Another plane ride to Raipur by Indian Airlines, ranked one of the unsafest airlines in the world. Not my choice, but the only one that flew to Raipur…and we’re still alive. John Ash, Green Gondwana Adventures was the person who arranged the entire Central India portion and did an outstanding job. I invite you to visit his website and use him if you decide to see this area for yourselves. John met us at the airport with a beautiful table book on Bastar, lots of information, and notes on the Central area we would be visiting.
From Raipur, a two-hour ride to the small town of Kanker, once the capital of the princely state. Our “hotel” was the Kanker Palace, a private residence belonging to the late Maharajadhiraj Udai Pratap Deo and run by his family. Our guides in this area were Rajkumar Surya (called “Jolly”) and his younger brother, Ashwini (“Jai”). Eldest brother, Aditya, current Maharajadhiraj of Kanker, teaches history in Delhi. There was also a sister who had her own little school on the ground of Kanker Palace.
The hotel was very elegant and we had a HUGE suite. The combination of bedroom, sitting area and bathroom was bigger than the ground level of our house in Glenview. Kanker’s family atmosphere was informal and gave a rare chance to enter into the spirit and tradition of an Indian household (and a royal household at that). The late Maharajadha shot this tiger himself in his hunting days (he later became a keen conservationist)…View image… And, Kanker Palace was where we developed a real liking for Indian food by having a chance to taste many different cuisines.
When I casually asked if there was anyplace to have a massage in the area (thinking, yeah…right), Jolly had his personal masseuse come to the Palace and give little me (who grew up in a Chicago apartment, seven people and one bathroom) a massage. Oh, to live the life of the rich and famous (maybe not too famous…just rich) the rest of my life.
Keep in mind, you don’t have to be “rich” in order to have these experiences. ( It probably costs less to stay here than at The Venetian, in Las Vegas.) All you need is an interest in visiting exotic locations!
Touring with Jai was informative and fun. He was the one who accompanied us over the next few days touring Bastar while Jolly stayed back, tending to the Palace. They were both very personable, knowledgeable and constantly asking if we wanted, tea, coffee, snacks…was everything all right, etc.
…and Jolly was feeling family pressure to settle down, get married and have a family. (He was planning one last big fling before doing that by visiting Thailand!…
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