Chapter VI: Kick the Bucket

A bell rang out. It echoed along corridors, upstairs and across playing fields. The building came to life but the world was grey and grainy. Young people spewed out of classrooms and meandered around the school to their next destination. The noise was almost unbearable. Bells resonated beneath the harsh sound of teenage gossip. But there was more. A loud fuzzy sound, like a detuned radio, hissed above it all. No one seemed to notice.

Students went about their own business. The normal day to day of talking to the right people, wearing the right clothes, even saying the right thing put blinkers on their lives. Nobody saw the boy at the top of the stairs in his baggy hooded jumper and low riding jeans. But he saw them. He saw them as though he watched an old black and white movie.

The corridors quietened as classes resumed. Teachers carried on teaching, students carried on leaning. Life went on as though the boy had never been a part of it. Still, the white noise persisted. The scene flickered. The boy grew angry.

Brigid held the excess reams of her long green skirt. It made it easier to walk across the precarious gallery that lined the pit in the compound. An engineer with a PhD in the history of art had joined the women as they inspected Mark 356.

“I thought that they would look endearing,” the doctor of art said. His voice with clipped with a Mediterranean twang. The words were softened by his long white beard. Even if he was slightly rattled by being called up to explain the process of his thoughts to Madam Brigid he did not show it.

Brigid looked from the man back to the tall statues that held Mark 356 in place. “I suppose I can see where you’re coming from,” she said, “I just, well, they are quite imposing. Do they have to be so tall?”

“Of course,” the man responded, “If they were any smaller then 356 would roll away. And simple scaffolding is so boring.”

Brigid looked at the small man. While she did not approve of his long hair or beard, at least he had the decency to keep it neatly tied back.

“Quite,” she said. “Remind me of what I’m looking at.”

“Here we have a vole,” the man, Frank, pointed out, “This one is a heron, over there is a human and on the opposite side we have a fish. I’m not sure what species.”

“Right,” Brigid said. She studied the long beaked bird statue from a distance. “And why are they wearing cloaks and hoods?”

“You must be familiar with Hieronymus Bosch. The great medieval artist,” Frank confirmed.

“Getting more familiar every time I hear that name,” Brigid said. She tapped her knuckles on the side of the fifteen foot stone vole.

“I’ve always admired his work,” Frank continued, “Such imagination and expression, especially when one considers the period.”

Brigid ran her palm over the smooth stone surface.

Frank laughed to himself and said, “And who knew that there was some truth behind what he painted?”

Brigid hitched up her skirt just above the ankles and walked past Frank.

“Can I see inside it,” she said, completely ignoring the man’s comments. “I want to see inside it.”

Frank exchanged a quick glance at his colleagues who had brought Madam Brigid to him.

“It’s not quite ready yet,” he answered.

Brigid stopped and turned to look at him with an eyebrow raised.

“You mean to tell me that most energies have been spent carving a zoo over building the machine?” she asked.

Frank shook his head. His beard billowed in the movement. “No Madam Brigid,” he said, “Of course the necessary work has taken place to ensure that this project will be completed in a timely manner.” Frank looked to the academics behind him for reassurance. “I felt that to create the wonder inside, the external beauty must be completed,” he said. A slight smile lifted his facial hair. “I suppose,” he continued, “it is like the chicken and the egg.”

“I care less for metaphors than I do art,” Brigid said with minimal emotion. “Science is key. Without science you would have no art, no chickens or eggs and certainly no mile high rats in human clothing.” Brigid said. She took a long look at Frank and said, “Apologies.” She smoothed the arms on her jacket and neatly clasped her hands. “Please excuse me,” she said before she walked past her chosen great minds and out of the pit. She could not vocalise her thoughts that if she wanted something done, she would have to do it herself. It would not be proper.

“Can you see them?” Papa asked.

The boy barely heard him above the noise in his head. But Papa’s voice was deep. It carried well across the planes. The boy nodded.

“Can you feel them?” Papa asked.

The boy nodded.

“Can you smell them?”

The boy nodded.

“Now,” Papa whispered in the boy’s ear, “scream.”

The boy stalled. He could not scream. He could not even talk. He had not used those skills since he arrived in Necropolis.

“You can do it boy,” Papa said, “You always could.”

The boy hesitated.

“Scream,” Papa repeated the word.

The boy felt a tight sensation deep in his stomach. Something had sprouted. It grew. He could feel the warmth rise and course its way through his body. It soon reached his throat but that was as far as it could go. The warm feeling was stuck. It needed to escape. It needed to move but there was a hard surface above it. The warm feeling grew hotter. If the boy’s throat would not give way, the sensation would have to break through.

