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Treepol
Posted (edited)

Day 18

 

Bundi-Udaipur

 

Breakfast this morning is at the rooftop restaurant gazing across the blue houses to the palace. Hotel tuk-tuks then take us to a gate on the edge of the old town where Shankar is waiting for the drive to Chittorgarh and on to Udaipur. During the 3 hour drive we pass through rural areas where opium poppies are a lucrative crop grown government permit.

 

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Chittor Fort, or Chittorgarh dates from the 7th century and has been occupied by many clans including the Mewar family before it was captured by Akbar in 1567. Rana Udai Singh, the Mewar chief escaped Akbar and moved south to establish a new base on the shores of Lake Pichola at Udaipur. A peace treaty signed in 1616 between Emperor Jehangir (Akbar’s son) and the Mewars returned Chitor to the former owners on the proviso that the fort would not be repaired. The present day site contains the remains of 13 palaces and more than 100 temples as well as 2 commemorative towers over an area of almost 700 acres.  5000 people live within the fort and the village situated on the zig-zag access road inside the precinct. Shankar drove through 7 (narrow) ornate gates to our first walk within the fort.  Sadly, we were short of time here, driving between the major landmarks and around the perimeter of the fort before leaving for Udaipur.

 

Some of the main landmarks are:

 

The Kumbha Palace

 

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Victory Tower (Vijay Stambh). This 15th century landmark was built by Rana Kumbha to celebrate a victory over the Malwa clan. 157 steps take visitors to the 9th floor for views over the fort.  

 

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The Jal Mahal (water palace) within Padmini’s Palace.

 

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The Sultan of Delhi viewed Queen Padmini’s reflection in the pool and was so besotted by her beauty that he declared war on her husband in order to abduct her. After Rao Raja Ratan Singh (who commissioned the palace at Bundi) was killed, Padmini and the other royal women committed suicide to avoid capture. There are so many stories…


Gardens within the palace.

 

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The Kirti Stambh (Tower of Fame) is a 7 storey tower, 22 m tower dedicated to the Jain Lord Adinath.

 

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Fareh Pratak Palace is a modern building that now houses a museum.

 

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We stopped for a quick lunch before arriving in Udaipur where the streets are too narrow for vehicles so hotel tuk-tuks ferried us to the Jagat Niwas Hotel. This hotel is a lakeside white marble confection where our lake-facing rooms have a view of the Lake or Summer Palace, a much grander confection that appears to float on the lake.

 

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Lake or Summer Palace

 

Dinner tonight is at the next door Rainbow Restaurant where we have a birds-eye view of floodlit hotels and restaurants across the water.

 

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Tomorrow we are visiting the City Palace.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by Treepol

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AfricIan
48 minutes ago, Treepol said:

lake-facing rooms have a view of the Lake or Summer Palace, a much grander confection that appears to float on the lake.

Now that is a view to wake-up to :)

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Earthian

WOW! Enjoying seeing India through your eyes. Been to all these places, and some of them multiple times- but still what a great pleasure reading about it and seeing those lovely photographs. Great writing and photographs. Thank you for sharing.

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Treepol
Posted (edited)

@Earthian @AfricIan thanks

 

Day 19

 

Udaipur

 

This morning we have breakfast in the rooftop restaurant, truly a rom with a view before heading out with our guide into the Old City.

 

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We walk through cobbled streets to a temple where the clamour of bells, triangles, drums and chanting draws us up the stone steps into this holy place. After a visit to the temple we make the short walk to the City Palace past all sorts of market stalls - leather, textile and miniature painting as well as chai wallahs, food vendors and tailors. The Udaipur Palace Museum is second only to Mysore in southern India for the richness of the exhibits which include unimaginable wealth in art, gold, silver, emeralds and other precious stones.

 

The main entrance is through the Tripolia Gate, an impressive triple gate into the Manek Chowk then through the Toran Gate into a large courtyard.

 

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Elephant murals adorn the walls outside a modest entrance to the actual palace where the first sight is the Ganesha Deodhi that features magnificent glass inlay.

 

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The chamber of military memorabilia features a statue of Maharana Pratap’s favourite horse Chetak. The elephant trunk mask was intended to confuse the battle elephants of the rival Mughal army.

 

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Climbing up, up inside the palace we arrive at the Badi Mahal (Big palace) or Garden Palace which is built on the highest level and is flanked by 104 carved pillars and topped with marble ceiling tiles.

 

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The focal point of this palace is a large pool and ornamental fountain.

 

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Mor Chowk (Peacock Courtyard] is an ornate inner courtyard that features three peacocks (representing summer, winter, and monsoon) made of coloured glass. 

 

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The balcony is also highly ornamental.

 

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The nearby Zenana is decorated in shades of cool blue and features decorative alcoves, balconies and coloured windows.

 

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The Badi Chatur Chowk is a private courtyard with great views over the city.

 

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Overwhelmed by so many Alice-in-India moments I abandoned plans for the afternoon in favour of a late lunch with views over the old city streets and a few hours relaxing in my window seat.

 

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Tomorrow we have a 5 hour drive to Jodhpur via the Jain temples at Ranakpur.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by Treepol

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Treepol

Day 20

 

Udaipur-Jodhpur


The Lake Palace looks delicate in the pale morning light.

