Saturday 05 November 2005

The breakfast was cold this morning but the cup of tea was great! Not long after we checked out our driver arrived to take us to the airport. Check-in was really quick but our flight was slightly delayed. Our flight first had a stop in Vannassi before we landed in Khajuraho. Our driver was waiting for us and we arrived at our hotel Taj Chandela around 14:00.

At 15:00 we were taken to the Western Group of Temples. Our guide was very good, picking out the different sculptures on the temples to talk about them he had to also wait around a lot whilst we were taking photos – poor guy! The detail was amazing. The first temple we saw took 20 years of labour to build. This one, we also went inside (after leaving our shoes outside). The second temple was the tallest temple built and took 25 years to complete. The detail and expressions on the carved statues again were amazing. After the third temple we left to visit the Eastern Group of Temples. Here there were only two original temples, the others were rebuilt with bricks and plaster so there was no intricate detail. The original temples were all built from sandstone, each part carved on the ground then carried up high via a ramp. At the Eastern Group of Temples we also walked past the rooms where the pilgrims go to before calling at two handcraft shops on the way back to the hotel.

The first shop we visited was a Jewellers and here we saw the Star Ruby, also known as the Star of India as it is mined locally and not found anywhere else in the world. The guy brought out many many rings for us to see, amongst them there was a nice one for Rs1200 wonder how much of that is our guide’s commission for taking us to the shop!! – it had two tiny diamonds either side of a Star Ruby. After this shop we visited a craft shop which sold many different items, from jewellery, wood sculptures, clothes to antiques and silk paintings, almost everything!

After a quick freshen up at the hotel we went back to the Western Group of Temples for a sound and light show. We were told the story behind the temples as they were lit up.

When we returned to the hotel we visited the small shops in the lobby which were still open. We were admiring the Star Ruby once more and did in fact buy a small stone as a reminder of our trip to India! We also visited the bookstore and admired the books on tigers. We considered buying one of them – the same one we have on loan from Neal’s wife. The guy offered us a good price but we decided to think about it and maybe return later. I think he was a bit miffed by that since he abruptly took the book from us and put it back on the shelf saying he would not push us to buy it. I guess he thought we were trying harder to get him to lower the price but we generally wanted to think about it! The guy found us at reception the next morning and came to tell us he would offer an even better price for us, but we put him straight and told him it wasn’t the price that was stopping us from buying it (it was in fact his attitude, but we didn’t tell him that!)

We later relaxed in the room with room service – can you believe they had fish and chips on the menu?! So of course that is what I had! Heiko had Cajun Chicken – chicken, what a surprise the only meat Heiko ever seems to eat is chicken!