“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes….”

AuthorPhilippa

Rafting, cooking classes and sleeper trains

Running late for the Hindu sunset ceremony we completely missed it, not realising that it only lasted for 10-15 minutes. Narji our guide however generously spent an hour talking about some of the 3000ish Hindu gods, helping us to try and understand what the colourful Hindu idols represented. All of the gods had dramatic stories associated with them and some life lessons. I really enjoy taking the time to gain a deeper understanding of why people hold certain beliefs and even on this very preliminary venture into Hinduism I see now how the stories (some perhaps 4000 years old) hold similar messages to those I have grown up with in the Bible.

Dinner was lots of fun with our fellow group members, revitalising the age old debate – ninjas versus pirates, and also a 50 rupee wager on whether the Hindu and Nazi swastika were the same or different. The final verdict was the the Hindu swastika can be either clockwise or anticlockwise, so it in fact can be the same or different. Many of us had been informed over the years that it was the opposite direction to that of the Nazi swatsticer, however apparently this is not the case, much to Andrew’s disappointment (it was his 50 rupee).

Yesterday we started the day with some “white” water rafting. There was some white water, however the rapids never were any more challenging than grade two, so this was more like a scenic cruise down the river. It allowed us to see the surrounding countryside, palaces and temples for a different perspective. We had a great time getting saturated and bouncing around in the boat. We reached an area where one of the kings had created a dam wall which made a nice swimming area, a couple of the guys took the opportunity to have a swim, we were pretty drenched already. Following chai and a snack we headed back to the hotel to dry off and for a long lunch (to celebrate our fellow group members birthday).

20120203-160842.jpg

In the afternoon we headed off to a cooking class for India vegetarian cuisine, meeting up with another group going the opposite direction to us. The hostess was a lovely lady who made it all look so easy. I have my eyes open for an India spice box now. The onlookers were nervous watching little children dance around while their mother was cooking with hot oil. It makes you realise how safety/health messages have become so engrained in our culture.

Following the cooking class we took a late night auto rickshaw ride to the train station. It was freezing! We had some relief from the cold wind blowing through the rickshaw when we stopped at a level crossing for 15 minutes for a train that finally did pass us by.

The overnight sleeper train rocked me to sleep like a baby, though I had a far more spacious top bunk with only a single bed below, compared to the others like Andy three levels of bunks! It was probably the best night sleep I have had in a week, however it was rudely interrupted when we had to wake up at 6.30am to depart the train.

I now find myself on a bus driving to the launching point of our sailing trip along India’s most holy river the Ganges. We have made one crossing, up stream from where we will be setting off, here three tributaries enter the Ganges. From the bridge we looked down to thousands of colourful tents, where pilgrims had come to wash in their holy river.

20120203-161031.jpg

Indian Railways, Agra Fort and the Taj Mahal

Sitting on the train on our way from Agra to Ochra with five hours ahead of me I thought it might be a good time to write a blog. Following the 5am start we caught a train to Agra, which was on time, reasonably fast and they provided us breakfast. Indian Railways apparently the biggest employer in the world moves a vast amount of people around India everyday.

With only a day in Agra we saw both of the big ticket items in one day, the Agra Fort in the morning and the Taj Mahal in the afternoon.

The Agra Fort is amazingly preserved. Over half of the fort is still used by the Indian National Army, however visitors have access to most of the old palace. The fort had fantastic security measures similar to those I remember reading about in children story books; crocodiles in the moat, Bengal tigers behind the first wall, hot oil at the front gate and down the entrance path. The palace itself made of red sand stone and white marble is still very impressive despite the fact that it has been pillaged for all it’s gold and jewels. Metal hooks remain in place from where the Mogal kings hung their swings and looked down over beautiful square or down the river Yamuna to the Taj Mahal after its construction.

20120131-080617.jpg

After a brief break and lunch at a local restaurant (everyone is getting their appetite back slowly), we headed out for sunset at the Taj. The Taj Mahal is truly a wonder of the world and so valued by the Indian people. It was overflowing with visitors, mostly Indian nationals visiting their most famous icon.

Dinner was at a South Indian chain restaurant where everyone had their full appetite back. Matt dug into a thali, while Andrew, Toria and I all had Dosais. We are really enjoying getting to know the rest of our travelling companions, so far it appears we have been blessed with a pretty easy going group.

Now as I watch the countryside go past I am chatting with our guide and Matt about all the wonders and complexities of India and Indian society. How great it is to be here 🙂

You, looking at me, looking at you…

Today was our last day of sight seeing in New Delhi. We slowly, as the week has gone by, have become more confident with finding our way around, catching the Metro, Autos and Rickshaws and interacting with people. We have slowly gotten used to people staring at us and appreciate any local advice which come without a catch. We also have also obliged some less dodgy looking people with photographs with us, though for every person that asks there are numerous people that are taking photo of us without asking. We are quite a spectacle.

20120127-191958.jpg

Today we headed out early to the Red Fort, back to Old Delhi with the very in your face poverty, strong smells of human waste and chaotic commerce all around. The Red Fort lived up to expectations, baring signs of its history as both a palace and a military barrak.

20120127-192112.jpg

We then headed afterward to South Delhi, beyond where we are staying to Qutb Minar. Which look beautiful in the softer light of the late afternoon.

20120127-192242.jpg

Tomorrow we join our Intrepid Tour and we begin our trip overland to Kathmandu.

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes….”

Recent Comments

Categories