 

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I’m very sorry to leave this hotel and the white city of Udaipur, however Jodhpur awaits. Hotel tuk-tuks take us to Amber Pol on the edge of the Old City to meet Shankar for the journey north. We skirt the lake and have good views of the hilltop Monsoon Palace through the haze. Locals are swimming in the lake, delivery vehicles pick carefully between pedestrians, school children and cows as the shops open and the working day begins.

 

Shankar turns onto another ‘small’ road that winds through lush, rural India. Saree-clad ladies are doing laundry at a low bridge, a splash of colour among the wheat is a woman carrying water, washing or wood. This bullock-powered irrigation system or araghatta is known as a traditional Persian Wheel, a water-lifting device that increased both the area of irrigated crops and food production after its development over 800 years ago.

 

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Further along the road the Hanuman Temple is home to a large and insistent troupe of Common Langurs with many young. These monkeys were snoozing nearby.

 

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Ranakpur is located on a side road between Udaipur and Jodhpur and is known for the 15th century Jain temple complex.

 

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The temple is supported by over 1,400 individually patterned and intricately carved pillars.  The filtered light and pillared temple creates a maze-like atmosphere inside the temple.  

 

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The steep descent through the Aravalli Hills is narrow with many sharp corners. The dry rocky hills are perfect leopard habitat and just yesterday there was a report in the Times of India of a rogue leopard stalking villagers in the nearby Beawar Region. Once we re-join the National Highway system the interesting countryside is replaced by trucks, roadside garbage and toll gates. Wandering cows, local vendors, over-crowded public buses add local colour to the road trip.

 

Tonight we are staying at the Ratan Vilas, a hotel with royal connections. Our accommodation has a homely atmosphere possibly because the owners live onsite - they were sitting on the terrace when we arrived. The property is quiet, unhurried and stylish. 

 

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Tomorrow we are visiting the mighty Mehrengarh Fort before our flight to Delhi and the start of the next part of the trip.

 

 

Cows and goats

 

Domestic animals are assimilated in all levels of Indian life and not just in rural areas. We saw domestic animals in towns, amongst traffic and hoping for hand-outs in markets.

 

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This one gives new meaning to phrase "house cow".

 

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Cattle Egrets surround 2 cow carcasses, waiting for a breakfast of insects.

 

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Treepol
Posted (edited)

Day 21

 

Jodhpur - Delhi

 

The manicured gardens at Ratan Vilas attract White-eared bulbul and a female Indian Robin this morning, whilst outside Jodhpur is starting work.

 

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Bicycles laden with flowers, tractors with passengers and fruit and veg handcarts all pass the hotel gate.

 

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Our guide Veere arrives and Shankar drives us to Jaswant Thada, a white marble marvel built in the 19th century to commemorate Maharaja Jaswant Singh II. 

 

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Several bird species occupy Devkund Lake between Jaswant Thada and the mighty Mehrengarh Fort - Spot-billed Ducks, Gadwall, Little Grebe, Ruff, Intermediate and Cattle Egrets.

 

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Little Grebe

 

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Ruff

 

A Purple Sunbird plays hard to get.

 

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The Umaid Bhawan Palace is silhouetted in the early smog.

 

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The Mehrengarh Fort is amongst the largest and best-preserved forts in India and towers 400 feet above Jodhpur.

 

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The fort was founded in 1459 by Rajput leader Rao Jodha and is still owned by the Jodhpur royal family. Entry is through the creamy, carved Jai Pol or Victory Gate beside which is a detailed frieze depicting events from Hindu history and mythology.

 

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Inside a lift slowly transports us to the fort’s upper levels.  Ruins of the old city wall and the famous blue houses of Jodhpur are visible from the ramparts.

 

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The Shringar Chowk contains the diminutive throne of Marwar where new rulers were crowned.

 

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Above, the screens of the Jhanki Mahal (or the Palace of Glimpses) allowed royal ladies a screened view of events in the Chowk below. 

 

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The fort contains a pre-eminent collection of howdahs and palanquins which provide a glimpse into the lavish lifestyle of the Maharajahs.

 

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The glitzy Sheesh Mahal or Mirror Palace included the Maharaja’s bedroom whilst the Phool Mahal (Flower Palace) was used by the royal menfolk for private celebrations. 

 

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The ornate gold, vibrant reds and blues, dazzling ceilings, stained glass windows and rich carpets are glamour on a grand scale.  

The Moti Mahal (Pearl Palace) or Diwan-i-Am (hall of public audience) is bathed in filtered light through individually patterned stained glass windows. The room has 5 doors, which allowed the 5 wives of a former Maharajah to eaves drop on the business of state. This minimalist white room contrasts sharply with the glitz and glamour of the Sheesh and Phool Mahals. 

 

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The Zenana Deodhi or Women’s Palace is a warren of narrow corridors, doorways and pierced screens.

 

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We slowly make our way down steep staircases and ramps to exit via the Loha Gate to meet Shankar. Today, the last day of our road trip he and Tarun are our guests at a farewell lunch at On the rocks, a local restaurant owned by the present Maharajah.

 

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Shankar drops us at the airport where the lounge is soon jam-packed with passengers due to flight delays. Corona Virus was on all our minds! Our flight is delayed 40 minutes, however Abhishek is waiting in Delhi and transfers us to the Maidens.

