I’m writing this, my first post on this blog, from a delightful restaurant in bundi. It’s run by two brothers called Tom and Jerry whose cat and mouse cartoon counterparts lend their names and faces to the restaurant and its menus. We originally only intended to pop in for a quick drink and bite to eat but a local monsoon had other ideas.. Umbrella-less we decided to sit it out . 3 hours, 2 pizzas and many milkshakes later we are still waiting for the rain to stop.. All the food has been super tasty though so we are not complaining. it was really nice to have some western-style cooking. The Indian cuisine is great, especially the rich and creamy paneer curries which is like melt in the mouth tofu, but after a week of complex textures and spices we were both craving something simple and familiar.
Before stopping of at Tom and Jerry’s we had spent a few hours exploring the local fort and palace. Kipling described the latter as “the work of goblins rather than men”‘and with its decaying rock-hewn grandeur you could certainly imagining it in a lord of the rings film! The Taragarth fort also had a great sense of adventure to it- set on a hilltop above the palace, it is a collision zone between man and nature; wildly overgrown trees and shrubs do battle with 700 year old stone arches and walkways. As you explore the dead ends and deserted hallways you half expect indian jones to suddenly burst through a wall, ancient artefact in hand! On the way back down we encountered some of the local makaws we had previously been warned about. Although we had heard horror stories of them swinging down to steal phones out of pockets, and we had even been armed with a large stick “for our own protection”, the ones we met were perfectly well-behaved and fun to watch. Maybe a few bad apples with kleptomaniac tendencies have spoiled their reputation. They are incredibly agile and I think graceful creatures. The controlled way they use their momentum to propel themselves first-time from rooftop to rock to tree at great speed is a great sight.
This rugged hilltop taragath fort had a very different feel to it than Jaipur’s pink city and amber Fort. Although we greatly enjoyed the elephant ride up to the latter, once inside I was somewhat underwhelmed. There were some very nice views and architecture but it seemed to lack a bit of character. Maybe this feeling is a natural product of seeing the Taj Mahal a few days earlier. Perhaps this also explains why I particularly enjoyed exploring Taragarth today; With its crumbling defences, deserted towers and overgrown courtyards it feels completely different from the taj’s white marbelled symmetry. Getting lost within its claustrophobic walls, as makaws tracked our every move felt like an adventure and it was a far cry from some of the more tepid tourist and tout-filled sights we had visited earlier in the week. Exploring Taragath felt genuine and exciting and it was an experience I hope to recapture when we visit the famous chittaughar fort tomorrow.