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Old 13th December 2011, 01:28   #91
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Default Re: Fauji's Drivologues - Fascinating Fortnight in Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh

Excellent Fauji sir, excellent. I'm still going through your log and reached till Bhopal. I must have to say that you can give Rocky and Mayur a run for their money. This travelogue is both travel and food log. Thanks for sharing this log, it's lovely.
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Old 13th December 2011, 10:30   #92
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@Fauji, Great Write-up.

I am especially thankful to you for bringing back some pleasant memories for me. I have spent a good long time in Mhow and have visited Mandu umpteen times.

There used to be a man who would take one or two rupees and perform a dive from the parapets of Jahaj Mahal into the pond below. A height of 80 feet or so!

Mandu is also the venue of the famous competition between Tansen and Baiju Bawra when Tansen lost to the rustic village singer. In fact, the story goes that Tansen was to be beheaded for the loss since that was the bet!

I am disappointed with you, though, Fauji bhai. You did not visit Mhow and feast yourself on the famous Bhanwrilal Kachori and Agra chaat. Man, what I wouldn't give to go back there.

Thanks again.

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Old 14th December 2011, 11:19   #93
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Default Re: Fauji's Drivologues - Fascinating Fortnight in Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh

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Originally Posted by bilalsyed View Post
Varanasi visited. When do we reach lucknow ?????
Bilal bhai.....Banaras me dekhne ke liye aur khane ke liye bahut hai!! Aur do din and we are in "City of Nawabs"

Quote:
Originally Posted by kaushik_s View Post
Excellent Fauji sir, excellent. I'm still going through your log and reached till Bhopal. I must have to say that you can give Rocky and Mayur a run for their money. This travelogue is both travel and food log. Thanks for sharing this log, it's lovely.
Thanks Kaushik for your compliments and glad you liked it. The beauty of our country is its diversity in everything - the geography, language, culture, history cuisine etc - which just amazes me.

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@Fauji, Great Write-up.

I am especially thankful to you for bringing back some pleasant memories for me. I have spent a good long time in Mhow and have visited Mandu umpteen times.

There used to be a man who would take one or two rupees and perform a dive from the parapets of Jahaj Mahal into the pond below. A height of 80 feet or so!

Mandu is also the venue of the famous competition between Tansen and Baiju Bawra when Tansen lost to the rustic village singer. In fact, the story goes that Tansen was to be beheaded for the loss since that was the bet!

I am disappointed with you, though, Fauji bhai. You did not visit Mhow and feast yourself on the famous Bhanwrilal Kachori and Agra chaat. Man, what I wouldn't give to go back there.

Thanks again.

Travelwriter
Thanks Travelwriter. That was interesting information on Mandu. I understand that Malwa ballads and folk lore has many songs on Rani Roopmati/Baz Bahadur and Tansen/Baiju Bawra.

Yes, unfortunately we did not have time to visit Mhow which has my Alma Mater - MCTE. I studied in Military College of Telecommunication Engineering (MCTE) and remember the good old days of eating in Agra chaat and Bhanwarilal kachori and washing it with excellent lassi. In fact, i was amazed to see the changes in Rau which had nothing but kachori stalls on either side of the road twenty five years back!!
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Old 15th December 2011, 13:44   #94
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Default Exploration of Banaras continued - Day 2 - Sarnath and first sermon of Buddha

Our next stop is Sarnath and we decide to go back to hotel and take out the Scorpio. I ask Mukesh whether I have to drive through small lanes. He says NO and I am relieved. The Scorpio had taken well deserved rest too!!

The Scorpio taking rest in parking lot in Assi Ghat

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Sarnath is at a distance of 15 KMs from Assi Ghat. Sarnath is the place where Buddha preached his first sermon after his enlightenment in Bodhgaya. Though not a World heritage site, it is on the list for approval by UNESCO.

