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India for Softies : A slow comfortable tour around some of Northern India

India for Softies : A slow comfortable tour around some of Northern India

Old Oct 5th, 2016, 11:40 PM
Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 803
Fantastic narrative loncall .India is truly magical, with all its idiosyncrasies,a country which mystically lures the most intrepid traveller.

Certainly tempted to try Masala Library and its on my 'hit list' next time in Delhi. Been an Indian food addict & I wouldn't mind risking life,limb nor belly to try out new cuisine and Delhi never ceases to surprise me.

Another great city in India is Mumbai for creative cuisines, a multi-faceted metro, often inspires some,'out of the box' thinkers.One such place is Bombay Canteen,you folks must try it out.

inquest is offline  
Old Oct 6th, 2016, 01:22 AM
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Great start! Interesting that you had to wear a shroud at the mosque. I don't remember having to do that in 2001, sounds like they have gotten more uptight since then.
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Old Oct 6th, 2016, 03:58 AM
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Gosh Kathie your link to Gaggon has had me immediately thinking of a reason for me to return to Bangkok! Myanmar is on my bucket list so that might be the opportunity. Similarly Inquest I now want to visit Mumbai in order to get to the Bombay Canteen.

Sorry to have created more pressure on your time MmePerdu! I ‘read’ some of the books mentioned including the Indian Summer one via audiobooks which at least allowed me to double up whilst also driving or cooking or similar!

We returned to Delhi Airport for our short flight to Jodhpur. Yet again it was a very model of a modern airport, calm, cool and orderly and with plenty of seating. It was not until we got to Varanasi at the end of our trip that we saw the vestiges of the total confusion, heat and madness that still haunts me from my previous trips thirty years ago. The Air India plane left on schedule and interior was old but clean. Because we had booked business class flights [to avoid the chaos that did not exist!] we got served with flurries of white table cloths and a reasonable lunch.

Jodhpur airport is very small and our cases were soon retrieved. We had booked a hotel car to meet us but there was some confusion as to its whereabouts and the hotel representative at the airport bundled us into one of the numerous waiting taxis instead. We loved the Raas hotel from the very minute we arrived and it was probably the favourite of our trip, indeed it became one of my all-time favourite hotels. People who have visited it, or who are planning to visit it, may be interested in a little video I found that the architect has put together explaining how the hotel was designed to fit the small plot in the heart of the old city. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PWTvmzdfuCM

We felt that the design was very successful indeed with the view of the fort revealing itself as you wound through the hotel grounds and as you pulled back the shutters in your room. When we sat on our balcony as the sun set, with the fort lit up majestically before us with the old roofs of the town all higgedly piggedly underneath it we could hear the sounds of the old city around us; the odd firecracker, the calls to prayer by the local mosque, maybe a faint horn from an auto-rickshaw, and felt very much at one with it whilst at the same time being in a very comfortable and luxurious environment. A magic place.

The room was designed in keeping with the rest of the hotel and was spacious and cool with a good sized bathroom and a neat little cubby-hole for all your cases and the wardrobe area thus removing clutter from the room itself. We felt it was outstanding value for money [less than £100 a night at that time of year].

That night we climbed a short steep flight of internal steps in order to eat on the restaurant level overlooking the fort. The view and general feel and setting was out of this world stupendous, the service was great and the food was good [albeit the menu choices were perhaps rather on the ordinary side given the price, I guess however that they are catering to what many people staying want].

The next morning, we ate breakfast in the equally attractive downstairs restaurant and enjoyed the freshly made South Indian choices on the menu, Masala Dosa etc. before stepping outside into the Clock tower market which is a few steps away from the hotel. Many local food and other businesses were juxta positioned alongside stalls selling bangles and saris. I am always interested in how such local markets sell some things which are instantly recognisable and could be on a supermarket shelf in South London whilst other things are totally alien and I would know how to use them or cook with them.

We wandered around venturing a little way up some of the side streets and whilst a few people tried to engage us in conversation that we guessed would lead to an invitation into their shop the overall level of hassle here was low. In fact, they mainly seemed interested in the fact that my partner has a moustache with more than one stall holder commenting on this with some enjoyment!

