Our last couple days have involved a decent amount of traveling, including two overnight journies (one via bus, the other by train), so today's "off day" at the internet to upload photos and such, is much needed and appreciated. We are now in Aurangabad, in the center of Maharashtra state, abouty 1000km north of Mysore, and 500km north of our last stop in Karnataka, Bidar. The bus trip there, from Bijapur, was brutally bumpy, such that when we finally arrived, sleepless, at 5 am, we did not mind near as much as we otherwise would have when we got price-hosed by the only available hotel. The Hotel Krishna Regency was conveniently out of regular rooms, so we had to pay 400 Rs. for the deluxe room, which was of course not really all that deluxe, though the matresses were soft and they did have a TV. So we slept from 6 am until 1 pm, and though we wanted to sleep longer (and probably needed to, too), in order to move out of Bidar in one day, we wanted to check out its massive fort that afternoon.
Bidar is described by Lonely Planet as "a place no one goes" but they "didn't know why." Well, it was readily apparent that no tourists go there, as we were definitely the talk of the restaurant that we ate lunch in, Anderson was interrupted 4 times during our meal for conversation, which usually doesn't happen since eating is a respected personal time. One of our interviewers did help us get a cheap rickshaw for the day, which was nice, though the driver then spent the entire afternoon trying to weasel out of the agreement (260 rupees for all Bidar's sights until 7 pm), by asking for more money or trying to casually skip a temple or two. But since we "whities" are so rare in Bidar, our driver's fellow Indians undermined his efforts for much of the afternoon, since at the fort we first received a free tour of an amazing painted mahal (palace) by another visitor, and then we baksheeshed a bit in order to get a brief tour by a supposed worker (you never know who really works for the Dept. of Archeology or whatnot and who is just scamming for cash). He took us down into two sections of the massive 500+ room subterannean complex, primarily intact, that sits beneath the 5.5km of overground fort. The underground area, built as an escape from the heat in the 16th century, still works wonders in that department even today! The main mahal that we saw was very nice, too, as it is similar to the painted palace we saw with Luke outside Mysore, though for this one we were able to go into the upstairs, and could freely take photos and videos. Its interesting that the major sites are where video is banned or restricted or overcharged for, and then elsewhere you can record whatever you'd like, since the Indian infrastructure is simply to thin to support the multitude of archeological sites available. That being said, sights of the "beaten path" are often more enjoyable, since they lack crowds, touts, high ticket prices, and are usually in fairly good condition, since they have not been messed up (graffiti, etc.) by the multitude of tourists (primarily Indian) who come through the bigger places.
*at this juncture the post has twice gotten deleted... so we're gonna try continuing from a fresh post*