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Old 19th January 2011, 07:59   #91
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Default Re: Our Incredible India Drive - 13 days on the GQ !

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Originally Posted by roamingrao View Post
Thank you Akaush. The Unesco link you provided is amazing



My cousin is at the AHQ, though a couple of ranks below AC. My father was at the AHQ during the late 60's - i was still a kid. He retired as Sqn Ldr from HQ TC here and still attends the Oct 8 get - together ! Are you a KV product ?
Yes Sir,

I am a KV product complete, jalahalli (bangalore) from 1st till 3rd and lohegaon (pune) 3rd till 12th. I am a big fan of KV's. I would love my kid to be educated in KV, however I know my wifey would want him to study in one of the best public school in India or Singapore.
My father is about 1 year away from retirement, he is in Delhi right now.

Due to my father I have been able to roam around a lot of places in India. Infact I have just not covered 4 places in India from the unesco's first list.
1. Champaner-Pavagadh Archaeological Park (2004)
2. Great Living Chola Temples (1987)
3. Mahabodhi Temple Complex at Bodh Gaya (2002)
4. Rock Shelters of Bhimbetka (2003)

I have traveled extensively in India specially on my Bike, unfortunately joined Team-BHP too late to share some knowledge. I hope to start traveling again very soon.

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Old 19th January 2011, 16:48   #92
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Default Re: Our Incredible India Drive - 13 days on the GQ !

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Originally Posted by KishoreC View Post
Excellent write up and pictures
Thank you Kishore. i'm enjoying your log as well !

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Originally Posted by Chevy_lover View Post
here are some pics for you from Udaipur!
Chevy Lover, the pictures are mindblowing ! Each photograph shines like a pearl and conveys a million words. I could just stare at these for hours !
Thank you for sharing. Again, thank you very much.

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I am a KV product complete
me, a KV malleswaram product, though after many 2 year stints all over India.

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Originally Posted by akaush View Post
I have traveled extensively in India specially on my Bike. I hope to start traveling again very soon.
look forward to your travelogues. Make a start, rest will follow ! Best of luck.

------------------------


Day 6, October 13, 2010. New Delhi - Agra : 232 kms

We are in New Delhi !

We are back on the road at 6am after checking out from the Iskcon temple guest house. I had ignored two voice prompts for a refill the previous night while looking for the guest house - so, desperate to find a petrol station, we move on Mahatma Gandhi Marg, turn left at Moolchand flyover as directed by a passerby and find this petrol station on Tito Marg - Centre Half Service station. At Rs. 37.71, we fill the lowest priced diesel in the entire trip. Had to wake up the attendents from slumber, they did fill - sleepy, munching neem twigs.

The closing ceremony of the Commonwealth Games is scheduled for today. Fearing heavy traffic buildup as the day progresses, we plan to visit the most important landmarks in the city and leave the city before noon. To make things easier, i call up my cousin and request him to join us at Red fort gate. What followed was a whirlwind tour of the city in almost zero traffic conditions !

At the Red Fort

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Driving back towards the city, we pass the Supreme Court of India, and do a complete clock wise circle of the India Gate


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Driving down Rajpath

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In front of Rashtrapati Bhavan. The two Jawans manning the huge gate object to our parking the car in front of the gate. We request and assure them that we leave in just two minutes. NO ! they would'nt listen. The next second, they get a call from inside. One sentry was heard aloud answering his officer - nahi sir, family type hain ! Bol doonga sir. I get their point and oblige ! Blame it on the monitoring camera.

The huge pillar on the foreground is called The Jaipur Column. Historians here, why ?

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The North Block - housing the Home and the Finance ministry. Both headed by my wife !!

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The South Block - The Prime Minister's Office, the External Affairs Ministry and the Defence Ministry.- I head these, but of no use ! Defence ministry is dependent upon the finance ministry for funds and the same 'gadgets' are trained on me to see if i have any 'external affairs' !

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The Vijay Chowk - I still get goosebumps listening the the song - 'Abide with me' during Beating the Retreat ceremony denoting the end of Republic Day Festivities ( usually on Jan 29th ). The slow marching of the drummers, the bell chimes, the illuminating of the Raisina hill - unforgettable. The last few years, i have not been able to watch the live telecast, this year though, i plan to watch it with kids and say - we were there !

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We drive towards the Parliament House, passing this beautiful fountain and then further, the Rail Bhavan on the left and Krishi Bhavan on the right.

