Doped with self-made apple/banana/honey porridge, strong filter coffee and paracetamol (Baerbel only) we left early to be able to reach Gwalior before dusk, a 120km journey, as we thought. We also thought it would be an easy one as we would ride about 100km on a four-lane motorway. We could not have been more wrong or I should maybe write, the map could not have been more wrong, and for everyone who intends to travel India and buy a map, don’t go for the German ‘Reise-Know-How’ map. The motorway turned out to be non-existing and still under construction, while there were no works going on anywhere and the whole 100km looked like a deserted construction site with bridges in the middle of the landscape consisting of concrete pillars and steel wires sticking out everywhere or just dirt roads. In some areas they already broke down the old highway, while the new one is still to be built. Despite the bad roads and a few paracetamols and self-made pancakes from the day before later we arrived in Gwalior by 6pm but had to cycle for another hour through the city to find a suitable guesthouse to stay. We cycled almost eight hours at an average speed of 15 km/h. We’ll let you judge from the below pictures how much we liked this day and how ‘low’ our mood went, but we rewarded ourselves with the best Indian dinner we’ve had in the past three months.
We spent the next day with sightseeing and recovering in Gwalior and visited the Jai Vilas Palace, one of India’s most grandiose and eccentric nineteenth-century relics. The Maharaja sent his friend to Europe to seek inspiration and he returned with a vast collection of furniture, fabric, paintings, tapestries and cut glass, together with the blueprints for a building that borrowed heavily from Buckingham Palace, Versailles, Greek ruins and Italian-baroque stately homes. The result is a shamelessly over-the-top blend of Doric, Tuscan and Corinthian architecture. The main attraction is the World’s biggest chandeliers in the durbar hall where the maharaja entertained important visitors. Each chandelier weighs 3.5 tons and they could not be installed until the strength of the roof had been tested by eight elephants. We were told that the ramp to get the elephants onto the roof was almost one kilometer long!
Too tired to continue our sightseeing tour after an enormous lunch at McDonald’s (two gigantic maharaja meals, one paneer wrap meal, two extra large French fries) we decided to skip the fort and instead relaxed at the guesthouse, had a lovely dinner again and went to bed early to be ready for another long and heavy cycling day.