The first impression of Sarnath is it is peaceful. We are now on the holy land on which the great teacher Gautama Buddha once set his foot on and preached his first sermon. You can feel his spirit in the complex. Sarnath is one of the holiest places for Buddhists in India and we find groups of Buddhists from Sri Lanka and Korea visiting the place. [/COLOR]

The complex is well preserved by ASI. It has ruins of monasteries, stupas, halls etc. ASI has restored the 125 feet Dhameka Stupa. The main stupa which was built at the place where Buddha preached his first sermon is in ruins. I am not going into details which can be had from this Wiki Link.

Sarnath - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

I will now take you through a pictorial tour of Sarnath.

Dharmajika stupa - This is the place where Buddha had preached his first sermon. A huge stupa was built by Emperor Ashoka at this place but was demolished and used as building material by local raja of Banaras in 18th century.

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Inscriptions on Ashoka pillar in Brahmi. The lion capital – India’s National emblem - which was on top of the pillar is preserved in Sarnath museum.

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A note by ASI on Ashoka pillar

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Ashoka’s lion in Sarnath Museum (downloaded from Web as taking pictures inside the museum is prohibited)

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Motifs seen on the walls of the ruins. These structures date back to 2-3 century BC. It is amazing to see the refinement of structure at that age.

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Monasteries/Stupas in ruins

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Dhameka stupa – A sacred place for Budhdhists and Buddhists go around the stupa with reciting prayers as a ritual. Notice group of Koreans in the foreground of the picture.

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Motifs and floral designs on the walls of Dhameka stupa

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Buddhist Monks on the way to monastery

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Mulagandhakuti Vihara - Buddhist temple constructed by Sri Lankan Mahabodhi Society

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Statue of Buddha inside the temple

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Murals inside the temple depicting the various facets of Buddha’s life. These murals were painted by two Japanese artists.

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The Holy bell in the vihara

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Buddha preaching first sermon to his disciples. The first sermon is engarved in stone in different languages

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The Tibetan temple built by Dalai Lama

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Chaukhandi Stupa

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Sarnath museum – On eof the best museums. It has some outstanding collection of artefacts from Gupta period including the piece de resistance of “Ashoka’s Lions” which is adapted as India’s National emblem. This is one museum not to be missed.

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We return back in late afternoon after visiting an Aghora ashram and meeting an Aghora sadhu. It was an anti climax for us as we had hoped for some sensational stuff we had read in couple books on Aghoras. Mukesh is a devotee of baba and he takes us to the ashram. We are not allowed to take pictures.

The ashram has Samadhi of baba and also eternal pyre which is a symbol of. The Samadhi of baba is adorned with human skulls but it is definitely not as scary as we had thought of. We – specailly Brinda - still had doubts and wanted to meet someone to get our questions answered. Mukesh takes us to senior baba in the ashram. An old man – must be in his late sixties – he asks us to ask him questions. He looks like any other person and is not the way we have seen pictures of Aghora sadhus. He talks nicely in English and we chat with him for half hour. He hands us over a small booklet which as FAQs on Aghoras. We also buy a small book on Agora cult.

We come back to hotel and after freshening up will go around the city in the evening leisurely – specailly around Dasashwamedha Ghat. We finish the day with Meetha Golgappas, kachoris and Kulfi-falooda from well known Keshari Ruchikar Byanjan – the chat outlet of the Keshari restaurant where we had dinner on the previous day.

Meetha golguppas at Keshari

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By now we have become Banarasis and cant live without pan! We pick up pan and get into an auto rickshaw back to hotel.

To be continued – Day 3 - Vishwanatha temple @ BHU, Baharat Kala Bhavan @ BHU, Elegant carpets of Mirzapur and Ram Lila of Ramnagar
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Old 15th December 2011, 23:56   #95
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Thumbs up Re: Fauji's Drivologues - Fascinating Fortnight in Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh

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Bilal bhai.....Banaras me dekhne ke liye aur khane ke liye bahut hai!! Aur do din and we are in "City of Nawabs"
Nice !! That means u'll be here by Sat or maybe Sunday ?? I would love to meet up with you if possible Khane ko to lucknow mein itna hai ki umar kam pad jaye !! Dekhne ko bhi , Pehenne ko bhi ! Where will you be staying ? Please PM me the details. and yes.. Night Driving is a BIT risky owing to the fog.