After a bit we got to a corner with a row of autorickshaws on it and negotiated a price for one of them to take us up to the fort.
I gather that if you walk there is a more direct route but going to the fort via autorickshaw led you out of the town and along a road that swept up and around the side of the hill affording you great views of the town beneath you.

Mehrangarh fort turned out to be everything a good tourist site should be. Not only was it spectacular but it was well run with an excellent audio guide that I would highly recommend. We were particularly intrigued by the way this audio guide explained how the path up to the fort and the right angled turns in the gates and archways was to prevent invading elephants from storming the fort as they could not get up the momentum to charge and batter down the fortifications. We clearly have no grasp of elephant warfare as to us it was difficult to imagine how an elephant could have got up any speed up such a steep hill even if the path had been straight! Plus, you would have seen any elephant coming from several miles away!

We were there on a day with clear blue skies and the views for miles around and down towards the blue houses of Jodhpur were intriguing as we spent some time just hanging over the battlements looking at them. Had we been younger we might have tried the zip wire which soars across the landscape and which was bizarrely advertised by a huge billboard featuring a totally surreal and larger than life size picture of Boris Johnson saying words to the effect of Jodhpur has the best zip wire in the world. [For those readers from outside the UK Boris Johnson is a wildly controversial British politician, indeed by a weird turn of post Brexit fate currently our foreign secretary, who once got stuck on a zip wire during the London Olympics].

We decided our days of zip wire antics were behind us and sedately progressed around the various exhibitions inside the fort which were well presented and explained and benefited from have many cooling fans strategically placed as the sun rose and the day got hotter. We enjoyed how inside the rugged red hewed walls of the fort there were many different styles of architecture denoting the different areas and some of these surrounding the women’s quarters where a brilliant white with elegant carved screens and decorated inside with mirrors and glass the colour of jewels.

At the end there was also a good museum shop. I am not one for shopping at the best of times and I simply loathe beyond reason the sort of place where you have to bargain whilst they take out and show you realms of things that you do not want but this museum shop was full of lovely high quality stuff that was sold at a fixed price and which you could browse in your own time. I left with a carrier bag full of items including a very nice turquoise silk evening purse.

We had a late lunch back in the hotel and I spent what remained of the afternoon by the attractive pool before a room service meal on our balcony enjoying a bottle of red wine that the hotel manager had kindly sent to our room in order to make up for the slight confusion with the hotel car at the airport.

The following day we repeated the circuit of the market this time taking some photos of spots that had caught our eye and then headed off in an autorickshaw for the Umaid Bhawan Place. This palace, now a Taj hotel, is largely closed off to external visitors. We had considered staying there and when we eventually booked elsewhere I had envisaged we might have a meal there until I discovered that there is apparently a £60 cover charge per head in addition to whatever your meal costs. Whilst a minimum order price or a smaller cover charge would have been understandable given that they would wish to avoid having hordes of tourists sharing a drink between four people, this level of charge struck us as both daylight robbery and a signal that the hotel was more than a bit “up itself’ and hence not for us!

The palace does however have a museum that you can visit [full of strangely interesting pictures of the Maharaja playing polo and such like] and a small collection of vintage cars that we inspected and you get good views of the external building which was built at about same time as the Rashtrapati Bhavan [then Viceroy’s house] in Lutyens Delhi. Apparently there is a film being made here at Jodhpur about the events in 1947 leading up to the partition and the independence which sounds as if it will be worth looking out for when it is released. http://rajasthanpost.com/index.php/2...f-british-raj/

Later that day we wanted to see from ground level the area of Jodhpur famous for the blue houses which we had seen from above when visiting the fort. We got an autorickshaw to the area which we had read had the best streets [by virtue of asking it to take us to a guesthouse that we had spotted in the guidebook as being in the right general area]. The journey there was as fascinating as the destination taking us along an incredibly lengthy shopping street lined with tiny shops each one serving as a frame to a little vignette of local life. Men chatting on rickety chairs in front of displays of items such as batteries or light bulbs that looked as if they had been there on the shelves for at least fifty years, a glimpse of women in saris brushing the steps, hairdressers and barbers with the big leather seat backs facing the open street front and the customers facing mirrors on the back wall. I wished I could know more about all their stories and their lives! How could each tiny shop be economically viable?

