Seven hour flight from Switzerland to Delhi, arrival around 01:00 in the morning. Getting off the plane, going through immigration, changing money, making a reservation at a hotel and pushing through all the “helpful” people in front of the airport to get a prepaid taxi takes about an hour. The taxi driver neither knows where the hotel is nor does he know any English, but after another hour or so and a stop at a tourist office, who’s owner tries to convince me that the hotel I just called is closed, we finally get there.
By the time I get up it’s nearly lunchtime. Doesn’t matter, since Indian breakfast is more like lunch anyways.
After wandering around a bit and organizing a few details I get on a train to Jaipur. Pretty simple; each train is announced many times both in English and in Hindu, and the number of the wagon and your seat number is printed on the ticket. Surviving the eight hours in the train is easy too, every few minutes somebody selling coffee or tea passes by.
The City Palace at the center of the Pink City houses several small museums with weapons, textiles, books, musical instruments and other things.
Nahargarh Fort, two kilometers north of the city, offers a great view on the city.
In a valley three kilometers east of Jaipur there is a place called Galta. Lots of pilgrims come here to take a bath and fill various containers with water to take home.
Early morning visit to Ranthambore National Park. Unfortunately the only two ways to see the park are by jeep or on the back of a truck, and jeeps are booked up well in advance. Lots of dear and birds can be seen even though most of the park is very dry around this time of the year.
Six hour train trip to Agra.
Taj Mahal, Agra Fort etc. Overnight train to Bhopal.
Arrival in Bhopal early in the morning. Meet my uncle, who shows me around town for the rest of the day. After having a shower and breakfast, that is.
While the center of Bhopal is very packed, dirty and noisy, the residential areas around the town are green, quite and spacious.
Museum of Man: Tribal artifacts, reconstructed houses and pictures.
Van Vihar zoological park: Tigers, leopards, bears and other indian animals conveniently arranged inside a five square kilometer large park.
Bharat Bhavan art museum. Several halls with modern indian paintings and sculptures.
Three hours by car from Bhopal, Sanchi is one of the oldest and most important buddhist monuments in India. There are ruins of several stupas, temples and monasteries.
Seven hour trip by luxury bus to Indore. Luxury in this context means there is a proper seat with a reservation. Meet my other uncle in Indore.
Three hours by car from Indore to Mandu, a small village on top of a hill that once was a large fortified city.
Back in Indore I catch an overnight bus to Aurangabad.
Four hour trip by tourist bus to Ajanta. Ajanta has a series of old caves that were carved and used by buddhist monks. Back around 17:00.
Two hours by train to Manmad, then another 22 hours to Bangalore. The family in my compartment seems to temporarily adopts me as their son…
Three hours in Bangalore, first class ticket to Mysore.
On top of Chamundi Hill, three kilometers southeast of the city, there is an important hindu temple devoted to the goddess Durga. Half an hour walk up to the top.
Overnight bus to Kodaikanal via Palani.
The bus arrives in Kodaikanal around 08:00. I get a room with great views at the Taj Villa. There are lots of clouds below Kodaikanal, which gives the place a nice atmosphere but restricts the views on the suroundings a bit.
Bus to Kumily. Lots of tea plantations on the way. The bus arrives in Kumily in the evening.
By the time I get to the Periyar wildlife park all the guides have already left and all the boat tickets are sold. Next day I’m earlier and all works as planned. We spend three hours walking around inside the park.
Bus to Kottayam, boat to Alleppey.
Six hour boat trip to Kollam, then another two hours by bus to Varkala.
Day at the beach. Though Varkala seems to be a fast growing place, there are no large hotels, yet. Most hotels are located atop the cliffs overlooking the beach.
Bus to Trivandrum via Attingal.
After filling out some forms and donating (?) some money I visit the Shri Padmanabhaswamy temple, which is usually only open to hindus. The temple may seem rather unspectacular from the outside, but is quite fascinating in the inside, lots of activity.
First time I have a room with a TV, so I get familiar with MTV India…
Three hour bus trip from Trivandrum. Ponmudi consists of two hotels, which are both empty during the week, and lots of great views.
Napier Museum, near Trivandrum’s Zoo and Natural History Museum. Lots of old indian sculptures, interesting building. Indo-saracenic style.
Back to Delhi with Indian Airlines, via Mumbai.
Seven hour train trip through Haryana and Punjab to Amritsar.
In the evening, a three hour bus ride to Pathankot, then another two hours by taxi up to Dharmsala.
Dharmsala lies between 1500 and 1800 meters high. The majority of people leaving here are nepalese. The exiled nepalese government resides here, as well as Dalai Lama, whom I happen to see by chance.
Taxi to the airport in Gagal, half an hour from Dharmsala. One hour delay, there is too much wind for the small plane to start.
In Delhi I get a prepaid taxi to my aunt’s place in Noida, a suburb half an hour from the airport. The taxi driver stops to get directions eleven times…
Thankfully I get to borrow my cousin’s car and driver for the day–Delhi is a very spread-out city.
After dinner I’m dropped off at the airport, in time to catch my flight back home.