Come Come Come Swagatam !
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Old 19th December 2011, 17:18   #96
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Nice !! That means u'll be here by Sat or maybe Sunday ?? I would love to meet up with you if possible Khane ko to lucknow mein itna hai ki umar kam pad jaye !! Dekhne ko bhi , Pehenne ko bhi ! Where will you be staying ? Please PM me the details. and yes.. Night Driving is a BIT risky owing to the fog.

Come Come Come Swagatam !
Thanks Bilal Bhai....We have already completed the trip. You will see my post on Lucknow soon....
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Old 20th December 2011, 07:47   #97
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Thanks Bilal Bhai....We have already completed the trip. You will see my post on Lucknow soon....
Whatte BIG blunder .. BUT on the brighter side.. I got to talk to you
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Old 20th December 2011, 20:14   #98
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Default Exploring Banaras – Day 3 – BHU, Mirzapur carpets and Ram Leela

For the first time in Banaras we got up late and had breakfast in the hotel. Puri and Aloo Baaji was washed with excellent chai. Puri/Baaji was delicious.

Mukesh comes to hotel and joins us at 10 AM. As we walk out of the hotel we see this road side saloon with mass haircuts!!

Road side saloon

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Hopping onto the Scorpio, our first stop is Banaras Hindu University. One of the largest universities in the country, we are now exploring a part of Indian history, a place where many movements for Indian independence germinated. The university is also famous for Vishwanatha temple built by its founder Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya and Bharat Kala Bhavan, the excellent museum within the university. BHU is the only place in Banaras which has some semblance of town planning. Wide tree laned roads are a welcome sign compared to treeless Banaras. From outside, the place almost looks like a huge botanical garden with many trees. The faculty buildings are built in Indo – Sarcenic style and beautifully merge with the landscape.

Banaras Hindu University - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Statue of Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya at the entrance of BHU

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Central library – Notice the architecture of the buildings

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Department of Agricultural sciences

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We stop in front of Vishwanatha temple. Built by Pandit Malaviya, the place is well maintained , clean and serene. The structure is built of white marble with red sand stone and looks elegant. The ceilings are colourful too.

Vishwanatha temple @ BHU

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Colourful ceilings inside the temple

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Statute of Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya in front of the temple

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We drive around the university and then stop in front of Bharat Kala Bhavan. A large museum, this has some nice antiques from Indus valley sites of Harappa – Mohenjo-Daro. Well kept, it has different halls exhibiting paintings, sculpture, coin collections, textiles etc. It has a large collection of sculpture which is definitely worth a dekho. The art gallery also has collections of well known painters of the country. To me, the sculptures of Gupta/ Maurya period and antiques from Indus valley made this place worth every minute we were there. Though well signaged and displayed, we felt this could be done better with audio guides etc.

Bharat Kala Bhavan

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Storage jar from Indus Valley period

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Sculpture – Gupta period

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Sculpture – Maurya period

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Sculpture – Medieval period

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It is hot afternoon and we want to taste Thandai. Mukesh says that we have to go near Dasashwamedha ghat for that. We park the Scorpio at a vantage point and then pick a rickshaw to Baba Thandai, the famous Thandai shop in Banaras. Thandai is nothing but “Namma own cold badam milk with dry fruits”. A second generation place, the shopwallah has kept bhang and was mixing it in the Thandai for those who wants it. I almost decide to drink but back off as I am to drive later to Mirzapur. This is the second time we miss out on drinking bhang layered thandai earlier being in Ujjain

Baba Thandai shop

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Brinda with Thandai in Kullad

