Murmeli goes India

An AIESEC traineeship in Hyderabad, India

Maharashtra and Gujarat

kids-in-the-hills.jpgIt has now been a couple of weeks since my visit to Hyderabad. It was great to see my old friends again after more than a month of traveling. After Hyderabad I went to the state of Maharashtra to see the hill stations Mahabaleshwar and Matheran and the city of Pune. The hill stations were nice places. Mahabaleshwar because of nice sceneries and fresh strawberries and Matheran for the ban of all vehicles (including bicycles) making it an extremely pleasant and relaxing place to stay. The city of Pune did not manage to attract me so much, although the restaurants and the multiplex cinema were nice 🙂

A week ago I went to Mumbai with my girlfriend. I had been there already once before with Yusuf and Tobias so the city was familiar to me. We spent most of our time in the touristy Colaba area with its boulevards, shopping places, gelato bars and plenty of foreigners.

After the weekend in Mumbai I left behind South India and headed north to the state of Gujarat. I stopped first in Baroda, where I did not see much but from which I made two day trips to near-by places. First I went to see a place called Champaner, which is a Unesco World Heritage site. The place is famous for its numerous mosques.

The second day trip was much more interesting. I had read about the Narmada Valley project in an essay by Arundhati Roy, the Booker price winning, Kerala-born author. It is a huge, massive, enormous dam project that started as a dream of prime minister Patel in the ’40s and was finally implemented 60 years later. The project is controversial because Sardar Sarovar Dam, Gujaratthe numerous dams (30 major ones, thousands of small ones) have displaced indigenous Adivasis and the relocation and rehabilitation schemes have proven out to be insufficient or totally neglected. The dam is said to bring electricity to the states of Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Maharasthra, as well as much needed water for irrigation and drinking in the drought-prone North-Western state of Rajasthan and also Gujarat. The main canal of the dam used to transport water to Rajasthan is more than 500 km long, the longest one of its kind in the world!

It was not easy to get to the dam. I got instructions from the hotel manager in Baroda, who called somebody and asked for the best place to go see the dam. At the bus station in Baroda I had (too) many nice people helping me and I was wondering if I will ever get there. But finally I did, escorted by an old (my guess is 70-80 years) nice lady who did not speak a word of English.

It was extremely interesting to go see the dam with my own eyes. It has been turned into a tourist sight and I have to say that it actually is an extraordinary one. The dam itself is massive (judged by the amount of concrete used the second biggest in the world) and also the fact that that water is being transferred over 500 km away using a canal is something to think about. Let alone the number of people who had to be relocated because of the dam.

As a side note, after independence in 1947, 35 million Indians have been relocated because of dams.

This state is interesting in many different ways. The Sardar Sarovar dam is just one thing. Beside that there are the Asiatic lions in the South and the wild asses in the Little Rann sanctuary. The most Western part of the state (on the border with Pakistan, only about 200 km from where I am now) is a salt desert. This area has also suffered from numerous earthquakes, most recently in 2001. In 2002 2000 people died in the state when tension between Hindus and Muslims escalated into riots. In 1994 the city of Surat suffered from plague (now it is considered the second healthiest city in India). But despite even these grim events and circumstances the people here are nice and friendly. It is more difficult to find English speaking people but everybody is still very eager to help. It may also be because the state does not get so many tourists. So far, during my whole stay in the state, I have seen less than ten foreigners. No wonder I suddenly have many new best friends, wherever I go.

Tomorrow I leave Ahmedabad (a nice city of 4.5 million) and head towards the Little Rann sanctuary to spot some wild asses. My goodness, that sounds silly. Anyways, the last couple of days of traveling have been very, very nice and I have enjoyed my time here a lot. I will most likely be spending most of next week still here in Gujarat and after that I will go to Rajasthan.

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February 28, 2007 - Posted by | Indian life, Traveling in India

1 Comment »

  1. Fantastic page=D I will come back again.

    Comment by wortierne | May 20, 2009 | Reply


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