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October 7th 2015
Published: October 7th 2015
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DelhiDelhiDelhi

Cornels Retreat
Arrival into Deli India, I think no matter how you prepare yourself for India it's a confronting experience. Driving from the airport to our accommodation the realisation of not only have you arrived in Mystic India, but also a place were millions of Indians live below substandard conditions. Driving down streets that is packed with traffic that seems to be heading nowhere, horns beeping tuk tuks weaving in and out impatient drivers cram into 5 or 6 lanes on a 2 lane road. Also add the people walking, horse and carts and the sacred cows that wander the streets that stop the traffic. And their you have it by the time you arrive at your hotel your in shock and shown to the solitude of your room. "Your Sanctuary"
Our hotel in the Defence Colony of Deli, where the old military officers and public servants lived. Colonels Retreat our accommodation with a roof top restaurant and a shared sitting and breakfast room, which services eight apartment rooms was a lovely place with a secured gate with a man who greeted you each morning as you passed thought the gates of a walled garden. Deli a non high rise city, sprawling
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Humayan Tomb
areas of yesteryear grand buildings of the old India and of a military presence. India Gate with the guards that protect the memories of the Indians lost in great wars. And parks and royal palaces which are run down but still are maintained with little pride.We had employed a driver Anumahri. Anu for short. to help us navigate our time in India and our 30 days experience. And that's exactly what we have had, an experience both visually and emotionally.In Deli we saw and visited some wonderful places, such as the Akshardham which is a 15 year old Hindu temple and a spiritual campus. The carvings on this building is a credit to the craftsmen of the twenty first century, just beautiful.And the Sikh temple Gurudwara Bangla Sahib a house of Sikh worship. Also Mosques, the Qutb Minor and Humayan tomb and the new Lotus Temple
Indra Gandhis home which is now a museum, a fascinating woman who is very much revered still, as the mother of all India. A wonderful collection of photographs and memorabilia of this assassinated prime minister. And the monument to Ghandi himself were I met such a lovely Indian man who was the secretary
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Two Holy Men resting in the Sheik Temple
to the Security of Deli, he invited me to afternoon Tiffin. And was ever so polite and cordial.We dined on the roof top of our hotel at night. And ventured out one night once we felt comfortable to a local restaurant in the defence colony. After we ate and presented with the bill we saw added taxes which bring the bill to at least 60% higher 20% for this 20% for that the list went on. The hidden taxes in India are another obstacle that you quickly learn about. So we read up on the taxes and the required tipping system, that you have to give from bell boys to drivers and anyone who you ask a question of or that gives you help or assistance even to take a photo of, they all come with the necessary tip. Although we enjoyed Deli we were excited to hit the road and our journey that would take us through Rajasthan, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, 23 days with our driver Anu who would leave his young family and hit the road driving us to town and city's. We called in the town were he lives, a compound of farm houses which house his
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Ghandi Memorial
different family members aunts, uncles brother cousins and there families who farm and also have second jobs in Deli but who all return when it's harvest season.We were very fortunate to pass by the farm and be invited for morning tea before progressing on our journey to our first stop, Mandawar From the very beginning Amu had referred to us as Sir and Madame, and from the start I had told him that I wasn't comfortable with, but as he informed me he was very comfortable with. So I had no choice this was to continue for days until he started calling me Momma which made me happy and far more comfortable. We chatted as we drove most days picking information on life in India and sometime about his personal life Amu was 30 with a wife and small son Adie he told us about his family and we felt very relaxed with him, a gentle natured young man. As we left behind the Delhi province with our mouths ajar each time we saw sights from each small town, that either rocked us or simple left us in awe. We passed through glimpses of the Maharaja India and the Mogul
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Step well