The internal heat turned even hotter until it exploded. The hot feeling came out of the boy’s mouth and roared around the small cave and beyond. It fired up to the light that tried to illuminate the deep space. It burned down the empty school corridor.

A woman stepped out of a cupboard with a silver bucket a nearly new mop. She walked along the corridor to the place where the young man stood.

He stared at the cleaner. He vaguely recognised her, even though the world had turned grey and flickered. His eyes did not falter from her. He felt ten feet tall. He was a lion and she was his prey. The young man felt the fire inside him and screamed.

The cleaner stood still and looked towards the boy. She had heard a faint noise, but could not quite place it. She looked along the corridor to where the sound had come from. Fear widened her eyes.

The cleaner shuddered as she felt a breeze, but the fear did not last long. It was abated by a sneeze and an extended nose wipe on her arm. Unphased, the cleaner walked towards the boy. She did not notice him. She walked through him. The boy felt the shiver that the cleaner had just experienced. He shuddered beneath his hooded jumper hidden in the cave. The young man’s anger fired up again. The cleaner had ignored him, even though he stood right in front of her. He cried out again.

The young man saw the cleaner walk up the stairs in the black and white school. She had not seen him. But it was impossible. He stood right there. He had screamed at her. She could not have not noticed him. The boy grunted and ran towards the cleaner. She would notice him, he would make sure of it.

The young man launched himself from the steps and into the woman. Somehow, he missed. She did not notice him once again. She had been distracted by the mop and cleaning a particular corner of the first floor. He must have passed right through her when he jumped. Frustrated, the young man cried out towards the cleaner. A faint whisper blew past her ear.

The cleaner looked up. She had definitely heard something that time. The boy saw her reaction. He was making progress. But it wasn’t enough. He cried out again. The woman looked at him. She looked beyond him. Despite his best efforts the boy remained invisible to the cleaner. Somehow, he needed to get her attention. If she could hear him then surely she must be able to feel him.

The young man took a few steps back. He would throw himself at her and send her down the stairs. That would definitely catch her attention. But she would not stay still. She stepped to the bucket, dipped the mop and threw the wet tassels around. The cleaner was not gentle in her work. Sporadic circles glistened under the stark light of the school, as though a giant slug had danced through the corridor. The boy assessed the best way to get her attention. It would be difficult. She moved too much, too vigorously. The bucket on the other hand would be much easier to move.

The young man studied the bucket while he decided the best course of action. The cleaner, oblivious to him, returned the mop to the bucket, rinsed and continued to half-heartedly clean the floor. He readied himself for the assault on the bright bucket. He stared at his target and charged towards it, fuelled by frustration. He screamed as he ran towards it. He knew that it could hurt. The bucket was near the stairs, and gravity would bring him down them. But at that moment that was not too much of a concern. He needed to let the cleaner know that he was there.

The bucket came near and the boy sped up. When he was close enough he kicked out his leg with all of his anger. He made contact with the bucket but it was not as dramatic as he hoped. As he passed through the dulled tin and floated above the stairs like a feather, the young man turned to look at the cleaner.

The bucket had moved no further than two inches. A small puddle had been created where water had been displaced. The cleaner had not noticed. She could have moved the bucket and spilled some water when she had dipped the mop last. The young man screamed out once again.

The cleaner noticed that time. She looked towards the stairs and leaned her head over the white frame that lined the stairwell. It was empty. The angry young man ran up the few stairs towards her. He seized the mop when he could but stumbled when he grabbed it. It was much heavier than he remembered.

He used to think a mop as being an insignificant weight, but in his new state it felt a hundred times heavier. It could have been made from lead. The young man fought with the weight for a while but it did not give easily. With one final surge of strength he tore the mop from the cleaner’s hands and threw it to the floor. The cleaner screamed out when the mop landed in an explosion of greasy water.

Caught in the moment, the boy ran towards the cleaner and vocalised his anger. He shouted at her when he ran into her and shunted her towards the bucket. The woman stumbled and tripped over the corner of it. She landed heavily on the wet floor and sent the bucket rolling towards the stairwell. Brown, soapy water cascaded down the steps as the bucket crashed down them.

An unfathomable distance away a young man screamed and thrashed about in the confined space of a cave. An older man stood near him. He laughed from his stomach and out of his wide mouth. Papa laughed to himself at a job well done.

