A Travellerspoint blog

Back in Delhi

sunny 100 °F
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Took an internal flight this morning (we are all spent on train stations) to Delhi.

The last few days in Varanasi have been really relaxing - it was good to slow down for a while. If there was any place we visited that was negatively impacted by it being the monsoon season, it was Varanasi. The Ganges was so high that river boat trips were not possible. In addition, you could not walk the length of the ghats from the river side also due to the water level.

That aside, it was an experience - just like everything else. Holy men, funeral processions, chanting prayer rituals. And the bulls! About twice the size of anywhere else we've been - massive and fat. I think they are even more revered as you get closer to the holy waters of the Ganges and are benefitting from the extra feeding.

Kelsey and Paxton took part in an Aarti ritual where wicks soaked in ghee (purified butter) are places in a bowl with rose petals, lit and placed into the river as an offering to Mother Ganga.

Editorial correction on the Modi speach - it turned out not to be the Prime Minister. Something was lost in translation as it was actually a local governor or something. Still much pomp however.

Two nights here and Delhi and then a 2am flight home. Looking forward to coming home with another bit of this crazy world in our memories.

Posted by madpax 08.24.2014 01:53 Archived in India Comments (1)

Arrival in Varanasi

sunny 95 °F
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We arrived in the holy city of Varanasi last night around 10pm. Our 7 hour train from Khajuraho turned into 10 hours for reasons unknown. After a 2.5 hour car ride to get to the station in Satna.

Khajuraho has turned out to be a highlight of the trip. We spent almost three days there and enjoyed it immensely. The temples were amazing and the pace of things was a nice change from most of the rest of India - a bit out of the way from anything else and a small village to boot. On arrival we found a driver named Kashi who ended up being our guy the three days we were there. Even took us to Santa for our train. Quiet and assuming he took very good care of us. He told Kelsey he was a "good man with good family" and told the kids "happy life, happy travels" when we said good bye the last day. Good man.

And so here we are in one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, considered particularly important for Hindus who believe the waters of the Ganges here can wash away their sins. There are also "burning" ghats leading down to the river in which deceased are cremated and released into the sacred waters.

We are taking today to recuperate in our hotel before heading out and experiencing what we know will be overwhelming and perhaps a bit difficult.

We are all well and happy. We decided to splurge a bit and stay in a nice place called the Hotel Surya - apparently built in 1818 for the King of Nepal. The main reason we booked it is the restaurant has chips/salsa and hummus on the menu :) We found out this morning that Modi (India's primer minister) is going to be here any minute to deliver a speech. We are on the balcony now overlooking where he is to arrive. Crazy that they have all these balconies unsecured like this - wouldn't be like this at home.

It's all good.

Posted by madpax 08.20.2014 01:32 Archived in India Comments (2)

Gwalior


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Got to Gwalior yesterday around mid-day yesterday and unfortunately turned out to be a bit of a bust.

Came to see the fort and the Jai Vilas palace primarily. The palace and its supposedly great museum which houses two of the worlds largest chandeliers was closed for unknown reasons. So we went to the fort only to have hoards of young men hassling and gawking over Madison. Despite all our efforts to get them to stop following, staring, taking her photo and generally being terribly ride - they just kept at it. We ended up having to leave as we weren't able to look at anything without the constant barrage of unwanted attention. There were just too many of them.

Also ended up in a pretty grotty hotel with a pretty creative website. To top it off, yesterday was Indepence Day also know as "dry" day so couldn't even flush the day with a cold beer.

The upside is not many tourists and had breakfast this morning in a nice coffee growers co-op cafe which was very good.

Glad to be moving on today to Khajuraho for about three days. It is about a 7-hour train from here and we leave in abour an hour. Khajurajo has a large grouping of medieval Hindu and Jain temples famous for their erotic sculptures which are said do be the best temple art anywhere in the world.

We've covered a lot of ground and seen many things - too many to process. Having a great time despite being really worn at times of the constant assault on your senses that is India.

Posted by madpax 08.15.2014 23:00 Comments (3)

Agra

semi-overcast 90 °F
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We arrived in Agra late last night and got to our hotel around midnight. Went to the Taj Majal this morning and despite as touristy as it is, it is still very impressive. We even have a distant view from the hotel.

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Agra is much cleaner than any other place we have been but also completely manic with touts. Madie is getting pretty good with them. Just met a couple of guys from Australia doing the Rickshaw Run and talked to them for a bit. Good fun.

Madie and I took a taxi out to Fatehpur Sikri this afternoon - an old Mughal city built around the late 1500's. Abandoned after only a few years due to lack of water availability but still incredibly well preserved.

Taking the train tomorrow to Gwalior for a day and than to Khajuraho for a couple days.

Posted by madpax 08.14.2014 05:41 Archived in India Comments (2)

Bundi

rain 80 °F
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Took most of the day for us to get from Jaipur to Bundi. Train was delayed for over an hour so didn't get out of Jaipur until about 10:30. Got into Kota around 3pm and found a car to take us the 40 or so kilometers to Bundi.

They've been having good monsoon rains in this area the last few days but unfortunately has caused some severe flooding. Three people died two days ago in separate instances. Two electrocuted by downed power lines and one when the wall of their home collapsed. In Jaipur, one of the intersections was so flooded people walking were waist deep in water and cars were stranded.

We haven't walked around Bundi much yet but we can already see the allure of the place. The palace built into the hillside looks like something out of a fairy tale. Apparently it was a Rajasthan tradition for Brahmin (holy men) to paint their houses blue but now anyone can and does. The atmosphere here is very relaxed and friendly - a welcome change from the bustle of the city.

We are staying in a home that is 200 years old run by a very nice family called the Bundi Inn. They bought the home when it was in a state of total disrepair and spent two years rebuilding it. It is absolutely beautiful. They have an 8-month old son who is a real cutie - super nice people. They have invited us to go with them to their parents home tonight to help celebrate the festival of brother/sister. We are regretting that we are only staying here two nights and had already booked another hotel elsewhere in Bundi for another two nights.

View from roof of our hotel:

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Posted by madpax 08.09.2014 21:47 Archived in India Comments (3)

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