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Lassi shop

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On the way to Mirzapur, Mukesh suggest that we visit Bharat Mata Mandir. The Bharat Mata temple at Varanasi is the only temple dedicated to Mother India in the country. It is located in the Mahatma Gandhi Kashi Vidyapeeth campus. The Bharat Mata temple was built by Babu Shiv Prasad Gupt and inaugurated by Mahatma Gandhi in 1936. The statute of Bharat Mata is built in marble and is a model of undivided India, depicting the mountains, plains and oceans. The most peculiar thing about the Bharat Mata Temple is that instead of the customary gods and goddesses, it houses a relief map of India, carved out of marble.

Map of India in Marble

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Himalayan ranges in marble

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Being Sunday, I am not sure if any show rooms in Mirzapur would be open. I google and get a number of a manufacturer – Dileep carpet Manufacturers. I speak to Ajit and he graciously asks us to come over. Refreshed and ready to go now to Mirzapur - The town famous for exquisite carpets.

As we get off NH 2, the road to Mirzapur is not great. We take an hour to reach. Being Dasara time, there is a huge rush of pilgrims going to famous Vindhya Vasini temple in Vindhaychal. Mirzapur is the headquarters of Vindhaychal. A small and dusty town, it is famous for exquisite hand-woven carpets. This place was also in news few years back when many countries around the world had banned these carpets as child labour was used. Now that is an old story and every manufacturer proudly proclaims that they do not use child labour.

Here, wool from Bikaner was being crafted, by whole families, into delicate works of art. Men sit behind a large frame on which a net-like backing had been stretched tight. They punch wool through the net in a process that resemble embroidery but is called "tufting". Almost magically, the tufted carpet grow in reverse. Ajit tells us that when a carpet is ready, it is stuck on a backing of cloth with its edges tucked in.

Woven carpets are made on two types of looms, Ajit explains. The smaller, strip, carpets are woven on horizontal pit looms by one person; the larger ones are created on vertical pit looms by a number of weavers. Mirzapur carpets capture the more sensitive expressions of Mughal art and resemble the tasteful floral patterns of pietra dura: an inlay of semi-precious stones in marble. Then we learn that, back in 1790, a caravan of Persian carpet weavers, on their way to the Mughal court, was waylaid and injured by dacoits on the Great Deccan Road. When they were rescued and succoured by local villages their master weaver, Sheikh Madarullah, decided to settle here and teach his skills to his benefactors. That is how the famed carpet industry of Mirzapur began.

Weavers @ work

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Look at the design slowly emerging

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This was the most elegant design by Ajit

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Another floral pattern

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These carpets are just outstanding like the way we saw the Banaras silk. Ajit says that he is particular about design and quality and I can see that. We selected two carpets and ran up a fat bill. He gives discount though.

One can spend a full day exploring Vindhyachal which is famous for Rajdari and Dev dari waterfalls, Chunar fort etc. There is also a wild life santuray called Chandraprabha Wildlife sanctuary to explore.

Chandra Prabha Sanctuary - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

We don't have time and leave the place around 4.30 and our next objective is to go to the famous Ram Leela of Ramnagar.

To be continued - Ram Leela of Ramnagar

Last edited by Fauji : 20th December 2011 at 20:16.
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Old 21st December 2011, 15:21   #99
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Default Re: Fauji's Drivologues - Fascinating Fortnight in Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh

Sir - congratualtions on completing such a great journey. I have done long drives before, but now I am very keen to atleast taking a road trip to Banars if not anything as grand as your drive.

I have a quuestion (hoepfully I not being too inquistive) and a request to make.

Why no mention of kids travelling along?

If you can, please please please post the video of Ganga Aarti and some more pics of you. I was only able to see your lovely wife in most of the pictures.

If the video cant be uploaded here, you can put it on Facebook??
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Old 21st December 2011, 17:52   #100
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Thumbs up Exploring Banaras - Day 3 - Ram Lila @ Ram Nagar

We reach Ramnagar around 5.30 PM and unfortunately can not enter the fort as it closes by that time. we just request the staff to allow to take couple of pictures and they do not allow us. Brinda manages to click pictures from outside.