 

Tomorrow Jo is flying home and Jane and I have time to check out Humayun's tomb before flying to Bhopal en route to Satpura NP.

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by Treepol

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Treepol

Day 22

 

Delhi-Bhopal

 

This morning Jane and I are going to Humayun’s tomb followed by shopping at the State Emporiums and later a flight to Bhopal en route to Satpura NP. Jo is transferring to an airport hotel before her journey home begins.

 

Humayun’s tomb is a magnificent red sandstone Moghul structure with a classic dome and a row of decorative alcoves.
 

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Humayun's tomb

 

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This simple marble marker is the Emperor’s final resting place.

 

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The site is quite large, and there are other tombs nearby. This is the tomb of the Queen’s dresser.

 

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The State Emporiums showcase the traditional arts and crafts of each state. We visited 5 or 6 shops followed by a snack lunch of masala dosa at Bikanervala, a fast food chain before transferring to the airport. Checkin and security go smoothly and we have some time to kill before our Indigo flight to Bhopal. Tonight is at the Ivy Suites in Bhopal, I can’t recommend this place due to a manky bathroom and the unchecked, unruly behaviour of another guest party that lasted until 5 a.m.

 

Tomorrow we have a morning transfer to Forsyth Lodge in Satpura NP and an evening drive in the buffer zone.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Treepol

Day 23

 

Bhopal-Satpura NP

 

This morning we have an interesting drive through village India en route to Forsyth Lodge in Satpura NP. 

 

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Pilgrims

 

We arrive in time to check into our beautiful rooms and enjoy a lunch cooked by local village women.

 

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Indian Robins and Black Redstarts hop around the front of the den.

 

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Saee is our guide and we really enjoy her company and guiding style. She has a great knowledge of Satpura NP and its wildlife and was extremely good company and good fun throughout our stay.

 

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Our first excursion is an evening drive in the buffer zone which is through a local village where we see Plum-headed Parakeets, Yellow-footed Green Pigeons, an Indian Roller and a Paddyfield Pipit in the fading light.

 

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Male

 

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Female

 

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The village is fascinating - women herding cows and goats home for the night, others carrying firewood on their heads and some doing a late shift on the farm.

 

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Machans are raised shelters in the wheat fields where local farmers spend many nights this time of year to protect the crop from marauding boar and deer by making an unholy din!

 

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Three new mammals seen tonight are Black-naped Hare, Indian Gerbil and Jungle Cat. A Jungle Night-jar sits quietly.

 

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We return to the Lodge at 2115 in time for a delicious dinner and a good night’s sleep.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Soukous

I love Forsyth Lodge, I reckon they have the best naturalists in Satpura. 

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Treepol
Posted (edited)

@Soukous that is a ringing endorsement for Forsyth and they deserve the praise.

 

Day 23

 

Satpura NP

 

Masala chai is delivered at 0530 before our full day in the core area with lunch at Churna Rest Camp. All trips into Satpura NP begin with a short drive and boat ride across the Denwa River to the Gypsys at the park gate. The first sightings are a juvenile Crested Serpent eagle and gaur in the mist.

 

2002673202_P505-satpuramorning.JPG.b442d6340bfaaff147aad9de99a7f479.JPG

 

820950455_P506-juv.crestedserp.JPG.32df14d0ac1d2f1c63ee72b3f72cdd28.JPG

 

557266118_P507-mistygaur.JPG.9387efbd19ef85e4c9461e301f0034e5.JPG

 

 A pair of Common Kingfishers has a nest in a riverbank and an Indian Hoopoe demolishes a malwa flower.

 

874766234_P510-indianhoopoe.JPG.85eb171cc70e0c9246b44ba68b8ef07b.JPG

 

A Jungle Owlet frowns down at us.

 

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 Scarlet mini vets are engaged in a territorial dispute while green bee-eaters perch nearby. Leopard tracks appear on the road and lead to a pair of 2 year old siblings recently separated from their mother.

 

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997386695_P514-leopard.JPG.324674f814ae056ab263d15964c766cb.JPG

 

1911625917_P515-leopard.JPG.eca3579bd2673ed6d29989d39d78cd77.JPG

 

755673135_P516-leopard.JPG.a5cc28733a828cb35bc6293d98ad5b77.JPG

 

Nearby Jeherghat is our breakfast stop where Green Bee-eaters perch around the perimeter fence.

 

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We drive deeper in to the park and find nilgai and chital.

 

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Nilgai is the largest Asian antelope, and amongst the shyest making them difficult to photograph. A Crested Serpent Eagle finds a comfortable perch to sit out the heat of the day.

 

33296227_P518-crestedserp.JPG.fb6455521edd7760ed0c0cb6eb904f8a.JPG

 

1437495323_P520-satpura.JPG.a8166b48e039ea2caac8ecf1eca1ffeb.JPG

 

We reach Churna Forest Camp at 11 am and take a quick walk around with Saee.

 

296166799_P521-churna.JPG.06ff1ccb521fa1143a34db19f2867fa3.JPG

 

1331204113_P522-churna.JPG.dda05fd3afdc0a72f44e840c4ee8ea30.JPG

 

This Indian Roller has found a high perch.