“You a natural, boy,” he said as the young man convulsed. “I knows it in you from the moment I set my peepers on you.”

The noises echoed around the cave. The young man showed no sign of slowing down.

“Looks like you going be busy for some time,” Papa said with a smile, “I leave you to it. I gots some business to tend to anyway.”

He had to move quickly to avoid being hit by one of the young man’s flails. When he had stepped out of the small cave Papa smiled at the boy once again, like a proud father.

“Of course, you aware,” the old man said, “Papa didn’t just happen upon this place.” He laughed through his teeth as he stepped into empty subterranean space.

Chiang Mai

A taxi driver told us that the meaning of the word ‘Chang’ meant elephant. This was after we drove past a statue of an elephant in Chiang Mai. Some confusion also followed when we asked him if that ‘chang’ was the same meaning as the word ‘chiang’.

We eventually grasped that Chiang Mai translates as ‘New Town’, although I’m still not sure what the ‘chiang’ part actually means. Still it was a relevant conversation to have as we drove next to the ancient walls of this new town, which dates back to 1296. And it’s always good to glean some local trivia.

Chiang Mai is situated in the north of Thailand. It is surrounded by jungle and famous for its (sometimes) controversial animal sanctuaries. For me, this was the Thailand I had been looking forward to seeing the most.

The town outside the wall, where we stayed, was nothing spectacular. A new shopping mall had sprung up down the road. There was plenty to do nearby. But it is within the ancient walls where Chaing Mai gets really interesting.

Mai oh Mai

More than once we walked past the wall into the old town and felt a little bit out of our comfort zone. There didn’t seem to be anything going on. Just houses. Very quiet houses. At one point we passed an empty Muay Thai boxing ring and were chased off by a dog wearing some kind of hoody.

But we turned one corner or another and soon old Chiang Mai came into its own. In a town of over 300 religious sites, the old town has the most in a small density. In the heart of the 2km square area there are temples, stupas and statues on every road.

There is a vibrancy within those walls. Chiang Mai is a humble town, with a rich history and a peaceful air. It is also a very tasty town with the most exciting food market I have ever experienced. I don’t think I’ve ever eaten so many different foods, or felt that full, after spending £9.


From the laid back island life of Sri Lanka we threw ourselves into Bangkok. For the first time in over a month we had a taste of modernity and certain comforts that we had almost forgotten about – the golden arches of fast food outlets; vast expanses of highly polished marble and glass where people worship designer labels and precious objects that shine in the Thai sunlight; a super fast, super sleek public transport service. In certain respects it felt as though we had stepped into the future, especially as the SkyTrain whizzed over our heads.

Bangkok is an Asian city that embraces the twenty-first century. Still, respect for the past is its backbone. Its ancient palace and historic floating markets must be on top of every tourists visit list. But nothing speaks as loud for Thailand’s inherent respect as their love for the late King Bhumibol Adukyadej.

Royal; Family

There are monuments and memorials to the monarch everywhere. I do not use that phrase as a blanket for every other corner and leaflets at tourists information centres. The late king’s face is literally everywhere. From hotel foyers to tube stops; public shrines to elaborate graffiti, I have never seen a nation mourn with such passion. Two months since his death most people are wearing black or at least a black ribbon. Children and adults alike can be seen wearing t-shirts that affectionately proclaim that they were ‘born in the reign of King Bhumibol Adukadej’ (1950 – 2016).

What is obvious is that the love is real. Thai people are freely and openly mourning their beloved king. Abby reminded me of how they stood to respect him at the start of every showing at the cinema. I witnessed it myself when we went to see a film (as odd as it may sound, I highly recommend going to the cinema in Bangkok as part of any visit to the city) and we stood out of respect to remember the king. Emotions were running high in that dark room as we stood and watched two touching memorials. Quite a surreal experience just before Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them.

Even when we paid a visit to the notorious Khao San Road I seemed to offend a young man who we found ourselves drinking beer with because I said he looked like the king. Bit of a faux pas. But being English, of a similar age to him, I can’t imagine being so attached to our monarchy. Sadly, when our Queen – who since the death of King Bhumibol Adukadei is now the world’s longest reigning monarch – dies, I can’t imagine the United Kingdom would mourn in the same way. It certainly will not resonate across generations the way the Thai feel their loss.

It is certainly an interesting time to be in Thailand. I feel privileged to have been able such a delicate and true sense of humanity. As for the future of the monarchy it will be interesting to see how it pans out. I get the general feeling that the heir to the throne will not be so popular.

