Our friend Manju (front) invited us to visit his parents in Maharashtra so, with his friend (and driver) Masala we embarked on a two day car ride into the heart of India.
The views from the mountain range on the Goa / Karnataka boarder are wonderful if a little hazy.
The journey, stopping in Vijapur for the night, threw up some of the most captivating sights we’ve seen so far ……….
…… the sugar cane is transported by both tractor and ox cart and both modes of transport are cared for, and decorated, very well!
Occasionally sugar cane is carried in a less than steady style!
After our long and hot journey we arrived at the local town in Maharashtra to where Manju’s parents live. It happened to be market day and it became clear that very few people had seen a real live white person – let alone one like James at of 6’ 4” !
The generally poor roads we’d got used to over the preceding couple of days suddenly got very much worse! and the last hour of our journey was decidedly bumpy!
But, at last we arrived at Manju’s parents home. Manju, James (with Charlie), Mr Gherde and Mrs Gherde, Doug, Champa (Manju's sister) and Masala kneeling.
This is their home and the area where the goats, chickens and one young Water Buffalo are kept. Mr Gherde sleeps on the iron bed (just to the right of Doug) where he can be on hand if Mongoose or Wolves try to attack the animals.
Of course, little ‘Charlie’ stole the show in the time we were there!
Mr Gherde showed us around his land and the first call was on the Pomegranate orchard.
Humming bird nests hanging above the well.
Water buffalo under the shade of a tree.
Cooling our feet in the reservoir which supplies water to the vineyard.
Mr Gherde shows us his grapes which have another 6 weeks to go before harvest.
And a group photo on the edge of the vineyard. (including Charlie!)
Later in the day a dip in the reservoir.
We couldn’t get too close as one of the Water Buffalo is pregnant and bit moody. Like the goats, she provides milk for cooking and drinking.
Mrs Gherde doing our washing !……..
……. and the water pot on the open fire providing hot water for washing.
Champa and Mrs Gherde.
On Saturday evening “us boys” went over to the nearest town to visit the temple.
During our visit the temple elders were so pleased to have ‘white’ visitors that they allowed us to access the inner most sacred part. This was something that even Mr Gherde, a regular attendee, has never done and he was delighted to be with us on the occasion.
Foreigners are rare in these areas and outside the temple there were a lot of locals and Indian visitors who wanted their photo taken with us.
The road back home from town was rough to say the least but in the dark it was even harder work for Masala
In addition to the original basic building Mr Gherde has managed to build a small solid shelter and this is where we slept.
A trip to Pandharpur on Sunday was another adventure. Here are a few random pics of streets scenes around the town:-
We visited an intriguing museum depicted the history of India.
There were hundreds of intricately detailed Tableau ……..
Well, our short but utterly delightful and interesting stay came to an end so it was time to say good bye and to thank Mr and Mrs Gherde and Champa for their wonderful hospitality.
On the journey back we did an overnight stop again in Vijapur and this time had a quick visit to the tomb of Mohammad Adilshah. Built in the 1650’s it’s similar in design to the Taj Mahal but nowhere near as elaborate.
The tombs inside ………
….. and the view down from the gallery. Very similar to the Whispering Gallery in St Paul’s Cathedral you could hear your echo 7 times.
The views from the top were amazing.
Having to fill with fuel several times ( and repair a punctured tyre!) on this trip we were under no illusions that India is a “can do” country. Nothing stops this petrol station from remaining open – just prop the pump up on bricks!
Our limited travel in India has, up until this point, been on planes and trains and so a car journey over so many miles to a remote part of the country has been both and eye-opener and wonderful adventure and we can only thank Manju and his family for the chance of such a wonderful experience.