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We were not allowed to stop anywhere close to the Parliament House. We also did not dare to take out the camera and click from the moving vehicle. With surveilliance cameras installed almost everywhere, i guess our every turn was monitored !
Coming back towards Vijay Chowk.

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My next stop was closely guarded. I had done a bit of homework to locate this address but it was time to see if i was lucky.

Proceeding straight from Vijay chowk, we enter Krishna Menon Marg and start looking for the gate bearing the number 6. A police jeep immediately follows us, pulls us aside and again realising ' family type', asks us where are we going. I reply, 6 Krishna Menon Marg. The driver corrects me on the gate number, politely shows us the turn and speeds off . We turn right on to a lane and there we are - park the car a bit further, i get down, walk to the heavily guarded gate and ask the jawan - sir, we are from Bangalore, we would like to meet Sri Atal Behari Vajpayee. By this time, my wife, kids and my cousin too have got down and walked to the gate. The jawan calls the officer from inside the cabin, i again explain him why we are here. The officer has a sorry face - sir, we are very sorry, you cannot meet him, he is under medication, bedridden and doctors have advised him not to meet anyone and we ourselves have not seen him for the past five months. He also mentioned his condition which i would not like to state here. Dejected, we request him if we can pose for a photograph in front of the gate. Again, NO ! please understand that we are answerable to someone higher up. please. We convey our wishes and walk back to the car - satisfied that we tried but sad that we could not meet him.
I would like to clarify here that this attempt to meet him does NOT signify my inclination to any political party but a gesture to show my respects to a statesman whose foresight has resulted in a road we are driving on - The Golden Quadrilateral.



We cross the Rajpath again and head straight to Connaught place, park at the Palika basement and run to Sri Saravana Bhavan - Oh my ! South Indian dishes ! The trend nowadays is - a mixture of all - Idlies, vada, dosa, pongal, kesari baath, all in a single platter. It is expensive here but does not stop us from eating our heart out !

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Handicrafts Bhavan

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The ( in )famous CWG lane

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My cousin shows us around the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium and leaves us on Mathura road at Okhla. He takes the metro and heads straight to the stadium to watch the closing ceremony. Thank you Karthik !

We cross the messy Badarpur junction at 11.30am - half an hour ahead of schedule. Again, Faridabad was choked - a single junction takes 20 mins to cross. Thereafter, the road is free. Hide Out Tourist Complex at Palwal attracts us - Udupi style restaurant, it says. One look at the dosa tawa - nothing udupi about it ! instead, we buy water, some biscuits, apples and carry on.



20 minutes later

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The year book comes out, UP statistics are read out, discussions follow - How Ganga and Yamuna have made her so fertile. We do not realise how time passes before we turn left at a board that says - Vrindavan. 3kms on the narrow road takes us to crowded village - all roads dug up, drainage slush, numerous turns - no road / street is more than 50 meters long ! All windows rolled up to avoid guides of all shapes and sizes. One guide says - sir, hum aapko krishna Bhagwan ke paas le chalenge ! another one says - sir, yeh asli Vrindavan nahi hai, aap mere saath aaeiye.

2.45pm, we park our car at Sri Ranganath Mandir. The temple opens at 4pm - with one hour to spend, we decide to take a stroll towards Yamuna river. Walking through the village, we reach the Keshi Ghat. Locals on the river bank warns us on the menace of monkeys. They do snatch away anything - spectacles, pen, cameras, handbags.. anything ! We remove our spectacles, put it in a handbag and clutch it as if we could compress it ! The camera is held with the band twisted on my wrist and held tight. We see no monkeys !

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Streets of Vrindavan

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We return back to the temple at 4pm and have darshan. A south Indian style temple, Iyengar priests, tamil verses are heard. The temple complex is huge. The pushkarni ( temple tank ) is one of the largest we have seen.


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Driving back, we reach Sri Krishna Janmabhoomi temple deep inside Mathura. Everything is taken and kept in a locker - mobiles, handbags, camera, car key ( with remote ) and frisked like being massaged ! A long queue takes us to a small room which looks like a modern prison cell with a stone platform - Sri krishna's birth place. A couple of saadhus apply tilak on us and politely ask us to proceed. Outside the temple, we visit the Iskcon mandir of Krishna and Balarama - Loud bhajans and dancing devotees. Behind the temple, the idgah built by aurangzeb looms large - very heavily fortified.

