Journey to another world

So I left us all wondering what on earth were we contemplating catching another train for? Well it said it on our itinerary and so that’s what we had to do. Needless to say some fairly firm conversations were had with the guides in Agra about checking whether the train existed and would be on time.
But before we depart here’s a few words about our stay at Mr Singh’s homestay. It was a lovely old villa which used to belong to an English Army Office and Mr Singh’s father had bought it in 1954 and the family had lived there ever since. It was a big spacious house and Mr Singh and his various Sikh family members were really lovely. We ate at the family dining table and Mr Singh liked to tell us about all the good things the British had left behind….like the railways…….the road system…..and the hospitals (which we still hope not to have to experience based on the other two).
Unfortunately my real memories of the stay will be lying in the bedroom feeling rather sorry for myself.
As a result of this I didn’t get to see the Red Fort at Agra and so I am going to let Jane loose on the Blog just for a bit…
At the gates of the Red Fort imagine my surprise when we instantly recognised the American couple we met in Varanasi at our hotel. Having reacquainted ourselves with them Lisa asked if we minded them both joining our group for the tour which of course we didn’t,
It was lucky for me that Lisa’s husband was a tour swot and paid constant attention to all that was being said and kept Mujeep busy by asking lots of questions (usually Julie’s role) while I wandered off taking photos. Mujeep did say however that he missed Julie. I thought the fort was very impressive and on the occasions that I was listening I can tell you that it was the home of Shah Jahan and the Mumtaz (for whom he built the Taj after she died) and their 7 children. She had 14 children but only 7 survived (2 girls & 5 boys). Each little girl got their own palace which was built either side of mommy & daddy’s palace. I also remember the lines of defence for the fort which were as follows:-
1) A moat filled with snakes and crocodiles
2) A wall full of soldiers
3) A forest area filled with three different types of wild animals all kept in separate sections so they didn’t kill each other (lions, tigers & wolves).
Apparently many tried to attack but no one succeeded, I’m not surprised!
It was very impressive with lots of separate garden areas one used to be a vine yard and another area that was a fish pond. Overall it was a really good visit and I can see why it has been given a world heritage status.
Right so there you go- that’s Jane’s little memory test over with for today!
After their visit they came back to the house and picked me up. I was literally dreading this journey. In theory one and a half hours by road to Bhartpur Station and then train to Sawai Madhopur. However, the road journey was quite rural and scenic we even stopped to buy some oranges from a very smiley man with no teeth. And then the station…….it could not have been more different. Our train was due at 3.50pm and the nice guide who met us there just to put us in the train said the train would arrive at 3.48pm. Early? Can you believe it?! We went onto the platform and here there were lots of Indian people having a really good stare as us. down at the end of the platform it was basically occupied by the Brits. Two great big tour groups and a couple of v posh Americans. Then the train arrived and on we got. It was a crazy mad scramble to get everyone on as the train didn’t actually seem to stop. We were luckily in our seats but the other Brits were screaming as they weren’t all on and they couldn’t see their bags. It was a bit dangerous as some of them were quite elderly and it was quite a climb up into the cab. However, once in, it was unbelievably different to our previous experience. Think a 1950s version of Virgin. We had seats, we had air conditioning and we even had a table. Yessssssss!
Of course in the end the train did run a little bit late but we arrived at the station at about 6.30pm. The Carriage guard organised us all, to get off safely including our luggage, with military precision. Something else the Brits obviously left behind.
And here we are now in Khem Villas. We’ve left Joyce and Enid at their hotel Ranthambore Forest Resort for a couple of days whilst we retire to our Rajastani tent.




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One thought on “Journey to another world

  1. Mike

    Must be something about Agra – I seem to remember I had dysentery whilst there, but then I had time to recover. Hope you’re feeling better and ready to get me a Tiger skin for my drawing room wall.

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