Edit Blog Post
Published: November 18th 2010
The question of the day from Malcolm is: In one word, describe India.
Kevin - dirty
Dick - chaotic
But, it is more than all of these and is; Incredible; Historic; Polluted; Burgeoning; Noisy; Smelly; Friendly; Overcrowded; Colorful; Dusty, Surly and much more....... I'm glad that I have made the trip. It has been an assault on the senses and we've had laughs, frustrations and wonder. Monday, November 8
On the road again, today we are heading to Agra and its a six hour road trip. Myself and Dick get lots of photo's of trucks and overcrowded jeeps. However, there is a bonus, we see herds of camels being driven up the road and presume that they are going to the Pushkar camel fair.
About 40km from Agra is the ghost town of Fatehpur Sikri. It's red, in fact most of the forts and towns that we have seen are red and this is another one. Built by the Mughal Emporer Akbar who consulted a seer who foretold the birth of his son and when this came true he built the city of Fatehpur Sikri. Unfortunately, he built it in a place that had little or no
water and on his death the town was abandoned.
We visit the mosque beside Fatehpur Sikri and meet a young kid that is selling trinkets, a really nice young boy that enjoys cricket and is interested in where we all come from. Tuesday, November 9
We have pick-up from our hotel at 6.00am and then it's sunrise at the Taj Mahal. Security is tight and body an bag checks are underway. Unfortunately for me, there is a no tripod rule and I have a 4 ins tripod in my bag. I'm made to do the walk of shame towards the lockers, but rather than walk the 300 meters to the lockers I give it to a postcard seller immediately outside. He says that he will keep it for me until I finish the tour. I jump the line and get searched again, however there is another guy going through the same hassle, but with an Ipad computer and no amount of pleading saves him from the walk of shame. The Taj Mahal is magnificent, white marble with inlay; it's a photographers dream. The Taj Mahal is a mausoleum built for an Emperors third wife that died in childbirth
of their 14th child. This really is a work of love, however the Emperor Shah Jahan ends up imprisoned by his son in the Agra fort and ironically he has a great view of the Taj Mahal. It would seem that there were plans to build another mausoleum on the other side of the river but in black marble. The end result is that both the Shah Jahan and his wife are interred in the Taj Mahal.
After our visit and we walk around the area close to the Taj and are driven to the railway station early for our train to Varanasi. We say goodbye to our driver, Harri. The train to Varanasi is at 8.45pm and this is a long time to be in Agra railway station. My sister, Ann had told me about the state of the railway stations in India, however I don't think that I was ready for the smells, rats and believe me there were lots of rats.
The overnight train to Varanasi is an experience, especially as we are traveling 3rd class. I'm going to leave this to your imagination, especially the toilet. Anyway, I pop one of Dick's happy pills
and immediately fall asleep. Wednesday, November 10 thru November 13
The train arrives in Varanasi at 6.30am and we are met by driver Nani. I don't know where the tour companies get their drivers, but they are not self starters and offer very little in value added services to tourists. It's all about how they can make the most money from their punter. We are taken to the hotel India and sleep until 12.00, before heading for the river
Varanasi is the Holy City to the Hindus and is a place of pilgrimage, with Indians of both sexes submerging themselves in the murky brown waters. There are 32 untreated sewers flowing into the river in Varanasi and the Indians continue to swim and wash their clothes in the river. Holy men in saffron robes adorn the steps of the main ghat (a series of steps heading down to a body of water) with their begging bowls. It's an enigma to me why westerners would seek out these individuals for personal enlightenment.
The three days we spend in Varanasi have the same basic routine, with a morning tour and afternoon trips to the river for walks along
the ghats. There are two ghats that are exclusively for burning bodies and myself and Dick pass through one of these at dusk. It's a bit like the scene in 'Apocalypse Now' with the burning and to my mind, if there's a hell this is it....
At 6.30pm a religious ceremony takes place on the main Ghat. It's a homage to Mother Ganga or the Ganges river and there's lots of noise, smoke with seven handsome young guys dressed in pink making offering type gestures. On the first night we are lucky to get close enough to take some nice photos. The ceremony is an obvious draw to westerners and Indians alike and the steps of the ghat are packed as are numerous boats that sit just off shore to watch the ceremony.
After the ceremony finishes we make our way to the Brown Bread Bakery for dinner, which is great value and also has classical Indian musicians entertaining. The restaurant is that good that myself and Dick eat there every evening (Malcolm is indisposed with a good old fashion attack of Delhi Belly). Saturday, 13 November
Our train to Delhi is at 3.18pm, however it doesn't
arrive until around 6pm. Indian railway stations are a toilet, feces, piss, and rats all over the tracks. Along with the occasional cow wandering through the railway station, until you experience it, you cannot imagine the filth. The train isn't much better and when we arrive at our 2nd class sleeper we find that our sheets and pillow have already been used. Dick is somewhere else on the train and myself and Malcolm eject the women that is occupying my bunk and we settle in for a long journey. Dick's happy pills are out of reach and I soon notice that we have other occupants in our sleeper in the form of small cockroaches. This was not a good trip..... Sunday, 14 November thru 16 November
As we arrive at Delhi Station it is hard not to notice the garbage dumps that seem to adorn the rails like a necklace. It's around 10am and we have spent 16 hours on an Indian Train.... A cab to our hotel and then some light shopping. Shopping and relaxing is on the cards for the next few days until we leave along with evening visits to our top Delhi restaurant, Spicy.
In the evening of the 16th we take a cab to the airport and leave. I for one will not be back, but I'm pleased that I have had the experience.
Tot: 0.062s; Tpl: 0.019s; cc: 11; qc: 28; dbt: 0.0082s; 1; m:saturn w:www (18.104.22.168); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.2mb