Beyond the public mourning and cinema, I was overwhelmed by the Grand Palace in Bangkok. It truly is an ancient marvel in the modern world. It’s also full of monsters and myths. Naturally, I got lost in wonder. Read about what I learned at the Grand Palace here.

Golden Palace

A little walk from the Chao Phraya River, and through some pretty strong security (remember to bring some ID and dress appropriately) we came to the official Thai royal residence, Grand Palace of Bangkok. Golden stupas glistened in the glorious sun. Perfectly manicured lawns stretch from vast gates. And hundreds of tourists jostled to pay their respects to the king.

It’s hard to be critical of the masses of tourists at a place like this. While it is true that certain elements of the site might get missed because there are too many people around it, it shows the importance of the palace at the time of national mourning. Abby reminded me that when she visited five years ago, there were half the amount of people there.

Despite the crowds, the palace did not fail to astound. From the giant mythical guards (Yaksha) to the miniature replica of Angkor Wat, it was a feast for the imagination. Behind opulent buildings, almost hidden from the centre temples, there is a mural that spans 178 scenes. Giants, demons and battles shine out in gold against the soft colours. All around the site there are statues of mythological creatures.

bird is the word

After some research into the creatures at the Grand Palace, I found that they mostly stemmed from Himmapan.  Originating in Hindu mythology, this forest is home to a wealth of creatures. The half human/half bird Kinnari have become some of the most respected characters from Thai folk tales. Effectively the Kinnari are angels that live near a hidden mountain in the Himalayas. Their songs and dances have worked their way into Thai tradition.

The more I read into Himmapan, the more I see how crucial it is to Thai life. Other creatures from the forest that have worked their way into daily Thai life is the mighty Singha. This guardian lion can been seen across the country on beer labels, amulets and even water.

Between a mythical mountain, half human/half animal creatures, demons, monsters and a wealth of legend, Thailand will certainly have an influence in Nechronicles somewhere along the line.


Beyond the tropical beaches and warm waters of Sri Lanka there is a cooler climate to be found in its central hills. As the bus journeys form the coast, across the flat plains, the ascent towards Ella brings lush forests and a refreshing breeze.

Around hairpin bends and past waterfalls this is an area ripe for adventure. It came as no surprise that when we were dropped off in the middle of town almost everyone we saw wore hiking boots and anoraks. A look of exhausted exhilaration was spread across each face. We hotfoot it to our homestay to find out what the hidden attraction was. It turned out to be quite a few.

Wings of Dowa

Our first point of interest came in the form of a 39ft statue of Buddha. While that in itself might be worth a visit, what made this statue was that it was carved into a wall of rock. By a king who had to flee his kingdom. 2000 years ago. The more we heard about Dowa Cave, the more intrigued we were.

Our homestay host was keen to take the role of a guide and took us straight to the cave. He shared its history and lead us into the cavernous temple. Similar to sights at Dikwella, this buddhist place of worship was brightly decorated and depicted scenes of holy tales.

We saw the now familiar depiction of a devil, standing tall and naked next to humans, with bulbous eyes shaggy hair. Sharp lower teeth protruded over his lip towards the top of his head. Claws grew from his toes and fingers. But he did not seem menacing. Perhaps it was the constant flow of a mountain stream that ran nearby that helped mute anything sinister.

As we stooped under the low ceiling and through the ornate door, or host advised us on the best way to spend the following day. Read how we climbed hills, turned invisible in a tea factory and found ourselves walking on a train track here.


Along the south coast of Sri Lanka, hidden amongst the surf towns and swish resorts is the town of Dikwella. It’s certainly not the kind of place one would choose to stay in during a visit to Sri Lanka. It does have a beach, but the town has more of a local appeal. Shops, supermarkets and a number of temples for all religions are on offer. We paid a visit to this town to see one of these temples.

The temple of Wewurukannala Viharaya (still not sure how to pronounce that) is a popular site for the buddhist community. It is home to a 160ft buddha, the tallest in Sri Lanka and some even say the whole of Asia (I think this website says otherwise). Nonetheless, the statue is a work of art.

The unassuming face of buddha looms over the palm trees and other greenery that line the dusty road to Wewurukannala Viharaya. Up close the detail is made up of thousands of tiny tiles, like a mosaic. Lotus flowers, robes and facial features glisten as each tile does their part to bring this statue to life.