past. Often decaying buildings with painted murals of intricate golden ages of India and the opulence of the sultans and and the army's that existed in each Province. On arrival at Mandawa, Anu told me to close my eyes, I was thinking omg we are passing through a bathing area for men, I quickly did as I was told then told to open my eyes, to behold a magnificent hotel. It was painted with heritage pictures of brightly coloured flowers and paintings of people dressed finely which all told a story of the past. Our bags were collected and we were shown into a court yard of marble and rooms that surrounded a double story building and into our room which was like walking into the past but with electricity. We wandered around the small town that afternoon which was dusty and dirty, food stalls which cooked different kinds of breads and tit bits in old oils and left to stand in the sun, dust and the elements. The old fort was a hotel and you could wander around the court yard and take high tea. It was all very colonial. And then to step back into the streets again
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India Gate Guard
into the reality of where you actually were, if that makes any sense. Men in India, work mostly in any jobs that require no hard labour, desk jobs, white collar jobs, all shop work, which include ladies boutiques, jewellers, tourism, cooking and cleaning. And the women work the fields and on the roads and only the educated women are teachers and doctors and politicians. Our next stop is Bikaner where we saw a wonderful Fort and then the smallest painted picture in the world, and was shown different painting techniques and some exquisite paintings. But as usual they tried to railroad us to buy items. We quickly informed them that we were not interested in purchasing and words from the artist were spoken abruptly to our driver. We let Anu know that from now on we were not interested in purchasing items that we were just travellers and not tourists. Once again we were the only white travellers in town and people curiously looked at us. Or approached us wanting to know we're we were from and offering to help us part with money at their stores and for their services.Anu was great giving us tips of do's and don't's,
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Akshardham Temple
so we had it covered.The Next day we travelled to the Rat Temple and to a temple near a holy lake where we experienced a religious gathering. It had been raining at the rat temple and after we took our shoes off to enter the temple we squelched through rat poo and dirt and rats running over our feet. I managed to keep it together. We didn't see the lucky white rat, but considered ourselves lucky we got out without catching anything else. The lake gathering, where people had come to visit the holy lake and bath in its murky, dirty water. We saw lots of Holy men or Babas as they are called, dressed in bright orange and white, with beards and fabulous curly moustaches, with Turbans upon their heads. There are many Babas in each town and city in which they choose the life of religion and celibacy, and wander India from one end to the other. Jaislmer, known as the golden city, is situated in the desert area. It is where we saw a wild tiger and also took a camel ride into the desert dunes and watched the sunset.We had rain the next day and put
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Indria Ghandi Museum
our raincoats on, not to let it stop our sight seeing we wandered around the old town which was built inside the Fort high above the rest of Jaislmer City. Winding little passageways which house small boutique hotels, tourist shops and restaurants. And the view from the Fort walls were spectacular. Later that day we wandered through the Haveli's, they are old mansions that housed the nobility of the towns. Sandstone carvings that decorated these buildings and windows which are amazing to look at. We walked down to the lake and sat under the ancient pagodas sheltering from the rain watching the children feed the catfish bread and then walked back to our hotel. We waded through flooded roads trying not to think about the human waste and filth we were wading through.Next stop Jodhpur the blue city, name so because of its bright blue painted buildings. Our Hotel was located in front of a Step-well, these are deep deep wells which have hundreds of steps which lead down into it from each side, fascinating especially when they are used and kept in pristine condition, but alas so many are foul and filthy cesspits. And unfortunately many are far beyond
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Young man dressed as a God
repair. Jodhpur Fort looked down upon us and in the evening we ate at a roof top restaurant next to the hotel. Janine my dear friend from Yeppoon had told us of a place near the old clock tower of Jodhpur which made the best Samoas and another place not far from there the best Lemon Lassi, both were sampled and enjoyed so much, in fact we sampled them each day. The view from the Fort was amazing of the blue city. Ranakpur where we stayed in the jungle and visited a Jain Temple, another Indian religion. I loved Ranakpur, as I felt that I had just stepped into The Jungle Book which was written by the famous writer Rudyard Kipling. The Temple was white marble it was fabulous. After visiting the temple we strolled back to the retreat through the jungle watching the Golden Lagure monkeys that followed our every movement and followed us through the trees. Peacocks and Peahens greeting us as we arrived back at Rampoo and each morning they woke us with