INDIA 2003

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India Gate Delhi


We left Lumbini the next morning to make the short journey to the Indian border. Crossing into India reminded us of the crowded chaos we encountered when entering Peru from Bolivia. We had intended to reach Varanasi that day but soon found that even though only some 350 kilometers from the border on incredibly congested roads and a terrible surface it was pushing it too far. At 4 o'clock still 150 kilometers from it and tired from a combination of heat, lack of places to eat and the concentration needed for the unpredictable traffic, we cried halt by Dowrighat and pulled into the first only decent hotel we had encountered on the route. It would have taken another 4 hours to cover the remaining distance to Veranasi and that would have been a foolish option as it would have left us riding at night. It is difficult to describe how crowded the roads are in India. Narrow poorly surfaced byways that alone would make progress slow, the sheer traffic on them turns them into an ordeal that sees you averaging hardly 35 kilometers an hour at times. To put it in perspective we covered in Australia in 2 hours what took us a day here and did as much in a day as has taken us 5 in India. Though initially frightening though you do like any traffic system that's initially alien become used to it and in it's own unique way it works.


Taj-Mahal

We encountered some hectic traffic in the towns and cities of india but even though it is literally like being in dodgeum-cars people manage to avoid hitting you and with such sheer numbers of people it's perhaps the only system that would work, given the conditions of the cars, streets and animals. We reached Varanasi the next afternoon and made out the best hotel in town. While theoretically India should be cheap for us this policy of staying in good accommodation has made it expensive but perhaps not so in the long run.In Varanasi we went for a boat ride along the Ganges that evening and there was a strange peacefulness on it as ashore the mayhem that is India went about its way. Varanasi is obviously famous as the place where people cremate their dead relations along its banks and it is intriguing to see people washing and swimming in these obviously polluted waters but yet without any obvious ill effects. The streets of the city are like other Indian cities full of people animals, traffic and poor people whose predicaments would just leave you so sad. Before leaving it we went for another boat ride at dawn on this sacred river and once again found it a momentary haven of peace in so much that is not.


Taj-Mahal

After our experience on the roads to Varanasi we were pleasantly surprised by our subsequent progress through India. The hotel manager had suggested to us that the secondary road to Agra via Luknow was a better option than the grand trunk road which as well as crowded was also subject to road works as they are in the process of upgrading their network. We made excellent headway that morning and were able to relax to the extent of being able to take in the countryside though the unexpected could always happen and frequently did. Beyond Luknow we were once again back on a main road and into the busy and chaotic traffic but were happy to have reached Kanpur that evening.


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The Red Fort At Agra

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