The ‘blue area’ was also fascinating with no other obvious tourists and no one taking much notice of us as we wandered around many streets taking in the ornate façades found on some of the old houses and peeping up into the side streets all painted in various hues of the trade mark blue. Every now and then the street we were on would open out and one could see glimpses of the fort towering above you. Dusk began to fall and so we decided we better head back and we made our way back to the shopping street we had journeyed along earlier and found an auto rickshaw without problem.

Heading back through the Hotel’s old Haveli gates and into the cool glass cased reception area I knew how lucky I was to have enjoyed another very special day.
loncall is online now  
Old Oct 6th, 2016, 04:29 AM
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Jodhpur doesn't sound as congested as I picture India to be. The fort sounds lovely - how does it compare to the one in Jaipur? Your wander through the homes and back streets would be something we would very much enjoy.
tripplanner001 is online now  
Old Oct 6th, 2016, 05:59 AM
Join Date: Jul 2003
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Following but a little late.

Glad you know what KMA means. .

I have always thought that the Indira Gandhi museum is a moving experience.

As for those crazy drivers I got a T-shirt for our son in IGI. It depicted a crazed driver of a three wheeler speeding like the devil with a terrified passenger. Perfect. .

Actually Indians are quite proud of IGI and for good reason. Our 1st trip was in 1978 and their airport then was Palam. It was partially open so bird were flying around it. Not quite what we saw at O'Hare when we left. .
jacketwatch is online now  
Old Oct 6th, 2016, 09:15 AM
Join Date: Apr 2007
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Wonderful report!

The Mehrangarh fort is the best in Rajasthan! It even has an elevator these days. One can ascend by elevator, then walk down leisurely to see the sights.

Ossian (about ten miles outside Jodhpur) is a tiny town with ancient and modern Jain and Hindu temples.

Waiting for your next installment . . .
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Old Oct 6th, 2016, 12:31 PM
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oh how lovely.

you are making it sound terribly enticing.
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Old Oct 6th, 2016, 01:43 PM
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I do hope you will have the opportunity to eat at Gaggan in Bangkok. When you decide to take your trip to Burma/Myanmar I'll be glad to help with you planning. It has become our favorite Asian destination. We plan to return in 2017 for trip #4.

Very much enjoying your report!
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Old Oct 10th, 2016, 10:52 AM
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Jacketwatch I think the t shirt you bought your son sounds fun!

Kathie I will definitely be drawing on your assistance on Fodors re Myanmar if we get to go there!

Tripplanner001. Jodhpur was a busy little place but not really congested in the town [no traffic jams or similar and not hordes of crowds] and the fort felt very airy and spacious set as it is high on the rocks. Whilst beautiful inside Jodhpur is more a fort than the Amber Palace in Jaipur which is slightly more glitzy and dazzling from afar. We loved simply Jodhpur and it is most definitely worth including in any trip to Rajasthan.

We moved into a new phase of the holiday when we left Jodhpur as we had a car and driver. As I mentioned in my initial post we used a firm called ‘India by car and driver’ and we were very pleased indeed with both our driver and the service as a whole. We had communicated with them and shared our proposed itinerary two or three months in advance and once we accepted their price [which was very clearly set out by them with all the inclusions] we were asked to pay 20% deposit in advance [online by way of a visa card] and only had to pay the balance once we got there and knew that everything was satisfactory. It all worked like clockwork and Raj our driver picked us up at Raas hotel on the appointed day and we set off in the spacious, spotlessly clean, air conditioned car which was full to the brim of boiled sweets and ice cold water held in a cool box. We also got given a fully charged local mobile phone which had Raj’s number and that of his company keyed into it so we could contact him as and when needed without incurring any charges on our own mobiles. http://www.indiabycaranddriver.com/

We headed directly to Jaipur which took in the region of five hours and as we progressed along the road it became clear that, in addition to having an experienced and professional driving style, Raj also had good conversational English and an encyclopaedic knowledge of the local area which he generously shared with us. As a result of this we are now considerably more au fait with the range of local industries and other aspects of social geography in Rajasthan than we are of those in Southern England where we live!