their morning squarks. Sad to leave this tranquil haven. On to Udaipur, the Lake city, and arriving in time for a festival, we stayed next to the museum and on the lake side which offer the most spectacular sunsets. The festival was amazing which offered us a chance to experience powder colour, that is thrown into the crowds. The people dance and follow the shrines of the Gods whom the celebration is about. With bands that play drum music and traditional Tampura string instruments, very loud and rhythmic. Powder colour was throw at us and we were asked to join in the dancing. It was great fun. We enjoyed such a wonderful time in Udaipur, the Palace and the Puppet cultural show in the evenings at the museum.I enjoyed watching the sail boats and the young boys diving off the bridge and then washing their clothes. Morning ritual of washing body, cleaning teeth and toilet are all done in the lake for most of the residents of Udaipur, except the wealthily and tourists, thank goodness. Next stop Bundi this small town, with a huge Palace on the hill and the Fort a top of the hill which looked down on the whole town. This place was the most shocking to us, filthy dirty streets and rats in the drains. The Step-Well,s all three of
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Heritage hotel
them were cesspits, totally disgusting, which was so sad as they could be such a draw card for this town. Not many tourists visit here. The palace was privately owned and though run down was marvellous but totally neglected. Run by a small staff they tried to maintain the best they could. Our hotel, small but comfortable family run was next to the town hospital which was a crumbly old building and a operating theatre with a table covered with plastic to make it sterile before operating, very shocking considering.It was the first time that a woman had cooked for us also. The family were very hospitable, when you arrive at a hotel your driver is also put up in a small room with basic amenities and fed also. This felt very strange to us also as it felt quite servant like, but Anu assured us it was how it was done. Although Bundi was so historic we felt that this place if it was loved a little more could be a great place to visit. Traveling through out the north the terrain constantly changes from jungle to desert then farming and agriculture growing corn, wheats, maze, rice. The women work the fields with some hard jobs the men will help with seldomly. The women cart and carry large amounts on their heads. Dressed in brightly colour saris they always are well turned out with their hair shiny and plaited.The quarry's of marble also and along the roads huge company's sell to the exporters that sell to buyers from all over the world. Those homes and hotels that can afford marble, cover walls and floors also bathrooms with it. Pushkar the Holy Lake city was the next stop and yet another festival lots of white tourists here, mostly Israelis as they have their Kubuts here and a big drug scene young travellers able to buy opium and hashish. And lots of Holy Men the Babas. We stayed in a not so nice place and even slept with my clothes on we only stayed one night but we had a great day wandering around the town quite hippy we ate at the Sunset cafe, vegetarian but nice, in fact 90% of the food which we have eaten has been vegetarian and quite yummy. Although the sacred cow had looked like a T bone steak some days and the pigs in the
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Holy Lake
street like a pork chops. Robert our son in law who is a vegan would be so proud of us. And I have learned some dishes that I will cook for him too. Although we felt that we liked Pushkar we didn't want to stay a moment longer in our hotel. Jaipur the Pink city and the largest since we left Delhi we had the most loveliest home stay here run by a wonderful lady who had only a few rooms, the Magpie Villa. Tucked away in a side street sheltered by a walled garden, an oasis in the city another "Sanctuary" our room was just lovely, a home away from home and very comfortable. Jaipur a walled city, well the old area is. And where I notice Baba Johnny Depp, I swear it was Johnny Depp in costume. The buildings in the old Jaipur are incredible, like the Hawa Mahal, an odd shaped building that stood out with the golden and terracotta decorations. The pink city looked terracotta to me. We visited the Amber palace, Tiger fort, Monkey temple and the summer palace, which is on a lake and is still used by the Royal family. The buildings in
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Holy Lake
the Pink city were amazing and we walked all day. We watched dozens of decorated Elephants climb to the Amber palace taking the tourists who found the climb to hard. Ferrying them up and down on decorated seats. Each day returning to The Magpie, exhausted we relaxed. Our lovely hostess cooked us home cooked Indian food, such a treat. By the third day we stayed in watching movies, reading and totally vegged out and ready for the next traveling day. We really enjoyed it. We visited a department store also in Jaipur, not at all like we are used too, and of course as usual, no women sales persons to be seen. On to Ranthanbourn and a jungle safari, we arrived early in the morning and decided to go on the afternoon safari and in case we hadn't seen any Tigers we planned to go again the next morning. But we totally felt quite disappointed as from the very start we felt that we were not going to see any Tigers. As soon as we were joined by our ranger he sat chatting to the driver and never looked once for tigers "Me think maybe theirs were no tigers". So
