Dawn couldn’t come late enough so we headed out towards the Hawa Mahal, a truly mesmerising example of man’s creativity and artistic prowess built back in 1799 in the heart of Jaipur. Literally translating to ‘palace of the winds’, the 953 windows in the 50-foot tall mahal served one purpose. During the parades, the King’s many wives would watch from behind the confines of the Hawa Mahal, out of view of the throngs who would gather for it. It now lies just off a main road and it can get very crowded later in the day; as can Jaipur, so we exited in a hurry and set off for the forts.
Jaigadh and Nahargarh were looking majestic in the distance and as they grew larger, we looked even more forward to getting there! However, Amer Palace was the first place we stopped at since it overlooked the beautiful Maota Lake. There is a winding cobbled pathway which leads up all the way to the various sections of the fort. It is a one-way, so I didn’t have to worry about traffic on the way up. There is a better, more relaxing way to go about it – by elephant! There are a number of slow, lumbering pachyderms who will serenely take you up the fort and allow you to enjoy every view there is from the added height. The Amer Palace was also a stronghold during times of battle and even has a dug-out escape route below the surface, which leads to Jaigadh, our next stop.
Jaigadh and Nahargarh are side by side and there is just one road leading up to both of them. Once up there, what surprised me most was the peacock population: scores of them were on either side of us as we made our way to the gate of Jaigadh. The moment we stopped, however, they scattered. As we made our way to Nahargarh on the other side, the narrow road offered a magnificent view of the city. The Tiger seemed to enjoy its morning outing and I could hear the engine note very clearly indeed given the isolated surroundings. There was an army of pigeons who, unlike the peacocks from earlier, couldn’t care less about the bike making their way towards them. It would make for a fantastic shot and I tried my best to bring the scenario from my mind to life. Dare I say, I almost succeeded, at a much slower speed for fear of running over the feathered frolickers.
Even with our minds bursting at the seams with ideas, we had to get a move on to Delhi. The highway would be long and straight, but packed with traffic, and we wanted to avoid every bit we could. As we trundled along at highway speed, the Tiger felt effortless, consistently taking sudden changes in direction in its stride. It was then that I realised, we were leaving Rajasthan. It was already over. I had feared the heat and the dehydration, but the Tiger made short work of travel and visiting all the places we had, we had come back richer with memories, learning and appreciation.
We were soon crossing Gurgaon, as the countless lanes of slow-moving traffic made perfectly clear, and were now heading into Delhi. A towering stone structure in the distance was where we were headed. The Qutub Minar was just as magnificent as I last remembered it to be. So, we were officially in Delhi then.