We traveled a couple of hours away from Jaipur to the local village of 20,000 called Samode. We are staying at Samode Bagh, a lush garden and fountain resort which was once the summer getaway for royalty who escaped from the city to the country to relax and unwind. Now it has been converted to a hotel.
Having stayed in some luxe hotels so far, our tour guide said it was all downhill from here for the rest of the trip and we would be sleeping in tents out in the village on our next stop. This place is a very pleasant surprise!
Sixty percent of India’s income comes from agriculture, and here in the country, we get a close up look at farmers working the fields. The women still wear saris even when tilling the dirt. Many families have cows and goats.
We traveled by camel carts (I can’t believe I just said that) on the dirt roads, to the farm of four brothers, who inherited ten acres of land from their parents. They built four separate houses on the property, and their families all work the land to earn their living, growing roses, cauliflower, carrots, star fruit, mangos, gooseberries, tomatoes, and jackfruit.
One of their daughters is getting married in a month. We asked how she met her fiancé since she lives in such a rural area. Like 70% of families in India, marriages are arranged by the parents. She had been on five dates together in total, and was very excited to be getting married. The divorce rate in India is one percent.
Camels generally live 40-50 years. They begin training at one year and it takes two years to train them. They seem extremely calm considering that they deal with cars, motorcycles, and auto rickshaws driving right next to them on the roads. They take good care of their camels as they are their livelihood.
Built in the 16th century, we spent the evening having dinner in the raja’s palace, a former member of royalty, no longer having power, who has turned the palace into a place rented out for dinners, weddings, and special event venues. Wow, these guys sure knew how to live.
Our arrival in the dark was met with the hotel lighting up, a rolled out red carpet, sari-clad maidens throwing fresh flower petals over us, a marigold lined staircase flanked by four camels, a flute playing snake charmer, and fireworks over the hotel! Holy mackerel, you only get this kind of greeting in the movies!!
Dinner was another royal event with a appetizers followed by a six course Indian feast beneath a splendor of chandeliers in a 300 year old hand painted ballroom.
As we left, we had another fireworks display overhead, and the logo of our tour company laid out on the marble floor made of colored grains of rice. It took one artisan seven hours to complete it.
It was difficult getting the guys back on the bus to go back to the hotel. The twenty concrete arched outdoor car garage spaces held vintage automobiles. It felt like we were in some Indiana Jones movie where they are exchanging priceless cars for secrets from the raja. We traveled back to our hotel by camel. What a night…something you could only experience in India!