This is the last entry from Trevor Gibbs “Essex2India” 3 blog series, and in this final blog he’s looking back on just what he, Denise Van Outen and Lydia Bright managed to achieve of those epic few days! All fabulous images courtesy of Gareth Gatrell (www.garethgatrell.com)
“Extending from ancient ruins of the Mughal Empire, to the golden sands of the Thar Desert, Rajasthan is not without reason known as the ‘Land of Kings’. For centuries the brown hills of the Aravalli ranges provided the backdrop for some of the most opulent excesses of the Rajput princes. This is a land of forts and palaces, shimmering saris and splendid moustaches. A land still steeped in the traditions of the past, and one that warrants more than just a passing glance. Cycling along the meandering back roads provides the perfect way to discover a little of the true spirit of this incredible region. The dusty roads take you through villages filled with excited children and bemused goats, past convoys of camel carts and tree-lined fields where Rajasthan’s rural traditions continue much as they have for generations.
Leaving behind the relative ‘sophistication’ of Agra, the journey took us through a chaotic maze of rickshaws, motorbikes and buses and out onto the highway that led west, towards the remarkable ghost city of Fatehpur Sikri and from there onto Bharatpur and the Keoladeo National Park. As the riding days became more challenging, so did the road surface, as tarmac gave way to potholes and potholes gave way to gravel. Herds of goats became a daily congestion problem and the deeper we headed into Rajasthan, the more our presence became an object of curiosity. Children were an ever-present distraction at drink stops and the incredulous looks that greeted us from beneath aged turbans testified to just how few tourists travel this route.
Muscles began to ache with more intensity as the kilometres fell away. Keoladeo gave way to Karauli, which in turn gave way to Ranthambore. We came across monkeys playing beside the road and enjoyed the hospitality of maharajahs and maharanis. We went in search of tigers and found a world far removed from our everyday lives. There was colour everywhere and, even through the dirt and the poverty, there were smiles in abundance. The end of the road came at a place called Ramgarh, just on the outskirts of Jaipur, where the palpable relief was made all the more welcome by the added attractions of a traditional Rajasthani band, a pantomime horse and a well deserved glass of champagne.
We had covered over 420 kilometres, travelling in temperatures of nearly 40 degrees centigrade. The roads had, in some places, tested bikes and butts to the limit, but the girls had made it and, as they watched their bikes being packed away for the last time, thoughts turned to the next challenge…”
To find out more about Trevor and his adventures, please visit his website at www.agamaconsultants.co.uk.
To learn more about our Rajasthan Tiger Challenge, and all the treks that we offer, please visit our website at www.charitychallenge.com . To keep up to date on all our challenge news, subscribe to this blog by clicking on the orange RSS button, you can also enter your email address into the adjacent box to subscribe to our mailing list.