We enjoyed a G&T around the fire pit before the outstanding buffet dinner. Tomorrow I have 2 boat trips on the Chambal River.

 

 

 

 

Edited by Treepol

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Soukous
4 hours ago, Treepol said:

the yellow mustard crop dominates the countryside

 

maybe you can help me here Denise. Although the Indians refer to the crop as Mustard, I thought it was the same as what we call Oil Seed Rape and what you guys call canola. Our naturalist waxed lyrical about how he kept his hair from going grey by using mustard oil, which seemed to be the same as canola oil.

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TonyQ

@Soukous they are closely related but not the same species

White Mustard; Brassica hirta

Black Mustard; Brassica nigra

Rape Seed; Brassica napus

 

But in time of lockdown, you could try Rape Seed oil on your hair :)

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