ah yes, we were about to leave for Gujarat. After a little (!) intermission
I shall continue with the journey.
We left Udaipur for the five hour journey to the small walled town of Sayla.
The Aravali hills gave way to rich agricultural land. Ahmedabad was not
on the visiting list! It is such a polluted area, although first time visitors
should go to the Calico Textile Museum. Such a wonderful collection of
textiles, including the interior of a Mughal tent, richly stitched or painted cloth.
Be aware of the opening times, and be prepared for the doorman who
might or might not let you in. Ask me how I know! Grrrrrrrr. However,
for some peace and tranquillity, over the Sabarmati River, about five
minutes away, is Gandhi's ashram. It is such an oasis in this chaotic city.
The ever growing suburban sprawl goes on for miles and miles, and the
traffic is seriously scary. It's a hide behind the sofa situation!
After stopping for the odd chai or two we reached our destination
The Old Bell Guesthouse
This is only half of it! The rest is hidden behind more trees. You might notice
a spot of red on the balcony - it's me reading. I have had this property in my
sights for many years and it was not disappointing. Not so far from the National
Highway, but so peaceful, surrounded by countryside. Build in the mid 19thc
and designed by Colonel Bell, it was for European visitors to the court of Sayla.
Sayla is a small walled town, a bit of the beaten track and off the main tourist
route. It was delightful, and we were greeted warmly.
part of the old palace, now in a dilapidated state. It must once
have been magnificent. We were invited in to have a look
around a huge room full of amazing things - a stuffed tiger,
ditto a sloth bear, lounging against a table. He did look hungry.
A throne, paintings of six generations of ancestors,
a palanquin which brought a great grandmother to her new
home after her marriage. Books, maps etc etc.
Our host was the son of the last ruler before India gained
independence. A charming gentleman. Returning to the
Old Bell we met our host, who is his son and had already
heard we had paid a visit!
nice piece of cloth!
testing the local transport
The reason for coming to Sayla was to find the factory making shisha glass.
After years of research I always came up with Limbli, which is more or less
next door. Absolutely no luck. Our host has had several guests on the same
quest, and he has asked around, and even as the local 'lord' he has drawn a blank.
I even heard, and later noted, that authentic shisha is not used around here,
instead thick machine cut glass, and even plastic, is the preferred medium.
I wonder why? Three hours away in Kutch shisha is used in abundance.
plenty of beautiful patola/double ikat weaving in the villages
the thread is tightly bound as a resist before dyeing
and this is repeated several times with different
colours to produce the pattern when weaving
a beautiful silk saree in the making
and so back to the Old Bell Guesthouse for a naughty 'sundowner'.
Gujarat is a dry state, but needs must! Sitting on the balcony
watching the sun go down, peacocks roosting in electricty
pylons, oh yes they did, and then the bats flying out from the
roof on the search for tasty morsels.