6.30 pm, we cross the railway tracks and join the NH2 and treat ourselves at the CCD outlet inside Highway plaza. It is tough to negotiate through the traffic at Mathura at this hour. 20 mins later, we pass by the Mathura Refinery with the impressive flaring tower on the far end of the unit. We discuss how a refinery works and its byproducts. Gudiya asks me - If crude oil is to come from Bombay high or imported, why is this refinery set up here, so far from the coast ? I could not answer. Why ? The only answer i could think of - to pollute Agra and stain the Taj Mahal.

Agra !

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Getting off NH2 and entering Agra city is tough and time consuming - at least at this hour. We ask our way to Delhi gate, behind Raja ki mandi railway station. After numerous wrong turns and U turns, we enter the UPTDC Rahi tourist bunglow at 8.30pm. Big building, spacious lawns, very neat / organised parking and large rooms. The staff welcome us, show us our room, invite us later to the restaurant and last, promise to clean the car !

After dinner, i walk to the car and as always on all days, scatter a few naphthalene balls and rat cakes below the car. Happy eating, Rodents ! We hit the bed, have a looong drive tomorrow, but not before viewing the only wonder of the world in India - The Taj Mahal.
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Old 19th January 2011, 17:25   #93
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Default Re: Our Incredible India Drive - 13 days on the GQ !

The pictures and the writing skills are top class.Take a bow,Roaming Rao!
I am tempted to do a Rajastan trip after watching the pictures posted by you and some of our other friends.Will make it in 2011
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Old 19th January 2011, 18:22   #94
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This is turning out to be a Golden India Discovery mission, not just a GQ Drive. Selection of places to see is simply fantastic, you have a fabulous album of landmarks!

When did you people sleep and eat!!!?

That is a very useful tip, scattering rodent-deterrents around the car? Good idea! What are these "rat cakes"?
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Old 19th January 2011, 18:41   #95
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Roamingrao,

Thanks for the brilliant T log, talking pictures and flowing story. I felt like travelling along with you and enjoyed the flavor the places you have captured so beautifully.

Would wait for you to upload, I know how much time and energy it takes to write a T log, upload pictures etc.,

Wishing you lots of energy..

--Ramky
=====
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Old 20th January 2011, 07:37   #96
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Default Re: Our Incredible India Drive - 13 days on the GQ !

The try to meet Atal Bihari Vajpayee was awesome. I didnt even knew we could just walk to their house and request permission to meet them.
A great statesman indeed.

Amazing photos and narration as always.

The badapur flyover is now complete from both sides, So crossing over from Delhi to Faridabad is now a breeze (thats what has been told to me, last time i was in India only one side was open, from Faridabad to Delhi). A faridabad bypass is also under construction which can be used to bypass Faridabad traffic. Even today I sometimes use that road when I want to bypass Mathura road in Faridabad.
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Old 20th January 2011, 22:32   #97
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Default Re: Our Incredible India Drive - 13 days on the GQ !

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The pictures and the writing skills are top class
Hallik9, Thank you

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Originally Posted by hvkumar View Post
you have a fabulous album of landmarks!
What are these "rat cakes"?
Thank you, Sir

Rat Cakes - Sorry, i should have mentioned rat poison cakes. 'Mortien' rat poison cakes.

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Thanks for the brilliant T log, talking pictures and flowing story. I felt like travelling along with you and enjoyed the flavor the places you have captured so beautifully.Wishing you lots of energy..
Thank you sir. Your wishes are a sure motivator !

have been following your travelogues. wishing you and your family many such happy trips !

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The badapur flyover is now complete from both sides, So crossing over from Delhi to Faridabad is now a breeze (thats what has been told to me, last time i was in India only one side was open, from Faridabad to Delhi). A faridabad bypass is also under construction which can be used to bypass Faridabad traffic. Even today I sometimes use that road when I want to bypass Mathura road in Faridabad.
Does Yamuna Expressway pass through Faridabad ? entry / exit ?


--------------------------------


Day 7, October 14, 2010, Thursday. Agra - Allahabad - Varanasi : 638 kms


UPTDC Rahi Tourist Bungalow, Agra. ( Rs.1100, non a/c, 3 beds ) I would remember this hotel for my full quota of 7 hour sleep ! Yes, luxury ! stolen luxury.

a bit trivial - On all days of the trip, the alarm would go off at 4am ( irrespective of what time we hit the bed ) and we would require atleast an hour and a half for bath, getting ready, a small prayer together ( after my japa ) and stuffing of bags. Each one of us had a big travel bag of fresh clothes and the used ones would go into a common rucksack. so, four rucksacks would be full on the last day ! 13 sets of outer wear was not a problem, we had to buy extra sets of inner wear which we would use for the next trip !