 

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Dhole are seen outside the camp and we have a quick view of 2 dogs as they cross the road. A Malabar Giant Squirrel doesn’t mind the heat.

 

1632103007_P523A-Giantsquirrel.JPG.e23c324231c803bdf81a26075cef8f8b.JPG

 

We enjoy lunch and afterwards sitting on the wide, cool veranda chatting to other guests. Around 3 pm we start on the way back to Forsyth Lodge and stop at this waterhole where sambar and langur alarm calls alert us to a possible tiger, however it’s actually a pack of dhole including a dozen pups with a sambar kill.

 

475795614_P524-satpura.JPG.80d97d94410a252a40130ebae7baba16.JPG

 

429929806_P525-dhole.JPG.d2df1dc7babb503388646d80a5ccda34.JPG

 

362955936_P526-dhole.JPG.ef52d5c211f0e0f4d480aa819f3dbd67.JPG

 

1508455384_P527-dhole.JPG.fa1b0d7144a6f6f07432b1c990de84d8.JPG

 

1988861142_P529-dhole.JPG.248901bd7b43eecd0fef4138ee448d3f.JPG

 

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1171917598_P531-dhole.JPG.94dce887ba3edf5b580b0e9f126293c6.JPG

 

A Brown Fish Owl peers out from a shady branch and then we hear about a male leopard resting at a nearby waterhole. He is so full and lazy and can only muster the energy to flick his tail at the flies.

 

1672351681_P532-brownfishowl.JPG.28c068934526334077f58007aed0bcdd.JPG

 

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A perfectly camouflaged Orange-headed Thrush is the last sighting before sunset and dinner at Forsyth Lodge.

Edited by Treepol

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Soukous
Posted (edited)
19 minutes ago, Treepol said:

Scarlet mini vets

 

Wow! what terrific sightings. 3 leopards and dholes. Lucky you. You even had water in the river. It was bone dry when I was there and we could walk across, no need for boats.

 

:D it's a Scarlet Minivet rather than a diminutive medical practitioner for animals.

 

 

Edited by Soukous

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Zim Girl

Really cool Dhole sighting and the picture of the 2 leopards sat together is lovely.

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janzin

Every time I see a report on Satpura I want to go there...and this one just reaffirms that! I never even considered that there was a good population of leopard there.  Love the two siblings! and Dhole are so beautiful. Next trip :)

 

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elefromoz

@TreepolEnjoying this so much, after we left Jaipur we did wonder what it would have been like to move on to the other great cities, (as it turned out we left India not a day too soon anyway).The  history and architecture is staggering, funnily though, Im always underwhelmed by the "gardens", often just a few straggly rose bushes and not much else.  All your Hotels look fabulous. I love the photo of the Zenana Deodhi with the gorgeous 'insta' girls posing. As Im reading this Im thinking that you must keep very comprehensive notes! Oh beautiful Arrowhead, how many people have felt that excitement and joy at the sight of her. Her and Noor really are superstars. Fancy that, you got a pair of Leopard siblings in Satpura too, just as we did in '16. Exciting to see such a big pack of Dhole. 

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Treepol
Posted (edited)

@Soukous and @Zim Girl thanks for reading along.

 

@janzin definitely next trip, a Satpura and Forsyth combo is an all round winner.

 

@elefromoz I did enjoy the Indian architecture. There is a massive Wow! factor here with building on a scale and grandeur that exceeds expectations. The trip from Chambal to Jodhpur includes some of the most impressive cities and some good wildlife destinations. I like Gwalior because of the grandness and relatively few visitors but some would say that it isn't a must-see. I would add in a visit to Akbar's tomb at Sikandra outside Agra next time and definitely a few days birding at Bharatpur from where it would be possibe to visit Deeg and even Fatehpur Sikri and Agra. 

 

I know what you mean about getting home in time, I landed on 3 March and was very pleased to be back as corona rumblings were increasing at home and overseas. Yes, now that you mention it, the gardens are quite dry and straggly. Our accommodations were very good and the historic and heritage properties extended our cultural experience. 

 

Hmmm, there were many 'insta' moments! I write up a few notes each evening when I'm away and these form the basis of the TR with some help from Wikipedia back home. Shame I missed Noor, however we had "quality time" with the famous Arrowhead. The leopard siblings were a total surprise and they kept us entertained for almost an hour.

 

 

Day 24

 

Satpura NP

 

This morning we are in the park at 0630 and Baloo the sloth bear of Jungle Book fame is our target. Satpura is misty and mysterious this morning with glassy waterholes and mist tendrils twisting between the trees.

 

1458961390_P536-satpura.JPG.cca62edb7af56f0213b62503fcbf2730.JPG

 

2026268950_P538-satpura.JPG.0654c846efb91914fea4132c055e0e53.JPG

 

7724157_P539-satpura.JPG.8eb9b6d13af3ada4d299552ac406b661.JPG

 

This pond is home to a pair of Painted Storks.

 

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The sunrise reveals pug marks which together with sambar and langur alarm calls alert might mean tiger. Sadly a circuit of the likely area does not reveal stripes. Birds are plentiful this morning and we have great sightings. Chestnut-shouldered Petronias feed with a pair of Spotted Doves at the Elephant Camp ranger station.

