There was barely any traffic on the road except for an occasional bike or truck that passed by. The weather was hot as the car ran towards its destination. The entry of the Ranthambhore tiger sanctuary passed by as the car moved further on. Then it turned to the left and came on a road that was pebbled. Soon the road became bumpy, but this was short lived as we reached the destination, a fort-like gate greeted us. As the car stopped into the parking area inside two men came up for luggage.
From the parking lot to the main building lobby of Juna Mahal was about a hundred yards walk. Into the lobby as I was greeted by the receptionist, a welcome drink was served. Indeed it was a welcome drink coming from the hot weather outside.
I was led to the room on the first floor. Indeed, inside the room I felt great with twin beds laid out nicely, a big bathroom and an equally big changing area.
Having arrived after six hours journey by train, I had no other choice but take a quick nap, which I did.
The nap lasted an hour and I got up at around six in the evening. Time to explore the Juna Mahal, I thought to myself as I made a cup of tea in the room.
Soon I was out, looking at the property which was built on a big chunk of land, a swimming pool was located on one edge of the property. All made out beautifully with stones. I sat down near the pool to enjoy the evening. Some kids were splashing water in the junior pool nearby.
A black wagtail jumped around the green patch nearby. The sun was sliding down fast on the western horizon, darkness descending on the eastern side.
A few minutes later the crimson ball had disappeared, the birds were returning to their nests. The day was gone. The Juna Mahal was slowly lit up with lights on all corners of the building.
The humming of mosquitoes warned me to leave the place near the pool. I decided to have a quick bite – the dinner. It was a buffet laid out for those who rise from bed early.
While one row was set out with vegetarian dishes, another side was serving two non-vegetarian ones.
Having eaten to my satisfaction, I moved out on to the green area outside to take a stroll.
I could hear the lapwing nearby as I walked on the grass which had been under the burning sun during the daytime.
The sky above was filled by millions of twinkling stars, but the moon was nowhere to be seen.
I walked up the stairs to the terrace area. The breeze was still warm, but cooler than the day. All around was dark except for some tiny lights that twinkled in the village nearby. Ethnic music and village folk singing could be heard. It was time for them to enjoy after the days hard toil in the fields.
Once again I walked up to the swimming pool. It was quiet out there. There was no one except for a lap wing that ran around making a call perhaps to its partner to join it.
I spent an hour at the poolside till I felt sleepy. Back into my room I sauntered. A balcony attached to the room was the right place to spend some more time in the open. Two pigeons suddenly flew out of their hiding, I disturbed them perhaps.
The next morning as I got up early, I saw small groups of people getting ready for the safari. Early breakfast had been served for these guests who were scurrying around to make it in time to sight a tiger.
I sat down in a corner of the large restaurant, nibbling the bread slowly and trying some ‘dosa-sambhar’. Outside the day was getting warmer. When I turned back to my room, the room service had already knocked to make up my room. I went in for a bath in the large bathing area. The next half an hour I spent taking a cool bath.
After the bath, I had an opportunity to see the property, the different category of rooms, almost all with private balconies. The building was in expansion mode; one area behind was under construction. The number of rooms was being doubled.
In the recreation room, there were some guests playing carom and a couple of others were engrossed in a game of chess.
There was not much to do except for playing a game of chess. The day went by lazily. Evening lights were up again. A buffet dinner had been laid out in the restaurant.
It was time next morning to bid goodbye to Juna Mahal on to my next destination.