It seems like bicycles have become staple fixtures in my trips.
This time it was a sudden weekend getaway imposed on the family by the CEOs of all Indian families (mostly), my mom. Any personal commitments, if made, were cancelled as we embarked on the road to Bharatpur, Rajasthan, for the Keoladeo National Park. Bharatpur is some 186 kms away from Delhi and we covered that distance in under 4 hours, reaching our lodgings, inside the park, by 8 PM.
A point to make note of is, the best time to visit the Keoladeo National Park, formerly known as the Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary, is November to March. But my father always travels in off-season, by principle, something which I have adopted. Your trip expenses come down by 40%, the places you visit are less crowdy, plus you get treated better, generally.
We stayed the night at Hotel Bharatpur Ashok, which has very good quality rooms at decent prices. But the food disappointed us, and the marketing gimmicks (complementary breakfast etc) they promised weren’t as expected, and this made, at least, me sore.
Bird watching is best when you do it early morning or late noon. So we got up at 4:30 AM the next day and left for the jungle at 6. You can hire bicycles, rickshaws and electric buggies or you can walk. Me and my equally young and handsome brother of course opted for the bicycles.
Now, off season sure has it downsides too, we didn’t see half the birds we could have seen, but we had twice the fun. My friends say I am one lucky bitch, and that is what our guide said (well, not bitch!) when it rained. The rains brought out the birds from their hiding, made the weather pleasant, and made a few those who had ventured into the park at this time, go back. We didn’t mind the rain and so had the huge park all to ourselves, absorbing the wide array of colors and scents it has to provide, alone. Not dwelling on what all we saw, my first bird watching experience was beautiful and informative. In contrast with Udaipur, this time we rode the cycles drenched in water, plush greenery all around us. The flora and fauna at display were so arresting, I had to mention it to my brother, “Nature is sexy!” (Yeah, I have an excellent vocabulary).
After Bharatpur, we visited Fatehpur Sikri which is just 15 kms away from the park. Nothing of much importance to remark about here, it has the usual stuff, forts, mosque, et cetera. We just had to kill some time.
Visit if you have a thing for Mughal Architecture, or 2-3 hours you don’t have a better way to spend. Only thing worth mentioning is that Anarkali was never really live entombed. The tomb that was built around her had a secret tunnel that lead to Agra Fort, a fact I will have to check when I reach home because on it depends the respect I have for Akbar, as a ruler.
Next stop, Agra, which is 40 kms from Fatehpur Sikri. Where in Agra? The Taj Mahal of course! Now this proved to be an important trip for me because the Taj Mahal turned out to be the fourth most beautiful thing I have/will ever laid/lay my eyes upon (the first three are not places). Given how wives are, if Mumtaz could have had the chance to look at what her dear husband did for her, the passion in Shahjahan’s married life (that is how I put sexual life modestly) would have increased some 200-300 million percent. As an afterthought, If Mumtaz Mahal had died after looking at Taj Mahal (ignore the fact that it was made in her loving memory only) Shahjahan, after experiencing so much married bliss (get me?) would have built something even more exhilarating than Taj Mahal. Don’t judge me, it’s just a theory, I am no historian.
I do not usually blabber this much, but it is just to emphasize how wonderful the Taj Mahal is! (Notice how I pun about Taj Mahal being wonderful, as it is also one of the seven wonders of the world)
That’s all there is. I have a headache because of writing in a moving car and my neck pains, sympathy please.
Pray I go somewhere out soon, I know you love my travel posts.