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Camel Safari
we made the best of the afternoon and enjoyed the four wheel driving through the forest and watched the Antelope and deer, so all was not lost. We headed off the next morning deciding not to do the safari again as we didn't feel that the conditions would change, spotting a Tiger. Agra, and the Taj Mahal arriving here on a long weekend, we had chosen a lovely hotel but it was booked out. We were lucky to book into a less popular hotel but turned out fine, old but did the job. The owner a 75 year old gentleman was quite a character who entertained us for hours of his life adventures and lovers. His trips across the eastern continent and his many years spent in the USA. The Taj Mahal was as beautiful as ever it's truly the most beautiful building I gave seen in the world despite having scaffolding on one of its towers. The city of Agra is dirty and they are trying to make it more cleaner by paving the side walks and roads, but in true Indian fashion they make more mess in achieving this. After visiting the Taj and the Agra Fort we wandered around the old town of Agra, I think we were the only white people that were game to walk around here. On to Orchha a small town, again with Temples, a Fort, and an Ancient city. As we wandered around we walked kilometres just exploring the compounds of the ruins which followed the river. A clean flowing river which we followed back to town and to the morning bathers washing their laundry. Kids playing and diving and enjoying themselves. Khajuraho our last stop with our driver Anu before we fly to Varanasi and the mother Ganges was another small town with a group of temples famous for the karma-sutra carvings on the walls, there where lots of interested tourists giggling and curiously working out the positions of the statues.It was sad saying goodbye to our driver Anu, he was so nice, and a gentleman who always gave us great tips and advise. But after three weeks of being apart from his wife and young son he was very excited to be heading home. We watched and waved as he drove away, even though we had enjoyed his company we were once again excited to be left on our own,
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Camels in the Dunes
to continue our adventure.


Additional photos below
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Jaiselmer

A pagoda on the lake
Jodhpur Jodhpur
Jodhpur

The blue city
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The Step-Well


22nd October 2015
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Intersting Truck
Its amazing how they mostly get around India. You get the chance to see them on the trains?
23rd October 2015
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Tata trucks
These are TaTa trucks they are everywhere, I think, nearly all goods are transported by truck, trains are used for travel and are slow. People catch overnight trains too, because they take so long. No bullet trains in India. Roads aren't particularly good either, some that we traveled on we're bumping and not sealed.
22nd October 2015
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Great Picture
Should be more of these guys haven't seen many seflies with both of you in em so far.
23rd October 2015
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Have you forgotten what we look like
Note to our selfs more selfies
23rd October 2015
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Tata Truck
I meant I watched a show that said a lot of the trucks actually get loaded directly onto the train and simply get off at the stops where they intend to sell stuff. They don't travel large distances like the trucks in other countries.
23rd October 2015
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Tata trucks
Well darling I couldn't say if they did or didn't, as we only were in the north to central India. The trains we saw only appeared to be passenger trains. But your program could be referring to across country, long distances. We thought their was a hell of a lot of them on the roads, brightly coloured and decorated. But thinking on it now, takes so long driving in a car as the roads are so bad so it makes good sense to load trucks onto trains.
23rd October 2015
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Tata trucks
Well darling I couldn't say if they did or didn't, as we only were in the north to central India. The trains we saw only appeared to be passenger trains. But your program could be referring to across country, long distances. We thought their was a hell of a lot of them on the roads, brightly coloured and decorated. But thinking on it now, takes so long driving in a car as the roads are so bad so it makes good sense to load trucks onto trains.

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