The following are my tour experiences. What u are about to read is a very polished version of the rough journal i maintained during tour.
Day 1: 25/12/06
boarded Grand Trunk to leave for delhi at 7.15 pm..
I still have my doubts about what fuelled the train..whether it was coal or the infectious enthusiasm of 200 and odd 20 year olds(three departments ECE EEE and CSE boarded the same train same day).. Don't remember sleeping that night...whenever i tried i was woken up by someone singing, shrieking, shouting or squealing...
Spent the whole day in the train playing cards singing songs catching up on college gossip sleeping (or trying to sleep actually)... Bought some oranges in Nagpur...Heavenly...Started getting cold in the night...
Landed in Delhi at 7.00 in the morning. Extremely cold..expecially for us chennaiites who consider a temeperatue of 18-20(centigrade) as cold.. checked in a hotel called hotel sunshine..what a misnomer..it was situated in the dingiest corner of ka rol bagh where sunlight even if it wanted to wouldn't be able to penetrate..freshened up(took a bath..my bath no:1 during tour).
Had breakfast at saravana bhavan Karol bagh. Had a masala dosa worth 50 bucks plus 6 bucks of VAT. Phew!!!!i could have 5 plates of idly in Chennai for the same price..anyway was extremely hungry so gobbled up that too. Little did I know that this would be the only decent food i ate for days to come. : (: ( Then we went on a delhi tour..started with birla mandir..removed my shoes and socks to go inside the temple and the marble was so cold!!
Went to Qutub minar next..nice place..full of ruins..not one fully constructed structure there. Qutub minar was awesome.
Next stop was lotus temple/bahai temple. Reminded me of Sydney opera house(not that I have seen it but somehow bahai temple reminded me of it). Beautiful place. Lovely gardens. Very serene. A funny thing which happened there was that I went inside and sat on the rows and rows of seats waiting for someone to give a discourse or something. After spending 15 extremely confused minutes inside I came outside only to realize that I was supposed to meditate inside. Was laughed at mercilessly by my friends.
Quick stop at Gandhi's Samadhi. The Samadhi probably occupies only an area of about 50 feet by 30 feet but is surrounded by lush and beautiful gardens. Huge place.
Last stop was India gate.
This was at around 7.00 in the night. What a sight it is at night. Breathtaking
Due to lack of time the rest of delhi was shown only by bus. Parliament house, rashtrapati bhavan high court etc. didn't make any more stops. Ate dinner at a place called madras cafe. Absolute disgrace to madras. Disgusting place and horrible food. Wonder why they named it madras cafe. Ate an onion utthapam followed by a pudin hara as precaution Left for amritsar at 11.00 in the night. Spent the night in bus
Day 4: 28/12/06
Stopped at a dhaba at 8.00 in the morning and had some heavenly chai. Dint feel like trying the others things on the menu (the fact that there was no menu is not the point here) ;);) Reached amritsar at 11.00 am. Freshened up.(Bath no:2 during tour). Decently hot water was available. One of my aunts whose husband works in the army lives there and came to meet me. Left for jalianwala bagh and golden temple at 1.00.. Lunch was forgotten.
We went to jalianwala bagh by a ghoda gaadi(horse driven vehicle) and the 60 something driver called me "didi" (elder sister in hindi) sheesh!!! I was so embarrassed. Thankfully a lot of people around me dint know hindi!!
The hair on my hair and neck rose and the cold wasn't the only reason . Dyer you bastard if only you were here before me today I would have torn u apart with my bare hands. Sigh!!!
WoW!!! What a place..amazing..so beautiful and resplendent in gold. Due to time constraints couldn't go inside. Just took a tour of the temple and returned
Due to extra time spent in golden temple missed out first ten minutes of the parade. Some moron told us the parade starts at 5.00 but apparently during winters the time is 4.30. reached at 4.45 and pushed and shoved and kicked through the crowd to take some photographs.
I found it really funny actually. There is a particular time during the parade when the Pakistani and Indian soldier shake hands and I swear they would have looked friendlier had they shot at each other. Seriously man if that handshake is supposed to denote friendship I dread to think of how they are when they face each other in battle Went to my aunts place for dinner. Army quarters. Lovely palatial house. Had great heavenly yummy food after having absolutely no food the whole day(except for three cups of tea and a chaat) wasn't given permission to spend the night there. Had a miserable and stuck up professor with us. Anyway spent three hours at their place and came to the hotel. Spent the night at amritsar
Day 5: 29/12/06
Left for chandigarh early next morning. (Bath no: 3 during tour).reached chandigarh at around 2.00 in the afternoon. Stopped for breakfast. Had the only item on the menu. Aloo parantha. For the days to come this was the only food stuff I would have. Aloo aloo and more aloo..sigh!! how I longed for hot sambhar sadam and thayir sadam.
