October 13th - Jaipur to Delhi

We found it very difficult to leave the Rambagh Palace. The service, the rooms, the facilities are all of an unbelievably high standard and we made a promise to ourselves to come back to this special place.

We had two options today. We could either drive on a country route to Delhi or leave late and see the Amber Palace, just outside Jaipur and then take the expressway to Delhi. A late start, as the Amber Palace doesn't open till 9am and is just 12 kms from Jaipur.

We had heard a lot about the palace and wanted to spend some time there. We arrived about 8.30am and were immediately besieged by hoards of locals trying to sell us a whole variety of tourist items. It is extremely difficult to stop them from pestering you. Saying no, simply is no good at all! You feel mean not buying something but once you do others then take up the 'attack' and your visit can soon become very stressful. We managed to leave the majority behind us as we walked up the road to the palace. It is a huge construction built in the late 16th century. It is surrounded by 16 kms of walls, with the Jaigarh Fort high above the palace. The fort housed the army and the palace was for the royal family. Below are a selection of photos I took as we approached the palace and then climbed to the top.

We had decided to walk up to the palace, but you could take an elephant ride. As we walked down we saw the mahouts washing the elephants in the lake below the palace.

We left the palace after an hour and a half and headed north on the expressway to Delhi, some 250 kms away. Indian expressways are NOT motorways. They are dual carriageways with many intersections where locals drive onto the wrong carriageway without a second thought! We saw many trucks, camel carts, motorbikes and cars heading straight at us. It was no surprise when we came across our first major truck accident. In all we saw at least ten serious truck crashes. Some were overturned, whilst others had driven into bridges, ditches and into the central reservation. It was a very sobering drive to Delhi.

A typically overloaded trailer parked on the side of the road partially blocking the slow lane. A real hazard at night.

This next shot is of a truck coming at us driving up the fast lane in the wrong direction! You can see on the right of the picture a coach on the other carriageway.

Another truck driving on the wrong carriageway this time coming at us on the hard shoulder and half in the slow lane.

We arrived on the outskirts of the capital at about 1pm and our drive in to the city was remarkably easy as the Indians are building multi-lane highways. Still, it never ceases to amaze me that on an eight lane highway you will find a three wheeled bicycle in the fast lane!

Delhi was designed by the British architect, Sir Edwin Lutyens, in the 1920's. The centre has wonderfully wide roads and avenues with large art deco government buildings. I am posting just one photo of Delhi today which is of the India Gate that Lutyens designed as a memorial to 70,000 Indian soldiers who died in the First World War.

Tonight we are up late to watch England play France in the rugby semi-final of the World Cup. It starts here at 12.30am and a group of us are going to the Shangri-La Hotel where they are showing the match in their Island bar. Let's hope we have something to celebrate tomorrow!

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