Cliché or no cliché, Akbar’s ‘City of Victory’ really does “rise majestically” from a barren rocky plateau. Referring back to my note book, before writing up this visit, I found a string of exclamations: “The scale! Location and position! Extraordinary! Fabulously well-maintained! Power! More palace than fort!” An extraordinary place…
“…We all liked your entry – an interesting and atmospheric piece of writing… you should be very proud of yourself – there were a lot of good entries this year. The six finalists now go forward to Matthew Parris to select the final winner, so who knows who that will be. Meanwhile crack open the champagne!” Hilary Bradt. Wow! Very excited to have reached the final of this prestigious award. All six pieces are available to read right now on-line, so have a look and, if you feel like it, do leave some feedback.
When we last left you we’d taken advantage of some holy Jaipurian urinals. Now we cross the street and go check out the rather ornate Jaipur City Palace, the Hawa Mahal (where women could see but not be seen) and mingle with monkeys and elephants. In amongst more wee spots we sample a refreshing beetroot drink and then round the day off with some good old fashioned police brutality.
With Liz being short-listed for another writing competition this week we thought we’d start off our Rajasthan series with one of her latest entries, which we’ve also made available for the iPad and Kindle. Beautifully written, this pulls together a number of themes set in Jaipur, Jodpur and Agra (Taj Mahal), the classic traveller trail called The Golden Triangle. The central story, however, concentrates on a remarkable man we met whilst in Jaipur whose quest to empower women from the lowest castes affected us deeply. Setting the scene for the next few blog posts this is moving, brutal yet ultimately uplifting. It is, in my opinion, Liz’s best non-fiction writing to date.
Munnar is a corner of Kerala that’s tucked away in the mountain peaks of tea plantations and lush green valleys. Miles and miles of strange looking tea trees, interspersed with cardamom bushes and coffee trees, provide great walks and views not seen anywhere else in this mainly tropical state. In this post Liz provides some insight into these wonderful valleys, and throws in a visit to a tea factory.
As is probably evident from our previous posts, Madurai is a pretty crazy place. Rest, then, from the madding crowd in the calm of one of her grandest buildings, Thirumalai Nayakkar Palace. Deceptively understated from the outside, the open court-yard of the interior is imposing and beautiful. Liz: “If you are in southern India please do not miss this most beautiful palace. I fell in love with it in many ways. Its shape, colour and structure are sublime. Palest peach, vanilla, apricot, and cream combine to impart an ethereal quality”. The palace is close to becoming a UNESCO World Heritage site, which goes some way to illustrate how wonderful this simple building is. At the end of this short post we include a little slide show of a few of the buildings of Madurai.