 

995673582_P540-spotteddoveandchestnut-shoulderdpetronias.JPG.fda3c8fb7187a919d1a96b30ac367fa4.JPG

 

A male Nilgai makes for cover, showing the distinctive white socks - its easy to see from the roan coloured coat why they are also known as blue bull.

 

535658135_P541-nilgai.JPG.34cadbb30cc3534368fa62f7f94bc71c.JPG

 

A Mottled Wood Owl is cleverly camouflaged against the bark of his day roost.

 

160797535_P542-mottledwoodowl.JPG.57db45720fd9e4027b5947dedb0332ed.JPG

 

Rose-ringed and Alexandrine Parrots are mobbing a Jungle Owlet which clings stubbornly to a perch near its nest hole.

 

1581165476_P543-alexandrine.JPG.7e7c08920c7cccc56229c5e21760868e.JPG

 

P543A.JPG.51ef35e9d1bbc90d026ab7cdb8eb52bc.JPG

 

A juvenile White-eyed Buzzard glides through the trees ahead of the vehicle and a Racket-tailed Drongo hugs the shade as the morning heats up.

 

1639977898_P545-racket-taileddrongo.JPG.bb6a73dd4f78f9322312f6f50987a604.JPG

 

We return to Elephant Camp for breakfast where one of the mahouts is making jumbo-sized corn breads with calorie supplements for the patrol elephants.

 

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1154757395_P547-elephantcakes2.JPG.99bf8dc38f93322c9ac59db643a892ea.JPG

 

There are 4 female elephants, one of which has a 2.5 year old male calf and today they are all out feeding. On the way back to Forsyth we see the juvenile Crested Serpent Eagle at his roost and closer to the ranger station wild pigs are having breakfast and a bath.

 

2121700700_P549-wildboar.JPG.e7dc6a0fa301096d6a6261bda5ef1d4d.JPG

 

A closer look reveals Grey Heron, Indian Narrow-headed Softshell Turtle and a juvenile Cinnamon Bittern.

 

454408252_P550-Indiannarrow-headedsoft-shelledturtle.JPG.2497a0e13d4b34054e2bc79388101273.JPG

 

1605868897_P551-cinnamonbittern.JPG.5cf22ef7b84c55f0fa1fd1dfc6cb9db1.JPG

 

This is the truck that is used to transport collared tigers into Satpura.

 

1843146773_P552-tigertruck.JPG.0f1e9ae9b3aff37f58151bb6d23c7567.JPG

 

We arrive back at Forsyth Lodge around 1145 and have a couple of hours to relax before lunch and a final drive in the park this afternoon. This Pond Heron lives close to the Den.

 

1785841126_P553-pondheron.JPG.c8e48a125825b334fef9af28a8ddbb8c.JPG

 

A Laughing Dove is the first bird of the afternoon followed by a Spotted Owlet and Yellow and White Wagtails.

 

179171050_P554-laughingdove.JPG.4907cc41d5e33dad7bd721928b47839c.JPG

 

669251339_P554A-spottedowlet.JPG.a2a86ed767186b1020683e8f0a524541.JPG

 

1205475853_P556-yellowwagtail.JPG.5724c55e4dbbb65432c870704df62d00.JPG

 

1567445210_P557-whitewagtail.JPG.c34f0ef8ea79a19aa5a5f967d00f7811.JPG

 

A pair of Malabar Pied Hornbills near the boat station is a surprise sighting.

 

322595211_P555-boatstation.JPG.7202c095536f6c77f89180df4ccf7802.JPG

 

1954238565_P558-piedhornbill.JPG.1511f5421924b031f0f92fe48db54f78.JPG

 

Over at the pond a Bronze-winged Jacana and Wood Sandpiper wade during the mid-day heat.

 

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1577123226_P559A-Woodsandpiper.JPG.b7ad7d7a21fbe8c65a36fe59dd33ca63.JPG

 

The gaur family is still down at the river and a Giant Malabar Squirrel dozes in a treetop.

 

1057088774_P560-gaur.JPG.a7a05c4fbddaa0509681cd45c3456748.JPG

 

1912734810_P561-giantsquirrel.JPG.f180f80860a50329f54f078b787e2b84.JPG

 

Once it realises we are watching it starts moving around and chewing on seed pods within a few metres of a nest.

 

936150249_P562-giantsquirrel.JPG.05270d4d884be343878a8ffdba38bc18.JPG

 

2118678535_P563-squirrelnest.JPG.87b8e06f065c42dda185e4c276d762ae.JPG

 

This langur family groomed in the late afternoon while the adventurous youngsters drift closer to the vehicle.

 

106828570_P564-langur.JPG.92f336e4779fbcdf0c03831ddc5882b1.JPG

 

1446568171_P565-langur.JPG.25e79dbc679c8e8ee75c80876a5a83a8.JPG

 

619736328_P566-langur.JPG.ef5ac6e90f5955fc2b11180355e99abf.JPG

 

1218730185_P567-langur.JPG.f06d84d986d0b088c8755a919a8d4c61.JPG

 

Sambar and gaur graze along the river bank.