Coming back to this day, we drive through the empty streets of Agra at 6.00am for 7 kms before we reach the Agra Fort. I would have loved to explore the fort, mainly to view the Taj from the fort, but decide against it. We take a diversion and drive along the fort. The red walls are eye catching on the first rays of the sun.








Half a km away from the fort, we turn left and park the car. We walk to the main gate, almost a km from the car parking and deposit mobile phones and car key / remote in a locker. At the main gate security, the frisker sends me back to deposit my swiss knife ! Silly - can i damage the Taj with a swiss knife ?



This board says it all

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The Great gateway to the Taj Mahal

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The First View

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Walking along the Charbagh

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The reflecting pool

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as viewed from the western face

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The Taj Mahal Masjid

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Approaching the stairs to the tomb along the southern face

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The main darwaza or the Iwan

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inside the hall - intricate marble jali surrounding the tombs

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The inner Iwan

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The Amrud ( guava ) tomb

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The tombs of Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal. The actual graves are at a lower level.

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The north view along yamuna river. The Agra fort is visible to the west.

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Calligraphy on the walls

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Marble designs

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one of the four minarets

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Replicating the symmetry !

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Marble Glory!

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The Taj Mahal is a photographer's delight. Please pardon my photography skills !



Its getting late ! We walk out at exactly 8.30am, run to the ITDC Taj restaurant near the main gate, feast on plain sandwiches and an extra cup of coffee for me - for the long road ahead ! The rest of the day saw some hardcore driving !

Through four toll booths, 292 kms in three and half hours, we only need to drive like a robot !


Photographs : notice the progression to Kanpur

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The Grand Trunk road through the Great Indian plains - remember we read this in school ?

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Next - the great Kanpur byepass !

Last edited by roamingrao : 20th January 2011 at 22:40.
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Old 21st January 2011, 06:42   #98
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Does Yamuna Expressway pass through Faridabad ? entry / exit ?
Yamuna Expressway does not pass through Faridabad. I do not think its anyway near completion yet. It will start from Greater Noida expressway.

It seems they are planning to construct bridges in between to connect NH-2 and Yamuna expressway whereever possible. One such bridge would be in Faridabad and onother new one in Kalindi Kunj Area. This is what I vaguely remember reading from a hindi news paper 2-3 months before commonwealth games.
Please see attached image. You can see NH-2, then Faridabad Bypass Road (chaudhary charan singh marg as shown with a parallel red line) and also the expressway, they are planning a bridge somewhere in the area circled with red. I guess the bridge location will change based on which politican has a say in the final decision :-)
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Old 21st January 2011, 19:02   #99
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Great photos and detailed travelogues. Glued to this thread.
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Old 22nd January 2011, 02:42   #100
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Beautiful TL sir! You're an inspiration to me!

I want to do this sometime soon and I will do it!

The detail that you cover and the way you narrate is absolutely beautiful!

5 stars
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Old 25th January 2011, 00:49   #101
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Great photos and detailed travelogues. Glued to this thread.
Thank you, CLJ.

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Beautiful TL sir! You're an inspiration to me!
5 stars
Thank you CorsaLove. Thank you for your kind words. In fact, your appreciation inspires me too ! Myra, right ? how is she ? Please convey my Hi ! to her.

Rgds,

-----------------

We continue towards Kanpur..

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Looking for a crowded refill station - Darshan Auto Fill just before Kanpur byepass diversion quenches the car's thirst at Rs. 39.37 per litre - crowded, but quick service.


Kanpur byepass approach

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This 23 km long flyover made sure we do not see anything of Kanpur except the distant buildings on the left. Driving on the flyover is pure bliss ! The song continues ...


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Again, looking out for a hotel with atleast a couple of cars in front, the first one before Alipur ( near Fatehpur BP ) made us run back to our car. 5 km away, we find this

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requesting to have a special dal fry, he returns with two huge bowls of it, steaming - garnished with extra coriander leaves and roasted jeera ( his idea of making it special ! ) and 8 super soft tandoor rotis. Who would not be content after having these delicious fare at just Rs.56 ? Friendly owner and a jumping jack attender ! The name of the hotel is also well thought of - Nasheman.






