Murmeli goes India

An AIESEC traineeship in Hyderabad, India

Delhi, Rajasthan and Varanasi

It has been a while since the last post, almost a month! I have beRajasthani camelen to so many places since I was in Nagpur where I wrote the last time that I think I will just write briefly about where I have been. After Nagpur I stopped in Gwalior and Agra before heading to Delhi. In Gwalior I saw a great old fort on a hilltop and in Agra, naturally, the Taj Mahal and the Agra fort. I was impressed by Taj Mahal and spent a couple of hours (all the money’s worth) just gazing at it. Then it was time to move to the capital.

I spent a few days in Delhi, meeting up with a friend I had first met in Gujarat, doing some sightseeing and eating well. I liked the better part of the city, that is, the wide streets andOld Delhi alleyboulevards and restaurants in Connaught Place and down to Khan Market. The Old Delhi with its narrow alleys and buzzing bazaars are interesting, but since I am not a big shopper I don’t really have anything to do there except watch the Indian life go by. I went through the most important tourist sites and got fed up with sightseeing soon. I left Delhi and went to Rajasthan.

Fort in JodhpurThis time of year the touristy Rajasthan is still rather touristy but less so than in the winter months. It is now very very hot, which made the trip there a little exhausting. In Jaisalmer I stayed inside the big fort and did a camel safari in the desert. It was very windy at night so in the morning I found myself covered in sand 🙂 From there I went to Jodhpur, which I found just too crowded and hot to stay very long, so I just settled for visiting the fort, which is actually well worth the visit.

After Jodhpur I went to the most romantic city in Rajasthan, Udaipur. Part of the Bond film ‘Octopussy’ was filmed here. Many restaurants show the movie every night and I also got to see it once. It was very funny to see a Western film set partly in India after spending 9 months in the country! Oh and I was sick again, but only for a day.

The most fun in Udaipur I had, ironically, outside the city. I rented a motorbike and went both south and north of the city. In the south I did not see much. I went to see a huge artificial lake but ended up driving alongside it and came back to Udaipur along a road that was not on my map. But it was great fun! The next day I went north to see a big fort. A water pump in RajasthanAlso this fort was amazing as so many others I had seen so far. I drove to the fort through a surprisingly green country side and I sat by the side of the road for a half-hour just looking at farmers pulling plows with cows and rotating a water pump with cows. Extremely relaxing.

From Udaipur I went to Pushkar, which is supposed to be a very ‘shanti’, meaning relaxed, place. It is a small town created around a holy lake. There are a lot of cows, holy men, hundreds of temples and a lot of souvenir shops. Not very relaxed, I thought, and stayed only one night. I met some Jaipur trafficreally nice people there though and went to Jaipur with them the next day. I was looking forward to Jaipur, the pink city, but was a little disappointed to find that it is not very pink, it is very congested and also this time of year very hot. It was 44 degrees there for a couple of days. Luckily the hotel had a swimming pool on the roof. I also managed to buy a lot of souvenirs, which I sent home from Delhi a couple of days later.

After Jaipur I went to Delhi (or Gurgaon actually, close to Delhi) to see a friend. Then I took an over-crowded night train to Varanasi, probably the holiest Hindu place in the Varanasi sunriseworld. The train there (going towards Kolkata) was so packed that I had to sleep on the floor in sleeper class. It was not so bad. I only saw one cockroach and I was not stepped on badly 🙂 I managed to sleep a couple of hours and then a couple more in the morning. I liked Varanasi a lot once I had gotten out of the train station and through the horrible traffic to the Ganges river. The ghats along the river were very nice to walk along and it really felt like the ‘real’ India that is not so visible elsewhere in India. Sure, there are hundreds of ads Washing clothes in the Gangafor restaurants, yoga and music schools and hotels painted on the stone walls on the ghats, but that did not bother me much. You can not really expect total non-commercialisation anywhere in India, even inside temple areas! Again, I met nice people and decided to stay for a second night. The narrow alleys spreading out from the ghats are very interesting to walk along. There is so much to see wherever you look that it is overwhelming. I also took a boat ride on the Ganges in the morning at around 6 o’clock. There wereHoly man by the Gangaalready a lot of people at that time taking a bath, performing pujas for Mother Ganga and just enjoying the cool morning air and the refreshing (?) river water.

After Varanasi I arrived to Kolkata, just this morning. I got a room and did some sightseeing. This city sure seems to be as congested as I had read earlier. I have not seen much poverty though. I think tomorrow I have to venture out a little, maybe take the metro through the city and go explore a little. Everybody is saying that this city is very dirty and poor and I will try to see if that is really true.

I will meet a friend here on Wednesday and we will go together to Darjeeling, in the state of West Bengal. It is already in the mountains and not far from the state of Sikkim, where you can trek on the foot of the third highest mountain in the world. And I will also be very, very close to Nepal, which will be my next stop after Darjeeling and Sikkim. A friend I met in Jaipur is now in Darjeeling and she told me that I will definitely need a sweater there because it is so cold! She also said it is a bit rainy, so a rain coat is not a bad idea either. Amazing after months of heat and no rain!

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April 23, 2007 - Posted by | Indian life, Pictures from India, Traveling in India

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