Christmas has gone, New Years Eve is tomorrow, and then in the wee small hours of January 3, I fly out of Melbourne to Mumbai via a short stopover in Singapore. I choose Singapore Airlines because they leave at a reasonable hour (mostly) and arrive at a reasonable hour with short stopover times at Changi Airport.
For this tour, I have upgraded to Premium Economy which will give me extra leg room and a few perks like priority boarding, great food and champagne. I plan to drink just enough champagne (probably 2 glasses as it doesn’t take much of the stuff to make me sleepy) to help me make use of all that extra legroom to sleep soundly, as the next few days will be flurry of private pre-tour activity and research for a new tour I’m planning.
On arrival in Mumbai at the very reasonable hour of 10:35, I catch another flight to Jaipur (after a few hours hanging about the very beautiful new airport terminal), where a car and driver will be waiting for me to drive to the village of Alsisar in northern Rajasthan where I will stay at the magnificent Alsisar Mahal – a former 17th century palace.
Living the royal lifestyle, yet working hard on my research, I will spend the next day with my car and driver traversing the towns and villages of this area known as Shekawati, seeking out the abandoned painted havelis (mansions) that the area is famous for.
History has it that in the 17th to 19th centuries, Marwari merchants constructed these grand havelis. Steeped in wealth and affluence, these merchants competed with each other building ever more grand edifices – homes, temples and step wells – which were richly decorated both inside and outside with painted murals.
Now, most of the havelis are abandoned, their owners having moved to larger centres of trade like Mumbai. Some mansions have been destroyed, while others have had their murals painted over. I will be visiting in order to find some great examples to visit on the tour I am planning for late 2019.*
After my royal whirlwind, I return to Jaipur and then fly to Ahmedabad to have a free day before meeting my guests for The Cloth and Stone Tour 2019.
Stay tuned for more news from the road, and, I’m hoping, some great pics of my royal accommodation and the results of my research of the Shekawati region.
*The new tour, yet unnamed, will take in the Shekawati area as well as an Indus Valley Civilisation ruined city (about 4500 years old), some pre-historic painted caves, an elephant sanctuary in a village, the famous Rat Temple in Bikaner, a magnificent step well and lots more.
Contact me if you would like to know more about this tour when planning is completed.
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