Behind the statue is a tall grey building, reminiscent of a shopping precinct built around the 1980s that has now fallen into disrepair. Inside this concrete block the artwork continues. The stories of buddha are painted on to the walls. They are vibrant and simple, almost like a massive comic book. Each panel details an aspect of a story, which leads to the next, and continues for about seven storeys. Up at the top, we were rewarded with a great view of Dikwella from behind the buddha’s earlobe.

Road to Hell

But the main reason we came to this temple was because of its depiction of Buddhist Hell. To reach the buddha one must pass through a separate building that reminds worshipers of the torment that awaits them if they sin.

Life-size statues of demons are in the throes of torture. Two are sawing someone in half lengthways. Another is boiling bits of sinners, with a couple of legs sticks out the pot to drive the point home. Just behind that demon is another one with a sinner bent over in an uncomfortable manner, force feeding him some brown stuff. It’s all pretty horrific, and that’s not to mention the humans who are impaled on the thorns of a tree.

Opposite this exhibition are more detailed humans who are being consumed by the fires of Hell. Behind them are big pictures of their sins. Everything from murder to robbery is mentioned. There’s even a depiction of a demon being punished. It’s nice to know we’re all on the same level.

Dikwella may not be the first place you think of when one mentions Sri Lanka, but it certainly is worth a visit.


Of all the places that I have seen in India, Varanasi is the one that remains the biggest mystery. It is a celebration of death. It is populated with a world of characters, some good, some sinister and some that have to be seen to be believed. The whole city, from the busy upper roads, to dark lanes, right up to the ghats, focuses on one mighty river. Varanasi is the closest place to Necropolis you can get.

Varanasi is sacred in the hindu world because it sits on the Ganges. This body of water is worshipped. Every morning pilgrims bathe in it. Throughout the day women wash their clothes and hair in it. Kids somersault into it. Bodies are burned into it – it’s the fastest way to achieve moksha. The city’s raw sewage pumps into it. The waters are essentially toxic, but still there is a majesty to the river.

My first visit to Varanasi was one that inspired me to focus on Nechronicles. It was one of the most intense experiences of my life. I was duped by the ‘rickshaw mafia’ and ended up staying in a place that was a lick of paint away from being a prison. I saw the burning ghats and was followed by a man who was really keen to read my future. The overpowering smell of milk and sewage fused with the hot, hot air. I needed to leave the city, but I knew that I would return.

Dawn of the Dead

And so, six years later, a bit wiser, married and with a stronger idea of Nechronicles I came back. I did warn Abby, but still there is no way to tell what Varanasi will hold for you. Especially on Diwali.

On arrival, we were passed from an AC car to a cycle rickshaw. With our bums on a plank of wood, all of our limbs were holding onto our bags and a box of doughnuts. While it wasn’t comfortable for us, our thoughts were with the poor fella who had to cycle us for half an hour.

He battled the normal Varanasi traffic. He endured the vast swathes of tourists, both Indian and more, who were in the holy city for the festival of lights. He swerved past cows and escaped explosions as fireworks were let off whenever and wherever revellers felt necessary. Needless to say, we gave the guy a doughnut. That look of appreciation and exhaustion as the sugar comforted him will stay with us for quite some time.

After a night of reckless celebration – more like a war zone in Disneyland than the displays we’re used to at home – the sunrise in Varanasi was truly a sight to behold. The river was calm and the heat came as soon as the crimson ball crept into the sky. And still the ghats burned. All day and all night bodies are cremated. It is a surreal experience to be a spectator at something like this. Surely a funeral should be a private event, but all are encouraged to observe, just no photos allowed.

While we watched one body burn – the heat could be felt meters away – and another pyre set alight that same intensity that I felt hit Abby. It’s the curious sadness that is brought by the smoke of burning wood and flesh. It’s the uncertainty of who is around, watching.

Varanasi is not an easy place to be a part of. Tourists have gone missing, and I waited until we were seated comfortably in Goa before I mentioned anything about Aghori Sadhus. But it did explain who that skinny guy, with a long white necklace sat near one of the burning ghats and give us a funny look.

Varanasi, Necropolis in the overworld, doesn’t only need to be seen, but smelt and felt to be believed.


Caught amongst the madness of India is the pearl that is the Taj Mahal. Possibly, one of the most iconic monuments in the whole world, it still sits comfortably in the official 7 Wonders of the World (if you’re as curious to know what the others are, click here). It’s no surprise that Agra, the town it sits in, is dedicated to it. In fact, after a while you do almost feel sorry for Agra Fort and the other sites, which try to pull in the tourists from the massive mausoleum.

