After a second night sleeping on my window sill at Karohi Haveli I awoke to the sound of small children chanting in the temple outside the bedroom window. We sorted our cases for the onward journey and had breakfast before taking a few photos around the hotel as all the detail was so lovely.
We had a an hour or so before we needed to leave so we decided to walk back into the old city to try our luck at haggling with those “aggressive” shopkeepers. Jackie declared herself equal to the task. I spotted a couple of scarves that I liked outside one shop but at 600 rupees each they seemed quite expensive so we walked further on up on the road. At this point Jacquie said that she thought she had spotted chatty man, Alan Carr which seemed rather bizarre. We didn’t anticipate that Jackie would head over to stalk him before finally accosting him and asking if he was ‘that British comedian?’ When, like a good sport, he agreed that he was, she said, ‘ what’s your name again?!’ Mortifying! He was really lovely and it turned out that he actually recognised us as he had been on the plane to Udaipur with the screaming woman. That’s a whole new comedy routine for him right there. He was happy to have a photo taken with us and didn’t even charge us 20 rupees. He was somewhat taken aback when Jackie took a selfie with her digital camera though!
After that excitement there was nothing more to do but shop. We bought some lovely hand paintings on silk and then went back to the shop where we had earlier rejected the scarves as being too expensive. Twenty minutes or so later, Jacquie and I owned more scarves but he had refused to sell to Jackie as he considered her so rude that he didn’t want her to buy from his shop. Hilarious!
We checked out from Karohi Haveli and met up with Sipi who would be our guide for the trekking stage of our trip. Piling into Chotu’s car we set off on the long car ride to Kumhalgarh. To start with the road was pretty decent but after an hour or so we turned off on to an extremely bumpy road which took us through small, dusty villages. For us it was fascinating; women walking along with huge loads on their heads and others in bright saris working in the wheat fields. Old men in turbans sat on their haunches on the side of the road and we passed tractors decorated with tinsel and plastic flowers and trucks which all read Horn Please on the back. Certainly all vehicles on the road seemed to oblige.
Around 2pm we finally arrived at Dera Kumbhalgarh which seemed pretty deserted. Our room was perfectly adequate although somewhat lacking in any character or a third bed for that matter. We were assured that one would be arriving but Jackie decided that she would probably be able to sleep on the window ledge anyway. Hmmm.
After lunch we headed up the road to Kumhalgarh Fort, reportedly the second largest city wall after the Great Wall of China. It was certainly pretty impressive. Quite a climb in the heat though and I’m pretty sure I wasn’t the only one who struggled up wondering whether I was really fit enough to manage the trek the next day. Definitely regretted wearing my scarf. Still we pressed on as we weren’t going to be beaten by old women in full length saris and young girls in flip flops or even high heels!
The fort was impressive but very austere and bare and there were certainly no health and safety precautions. One young guy had climbed up on the ramparts, with a drop of hundreds of feet below him, in order to take the perfect selfie. We had a funny moment when someone showed me their camera and I thought they wanted me to take a photo of them. Turned out they wanted a photo with me in it. Perhaps I should have charged them 20 rupees!
Back down from the fort we visited a hindu temple where Jacquie and I were given a sandalwood blessing and a bell was rung to open our souls. It was actually quite spiritual.
We skipped the light and sound show as it was only in hindi and headed back to Dera for dinner. We asked whether we would be able to have wine with dinner. It was but it turned out someone had to drive 7km to get it!
Tomorrow, our trek begins…….