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An hour later, we take the diversion towards Allahabad. A perfect example of a yester era highway. Makes us wonder - is this what NH2 was like all these years ? how did the traffic cope up with this kind of road and crowded villages around ?


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4.45pm - Allahabad cantonment welcomes us with some better roads, we pass the Manauri Air Force Station Gate and enter the city. We take directions to the Sangam - turn right after Hanuman mandir and pass this huge Cathedral.


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Our anxiety grows - we must make it to the sangam before dusk. Heavy traffic and lack of direction boards does'nt help us either. Here too, MG road is a posh area ! Past MG marg is where we come across our first Durga puja Pandal of the trip - the village street is fully lit up, loud / blaring music and kids dancing on the road. Driving through is very slow.

Further ahead, a huge ground gives way to the triveni sangam area. We drive to the end of the road and run to the river bank. Boatmen swarm us, asking whether we want to have a sacred bath ( punya snan ) or for carrying out any kriya ( custom following a death ceremony ). We bargain and settle for a boatride ( Rs.80 ) to the sangam spot just to drench our heads. Call it Anukula shastra ( custom of / for convienience ) !

We appreciate when the two boatboys explain that there are seperate boats for the different purpose of visit for which people come here - the jetty is seperate, boats are earmarked and bathing platforms are far apart ( 1 & 2 )


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A ten minute ride takes us where we could clearly see muddy waters of Ganga merging with the crystal clear Yamuna. The boatman points towards the Allahabad fort and shows us the direction of the flow of the mythic river, Saraswati. Excited no end, we refuse to board the bathing platform, instead, take handfulls and splash it on our heads. I call up my parents and share our holy achievement. I could hear them clap with joy ! We feel victorious.


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The Bathing platform

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The scene at the sangam



You are wrong if you think Titli and Titli ki maa are praying to Ganga maiyya.... they had other concerns....of toppling over ! It was hard to convince them to come off the fear and enjoy, absorb the aura of this place.


It is dark when we head back and reach the bank, walk back to our car and have darshan at Latey hue Hanuman ji ki Mandir ( reclining Hanuman ) and further ahead Badey Hanuman ji ki mandir.



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Finding our way back to Varanasi road is easy, and further, drive through some very dark stretches of old highway for 35 kms before we join the GQ again, but not before satisfying our sweet tooths in a big, very big sweet restaurant ( Yes, only sweets at this restaurant ) at Saidabad. The place is crowded - Jilebis, Rosgulla, Gulab Jamun, peda and hot Badam milk !

Two hours later - 9.30pm, we enter the now deserted streets of Varanasi, ask our way to the Varanasi Junction Railway Station, enter the Parade Koti and park our car inside the UPTDC Rahi Tourist Bungalow. At Rs. 600 ( 3 bed, air cooled ), this bungalow is a smaller, poorer sister of the Agra Rahi tourist bungalow. The friendly staff though made it up in service !

We slept, knowing that we are in the oldest inhabited place in india, if not the world !

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Old 25th January 2011, 02:26   #102
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Default Re: Our Incredible India Drive - 13 days on the GQ !

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Thank you CorsaLove. Thank you for your kind words. In fact, your appreciation inspires me too ! Myra, right ? how is she ? Please convey my Hi ! to her.

Rgds,
Hey! how do you know that?
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Old 25th January 2011, 22:49   #103
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Default Re: Our Incredible India Drive - 13 days on the GQ !

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Hey! how do you know that?
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Her name is MYRA and she seems to love it already!
Yes, I knew you would be surprised ! I remember your thread, a year back ? Very very nice name indeed

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Day 8, October 15, 2010. Friday. At Varanasi.

30 mins before sunrise, we check out of the tourist bungalow, ask for directions and drive 3 kms to Kashi Vishwanath temple and are lucky to find a parking slot next to the temple main gate. The parking attendents murmur among themselves - see ! this car is from Karnatak !

We straightaway make our way to Dashashwamedh Ghat - the place where evening arathi is held every evening. The sight of the Ganga is awe inspiring. I am in for a surprise - i expected the flow from left to right ( north to south ), but here, it was the opposite. I then realise - we crossed the ganga at Allahabad and were on the northern side of the river throughout our drive to Varanasi, so, at varanasi, the river must flow from south to north. Anyway, here she was, in full flow, gracious !