Agra itself is a strange little place. I first visited in 2010 and found the city quite charming. The roads weren’t great. There were so many winding roads and corners, crowned with beautifully mogul archways. Intricate steps led up to the side of walls, seemingly to nowhere in particular. It was a town full of rooftop views of the Taj Mahal, slightly obscured by a dense network of overhead cables, with a large population of monkeys.

It would seem, however, that some money has no been pumped into Agra. Gone is the charm that reminded me so much of Aladdin’s hometown. The roads have been paved over. There are now swish LED streetlights. Businesses have been given an identity to follow. The result feels like a hundred gift shops at the base of the world’s greatest museum. And they all want your business.

Wonder Stuff

The Taj Mahal is truly a sight to behold. You can’t walk through that gate and not feel an overwhelming sense of awe the first time you see it. And that feeling grows the closer you get to it.

White marble is constructed to perfection. Red flowers and mogul script detail the vast structure so that even up close – when you touch it – that wonder stays. Colours change as the sun moves across it.

This is equally the greatest and saddest testament of love that has ever been created. 363 years later, the king and his wife are still resting together as thousands of tourists wonder at them in the overworld.

On a final note, it’s worth mentioning that the Taj Mahal is closed on a Friday. I found that out the hard way. Six years later, I’m still grateful for that old rickshaw driver for peddling me around to all the places in Agra I could view the Taj Mahal from afar.


The Pink City and capital of Rajasthan, Jaipur has it all. Stunning architecture and a rich history. Camels and cars share roadspace. Vast bazars and shopping centres complete with Marks and Spencer. There’s no denying the importance of this city.

Our experience of Jaipur was a bit manic. We arrived in the city via a sleeper bus (cabins reminded me a bit of a fancy microwave, but surprisingly comfortable given the bumpy roads) and found our hotel. After a brief catch up on sleep, we left the city again. We were on our way to Ranthambore National Park to find tigers.

It was a bit of a nightmare finding transport to take us the 100-or-so miles south. After wandering around bus stations and travel agents we finally got tickets for a train. They were the cheapest tickets, so no air-con. But that’s fine, it was only 2 and half hours. There were no allocated seats. No big deal, we’ve travelled with Southern Rail. And the train left at rush hour. How busy could it be?

Tracks of my Tears

After nearly three hours, crammed on a train, with strangers hanging onto us for support, limbs in all directions and still being encouraged to take a selfie, it was like nothing we had ever experienced. I salute the Indian people for their determination and ability to hang on the side of a speeding train.

On our return to Jaipur (which was much more comfortable. Room to breathe and sip a chai. Same class, just midmorning) we were blown away by the beauty of the city. Diwali had started to sneak in. Multi-storey buildings were draped in strings of colour. Houses, businesses, even tuc-tucs shone brightly in artificial lights. Joy beamed across this opulent city in colours as the night set in. It was a sight to see.

Jaipur, the Pink City and capital of Rajasthan – I don’t think we’ll be forgetting our time there in a hurry.

But what happened after the train? Read about our time in Ranthambore National Park here.


52 miles north of Udaipur is the fort of Kumbhalgarh. While forts seem to be all over Rajasthan, this was the one that I was looking forward to exploring the most. The fort of Kumbhalgarh is home to the second longest wall in the world.

While it is a fraction of the size of its Chinese counterpart (around 20 miles compared to 5,500 miles. Blimey) the wall is something to behold. It curves around the landscape almost like a rollercoaster.  It sometimes disappears behind hills and shows itself again at a different level that runs down along the landscape.

Inside it houses an entire community of a long gone era. There is a palace, temples and even some step wells or baolis. Mausoleums dedicated to its ancient leaders are smattered around the space, while nature has reclaimed most of the central area. There is a sense that this would have been a mighty town in its day.

Lord of the Geeks

After a heavy-going walk to the palace we were rewarded with stunning views across the Rajasthani countryside. From on high, the vastness of the space the walls protects can really be appreciated. The palace itself is a feast for the inner geek.

Structurally it reminded me of Gormenghast. Tall towers house chambers for the staff and royalty. Steps run up and down and along to places of worship and peace. Unassuming corners lead to breathtaking views. Merlin Peake aside, I think I bored our fellow explorers Riley and Paul with my continuing quotes from Labyrinth and making Abby pretend that she’s Daenerys Targaryen. Sorry about that.

Kumbhalgarh is really worth the 2 to 3 hour drive from Udaipur. It is the kind of place that ignites the imagination and makes you marvel at the power of mankind. And dragons.