Our hotel in Jaipur was ‘Jas Vilas’ and it was set in the modern part of town about ten minutes’ drive from the older pink city. It was small and individual and not part of any of the big chains which is exactly what we had been looking for. Initially we felt our heritage room was perhaps a tad dark and we were a little unsure of whether the in room fountain and the somewhat whacky bathroom furniture was to our taste. However, it was spacious and everything was spotlessly clean and it grew on us as the stay progressed. It was in any case not long before we found ourselves enjoying a generous gin and tonic in the exceptionally pleasant outdoor dining area by their neat little swimming pool, surrounded by trailing flowers, admiring the typically painted walls and the local fabrics of the table settings and being served by exceptionally charming staff. The food there was good, most reasonably priced for the quality [circa £5 for a main course] and clearly cooked freshly to order. We ended up eating there most evenings as it was most relaxing.

The following day we met Raj at the agreed time and explained to him our plan to follow a walk in the Lonely planet guide around the pink city prior to visiting the city place. He seemed concerned that this was a deviation from the norm and went to considerable lengths to warn us of all that could befall us if we walked through the streets of Jaipur without a guide [shopkeepers, rickshaw drivers, roadworks and street food seemed to feature highly in these warnings]. We persevered though and got dropped off at the starting point of the walk. As expected we trotted around the suggested route with no untoward events at all admiring the ornate gates and buildings all painted pink by civic decree and noting the grid like layout of this old city which contrasted with the windy narrow roads of Jodhpur.

There were a fair number of tourist shops as we were near the main sights but there was also a lot of local life to see; street dentistry, food stalls selling deep fried treats for breakfasting workers, a little fruit market, several small street corner Hindu temples with flowers and ringing bells, a whole street full of shops selling pots and pans, cloth for turbans hanging off the balconies. After about half an hour or so we were admiring Jawa Mahal with its famous exotic façade and then made our way to the City Palace squeezing around the major and dust making civic works underway in that area as the Jaipur metro is being built.

City Palace was beautiful albeit not in the spectacular setting of the Amber Palace that we were to see the following day. I particularly liked the courtyard of the four seasons where each of the four doors into it are exquisitely painted each representing a different season.

We then left the palace and crossed over the road to Jantar Mantar the ages old observatory. We had not thought that this would be wildly interesting but we really enjoyed it finding the gardens it is located in much cooler than the splendid but very hot marble courtyards of the city palace. We live very near Greenwich Observatory in London where the Prime Meridian is and used to be frequent visitors when our son was younger. Despite the timelines being similar the two observatories could not be more different and the contrast in approach was very intersting. Whereas in Greenwich the displays are indoors and the focus is on clocks and telescopes the Jantar Mantar has absolutely huge sweeping outside structures, looking like modern sculptures, acting as massive sundials.

The following day we drove up to Amber Palace which was built as a household palace with the family retreating up the Hill to the higher and more fortified Jaigarh fort if under attack. The views from both are splendid but the Palace has the more interesting interior.

After Amber Palace we asked our driver to take us to the Anokhi museum which is set next to an old stepwell in Amber village [maybe five or six minutes’ drive from the palace car park so a very easy add on]. The little museum is set in a restored Haveli and it showcases, explains and demonstrates the local craft of block printing. It is a must see for anyone interested in fabric and sewing as I am but was also more generally interesting given its place in local culture. It also has a nice little shop but we also visited the main store down in Jaipur the following day which has a much greater selection. I was in Heaven! http://www.anokhi.com/museum/home.html

On one of the days in Jaipur we had our only poor dining experience of the whole trip at Peshwari in the ITC hotel. Famous for its food from the North West Frontier and a sub branch of Buckara in Delhi we did not think we could go wrong. But it turned out that it was not for us at all. The restaurant is set to one side of the main hotel in a dining room that had circa 1970s orange and brown décor, very uncomfortable seating [stools with no backs] and menus all printed on a wooden block that was worn and peeling at the edges. The service was strange and managed to pull off the somewhat difficult trick of being both slightly obsequious and slightly supercilious at the same time. Throughout the meal we were barely left alone with different servers all flitting back and forward asking at random if all was OK and throughout we were repeatedly pressed to order more and more food even when it was clear that we already had more than we could eat [we are hearty eaters but the portion sizes were huge] but when we declined we both felt they acted a little bit as if they thought we did not have the money for anything further. The food was indeed good and had the service and atmosphere been better we would have enjoyed the meal but as it was we owuld not recommend it at all.

