Up at the outrageous hour of 5am to get to the station for our train. it was still pitch black outside so we got another autorickshaw rather than staggering the streets of Delhi with our packs.
Arriving at the station we headed for the train on platform 1 as per our instructions from the previous visit to the station, but found that our train actually went from Platform 9. We made it to our seats with 5 minutes to spare.
The carriage was clean, if a little tatty, and the seats had plenty of leg room. On these Shatabdi Express trains, your ticket includes a bottle of water, and food and tea during the journey, as well as a complimentary newspaper. The ticket to Jaipur cost Rs490 each, about 6 pounds, for distance of 315km. National Rail in the UK could learn something…
The train left on time and for the first hour crawled through the outskirts of Delhi, most of which seemed to be slums and shanty towns.
Looking out of the window, it was interesting to see the changes as we got further in to Rajasthan. The people’s skins were darker, and many of the men wore more Arabian style clothing. There were also camels, working in the fields as well as pulling carts along the roads.
The terrain was generally incredibly flat, with the occasional hill rearing up from the plain, appearing to be almost man-made.
I also noticed there were a greater number of women working in the fields, all dressed in various bright colours. Several were dressed in orange/red and at firstglance appeared to be flames flickering in the sunlit countryside.
The train was due to arrive in Jaipur at about 10:30am but finally got there at about 11:15am. After our previous experience we didn’t hold out much hope of the taxi from our hotel being there, but we were delighted to find a man holding a sign with Vic’s name on it. He took us over to his jeep and drove us through Jaipur to our hotel. Jaipur was noticeably cleaner and lighter than Delhi, and the traffic not quite so crowded (though it was equally crazy).
The hotel,Hotel Diggi Palace was down a little side road off SMS Hospital Rd, and set in a lovely peaceful garden. Our room was great, overlooking a courtyard. The hotel garden were full of birds and animals; sparrows, crows, green parakeets as well as chipmunks.
We chatted to one of the men running the hotel about our proposed itinerary, and he suggested that it may be better ( though more expensive) to hire a car and driver for a few days. We thought about this and decided to take him up on it, but with a changed itinerary. We decided to skip Bikaner for the being, with the possibility of heading the straight from Delhi towards the end of our stay in India in order to have a go at camel trekking. So now the plan was: Nawalgarh, little place called Mahansar, back to Jaipur, on to Jodhpur and then to Udaipur where the driver would leave us.
That will stretch our budget a bit, but saves us hassle of early morning trains, taxis etc.