 

1237568795_P569-gaurandsambar.JPG.b9b842ac4d7c140652114a325a421822.JPG

 

We keep checking around the river where a sloth bear was seen this morning and find gaur, sambar and a Greater Coucal but no Baloo.

 

882927621_P570-greatercoucal.JPG.b122bff1a8bd953e1291fdc88bca4263.JPG

 

Late in the afternoon we do eventually have a partial, distant sight of a mostly sleeping sloth bear through a tangle of leaves and tree trunks. A grey muzzle is clearly visible as it slumbers, hidden from many Gypsys whose occupants are desperate to see Baloo.

 

591516314_P571-sunset.JPG.c9c535530ac63a150977ec4f8a302400.JPG

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by Treepol

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TonyQ

Catching up, I have just returned with you to Delhi.

Some great sightings in Ranthambore, beautiful tigers

I really enjoyed your cultural trips. We went to Bundi and Udaipur (2008!) and really enjoyed them. Your photos and writing are excellent 

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TonyQ

I have now read the section on Satpura. You make me want to go back!.

It is a wonderful park and a wonderful lodge. I remember the lunch provided by the village ladies as one of the best meals we had (though the other food at Forsyth was also excellent). I do hope they are managing during lockdown and lack of tourists.

You had brilliant sightings of the Dhole (which we didn't see) and of the two young leopard.

When we were there the river was much lower - we crossed by a floating bridge rather than by boat!

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Treepol
Posted (edited)

@TonyQ thank you for your kind comments. I can tell from your posts that both you and @Soukous saw the river at a much lower level than we did.

 

 

Day 25

 

Satpura NP - Mumbai

 

This morning is a later start as we are going for a boat trip on the Denwa River. Saee thinks the river has dropped about 3 metres since we arrived 3 days ago and she expects to see the skimmers checking the water depth in preparation for nest-building on the mud islands that will appear any day.

 

Spotting begins as soon as we leave the boat station with Temminck’s Stint and Little Ringed Plovers.

 

1766074454_P572-Temmincksstint.JPG.7646d5dc718eacfd881cc65c5e7c989d.JPG

 

1509521201_P575-Littleringedplover.JPG.c34d7684c552a90d08bf1f560ae6cbf2.JPG

 

A flock of Bar-headed Geese grazes in the early light and numerous Yellow Wagtails are hopping around.

 

1738694039_P576-Bar-headedgeese.JPG.cc5d1f1a35eeced7c226cf3e5761e9e1.JPG

 

89791184_P577-Yellowwagtail.JPG.cab121d14674d4e2bd13cf8152d0de32.JPG

 

A Kentish Plover and a couple of Small Pratincole land on a mud island ahead.

 

1170836889_P578-kentishplover.JPG.6d65cd2e22123fb45c903a38c05da8c3.JPG

 

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958078322_P582-smallpratincole.JPG.211292ae77340acf3911bbf1c582c567.JPG

 

River and Little Terns have found a mud roost.  along with a flock of Small Pratincoles. 

 

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993562031_P581-littletern.JPG.091aac642afddc25b627e7ede6cce3f5.JPG

 

A herd of chital huddle together looking nervously over the water so we motor over to find that 2 adult dhole have killed a fawn and are wolfing down the meat, tugging at the pathetically small carcass.

 

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Suddenly, a female wild boar appears and attempts to steal the kill which the dhole manage to keep most of while the boar scrounges scraps. We watched this rumble in the jungle play out before returning for breakfast. 

 

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1050211290_P588-dhole.JPG.b9bd3409ab7a5f4a8133d3168149760a.JPG

 

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1483025916_P589-boar.JPG.8a3b6d2d962a574844722a08e732ef62.JPG

 

However, the day isn’t over yet - Asian Pied Starling and Silverbill.

 

2011579749_P590-asianpiedstarling.JPG.c146d9fbc29f42e94ab717b61c7b9c96.JPG

 

2076652530_P591-silverbill.JPG.5311e442c450239bd1fc1060a7898782.JPG

 

After a final breakfast Jane and I leave for the return 4 hour drive to Bhopal and on the way we stop for a gallop around Bhimbetka rock shelters.

 

209216287_P591A-rockart2.JPG.f7d30307f64880511ec815bf2746638b.JPG

 

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The Mumbai flight is punctual and we arrive in time for a room service snack with a view of the lights of Mumbai from the 31st floor of the Trident. Here is the view over the city the next morning.

 

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2041114601_P613-mumbai.JPG.66d224cd8bbb6194ca7e5e91be63d8f2.JPG

 

Tomorrow we have a half day city tour followed by a trip out to Thane Creek to see the flamingoes and other migratory water birds.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by Treepol

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Soukous

I've never seen a Small Pratincole, what a beautiful little bird it is.

You had some terrific dhole sightings. I just wish I could get as excited about them as I am about African Wild Dogs. Why is that? Is it because the African dogs have much more attractive markings?

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Treepol
Posted (edited)

@Soukous the Small Pratincole is a very neat bird. The dholes remind me of our dingo, even though the dhole are red.

 

Day 26

 

Mumbai

 

Today we have a morning sightseeing around Mumbai with our guide Sushil and driver Sanjay followed by a slow drive to Thane Creek to see flamingos and migratory water birds. Sassoon Dock, the local fish market is a busy place despite 80% of the catch being sold before we arrive.