Our final day in Jaipur was the ‘rest day’ that we had built into our holiday planning as we felt we would need time out from all the sightseeing in order to just loll around the hotel and read. We went to Anokhi for lunch in their coffee shop and some shopping but did nothing else. We were really pleased we had done this as, although there were still many things of interest in Jaipur, we wanted to conserve energy and enthusiasm for the rest of the trip.
loncall is online now  
Old Oct 10th, 2016, 03:07 PM
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Glad to hear that you prevailed convincing your guide about doing the walking tour of Jaipur. I too have used LP on several introductory city walks, and find that it does a good job.
tripplanner001 is online now  
Old Oct 10th, 2016, 04:56 PM
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I think it is always smart to build in some flex time, for rest, for a special place/event that catches your eye, etc.
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Old Oct 10th, 2016, 08:58 PM
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Loving this report, Loncali. Shame about Peshwar, and any place when weird service and atmosphere interferes with enjoyment of food. (There's one at ITC Mughal in Agra too,; fortunately, very good food and service, with a lots of interesting breads.)

What you said about your Jaipur hotel dinner being relaxing... Maybe it's (old) age, but at the end of a day in India, after returning to lodging, the last thing i want is to go out again! So finding a decent hotel restaurant is part of my search now. What about you?

Look forward to reading more!!
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Old Oct 11th, 2016, 03:07 AM
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Glad you had a better experience on the Agra Peshawri Callinurse. I agree with you that we were a little less inclined to go out for meals in the evening than we usually are in Europe and hence felt that we spent more of our 'down time' in the hotels than we typically do. We were really pleased with the highly varied places we stayed in [from the top to the bottom of the price ranges] and taken together they really made the holiday for us.

The next step we drove out of Agra passing by the distinctive pink city gates for the last time and through an area with many young people piled high into rickshaws and minibuses which our driver told us had may colleges and universities located nearby.

After some time we turned off the main road to Chand Baori stepwell at Abheneri. This is a very worthwhile little detour, not only to see the very grand stepwell and to admire the feats of engineering that created it, but to view the pleasant rural countryside and the workers in the fields that surround it. We have not seen stepwells in any other country than India and would be very interested if anyone knows why they emerged here and not elsewhere. They have a very attractive symmetry about them and seem to have acted as a place of beauty and a gathering place as well as a functional structure. Definitely worth asking your driver to come here if you are on the Jaipur to Agra road, it was around 10-15 minutes from the main road.

The other stop was at the very well-known site at Fatehpur Sikri. This had featured in the Sonna Datta ‘Treasures of the Indus’ BBC programme that I mentioned earlier which gives mush useful background context. You have to get on a little bus up from the car park to get to it with all sorts of attendant pushing and shoving and paying for tickets when on the bus so make sure you have some small notes! [The lack of queuing discipline in India often took us by surprise when it arose in situations where there was no need whatsoever for anyone to push in as it was entirely clear that everyone was going to get on. People quite often barged bodily into us, as if seeking to get onto a crushed London Underground train in the rush hour]

Fatehpur Sikri is spectacular partly because it was all built in a very short period of time and so the architecture is more uniform than elsewhere and the red sandstone and carvings are magnificent. The site is quite large and spread out and it was not crowded on the day we went so we enjoyed having a bit of space to roam peacefully around taking it all in.

We arrived in Agra in the late afternoon and went straight to the Mehtab Bagh to gain our first view of the Taj Mahal from across the river. The Mehtab Bagh was designed from the outset to be part of the features of the Taj mirroring the ornamental gardens within the Taj complex and it is having recently been cleaned up to form now a relatively well tended park like environment. Large white tipped campus grass growing along the river banks framed the view of the Taj and it was a great taster for the what was to be seen closer up the following day.

We stayed at the Cora Tree homestay in Agra that was very cheap [about £25 a night including a substantial breakfast]. It is in a stellar location right by the East Gate ticket office. We enjoyed a home cooked vegetarian evening meal there on both nights and can recommend it for those who are comfortable in basic accommodation.

