Saturday, 11 April 2015

09 Apr - Pushkar to Devgarh (the Palace Hotel!)

Day's run: 149 km
Total: 2,614 km
Start:  06:57 am
Saddle Time:   08:32
Total Climb:    664 m
Total Descent: 523 m
Average: 17.00 kph

I find a real backwoods route out of Pushkar to avoid the climb back over the hill to Ajmer. I'm not sure where I'll end up tonight as there aren't any towns enroute that look very promising hotel-wise.

I've cycled past several small dairies on my travels. Nothing more than collection and distribution points really. I pluck up courage and march in with my own glass and ask the milkman to fill it up, trying not to think too hard about the bits of grass and whatnot I can see floating on the top of the churn. The milk is bought and sold by weight. The churn sits permanently on electronic scales so anyone selling chucks their milk into the churn, anyone buying gets it ladled out. My breakfast milk was warm and creamy and cost me a princely 5 rupees.

My back road route which was dirt for about 20 km. I was really expecting to get a puncture along here as those are wicked thorn bushes on  the roadside, used as  an animal barrier. Some thorns had already worked their way through the sole of my sandals and at first I thought they were rusty tin tacks.

I took this just to show some of the squalor through the rural villages. Civic pride seems an alien concept. The only relatively 'pretty' urban places are the tourist hotspots. There are no rubbish bins anywhere.....ever. Rubbish is dumped in certain parts of the street........the pigs, dogs, and cattle all pick over it and what's left is periodically burnt. I saw a cow munching paper cups next to a tea stall the other day.

I pull up next to a well for morning tiffin. In Pushkar I found brown sliced bread, and a slab of butter. So I enjoy rough-cut tomato and cucumber sandwiches, followed by banana sandwiches........I won't say how many but you don't want butter melting in your panniers do you?   : )

and suddenly the road's my maxim in life.....'Yes, I know it's bad, be patient and it will get better'. It usually works.
I decide to push on to Devgarh, a largish town. When I arrive it is dusk and I can't find any accommodation anywhere. I find out from a local that there is only one hotel in town, The Devgarh Palace. It is a real 400 year old palace, the Maharajah still lives in part of the Palace but the rest had been turned into a rather nice hotel in 1996. It's on a hill top right in the centre of the town. As I pedalled up the steep cobbled entrance, somewhat bedraggled and road-stained after 150 km I wondered if they would let me in. Sat in reception sipping a complimentary rosewater and fruit juice I came out with it. "Look, it's very nice, but let's cut to the chase, I don't know if  I can afford to stay here, how much is it?"  "How much do you want to pay, what is your budget? Well, I wasn't expecting that. The Maharajah must be really strapped for cash. "Umm....2,000 rupees".  The room was lovely, lots of  original features but then I had to explain that I had to find an ATM as I didn't have enough cash.
Luckily there was one in town, and finally I was sat munching a chapati with a Kingfisher up in the roof-top restaurant..........'When it's bad it can only get better'!

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