Got up early to do some last minute sightseeing before we needed to check out of the hotel and catch our train to Vadodara. Decided to head to the Bhandra fort first. Built in 1411 by the city founder, Ahmed Shah. However, it is clearly under construction and/or being renovated so we weren’t allowed to go past the main gates. Headed out through the market square that was slowly getting ready for the day – certainly took them much longer as they spent so much time staring at us as we walked past!!! Headed towards the Ahmed Shah’s Mosque. Built in 1414 it is one of the city’s earliest Mosques. It has an elaborately carved ceiling with circular symmetry and hundreds of beautiful pillars and jalis. It was very quiet and looked relatively plain from the outside. However, inside was really stunning, full of pillars and carvings. We spent a long time walking amongst the pillars and sitting by the water pond outside. Decided to take a little detour, via the river, to the next Mosque and found a nice park near the river to walk through. The Sidi Saiyad’s Mosque was built in 1573 and was once part if the old citadel wall. Women aren’t allowed to enter the Mosque grounds but we could see the spiderweb fine carvings depicting the intricate intertwining branches of the ‘tree of life’ from the street – it was incredible to think that it was carved from one piece of stone.
We then continued to Jama Masjid. Built by Ahmed Shah in 1423, it is constructed by using building materials from demolished Hindu and Jain temples. There are 260 columns supporting the 15 domes. Opposite the Mosque is a fruit and vegetable market, where I paid a ridiculous amount of money for 2 apples and 2 guavas (80p) but my body is craving fruit!
Headed back to the hotel to have a quick shower, pack and check out. Went to our local restaurant for lunch, stuffing ourselves with tandoori chicken, vegetable rice, fruit juice and water. Waddled down to the station to catch our train to Vadodara.
2 hours later, we arrived in Vadodara. We knew where our hotel was supposed to be. The plan was to relax and get ready for tomorrow. What we didn’t expect is the torrential rainstorm when we arrived… Or the massive flooding everywhere… Or walking around for 2 hours trying to find our hotel… Or splitting up so I could stay with the bags whilst Jayne kept looking for a hotel that no-one knew where it was… Or, when we found the right hotel, finding out that, despite our booking with Booking.com, we weren’t allowed to stay cause we were foreigners!! At this point, we were soaking wet, covered in Indian street grime (cow shit!!) and incredibly pissed off. Booking.com have relocated us to a hotel where foreigners ARE allowed to stay at – for the same price as our original hotel. So, for the next two nights, we are in a hotel well out of our usual price range, for a bargain price (and wet shoes!!).
Got in the room, noticed that there was only one towel provided and shouted out really loudlyto Jayne about it; 2secs later there was a knock at the door with another towel. He must have heard me. Eeek! 5mins later another knock at the door with 2 complimentary bags of goodies and toiletries. During the hottest and longest shower ever (getting in with our clothes on as they needed a wash too!) the door knocked again. Jayne answered it still in clothes, mascara running down her face and her t-shirt now covered in soap. They were 2 guys who knocked at the wrong door and apparently really regretted it once Jayne had finished with them. Once showered and human again we returned to reception to finish checking in – noticing they had put a ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign on our door – grabbed a coke from the restaurant, wifi codes and are now crashing in bed with MasterChef Australia on the TV. The beds have actual quilts and sheets… We are feeling so spoilt!!!