The ghat itself is full of activites, wanted and unwanted, pleasant and unpleasant, holy and unholy....you name it. The mighty Ganges absolves all !


All we wanted to do is just stand, observe and absorb ! To me, the pictures speak...


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The sun rises on Varanasi

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We start to walk back. Unable to resist, i turn around and have one more look. The sight is addictive !

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At the main gate of Kashi Vishwanath temple. Security staff at the gate stop us and ask us to deposit the camera, mobiles and the car remote. I walk back to the car, keep the mobiles and the camera inside and later deposit the car key at a locker.


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we walk up the narrow lanes which zigzag through scores of shops selling puja offerings... milk, bilva leaves, flowers.... and join a queue which seemed to move but realise we are just there for the last 20 mins ! I take a walk along the queue to see how far this goes............ and find no sight of the temple ! Seeing me very restive, a shopkeeper pulls me aside and offers to take us inside the temple within 5 minutes ! We jump out and follow him through lanes, bylanes and then sub bylanes ! and enter the temple from a little known door. The temple security men pat our guide ( sic ) and wave us to continue till the sanctum. We have darshan of the jyotirling and pray for a couple of seconds after receiving theerth. Jyotirling is almost immersed in a swamp of milk, leaves and flowers and devotees continue to pour more ! A priest sitting next to what is to us the most sacred idol in India points to a 100 rupee note in a heap of notes and signs us to give him a similar one. Unwilling, we walk on. For us, the darshan of the jyotirling itself is the most satisfying part of the day, that too, on a very auspicious day. Our guide then leads us to Sri Vishalakshi temple and a small Durga temple in the bylanes. His ' fees' paid, we thank him and walk back on the bylanes - Yoga classes, modern artifacts shops, thai restaurants, samosa and jilebi shops.......what not. Surprising to see many foreigners roaming around - Yoga !

We gorge on samosas and jilebis at a crowded 'restaurant' next to the main gate, again ask for directions and head out of the temple square area.




Varanasi version of the GQ !

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A wiiide road !

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Ultimate destination !

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What's Benares without its famous paan ? Nobody around to watch us, we savour a saaada paan and do a jig on the street - Gudiya and titli in Shah rukh shhhtyle, while i do it in Big B style.............. talk about generation !

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Driving towards the byepass, we come across this board ' Asi Ghat '. Our car too got its share of Ganga darshan !


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Asi ghat is the southern most ghat - on the confluence of Asi river with the ganges. On the northern end, Varuna river joins the Ganga. The stretch in between - varuna and asi ........ Varanasi !


We see another board on our way to the highway - ' way to birth place of Jhansi Rani '. Gudiya jumps - eager to have a look. I say nothing doing - Kolkata is calling !


Across the Ganga in south Varanasi. Soon after, the NH 7 ( Varanasi to Kanyakumari ) passes beneath us. We do not look towards Bangalore !


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Old 26th January 2011, 22:20   #104
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Default Re: Our Incredible India Drive - 13 days on the GQ !

We are on Day 8 of our trip and have just driven out of Varanasi..

A short sprint of 52 kms, we cross a small bridge, zigzag through some barricades and are in Bihar - 7th in our drive of 13 states. The drive through Bihar is short lived - just 198 kms, but must admit the sheer quality of the GQ here - simply fantastic ! The entire stretch is concretised, sparse traffic, disciplined villagers and trucks !. Given the notion of Bihar of yester years, we wonder - are we in Bihar ?


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The board must read Rohtasgarh fort. Another Rohtas fort, a world heritage site, is in Pakistan ! Please correct me if iam wrong.

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Past Dehri town, we come across this looong bridge on Son river, a major tributary of the Ganga. The parallel railway bridge on the left, at 3.65km, was till recently the longest railway bridge in India. It is still the widest railway bridge in India.

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We byepass Aurangabad ( Bihar ) and stop over for lunch at a small Hotel Aakash Ganga at Jogiya. Water is plentiful here, all these hotels along the highway have a large tank with water overflowing continuously !


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Darkness at noon !

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As we approach Dobhi, we head straight into this. At first, we think this could be a minor storm with 10 mins of rain. It proves us completely wrong.

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Engulfing darkness

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Oh my god ! we're in for a major storm !

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And then, it starts to pour !!

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We pull aside. All traffic comes to a standstill. The next 45 minutes, all we could do is just tolerate the thunderous splatter and pray that it does'nt break the front windshield ! I prefer to have a power nap, but the noise is too distracting.