 

719924841_P594-sassoondocks.JPG.1ac2a98e21ee0ecf752e4b664f5d36b4.JPG

 

1639947625_P595-sassoon.JPG.9964ea39356f74de739fc4977eeea776.JPG

 

A cat was snacking on prawns left out to dry in the sun. Second stop was the Dhobi Ghat - this is the smaller of 2 in Mumbai. Laundry arrived in trucks, on bicycles and by handcart.

 

1013738317_P599-dhobighat.JPG.49d1177440cb5c662a9c3c7c2ac3d98d.JPG

 

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599115153_P602-dhobighat.JPG.0af903839bd1bed0dfc052d92ab2e183.JPG

 

The colours of life around the ghat are amazing.  There is a noisy argument going on between neighbours and the mobile barber is quite busy.

 

1156221635_P601-dhobighat.JPG.e04d62ae9252611939d9a26b05d0458a.JPG

 

The Afghan Church is a memorial to British officers killed in successive Afghan Wars. The stained glass filters the sun in this peaceful place where Charles and Camilla visited in 2013.

 

1118895959_P596-afghanchurch.JPG.433f3c8f70e566d4c7e270e5261b1179.JPG

 

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The Gateway to India, built to commemorate the 1911 visit of George V and Queen Mary is our final stop.

 

694336068_P604-indiagate.JPG.395eb3f0746747108728216579fba97b.JPG

 

The Taj Hotel opposite is still being renovated after the 2008 terrorist attacks.

 

811336405_P603-tajhotel.JPG.2ce19e1ea5b2dfd0e08bfcf3380bb1a3.JPG

 

The drive to Thane Creek takes about an hour and a half and our boat is waiting to take advantage of the high tide. Black and Brown-headed Gulls are the first birds we see, followed by Northern Shoveler, Grey Heron, numerous Egrets and black kites and of course the mixed flock of Greater and Lesser flamingos.

 

769624985_P604A-brown-headedgull.JPG.9a2961016c29885e343a8de60772e9f8.JPG

 

1379428936_P605-northernshoveler.JPG.ec1852b9a4e80ad073807bcee7727bab.JPG

 

1389260270_P606-flamingo.JPG.ec76fe0d5ef7c7439d2df5297bd83d68.JPG

 

1967993644_P607greaterflamingo.JPG.d07ba11017accc487168ba56b1bb6234.JPG

 

540815136_P608-lesserflamingos.JPG.dd77170393f0c1fcd1bc6ade37a719b6.JPG

 

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The last bird of the afternoon is a Pied Avocet.

 

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The cruise lasted 90 minutes and was a pleasant escape from the mid-30C in downtown Mumbai. The day ends with a walk along Marine Drive where locals gather at sunset.

 

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Tomorrow morning we have Mumbai sightseeing before a flight to Aurungabad.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by Treepol

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Treepol

Day 27

 

Mumbai-Aurungabad

 

The first stop this morning is the University of Mumbai where a local Big Ben is evidence of the British heritage of downtown Mumbai.

 

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Across the road at the Oval Maidan cricket is popular and locals and street vendors are out and about.

 

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The Victoria Terminus is Mumbai’s main railway, an impressive colonial building with a distinctive facade including gargoyles and surely one of the most ornate ticket counters in the world.

 

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Crawford Market, named after the first Governor of Bombay is now the main confectionery and fruit market.

 

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The bird section was distressing because we saw budgerigars and toco toucans for sale, even a bedraggled African Grey, all of which are a long way from home. The streets around the market are busy and crowded.

 

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Mani Bhavan was Gandhi’s Bombay residence for 15 years.

 

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It is pleasantly cool and the Mahatma’s life is interpreted in pictures and dioramas. The final stop is at Banganga Tank, a ceremonial well where families perform post-cremation rituals.

 

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1117843647_P636-tank.JPG.ffb1dac7f92e341de230792ade041624.JPG

 

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This Western Reef Heron caught my eye.

 

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The drive to the airport through the exclusive suburb of Malabar Hill is slow and allows a good look at upmarket homes and schools as well as a passing glimpse at the entrance to the Mumbai ‘towers of silence’ maintained by the Parsee community. We are flying to Aurangabad for a 2 night stay to visit the Ellora Caves, Emperor Aurangzeb’s grave, the Daulatabad Fort and the Bibi Ka Maqbara.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Treepol

Day 28

 

Ellora Caves

 

The Ellora Caves site is a World Heritage Listed massive rock-cut monastery-temple complex built by Jains, Buddhists and Hindus between 700-1200 AD. The site consists of 100 caves cut from basalt cliffs of which 34 are open to the public. The morning is already hot when we arrive and I am pleased that transport is on hand as a bus bangs, rattles and wheezes it’s way between the entrance and the furthest Jain and Buddhist temples.

 

Visitors are greeted by this regal elephant in Cave 30 of the Jain complex.

 

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We scramble and clamber up dark, uneven stairs and negotiate narrow corridors. The rock carvings are outstanding and the remaining ancient artworks are a clue to the former grandeur of the temples. 

 

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Fortunately, the Buddhist temples were much easier to negotiate.

 

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Cave 10 is the showpiece and is known as the Carpenter’s Cave because the rock has been finished in a style that imitates wood. The main hall has a central nave and shelters a 5m Buddha statue.

