I’ve decided Europe’s got nothing on India for castles.
Particularly since I’m comfortably plopped down in a hammock at a castle by the lake that was converted into a hotel. A lovely hotel. Green carved marble. Dead animal heads mounted everywhere of the leopards, tigers, boars, bears and other big predators that used to roam the hills around Dungarpur. A temple directly out from our hotel room window surrounded by water on its own private island.
Dinner tonight will be in a lovely room with a marble table filled with water and flowers.Yep, I’m roughing it.
The ride to Dungarpur was 105k thankfully uneventful. I felt good and rode pretty fast- it’s nice to get your bike legs back after being sick. Most of it was easy riding – rolling hills on a highway that made for smooth sailing.
We did pass a lot of road construction. Road construction crews are women. In their bright saris. Carrying big pans of rocks on their heads and dumping them in the expanded shoulder for the widened roadway. Swinging pickaxes to break up hard soil to lay a bed for the new highway by hand. Using wide hoes to grade the bed flat. In the hot sun. In the middle of the day. Exhausting, brutal work.
I mostly see women doing this work. Today it was only women, with a man supervisor, standing in the shade. Sometimes I’ll see men driving the heavy rollers that crush the rock to lay the bed for the road. But the heavy work is always done by the women. In fact, I think most work I’ve seen happening is rural areas is done by the women … but more on that later.
Back to the castles… besides being lucky enough to sleep in one tonight, Michline my roommate and I went off to tour a deserted castle known for its paintings and amazing preservation since the 1300s. It was incredible- with thousands of paintings covering walls and ceilings, mirrored rooms and the king’s bedroom included a hidden closet covered in illustrations from the Kama sutra. And only a few bats and big bees nests to share it with.
Photos below of rooms and details of paintings and art from Juna Mahal- the deserted castle we visited with the caretaker this afternoon.