It pours and pours and pours ! I have'nt seen raindrops bouncing one foot, no, not even during the first spells of monsoon !

I call up Bangalore to find the latest on the cyclone which has just hit north Andhra and Orissa. If the cyclone has headed further north and spread to WB and Jharkhand, we have it ! Discussing on this, we brace for a wet Kolkata and feel sorry for Durga puja festivities all over WB.




Visibility improves, but still raining heavily, we move on and are overjoyed to see the horizon. Oh my goodness ! It was afterall a passing storm and what a storm it was !

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We bid goodbye to Bihar and enter Jharkhand

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Our dream run continues on NH2. The winding road on the hilly regions just before Chauparan combined with foggy conditions was just enough to keep our spirits up !

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A super friendly, talkative attender at an IOCL station and an equally friendly, smiling toll booth operator ensure we have pleasant memories of Barhi.

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Gunning forward on fantastic roads !!

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Approaching Topchanchi and then further ahead, pass next to Parasnath hills ( Shikharji ). A major pilgrimage centre for Jains.

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As we approach Govindpur, we find one side of the highway closed for puja pandals slowing us down at almost all villages. We revered in the atmosphere though.


Govindpur is crowded, atleast three pandals on a stretch of 3 kms. We enjoy looking at families dressed in their best and walking spiritedly to the nearest pandal. Coloured lights have lit up the entire city.

Coal city Dhanbad is not far away nor is Steel city, Bokaro. Major industrial belt.

We thank the Sardarji owner of a small restaurant at the city centre for providing us clean rest rooms and a good hot beverage. He smiles back and wishes us the best for the rest of our trip !

At Govindpur. Dusk, at 5.10 pm !

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10 minutes later, a big traffic jam on a big bridge stops us for half an hour. Spirited taxi drivers are going the wrong way on the other bridge ! Oh, ok ! a check post ! We are in West Bengal.


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Garui toll plaza comes up next. time - 1820. All set to drive to Kolkata as hvkumar says - in 3 hours flat ! But no, sir, it was not to be - a major hold up ( may be an accident ) make us cool our heels for over 2 hours just outside Asansol. Hundreds of cars, taxis are ahead and behind us - waiting for the jam to clear up. Ambulances and Police jeeps speed past to and fro on the opposite lane.
Hooligans turn up from nowhere, threatening to smash headlights for no reason ! Cars behind us try to back off and return, but are promptly signalled to stop and shut down the engine by these senseless guys. One such hooligan with a big lathi comes close to us and points us to the oozing stream of water from the AC condenser. Baal Baal bach gaye ! - he did'nt notice our number plate ! They are not to be seen a little later.

8.30pm, we give up on our plan to reach Kolkata. By then, most of the cars behind us have returned and the road is empty. Ensuring that the bad guys are not around and also on pestering by the drivers ahead of us, we retract from the scene - make a U turn and drive back to the nearest gap in the divider. Asansol is the only town we can search for a hotel. 3 km towards Asansol past the numerous cars waiting for the hold up to clear, we find this fancy hotel on our right, bang on the highway. The Citi Residency, at Nigha, Asansol.


Sir, we want a room for one night. we are four of us and would check out at 5am tomm morning
Yes sir, Rs.2900 per night, and looking at my daughter, extra bed Rs.300
I start to walk back
Sir, we give a discount of 30% today
Why ?
Puja special sir. This is a new hotel.
sensing desperation, i play up - my budget is 1000, else, i walk off
He calls his manager who requests for 1200. I fill up the form and ask them to unload the bags.

A chinese dinner follows at the posh restaurant of the hotel and we end up with watering eyes and nostrils - very very spicy stuff ! All these days we thought Bengal is all Mishti. But here, we guess the chef is from Andhra !
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Old 27th January 2011, 00:10   #105
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Default Re: Our Incredible India Drive - 13 days on the GQ !

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All these days we thought Bengal is all Mishti. But here, we guess the chef is from Andhra !
Bengalis are known for their love of Kanchalankas (green chillies) also. They put it in almost every curry.
It mostly true with the BANGALs (bengalis who migrated from East Bengal (now Bangladesh) during the partition of Bengal). You'll find lots of spicy(hot) dishes eaten in BANGAL families regularly.

Hope you tried some authentic Bengali sweets also while in WB.

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