 

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Visiting school groups in colourful uniforms enlivened the temples and I positioned myself to take photos as this group streamed down the stairs.

 

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However, they kept on flowing and the hunter became the hunted as I was surrounded.

 

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After this impromptu photo session we walked to the monastery where more scrambling was required.

 

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Eleven of the 12 Buddhist caves consist of monasteries with living quarters, shrines and sacred carvings. The caves are popular with locals and many ladies are wearing graceful, colourful sarees.

 

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Cave 16 in the Hindu temple group contains the largest single rock excavation in the world, the Kailasha Temple which is a chariot shaped commemorative dedicated to Shiva.

 

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An estimated 200,000 tonnes of stone was removed from the site during the construction phase. Cave 15 contains a temple and an ornate carved panel depicting scenes from the Ramayana.

 

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The Tower of Knowledge stands sentinel to the main group where carvings of a dancing Shiva pre-dominate.

 

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These Ganesh carvings make an eye-catching border.

 

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After lunch we travel further into the countryside to visit the tomb of Aurangzeb - the 6th Great Moghul Emperor. Unlike others he chose to be buried in a simple grave.  His mentor and family members are buried nearby and a mosque is incorporated into the precinct.

 

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Once the mercury hit 33C we returned to the Lemon Tree Hotel and air-con. Tomorrow we are visiting the Daulatabad Fort, one of the most heavily fortified sites in India.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Botswanadreams

What a great report @Treepol. Thanks so much for nice memories and of course for showing new places we haven't been. We loved this mix of nature and culture in India as much as you. It's a good time to take my printed report, a book with over 700 pages, from my own travel two years back again in my hands in this difficult time were our upcoming trip in July to Alaska isn't canceled jet but I'm sure it's getting canceled in the next two weeks. 

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Treepol

@Botswanadreams thanks for your kind comments. I do hope that you are able to re-schedule your Alaskan trip, a place I am hoping to visit one day.

 

Day 29

 

Aurungabad-Mumbai

 

Daulatabad Fort is our destination today and Thomas our guide is keen for us to climb the 250 steps to the moat and dark passage.  The fort was built in the 12th century and is perched on a hilltop.  Once again there are lots of school groups.

 

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The heyday of the site was in the 14th century when the Delhi Sultan moved the Imperial capital 1100 km to Daulatabad (City of fortune) between 1327-1334. This may have been due to its geographic location at the centre of the kingdom and to keep the capital safe from attacks from hostile tribes on the northwest frontier. After a brief time the capital was restored to Delhi due to a lack of water at Daulatabad after which the fort continued to change hands until it was captured by the Deccan Governor under Shah Jehan in 1682.   

 

Most of the fortifications at Daulatabad Fort were built in the 17th century on a conical hill with the lower slopes cut away to 50m vertical cliffs to enhance security.

 

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The first gate gives an idea of the outer defences – it has serious elephant spikes and opens onto a curved ramp.

 

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The lower area inside the perimeter wall contains the Hathi Haud a gigantic water tank accessed like a step well, the Chand Minar (Tower of the Moon) and the Bharat Mata temple.

 

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The 60m high Chand Minar is a victory tower built in 1435 that played a defensive and religious role within the fort. We wandered through the ruins and along the second defensive wall to the solid gate known as Mahakot. There is a succession of gates from the Mahakot, to the citadel, some with false gates, watchtowers and recesses where soldiers could hide to attack invaders.

 

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The pink Kalakot Gate, is built into the third inner wall inside the fort.

 

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This garden with decorative stone work is just before the rock-cut moat. 

 

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This narrow metal bridge is the only access today to the citadel from the lower levels and crosses a moat which was once home to hungry crocodiles.

 

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A few steps from the bridge is a small open area with the entrance leading to the Andheri or Dark Passage which gave access to the citadel. 

 

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The passage smelt of bats, so we didn’t walk further but returned to the car for the trip to tomb of Aurangzeb’s wife, the Bibi Ka Maqbara, (aka tomb of the lady).

 

Emperor Aurangzeb is remembered as a king who didn’t patronise the arts and outlawed all forms of entertainment, a great warrior and religious zealot. He opposed the expenditure required to build Bibi Ka Maqbara and as a result only the onion dome is made of marble and the rest of the building is constructed of sandstone covered with limestone plaster which has weathered badly.


An hexagonal entry frames opens onto the mausoleum.

 

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The path to the tomb features a row of fountains which were not operational. 

 

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The mausoleum is located through an arch-shaped entry and below is the octagonal opening of the tomb.

 

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Visitors drop money that is used to maintain the monument onto the green cloth covering the tomb.

 

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The sunglasses probably weren’t intended as offerings! The recessed filigree screens allow a soft filtered light into the mausoleum.

 

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After a vegetarian lunch at a local restaurant Thomas takes us to a local craft shop which specialises in inlaid silver work called bidi followed by Fabindia for last minute shopping and a return to the hotel for a break before the Mumbai flight, an overnight at an airport hotel and then the flight home.

 

 

 

 

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Caracal

Just had a great time catching up again with this TR  @Treepol .

Such variety and so much to enjoy with the amazing history, architecture and wildlife.

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