Cycling up the hill to Kumbalgarh Fort was I have to say a mistake, a good one but a mistake none the less. We thought there was an village called Kumbalgarh, we didn’t realise that it was only the fort, so when we finally cycled in through the gates and found a ticket office we were somewhat surprised, we asked where the village of Kumbalgarh was and were told there wasn’t a village, so where are the hotels, where can we stay? We asked. Two miles back down the hill we were told, well there was no chance of either of us cycling back down only to come back up again so as we were already there we decided to take the tour !!
Dressed in cycle kit and cycle shoes that’s exactly what we did, we got a few odd looks but were getting used to that, not to many westeners out here and certainly not dressed in lycra !!
Its a fairly steep walk up to the fort so we had a quick snack and drink before starting, this proved to be a good idea as we got talking to a bloke on another table and we mentioned we needed a room for the night, two minutes later we’d secured a room, on budget and on our way back down the hill !!
The views from the fort are incredible and keep getting better the further up you get…..
It’s one of the best kept forts that we’ve seen on our trip and it seems to have been sympathetically restored as well as maintained properly, the gardens, hedges and lawns all seem to be looked after…..
Onward we climbed, through each successive set of gates, higher and higher….
You’d have had to be mad, desperate or completely stupid to try and attack this fort, it stands on top of a rock and has extensive views, the battlements are 15k or so long and with all the gates and fortifications it seems incredible that anyone would ever succeed !!
We did however finally reach the top and were able to take in the views, no fighting or loss of life involved, just parted with a few rupees ;-)….,
We thoroughly enjoyed our visit to Kumbalgarh Fort, a shining example of how to look after an historic monument !!
And so back to our bikes, fortunately we now had a two mile downhill ride to our hotel, yippee !!
The Haveli Resort, sounds impressive but although, friendly and clean it was no more than a restaurant and a few rooms, not quite a resort then !!
Still at least the room was big enough to accommodate both us and our bikes….
Always a good feeling to know the bikes are safe, after all what would we do without them ?
With no where else to go we ate at the hotel and retired early, we woke and checked out by 7.00am and armed with a map, hand drawn by our hotel manager we set in the direction of Ajmer, the intention being to stay at Beawar.
The route was pleasant to start, country roads, good views but it quickly gave way to a national highway, great for fast miles but not much to look at !!
We arrived at the turn of for Beawar by about 12.00 and decided to push on to Ajmer instead, thus leaving a very short days cycling the day after into Puskar, our final destination before Jodhpur !!
We seemed to be eating up the miles that day, 80 plus and very soon we arrived in Ajmer, the guide book mentioned a Haveli that we decided to find as it sounded like it had a courtyard, great for keeping bikes safe !!
After a bit of searching up and down the same road we finally saw the sign we’d been looking for….
And just as the book said, there was a courtyard and a hearty welcome…
The owners wife does all the cooking and we decided to let her cook what she wanted for us, it turned out to be an excellent choice, one of our best meals to date, washed down with ice cold beer! Breakfast was just as good, chapatis with curd and chilli powder, spicy omelette and strong, sweet coffee, perfect start to our day !!
As I said, as we’d covered so many miles the day before, we were left with a short climb over the hill and then a flat run into Puskar, only about 25k in total. The hill was simple and far less strenuous than we’d been led to believe and we very soon found ourselves in Puskar 😉
Again we consulted the guide book for suitable hotels, it mentioned one in particular that we liked the sound of and we went in search of it, we found it easily enough but they said that our bikes would have to stay outside, not on your life !!!! Next hotel please !! The hotel just across the way looked ok and Naomi went to check it out, they said the bikes could stay inside and the room was large, bright, clean and on budget, job done 😉
Now Puskar is a holy place, Mahatma Ghandis’ ashes are scattered there, but it was considered holy long before this, there is a central lake with many Ghats along the shore where people, wash, bathe and pray ! Now to be honest I’m not all that interested in religion, religious architecture yes, but not the religion behind it ! So for the most part Puskar was a bit lost on me and I decided to do something far more practical, I got myself a shave…..
See, head and face all nice and smooth, and now for some architecture….
Sensing that I wasn’t all that enamoured with Puskar, Naomi suggested we go for a camel trek, well I’ve never been on a camel, horses yes but never a camel ! We asked the hotel owner and soon enough we were signed up and at 4.30 pm we were taken to meet our rides 😉
My smelly, flea bitten camel was called Romeo…
Nature was not kind to poor old Romeo but he strode out majestically anyway and despite being a little uncomfortable when trotting he did a fine job 😉 we were joined on our trek by a couple of American ladies, one had the unfortunate pleasure of having her camel throw up all over her, bless her she took it well though !!
The camel owners plan there route through some rather unpicturesque surroundings….
The local rubbish tip wouldn’t be my first choice of routes but what would I know !!
They do however take you to a much better location to watch the sun set slowly over the surrounding hills, providing this classic shot…
I’m rather fond of this picture 😉
The following morning we decided to walk up a nearby hill, there’s a temple at the top, but of course I’m only going for the views ;-). It was a very hot morning, nothing new there then but with the added hill to climb we were soon very hot and bothered, we took full advantage of the tea shop at the top before taking these photos…..
It just goes to show how high we climbed, great views despite the heat haze !!
Our last evening meal in Puskar was to be a little different, we’d heard of a little restaurant called Little Italy, we were told that they do very good pizza and pasta, well we’ve eaten a lot of curry recently so a change of taste would be good. We walked across town and located the restaurant,it was busy in the garden but we were lucky to find a table inside 😉
We feasted on Garlic Bread, Tomato and Mozzarella salad, thin crust pizza ( very good indeed ) and despite being a holy town, we were sold ice cold beer, severed in coffee mugs so as to disguise the drink ;-). We topped the meal of with an acceptable imitation on Banoffee Pie and ice cream, and real filter coffee, all in all a very good meal!!
Now rather than go back out of Puskar towards Ajmer and back down the highway to Beawar, stop here for one night then head to Jodhpur and possibly stop for another night as we originally planned, we talked to a local who said, firstly that there aren’t many hotels between Beawar and Jodhpur so why not head out towards Merta instead then head south to Jodhpur from there, great we said, are there any hotels in Merta or south between there and Jodhpur ? No he said but there is a bus service from Merta into Jodhpur !!
So I confess, we cycled the 40 miles into Merta and caught a bus straight into Jodhpur, our bikes stowed safely on the roof and we somewhat cramped inside with our bags, it only took 2.5 hours to make the trip, it was a shame as it looked to be a lovely cycling route but we would have struggled to find accommodation on route and to have cycled all 130 miles in one go would have been pretty tough !!
So there we are, in Jodhpur, another lonely planet recommended hotel, The Govind, and yet more palaces and forts to see !!
I’ll tell you all about them in my next blog 😉
All the best