On the road through Rajasthan - India's garden of Eden!
|View from the tented camp across Pangarh Lake|
There are some places on this earth that are so beautiful, they don't need to qualify as gardens! In our last few days in Rajasthan we found one such place - way off the beaten track and with virtually no track to it! And although it's not a garden as such, the whole area is like the garden of Eden - acres of unspoilt countryside; opium poppies everywhere; and magnificent vistas across crop-filled fields and full lakes after last year's bumper monsoon.
|Walking through the opium fields in Rajasthan|
India is among the top three opium producing nations of the world, alongside Afghanistan and Pakistan, and production here is strictly controlled by the Government. The white opium poppy is grown in just three of India's states - Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh - but production is sufficient to supply 50% of the opium utilised by the world's pharmaceutical industry to produce codeine, morphine and other medicinal products.
|Approach to the tented camp on the shores of Pangarh Lake ... I got out of the car and walked!|
We were lucky enough to spend a whole day driving through this idyllic countryside, on our journey from Jodhpur to Bijaipur Castle, and then on to the tented camp operated by the owners of Bijaipur on the shores of Pangarh Lake. It has to be said that the road down to the camp left us all with our hearts in our mouths (above) and although I've referred constantly to Prakash's driving skills during my recent India visit, this descent was too much for me and I got out and walked (much to the amusement of my fellow travellers).
|Another glorious flower garden - in front of the tented camp - planted by the owners of Castle Bijaipur|
But it was worth the heart-stopping journey and when we finally arrived at the edge of the lake, it was yet another sight to behold. Castle Bijaipur's tented camp is another flowery paradise, even if the tented accommodation lacks the luxury of an African safari camp! I suggest you read Paul and Pauline's description to get the full flavour of our night on the lake, because they sum it up extremely well.
|First light on the lake - why I love India so much!|
The location is absolutely fabulous, but even I have to confess that I might think twice about staying here again, if only because I was woken to the sound of howling animals in the early hours of the morning - a haunting sound that reminded me just how insignificant humanity is when pitched against the forces of nature! But as dawn arrived (above), I soon forgot the darkness doubts I'd suffered, and remembered why I love India so much.