The following morning, we set our alarm for 5 am and were out on the darkened streets making our way to the ticket office by 5.30. We got a bit worried in the ticket office as there were notices saying you might have to show ID and we did not have any with us [in UK there is no legal requirement to carry any ID and so we are not in the habit of doing so unless we happen to have a driving license with us]. Fortunately, they did not ask for anything other than our money and so we did not have to retrace our steps to get our passports but I would advise others to take formal ID with them just in case.

We then walked down the street now with a faint light in the sky and with many rickshaws and horse and carts hurtling along bringing tourists from more distant hotels to the entrance. After passing through a pretty perfunctory security check we were inside. As others have said nothing prepares for you for the spectacle of the Taj Mahal at Dawn and we had perfect clear blue skies that day. It was truly breath taking. The sun’s rays glance off the marble and the whole building, which is very much larger than I had envisaged, seems to shimmer. It was, I understand, built as a representation of Paradise on earth and it offers that image even centuries after it was built and when surrounded by tourists taking selfies.

We also enjoyed Agra Fort and the Itimid ad Duala tomb that day but it will be that image of the Taj as it slowly revealed itself as you walk through the entrance gate which will stay in my mind.

The following day we drive to Delhi airport up the new express way and said goodbye to Raj our driver who had taken such good care of us. Our flight to Varanasi was short and we were soon being greeted by a staff member from the hotel and were being ushered into a limousine and conveyed in some style to Nadesar Palace. This was our end of holiday splurge, made less expensive by a very good deal they offered on their website at that time of year if you were staying for two nights or more, and it was a real treat. A small and intimate hotel with gracious and friendly staff all set in extensive green gardens. The history of the hotel was fascinating, it started life in the British East India company before becoming a property of the local Maharaja and many pictures and photographs lined the walls illustrating its earlier years. Our room, called the Bhutan room, was one of the cheapest but was most attractive, large and with décor and bathroom all in keeping with the broader historic environment. We felt very spoilt and lucky to be staying there.

We had chosen not to use a guide anywhere else in India as we do not enjoy having to attend to the guide and to listen to potted history of sights and we much prefer to read up about them first and then simply absorb the atmosphere when there. We felt, however, that Varanasi might need some interpretation and guidance and so we had pre-booked two tours with a firm called ‘Varanasi walks’ that was getting good reviews. They were both excellent and easy to organise vie email with them ahead of the day. Our guide Nomi was just what we were looking for i.e. someone who could explain the meaning of what we were seeing and its human worth rather than just reeling off umpteen facts and figures,
The first tour was a boat trip along the Ghats at sunrise being rowed along just to the two of in our own private boat. It is almost impossible to describe the atmosphere, particularly as you move towards the funeral areas, but it felt a unique privilege to be party to so many people celebrating life and death.

We returned to the hotel for a restorative breakfast [the hotel does a very good eggs benedict!] before setting off later that morning with the same guide for our second tour called ‘Northern Bazaars and Hidden Alleys’. If you do nothing else in Varanasi, you should do this tour. It takes you through parts of the city which are so different, so medieval in appearance, that you feel as if you have somehow slipped into a parallel Universe. You wind deep through the maze of tiny alleyways all alive with different trades and full of the hubbub of life, visiting small Temples and Mosques that you would never find on your own in a million years and hearing from Nomi about the life of the area and the way in which the beliefs of local people inform it.

The next day we organised a taxi through the hotel to visit Sarnath which is about a 30 minute drive away. It is where the Buddha is said to have given his first sermon and has a nice little museum at the entry that it well worth visiting despite the seriously officious guard on the door who treated my having a mobile phone in my pocket as if it was a major criminal offense. [there are lockers at an earlier gate which I had missed that it should have been placed into]. The site itself is, however, suitably peaceful and it was a pretty and tranquil place to end to all our visits for this holiday.

For some reason Varanasi airport had closed off the access road about a hundred yards short of the terminal thus creating the need for much carting of cases over flowerbeds, multiple additional security checks which seemed flawed in their execution as some people clearly bypassed them, the airport signage showing completely wrong flight times, airport shops where packets of pringles were kept under lock and key, lots of aggressive shouting by the staff member at the gate and a chaotic system which invited business class customers to edge round the perimeter of roped off areas in the tiny space between the rope and walls to access priority boarding. After navigating this kerfuffle, we felt quite glad to be going home and returned to London very smoothly via an overnight at the JW Marriott at Delhi [a big and could be anywhere international hotel but very near airport].and our British Airways flight.

