Monday, June 25, 2012. Ranthambhore, Rajasthan, India.
Distance driven: 2,324 KM / 1453 miles.
Following the advice of the hotel operator from last night, we made two stops before leaving Bundi.
First was to visit the Sukh Mahal, which was a summer pleasure palace overlooking a lake, about 2KM out of town. Rudyard Kipling stayed a day or two here and is supposed to have been inspired to write The Jungle Book during his stay in Bundi. Baloo (pronounced Baaah Looo) is the Hindi word for a bear. Bagheera (pronounced bag er ah) is the Hindi for panther. Akela means alone.
Back in town, we stopped at the Raniji-ki-bauri. Bauri is the local name for the stepwells for which Bundi is renowned, and while many have fallen into disrepair or become trash receptacles, this is the finest example, dating from the 1600s.
The decoration is beautiful, and the well goes a long way down. Along the sides were a goodly number of resting bats. We’ve actually seen quite a lot of bats – as we drove from Ranakpur and the sun began to set, we saw lots of them flying. Unlike our small Mexican free tailed bats in Austin, which are about the size of a mouse, these where much bigger – probably with bodies about the size of a squirrel.
The road to Ranthambhore was in mixed conditions – at times great, at other times very rough. We crossed several sets of train tracks. At each entrance and exit to the train tracks there are a series of speed bumps, so they didn’t make the ride any smoother.
Our original hotel had rooms that were very musty, so we ended up upgrading to another hotel just outside town, which is much nicer.
After lunch, we rested for an hour then drove to Ranthambhore fort which is inside the Ranthambhore National Park. The park is the principal reason for our visit and tomorrow we will go on a couple of game drives in search of tigers.
The fort is quite large, and is yet another ruin. There is believed to have been a settlement here since at least the eighth century. Inside the fort there are Hindu and Jain temple ruins and a mosque. Entrance to the fort is free, but going on game drives in search of tigers, which we will do tomorrow, is not.
Our hotel rate is inclusive of all meals, which is good, as we are kind of remote. To get to the hotel you have to drive 2kM down a dirt track and we are about 10KM from town. However, we are just outside the part entrance, so we should be able to get a good start in the morning.