Ramnagar fort as seen from the Bridge on Ganga
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The ghat with fort in background

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The Ram Lila in Ramnagar is different from the ones which are celebrated across north India. Here the celebration goes on for 30 days. We were always fascinated to see Ram Lila in its true form and here is the opportunity.

When we reach the place – it is a large field in the middle of the village – activities were already on. Groups are singing Bhajans and troupes are performing with the back drop of effigies of Ravan, Meghanad and Kumbhakarna. The mood is festive and energy raw. This is the mirror to confirm that our rural folks enjoy life better than we citywallahs. There is no crass commercialisation and locals are heavily involved in all activities.

People were pouring in from far and near villages. The mood is relaxed and everyone seems to be on the ball.

The problem starts when Brinda wants to take pictures of happenings around. A policeman approaches us

“Aap ke pass permission letter hai”



“Permission letter?”

"Kaunsi permission letter?" I ask

"Raja Saab ka"

"Kisliye?" I retort

"Phuto keechne ke liye raja Saab ka permission chahiye"

"Hamara pass nahi hai"

"Tho phuto nahi keech sakte hai"

I plead saying that I am a fauji and we have come all the way from Bangalore etc. he does not budge. He asks us to meet one of the staff of Raja Saab.

Sanjay, one of the staff of Maharaja's household is a young guy in twenties. He says that we can’t take picture without permission and we should have obtained permission from palace before 11 AM. We tell him we were not aware and request him if he can help us. He says he has no authority but ask us to talk to “Divan” who may help and gives his cell number.

Brinda is restless. We are see activities happening but can’t take any pictures. I call Divan, tell him I am a fauji, and request him. He is polite but says he can’t help as the permission letters are signed by Maharaja himself and since he is taking part in festivities – we could see the Maharajah and family atop elephants – nothing could be done. We call him again and request, plead to no avail.

The festivities take a break and Maharajah retires to his tent. We ask Sanjay whether we can meet Maharajah and request him for permission. Sanjay says that is not possible. We continue to wait. We also meet a photo journalist from Business Standard in Delhi who has come to cover the event. He is in similar situation. He is lucky as he will be in Banaras for couple of days and can get permission next day to cover the events. We don’t have that option as we are leaving Banaras the next day.

Brinda pleads with Sanjay and request him if he c n allow her to take pictures of people who are attending the event before Raja Saab comes back to the next event. She succeeds and he agrees reluctantly and escorts her as I stay back. I and Mukesh start chatting with Royal Guards who have taken a break. These guys are third generation gurds and work in the palace. Sanjay and Brinda come back with pictures of people and activities. We thank Sanjay and tip him and he is happy. Still we are not allowed to take the colourful effigies of demons.

The events start again. The episode of the day is “Seetapaharan” - Kidnapping of Sita by Ravan. People are enthusiastic and move from one place to another as the scene shifts. It is an amazing expeirience. Here are some pictures of people and events which tell the story.[/FONT]

A sadhu taking part in festivities

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People waiting for the next event to start

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Boys getting ready to take part in the event

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A temporaray shops set up

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Men in different styles - Great opportunity for portrait photography!!

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Enjoying a siesta!!

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Panwala

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Lady selling Moongphali

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Man trying to read in the break

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Groups of people enjoying the show

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A young girl with her grandma

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Youngsters freaking out

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We could not capture everything as we did not have permit. However, I saw this link on the web and the lady has captured the events in Ramnagar nicely. Must have obtained permission well in advance.