On the flight home I was so very glad that I had returned to India and seen some of the most amazing places in the world all in way that had neither rushed or exhausted us. I was also secretly thinking about my next trip. Where should I go next?
loncall is online now  
Old Oct 11th, 2016, 05:46 AM
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Very nice report. Thank you.

Not getting into a line is just the way it is there. I too have seen this over and over. Once on a plane from AMS to DEL an Indian guy tried to go ahead of three other men in an line for the lavatory. He was immediately told where the line was! A few weeks ago I was in a crowded Indian grocery store here and some guy from behind pushed his cart THREE times onto my back. Just the way it is.

I'll bet you were indeed glad to be going home after that chaos checking into your flight. I too can empathize. We've been there. Sigh.

Were too next? I was recently watching a Smithsonian program, a docu-drama about ancient Burma. That tweeked our interest.

We spent 5 days in Singapore last Feb. and fell in love with this city-state and Kuala Lumpur is very close too, maybe a 1 hr. Flight.,

Great report and happy travels. .

jacketwatch is online now  
Old Oct 11th, 2016, 08:06 AM
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I, too, identify with the "lack of queuing discipline in India". As jacketwatch mentions, at times just having someone take charge does the trick, if momentarily. Edging my way toward the service counter in the scrum at the main post office in Connaught Place, just about to score, I was cut off by several eager souls. A well-dressed man beside me addressed the miscreants in no uncertain terms, in English I imagine for my benefit, and as one, they shrunk back leaving me space to approach. A fine moment.

Thanks for the report and the suggestions throughout. Noted for next time.
MmePerdu is offline  
Old Oct 11th, 2016, 08:19 AM
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such a lovely and informative report, loncall, so much so that if we do make it to India, we may just use it as our complete itinerary. [excepting the places you weren't so keen on of course!]

Thanks so much for taking the trouble to post it.
annhig is offline  
Old Oct 11th, 2016, 09:32 AM
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This is how it was for us MmePerdu at the Indian super store Mustafa in Singapore. We were looking at jewelry, the 22 karat gold kind and one guy just tried to cut in and get our salesman to wait on him. The salesman and me both told him he had to,wait. If you have been in Indian jewelery stores then you know the sales people don't take out items for more than one customer at a time for obvious reasons.

Later at another jewelery counter the same thing happened. Some man cut in as we were being waited on and all this to ask if the price is in dollars or rupees??? Seriously?
jacketwatch is online now  
Old Oct 11th, 2016, 10:07 AM
Join Date: Jan 2012
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Also regarding differing social norms, there's the curiosity phenomenon. In Jaisalmer with Holi beginning, there was a very long line at an ATM. When I got to the machine, the only westerner in sight, the crowd of men pressed closer in around me, watching every step of my transaction, fascinated. It was startling, but by then I was somewhat used to it, though not in the body-press form this one took. But I didn't feel threatened in any way and nothing to be done in any case.
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Old Oct 11th, 2016, 11:39 AM
Join Date: Jul 2003
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I had an interesting moment of curiosity back home actually. I bought one thing at an Indian grocery store and then went next door to the Subway shop to get a sandwich. The Indian gal waiting on me asked me about why I had a jar if Indian food, a jar of chutney I think. I told her I like and she seemed surprised. Then I mentioned that my wife is Indian and that I have become quite a fan of Indian food. Her chicken curry is the best IMHO! Anyway I gained 40 lbs. after we got married so I blame it on her cooking. . So this little gal said "your wife is Indian but you are American." I told her very nicely with a big smile that "love crosses all boundaries." . Her smile was bigger than mine.
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Old Oct 12th, 2016, 05:06 AM
Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 601
Thanks for the report. I have shied away from India but so love reading trip reports. My interest is piqued even more, but just need my confidence to catch up! Great, great insightful read. Glad you had a wonderful time and that you experienced the trip you were looking for. This is exactly why research and good planning is needed to experience a country that is personal to you!
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