Anyway what a beautiful city chandigarh is.. such a neat place. What wide roads. The whole city is like a national highway. After seeing amritsar which is a really dirty place chandigarh felt like heaven. An extremely well planned city. The whole city is divided into sectors and each and every corner of the city is impeccable
Our first stop was rock garden. Totally built by a person called nek chand. Must have been one jobless guy.. just kidding. Amazing guy really. It is impossible to believe that he has built the whole place. What creativity. He has used bangles, old switches circuits etc and carved rock. Very nice place. Found "i love computer teacher"(see pic) written on a door inside rock garden. Must have been a real pervert..:D:D
Next we went to this lake and did nothing. Just ate and rested. Some others went boating. Next stop was pinjore gardens. All of us were damn tired so just took a tour of pinjore gardens in fifteen minutes and we were out. Left for manali at 10.
Day 6: 30/12/06
Since we hadn't had any dinner or lunch the previous day because the bus driver had promised to stop at a dhaba we were all extremely hungry. And the guy dint stop anywhere. Finally i(because I was the only person in the groups who spoke decent hindi which the driver could understand) begged and pleaded with the driver to stop at a dhaba at 2.45 am. Bought some really lousy bananas had some lovely chai(that is one thing about north. The tea is great everywhere. I think I survived solely on tea those 12 days)
Reached manali at 10.00 in the morning. It was GOD DAMNED cold..that was the first time I thought that maybe this is the wrong time to go visiting the north. Anyway 30th was a free rest day for us. We could do anything we wanted. Because we were really hungry we again went to a madras cafe(supposed to be the best eat out in manali.i dread to think of the others after I had my lunch there). Horrible food and the cold was extremely irritating. It feels disgusting to be bundled up in layers and layers of clothes and still feel cold.
Came back to the hotel and tried to sleep. It was impossible. I am the kind of person who moves around a LOT in my sleep but that was not possible because if u change position the new area of the bed will be freezing making it impossible to sleep till you warm that place and plus there were four of us(two of whom were sick) on bed meant for two people. Finally managed to sleep at 2.00 in the morning only to be rudely woken up at 6.30. I was later told that that night the temperature had gone to sub zero levels in manali.
Sathya disturbing my severe penance!!
Day 7: 31/12/06
Last day of the year. Went to all the places in and around manali. First went to this place called Ice point. Rented a fur coat worth 100 bucks. It was a waste. Manali is a very funny place. Ice point was full of snow and though u might not believe it I was sweating!!! It was so hot..finally got rid of the fur coat Had a great time at ice point being hurled down on a tyre from a height of 50 feet. Awesome!!! Spent a good three hours in ice point.
Next we went to manali hot water springs. Shit man!!! I was expecting some fissures in the earth from which hot water will be shooting up or something like that and finally they showed us a dirty gutter full of what seemed like sewage water and told us these were the hot water springs..what a disappointment.
Next stop was hadimba temple. For those of u who are blinking hadimba is bhima's(one of the five pandavas) wife. Nice temple..looks like a pagoda actually!!dressed up like of one of the locals and I looked really really silly. Went back to the hotel and called up everyone and wished them new year..
Had a blast in the night singing and dancing. Because I am a pathetic dancer formed a group called The Non Dancers, where it is not necessary to shake ur legs and minimum hand movement can be called dance!! ;);)..co-founders are sathya and swathi and guru is milinta. Thank you guys I owe u one!! :):). At the stroke of twelve we were the only people who were not tired because we had hardly moved our legs!! LOL!!..
Oh yeah by the way food was organized by the hotel and I swear I wished I were in hostel eating mess food..sheesh man!!!such unpalatable inedible and revolting food had my tastebuds crying bloody murder!!!thanks to pudin hara amoebiasis or some other dangerous stomach problem eluded me..