Flickr: Elishams' Photostream

More on Ramnagar Ramlila

Ramlila - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A Maharajah and acute - s Festival for Body and Soul - NYTimes.com


We also miss out drinking famous lassi in Shiva lassi bhandar in Ramnagar. The sad part is that we can’t stay back for long time as i my long lost friend from Army – meeting him after 25 years – is to have dinner with us. We have to get back to hotel. My friend P K Singh is a pucca Banarasi and unfortunately we could meet only on the last day of our stay in Banaras as he was travelling.

We have a reunion with PK after 25 years and have excellent Chinese dinner in Banaras. He joins us with his wifey and BIL. We finish the dinner and it is already 11.30 PM and PK in typical fauji style asks whether we are game for hot Banarasi chai.

The grand reunion - left to right - Brinda, PK, Anamika, Fauji (For the first time after twenty five years i had shaved off my moustache. The only other time was when we were "ordered" to take it out compulsorily in junior term in the Military academy!!)

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We are always game and he takes us to some sort of Food Street. The shopwallah is on the verge of closing shop but PK does not budge. He speaks to him Bhojpuri and asks him to prepare tea. One cup gulped is followed by another and we get back to hotel past midnight only to get up in few hours on our way to Lucknow via Ayodhya.

To be continued - Hotel Ganges view and drive to Ayodhya
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Old 22nd December 2011, 16:14   #101
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Default Re: Fauji's Drivologues - Fascinating Fortnight in Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh

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Originally Posted by womanonwheels View Post
Sir - congratualtions on completing such a great journey. I have done long drives before, but now I am very keen to atleast taking a road trip to Banars if not anything as grand as your drive.

I have a quuestion (hoepfully I not being too inquistive) and a request to make.

Why no mention of kids travelling along?

If you can, please please please post the video of Ganga Aarti and some more pics of you. I was only able to see your lovely wife in most of the pictures.

If the video cant be uploaded here, you can put it on Facebook??
Thanks for your kind words and glad that you liked it. We don't have kids - we are DINKs - and that makes all these adventures possible!!

We could not shoot video of Ganga Aarthi as the distance was too much. If you read the TL, the aarthi was done on a raised platform as the steps were submerged by raisng waters. In fact, all pictures of aarthi were shot through 70-300 MM zoom lens. Else, it wouldnot have been clear. We bought a DVD of aarthi which is freely available in Banaras. However, you can see some videos on the Youtube. This one seems to have captured complete event. Check this link.




My last post has a group picture including me
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Old 23rd December 2011, 14:18   #102
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Smile Day 11 - 04 Oct 2011 - Banaras to Lucknow after visiting Ram Lalla in Ayodhya

Total Distance - 460 KMs
Departure time -6.45 AM (Banaras)
Arrival time - 6 PM (Lucknow)
Road condition - Very good
Breaks - Mau Aima for Break Fast (45 Mins)
Max speed - 110 KMPH on NH 75
Best stretches - NH 2 and Ayodhya - Lucknow
Worst - 15 KMs after Banaras on NH 2. The road is broken at many places

Fauji's Drivologues - Fascinating Fortnight in Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh-banaras-ayodhya.jpg

Twist in the turn! Our first change to the plan happens on the previous day when Sudipto calls me as he is entering Banaras on the way to Rajasthan (See his nice TL http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/travel...-calcutta.html (Rajasthan on self drive from Calcutta) ) He wants guidance to enter the city and we start talking. I tell him about my journey so far and the next stop which happens to be Calcutta. Sudipto says that he took four hours to get out of Calcutta and it is a mess at Panagarh. He suggests me to avoid the city. This makes me to rethink and plan for the alternative. We had earlier been to Calcutta during Puja and enjoyed every moment there. So it was not new to us. At the same time we did not want to get stuck on the road too.

The alternative was to go to Ayodhya - Lucknow - Orcha - Nagpur - Hyderabad - Bangalore. This means we had to cancel our stay in Calcutta as well as in Puri and Vijayawada. I call up HVK and he gives thumbs up and the route is now finalised. I call up hotels in Lucknow and finally freeze on Tulip inn. Going to Lucknow means meeting up with another long lost Army friend!

