Okay, if you live in the south a very long weekend getaway. But this one was courtesy the big FMCG so it was a weekday getaway (smug smirk)!
Rajasthan has been in my dream destination list(the extended one) for the longest time possible and when this plan was shared I immediately started making all permutations combinations to milk the opportunity to the maximum. The idea was to reach Jaipur a day before and start for Ranthambore early next morning since there are no direct flights from Bangalore.
Obviously I saw my big fat golden opportunity in this and convinced another colleague who had never seen Rajasthan either that we reach Jaipur the previous day morning (instead of late night like the rest of the group) and sight see Jaipur as well.
In fact big fat EXCEPT there were no early morning flights to ferry us to Jaipur. The first flight available reached Jaipur at 4.30PM. Yes PM. By the time we rushed out of the airport at 5 the taxi driver told us that Amer Fort, City Palace all would have closed down . So we morosely proceeded to a emporium type shop to empty our wallets buying Jaipuri rajais, jootis, suits, sarees. We later realised the place to shop was Bapu bazaar but by then our excess luggage was substantial and our wallets pretty empty and so we retired for the night.
The next day we set off early for the Sawai Madhopur, 145 kms from Jaipur. The journey also gave me the experience of what it would feel if I drove my car through an obstacle course laced with speed breakers. Later that night my behind and spine would make their protest known vehemently.
The place we stayed in was simply amazing. Nahargarh was built in old hunting fort style and every room was palatial with a sit out area. Care to see some snaps?
And at night it was lit up against the dark sky. I have never seen so many stars in the sky in my life. The biting cold of January had us stick around a fire like moths around light.
Next morning we started for the wild life park at 6.30 AM. Ranthambore is famous for its tigers-however if you want to know how many of them are actually there , the answer would depend on which version of truth you want to believe. Government says 40, unofficially the figure is close to 15.
And whether you actually see a tiger on the safari depends on your luck. And as I had found with my idea of early Jaipur flight luck wasnt really on my side on this trip.
So yes my darlings no tiger spotting happened. What I saw was
The disappointment we felt at not seeing any tigers was pretty audible in the jeep. We were literally frozen due to the early morning cold and all we were seeing were birds and peacocks. The guide would intermittently show us supposed pug marks of leopards, sloth bear etc but to my untrained eyes it just looked like random patterns on dirt.
Disappointed we reached back to Nahargarh only to find out that the other group (which had gone in a different jeep to different zone) had seen not one but two tigers. Wounds+salt anyone?
Later that evening a few of us went to see the Ranthambore fort and temples. Ranthambore Fort is a formidable fort and has been a focal point of historical developments of Rajasthan founded in 944AD. Inside there are three temples dedicated to Ganesh, Shiva and Ramlalaji constructed in 12th and 13th centuries.
We dutifully visited the temples with folded hands and mortal fear of the monkeys which keep a tight watch on all humans passing by.
By the time we climbed down the evening had set. And it was time for another night around a bonfire.
Next day morning we were ready to catch our train to Jaipur when luck finally smiled on me and we saw a leopard on our way to the station. It had happily perched itself on the boundary wall of the national park and vanished in the blink of an eye when we turned the headlights on it.
Happy finally I slept through my 4 hour flight back promising to return this land of forts and palaces for a much longer stay.