Saturday 1 November 2014

Day 163: Kumbalgarh and Ranakpur - Rajastan is green?

Kumbalgarh Fort
On the journey to Jodhpur it was best to avoid the mistakes of the journey to Udaipur.  Today there would be no begging for a detour to a fortress; the side-trip to the Kumbalgarh fort had been written into the itinerary from the very beginning.

Shortly after leaving Udaipur we slipped onto back roads, with all the lurching, pothold-skirting, cow-avoidance, horn-beeping, people-dodging and so forth that this involves.  The land rose before us and green ridges strode away to the horizon.  Green ridges in Rajastan?  I clearly have the sand-blown Rajastan of Jaisalmer firmly in my mind, not the Rajastan of Udaipur and Kumbalgarh in the days immediately following the monsoon.  This Rajastan is green and almost mountainous.  Crops stretch up towards the sun; cattle circle with the mill wheel shackled behind them; lone bicycles weave between ditches.  A rural scene.

After we had driven for a couple of hours, and Guy had turned faintly green, we arrived at Kumbalgarh - the fortress that has never been sacked.  Its position is so lofty that this comes as no surprise, even if you don't know that the fort was the childhood home of our unbeatable friend, Maharana Pratap Singh.  The temples within the walls lacked the fine detail of those at Chittorgarh but the fort's jaunty position, high in the hills, is unbeatable.  We strolled along the ramparts with a giddy drop below us and looked across wooded slopes to column-ed and sculpted edifices scattered liberally in the wide area between the protective walls.

The statue of a cobra in one of
Kumbalgarh's temples
Another nauseating ride down country roads brought us back to Ranakpur to see the Jain temples.  Things didn't get off to a good start when Guy was short-changed for his entry ticket, then handed tickets for only one person when he'd paid for two, then immediately met some other tourists who told us they'd just been short-changed.  Hmm, there's a pattern here.  Meanwhile our audio guide spelled out the five key principles of Jainism, one of which is that you must not steal.  I think they should employ some new ticket sellers if they want to show this principle in action.

This hiccough aside, the temple itself was beautiful - a thicket of carven pillars and domed ceilings with views to all sides, as the temple was not completely enclosed.  Highly recommended.

By now, the shadows were lengthening and it was time for our hard-working cameras to rest.   The day ended as it had begun; driving towards a fortress.  Tomorrow we visit the fort in the blue city of Jodhpur.  After that, I think we'll be forted-out for a while.

Another temple complex within the Kumbalgarh fort viewed from the palace.
The site is vast: note the walls snaking away in the distance.
Monsoon rains had recently ensured the verdancy of the crops within the boundaries of the fort
Temple complex at Kumbalgarh
The palace at Kumbalgarh
Depiction of an Ox (Kumbalgarh) 
Hercule Poirot meets a Jain monk at Ranakpur
A depiction of Marudevi riding an elephant at Ranakpur
Ceiling detail, Ranakpur

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