We get up at 5 in the morning and are set to bid good bye to Banaras after four days. But we are not satiated. We still miss out seeing many places on our list - Bismillah Khan's house, Sankat Mochan temple, Ashrams where people come during their old age to die, Ram nagar fort etc. Anyway, this should also act as a magnet to bring us back again.

Banaras is a place that grows on you. After four days in the city we had become "Banarasis" too. The pace of life is easy, food is lovely, people are good and Pan is excellent!! What else can one expect?

But we have to move on. We check out of Hotel Ganges view after a very comfortable stay of four days. I need to write few words about this "Icon" of Banaras. This is a large "Haveli" beautifully restored and taken care by Sri Prakash Singh. Prakashji is a connoisseur of art and has made sure that people visiting the hotel will go back with good memories.

He has huge collection of books, antiques and paintings. He supports local art and culture. During season, Prakashji also arranges "Baithak" of Hindustani Classical music in the hotel which should be an experience. The rooms are neat and clean - though we felt they are little small - with excellent aesthetics. The river view rooms on the second floor has excellent views of Ganga. The sit outs and balconies have a pleasant ambience and having breakfast here overlooking Ganga is a nice experience. Food is excellent and staff are caring and homely.

Here are some pictures of the hotel.

The rooms - Notice aesthetics!

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The ante room in first floor

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The main hall of Haveli which is used as Dining hall. This is also the place where musical bhaithaks are held

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The sit out on first floor - the best place to have your meals over looking Ganga

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Ante room in second floor

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Library - Notice piantings on wall

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View of river and Banaras from first floor - Notice windows of river facing rooms

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View of river from Rooms

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We check out at 6.30 AM. Last night over dinner, i have confirmed the route to Ayodhya will be via NH2 ( Allahabad bye pass) - Pratapgarh - Sultanpur - Ayodhya - Lucknow. Initially, i was inclined to go via Jaunpur to see some heritage buildings there but bad roads put paid to that plan.

Banaras to Allahabad bye pass is an easy drive on NH 2. Being early morning, we breeze past. After bye pass, we are somewhat sceptical on the condition of the road though PK Singh over dinner had confirmed that the road is good. I again check with locals and they confirm that the road as "good".

We drive on and yes, the road though double lane is surprisingly in good condition. We stop at Mau Aima on the road side to have breakfast. Yatrik Dhabha looks clean and good. Mangat ram is setting up his shop. We are his first customers and we order Aloo Parota. Mangat prepares parota, dal thadka, and serves it with dahi, onion, pickle and mirchi. Parota is well prepared and dal is delicious. We have good breakafast and top it with "Masala chai". This should sustain us till we reach Lucknow in the evening.

Yatrik Dhabha

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We cross Sultanpur - the town made famous by lyricist Majhrooh Sultanpuri - and reach Ayodhya around 12.30 PM. I park the car and pick up a rickshaw to go to the disputed site where Ram Lalla is kept. We don't carry camera or cell phone knowing well that there will be security restrictions. We reach the place around 1 PM and the security staff says that the temple will open only at 2 PM.

The queue is not long when we reach and we don't want to go back because of the fear of it becoming longer. Thus we waste an hour and at the same time lose opportunity to click pictures of the city. This is for the first time i falter and pay the price for not reading about timings earlier. (Later when i turn the pages of Lonely Planet and check on Ayodhya, the timings are clearly mentioned there - Temple closed between 11 AM to 2 PM).

We go through series of security checks and the security here is very heavy for obvious reasons. We are allowed only upto a distance to see the make shift temple after Babri Masjid was brought down. This again brought back my memories of visiting Babri Masjid in1988 when i had come to Faizabad on official duty while serving in Army. I had visited the three domed structure and we were allowed very close to the idol of Ram llla. Not anymore. Exploring Ayodhya requires atleast half a day. But we did not have that luxury.

