Our Love Story
Where do you start an epic story, I suppose the day Cliff, gladly tells everyone he met his sole mate and gorgeous wife Susan 38 years ago. Now married 33 incredible years, 4 awesome adult children, Wade, Amber, Brad and Brandy. Their exciting years together have been interjected by lots of travel, business, working abroad in SE Asia and culminating in building together a successful public renewable energy forestry company.
Then at the age of 47 the life altering experience for the family of Cliff being diagnosed with an extremely rare terminal illness, Amyloidosis and given three to six months to live. Not one to give in to anything and with an eternal positive attitude to life, an incredible supportive family and fantastic medical treatment Cliff and Susan sit here 13 years later to tell their story of how and why they built an authentic copy of a 450 year old Indian Hindu Palace, Jodha Bai Palace in Fatepur Sikri, India.
Now, we must go back to 1571 when the city was founded as the capital of the Mugal Empire by Emperor Akbar. Akbar the Great was considered one of the most progressive Mugal Emperors and had three main wives, one Muslim, one Christian and one Hindu. Akbar’s favourite wife was supposedly his Hindu wife, Jodha Bai, a very famous Indian Princess.
Cliff & Susan, keen not to be dictated to by their vision and design by some large architectural firm instead employed a designer & draftsman, now dear friend Richard. After five years of planning and design, two trips to India they finally started construction in 2015 as owner builders and seven years later they near completion.
Our intrepid travellers also wish to thank their dear friends in India, who have overseen the design and delivery of over 300 tonnes of hand carved Indian red Sandstone that all needed to so closely replicate that of Jodha Bai Palace. The dedicated stone craftsmen’s and joiners contribution to this project cannot be understated.
Every family member has contributed immensely to this incredible build and the family love is stronger than ever for their awesome input. It has made this close family appreciate the build and them gaining of new and invaluable skills. Cliff, Susan and family now look forward to welcoming guests to their loving home as inscribed in stone.
What an adventure, what a legacy that they pass on to their children and what a building that will stand the test of time.
Why Jodha Bai Retreat?
We are always asked, what, why, how you came to build a copy of a 450 year old Indian Palace in Terranora NSW. The answer is always the same madness. All kidding aside, the decision to take on such a project started 38 years ago when I meet my Anglo Indian soul mate and wife of 33 years Susan. Yeah, Yeah, we have all heard that story, so then here goes. Susan and I have both had a lifelong fascination with architecture and me in particular ancient architecture and archaeology. As an avid reader, as usual I was reading every word of one of my beautiful India books when I came across the ancient city of Fatephur Sikri, I immediately stood up, took the open book to Susan and said when we go to India we are going here.
As fate or whatever you call it would have it, our planned trip to South America and all its ancient sites was cancelled for multiple reasons we instead booked our 2010 trip to India. Funny thing, as usual we had been travelling with our children since 5am after seeing the sunrise over the Taj Mahal, a definite must see before you die. We had a long journey on rough Indian roads ahead of us and when the turnoff came for Fatephur Sikri and more hours of driving in front of us there naturally, was a little push back from the kids not to go. Being a lover of democracy, we had a vote and I decided we go to Fatepur Sikri.
As soon as we arrived Susan and I both fell in love with the architecture, the colour and the grandeur. As soon as we turned the corner into the Jodha Bai Palace huge courtyard we all fell in love with the beautiful and most unusual architecture. So the story now goes something like this, I had my hand on one of the huge 2 tonne columns (now the exact ones stand proudly at our home), no not the original ones, gee some people. Back to the story, my hand on the column, I said to Susan, I could build this, she said ok and the rest is history.
There are unanswered questions that nobody can answer one, our journey to actually get to Jodha Bai Palace two, why such unbridled passion, why such love of India and my beautiful Indian wife. It all comes back to beautiful madness.
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