The small sleepy, dusty village of Neemrana is about 70 miles from Delhi. We traveled on the main Jaipur-Delhi highway,made a sharp right turn onto a descript dirt road, jostle for about 4miles, and arrive at the Grand SuryaPol. Out of the blue appears lush orange and pink bougainvillea cascading over stone walls of a formidable palace. The structure is cut into the hillside, hidden and protected in a horseshoe formation by the Aravilli mountain range.
Legend has it that the fierce warriors of Rajasthan were not born of woman, but of the sun. Their ability to fight was legendary, but they couldn’t hold back the wave of Mughal invasions. Defeated the dynasty retreated to the dusty plateau in 1464 and built the palace, inhabiting it until 1947. Neemrana lay in ruins until 1986, when new owners began the ultimate restoration. Now its vast stepped buildings rise to 10 levels and extend across 3 acres. There are only 29 rooms, but it is easy to get lost. We took time to enjoy the magic of golden sunlight steaming through the open work of the jali windows throwing patterned light and shadow onto the thick sandstone walls. Then we ventured into the small village at the base of the Fort. In the space of two hours, we saw a dog chase a pig through the streets, a florist decorating a car with individual fresh roses for a wedding, the village elders playing a hot game of cards, a wedding ceremony, a potter’s studio, a desert step well, a 6-minute old goat, young girls carrying water jugs balanced on their heads, red-ring parakeets in mating season, and a strutting peacock.
Tomorrow we travel to Mandawa. Stay posted!