After having darshan of Ram Lalla, we start for Lucknow and the road from Ayodhya to Lucknow is a four laned highway. It is super. we reach outskirt of city around 5 PM and i start asking for directions to the hotel. I remember my experience in Allahabad and am careful. But Lucknow is a different city and people are different. The gentlemen i ask talks nicely with lot of "Tehzeeeb" and guides me properly. But the traffic is again horrendous. I stop on seeing the signal turning red. I hear vehicles behind me honking. I point them to the signal. They gesture me to move ahead and not to bother for signal. The lone police man at the junction also ask me to move on!!

Lucknow has grown and changed from what i had seen 25 years ago. Hazratganj looks lovely. We reach Tulip Inn by 6 PM. A nice business hotel in the heart of city. We freshen up and the agenda for the evening is to shop for "Chikan" work near Rumi Darwaza and later to go to Yogender's - my Army friend - home for dinner.

We park the car in the hotel and then go the market in an autorickshaw - which is the best mode of transport in crowded, unknown streets of city. Like Bnaaras silk, Lucknow Chikan work is exquisite too. Brinda picks up sarees, i pick up Kurtas. Shopping done, we go to Yogender's place which is in the suburb.

This is when we get a glimpse of what Mayavati has done to the landscape of Lucknow. It looks massive and driver - a young Nepali boy - tell us stories of how this was done. It looks lovely at night. We will possibly explore it in the morning before our departure to Orcha.

The dinner in Yoginder's place brings back the old memories as we "Ghup - Shup" on the days in academy, old friends etc. Army dinners have to have best "Poison" and Yogender who is an IAS officer in UP is a guy of good tastes. Naina has cooked excellent food - they take pity on us being veggies in Lucknow. Yogender drops us back to the hotel.

To be continued - Lucknow - City of Nawabs and wonders by Mayavati!!

Last edited by Fauji : 23rd December 2011 at 14:23.
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Old 23rd December 2011, 17:48   #103
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Default Re: Day 11 - 04 Oct 2011 - Banaras to Lucknow after visiting Ram Lalla in Ayodhya

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To be continued - Lucknow - City of Nawabs and wonders by Mayavati!!
Waiting for this part ,lucknow happens to be my place of birth and like bilal bhai i am looking forward to see it through your eyes(its been more than 7 years i've been there and am sure lot has changed)

Have been following your travelogue regularly and must say its very detailed with lovely pictures
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Old 26th December 2011, 10:38   #104
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Default Re: Day 11 - 04 Oct 2011 - Banaras to Lucknow after visiting Ram Lalla in Ayodhya

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To be continued - Lucknow - City of Nawabs and wonders by Mayavati!!
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rajesh Rawal View Post
Waiting for this part ,lucknow happens to be my place of birth and like bilal bhai i am looking forward to see it through your eyes(its been more than 7 years i've been there and am sure lot has changed)
Waiting for the pics sir !!!! Rajesh Sir !! Good to see another Lucknow Wala waiting for the pics !! Lucknow Has changed ! Changed a lot !
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Old 29th December 2011, 16:45   #105
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Default Re: Day 11 - 04 Oct 2011 - Banaras to Lucknow after visiting Ram Lalla in Ayodhya

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Originally Posted by Rajesh Rawal View Post
Waiting for this part ,lucknow happens to be my place of birth and like bilal bhai i am looking forward to see it through your eyes(its been more than 7 years i've been there and am sure lot has changed)

Have been following your travelogue regularly and must say its very detailed with lovely pictures
Thanks Rajesh for your feedback and glad that you liked the TL. My visit to Lucknow was 25 years back while in the army!. So what i saw was a sea change. But Lucknow ka "tehzeeb" seems to be intact.

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Originally Posted by bilalsyed View Post
Waiting for the pics sir !!!! Rajesh Sir !! Good to see another Lucknow Wala waiting for the pics !! Lucknow Has changed ! Changed a lot !
I was travelling over the Christmas weekend hence delay. We will be there in your town soon.
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