Day 8: 1/1/07
HAPPY NEW YEAR!! Had a blast till 2.00 in the morning and tried to sleep under three layers of bedsheets and four layers of clothing and still ended up feeling cold..cold sucks. Left for shimla at 10.00 Stopped for breakfast at a roadside dhaba. Had the same revolting aloo paranthas.. Stopped at a shawl factory and saw two really cute kids.
Reached Shimla at 1.00 in the night!! it was absolutely freezing. Must have been colder than manali I think. Slept really well
Day 9- 2/1/07
Left the hotel at 10.00 in the morning.(Bath no: 4 during tour. No bath in manali. Too damned cold) Went to a place called Kufri about 10 kms from shimla. The place is accessible only by horses. So I rented a horse called badal(cloud in hindi) to take me to kufri. A really gentle creature which very carefully took me up the steep hills
At an elevation of 18000 feet and surrounded by mysterious snow clad mountains which were some of the highest peaks in india the only thing we found interesting was the aloo tikki.. :):).. ate aloo tikki and maggi (the same maggi which I refuse at sea level I hogged like it was the last time I was ever going to eat) Came back to shimla on a horse called bijli(lightning in hindi). Not as friendly as badal
Next we were supposed to go to some dumb shopping malls in shimla but one of my classmates had been vomiting right from morning and was extremely de hydrated so we had to admit her in a hospital in shimla and she had to take three bottles of drips. Thanks Baekkie. Thanks to you I was able to avoid shopping. :):) Left for delhi at around 9.00
Day 10- 3/1/07
Delhi again. Again checked in at hotel sunshine at 7.00 and freshened up (Bath no: 5 during tour) After manali and shimla delhi actually seemed hot. Had lunch at a hotel sarvana bhavan and My god!! It was the best food I had had in ages..the photographs should be self explanatory!! ;);)..never before have I been so overjoyed to see sambhar, rasam and curd!! The whole day spent on shopping.
I of course did not do any shopping. Went inside a book bazaar and spent two hours and bought one book called "grandpa's bedtime stories " for my 7 yr old cousin.
BEFORE WE ATTACKED THE FOOD
AFTER WE WERE DONE!! :):)
That was the extent of my shopping. There were people who shopped for 3000 bucks. I shopped for 45 bucks. The only thing I enjoyed was traveling all around delhi in the local buses. Personally I think Chennai buses are much better in terms of service. Spent the night in delhi
Day 11- 4/1/07
Caught the Taj Express to go to Agra at 7.00 in the morning. Took Bath no: 6 during tour. The last bath of the tour. It is a three and a half hour train journey from delhi to agra. Reached agra at around 12. had lunch at a udipi hotel. Great food again..I Love Food man!!
Left for Agra fort at around 2.00. Nice place. Place where Shahjahan was imprisoned. Has a perfect view of taj mahal. Legend has it that shahjahan was planning to build a black taj mahal for mourning the death of mumtaz. I cant imagine what that would have looked like.
Anyway agra fort is awesome. Architecture is just mindblowing. I mean what tools would these people have had in the 16th century. The symmetry of each of these buildings is awe inspiring. I tried uploading a few pics. But uploading pics on blogger on a connection as lousy as mine is a pain.
No mobile phones or eatables or any other electronic items are allowed inside the Taj. I had my cell in my sweater and forgot about it. Even when I discovered I felt very lazy to go back to the bus and keep it. Like a smart ass I hid it further into my sweater and went inside. Security is very good. And I got caught and was literally thrown out of Taj. I am sure the guard thought I was a terrorist because when I came back I was asked to remove my shoes socks and sweater to prove to her that I was clean. Damn!!!
Anyway all that getting caught and embarrassment was worth it because let me tell you Taj Mahal is such a great place it is worth killing for. WOW!!! What a place. What beautiful paintings and work. I just couldn’t take my eyes off it. I seriously have no words to describe it. I cant even begin to imagine what great love Shahjahan must have felt for mumtaz to dedicate the Taj to her. Spent a good three hours in taj. Came out at 7.00.
Reached Agra station at 8.00
Train left at 10.00
Day 12- 5/01/07
Slept the whole day. god damned tired
Reached Chennai..Chennai is the best place on earth any time any day. The more i see places in the north the more i wanna settle down in the south. I hate cold weather. I hate static electricity during the cold which strikes each time i touch metal. I hate chapatis. I hate being bundled up in layers and layers of clothes..In short I LOVE CHENNAI!!:):)