Junagarh Fort was out first stop. This is a magnificent piece of work, built between 1587 and 1593 by the 3rd Ruler of Bikaner, Rai Singh. The Fort has never been conquered in battle
. We met our guide , Jared who took us around this great building. it has 37 palaces in it. Also of note here were Delft porcelain window, Old english bi-plane bitzer built from spare parts of two planes and has never flown, a silver door, the amazing Cloud Mahal, ( only one room, but, So Cool ), Armoury, and the beautiful Anup Mahal. We then took lunch over the road at the restaurant with the slowest service in Rajasthan, they were too trendy to care..
Raj and Jared took us next to the Bikaner Camel Research Facility . We saw all sorts of Camels, all dromedary type, no Bactrians. There were young ones, old ones, baby ones. there were four main types here, Kachchhi, Bikaneri, Jaisalmeri and Mewari.Four large bill-boards had photos of the types and explained their differences. They can tank up on as much as a large cars fuel tank (70 litres ) in one go when thirsty.
Time to head for our digs for the night. We went out south of Bikaner to a place called Gajner, It was called Gajner Palace and we thought, righto, it's one of those hotels that fancies itself as a palace. Raj said it was down near the lake which was a bit low due to the poor monsoon rains of late, but there were some nice birds there. o.k. We went down through a scruffy little village on a dirt road, over a dry creek and into a little wood
. through a big gate and then OMG. The Maharajah's Hunting Lodge.... This place was amazing. It was without a doubt the best place we stayed in in India. We had a guest room in the main lodge, it was beautifully appointed and very comfortable. I photographed myself silly then we had some drinks to while away the late afternoon and early evening. The big fire was lit in the middle of the courtyard and the Rajasthani minstrels and their dancers arrived. They gave us a song and dance or two as we sat around the fire with a large group of Europeans,mainly French. These travellers were in the motel accommodation down the back. We dressed for dinner in our silk shirts then drifted off to the Mirage restaurant for a great evening meal. Beautiful crockery, silver cutlery, fine linen cloths and napkins and great service. Our waiter was mainly a chap named Surender, he was a hard case like the man at Alsisar, nothing was a bother. We tried the Indian wines, the best being the Savignon Blanc, Sula . We retired at about ten p.m. and got wet in some unusual rain on our walk back to our room.
We were up and ready for breakfast before the Councillors, and enjoyed a very good breakfast with the hard case waiter and the French couple who were also heading in our direction today. Raj was ready with his spotless car, neatly pressed clothes and a handshake for the boys, Morning Jose, Morning Martin. He gets up at Five we found out. Every morning, the car and Raj were always immaculate, which in India is no mean feat. We rumbled our way westward through no-mans land called the Rajgarh plain and eventually landed on a main road near Aslu. We moved on down to a large town called Churu. then on to Ratangarh. Had a tea break at a roadside restaurant near Lachharsar. Arrived at Bikaner at 12.40. Four and a half hours for 210km.