A Travellerspoint blog

Delhi to Varanasi

After the fall

sunny 22 °C

Well first things first. We are continuing on our journey with a few modifications. We are currently in Varanasi and last night ventured through the wonderful astonishing assault on all senses that is this city of Hindu Gods, pilgrims, pyres of burning flesh made aromatic by scented woods, clarified butter, and herbs and spices.

We experienced sunset on the holy river Ganges and walked or limped up and down the steps of the Ghat and through the seething humanity, cacophany of sound, smells and colour along with holy men, beggars, open toilets and cows and dogs everywhere. We braved a lengthy cycle rickshaw ride which Celina found painful. What an experience.

To sit on a boat carrying 20 persons rowed by 2 skinny men and watch the holy fires consume flesh was not as we expected. We were close enough to see the dead being washes in the water of the Ganges and to see the bodies placed on the pyres and burned. You are not allowed photography at the burning Ghat and all is very reverential. Our group is very supportive and the local guide Yogesh almost carried Celina up and down the very steep stairs of the Ghat. Celina is battered and bruised but has indomitable courage. Our cycle rickshaw ride to and from the Ghats was something to be remembered - travelling by manpower was exciting and dodging in and out of the hordes, cows and myriad citizens of Varanasi an exciting and at times scary experience. Our ride back to our coach involved the rider of our vehicle weighing half of my weight and looking as old as us - at times pushing the rickshaw along by hand and at others working up a head of steam and pedalling like mad. All for the price of $4!

Tomorrow we go on to Khajaraho and its 900 year old temples and then we leave the group to fly back to Delhi and the Hotel Imperial for one night while the others continue on to Agra over hundreds of Kilometres of the worst roads of India. We will then be taken by car to Agra - a 5 hour road trip and will catch up with the group. Hopefully some of the bruising will settle.

After a long sleepin we got up and had a so so breakfast followed by lunch after we decided not to go on the dawn boat trip on the Ganges. We were sorry to miss out but the Ghat steps would have been too much. This afternoon we took the short trip over to the other side of the Ganges to Sarnath the site where the Buddha first preached over 2000 years ago. The great Stupa still stands among the ruins of the temples razed by the first Muslim invaders in 900AD. The Bodi tree where Buddha sat still exists and pilgrims arrive in their hundreds to seek enlightenment. As we left the Buddhist shrines an elderly beggar woman was set upon by a stall holder laying in wait at our bus position. Frustrated we could only watch in horror we had to withold our desires to intervene as this is not our culture - we are simply passing through.

Lodi Gardens, Delhi

Lodi Gardens, Delhi

Detail of ancient mosque in Delhi

Detail of ancient mosque in Delhi

Ancient tomb at Qutb Minar

Ancient tomb at Qutb Minar

Qutb Minar

Qutb Minar

Posted by acudoc 22:25 Archived in India Tagged india luxury_travel Comments (2)

New Delhi Day 2

Chaos in Old Delhi

rain 16 °C

Met the other members of our group along with our Tour Director Claire last night. After a full briefing we enjoyed a western style meal in the 1911 Bar at our hotel - The Imperial - along with 4 others we had originally met at Singapore Airport. This morning we were to visit the Jama Masjid the largest Mosque in India bulit by Shah Jahan (the builder of the Taj Mahal) and then we were to take a cycle rickshaw ride through the chaotic lanes of the Chandni Chowk in old Delhi. We had been woken through the night by thunder and the sounds of workmen removing the signs of a large Bengali wedding which was being held outside our 3rd floor room at the Imperial. Slept poorly despite the comfortable bed and woke this morning earlier to have breakfast and meet the others for the tour. There are 23 of us in various stages of health and vigour. It was pouring with rain which made our visit to the Jama Masjid extremely slippery in our bare feet on wet marble. Our cycle rickshaws were waiting for us outside the mosque and we convoyed through the wet chaos and squalor of the old city lanes and shops. Our destination was the Spice Market but few stalls were open because of the deluge. Everywhere in Delhi people live under makeshift tents made out of plastic with large numbers living under bridges - living their entire lives. 22 Million people now live in Delhi and we were told the population of India has grown by 1 Billion in the 60 years since Independence. Opulence dating to the Mughals and the British Raj which lasted over 300 years sit side by side with the squalor. Our portion of the day ended abruptly with Celina fell backwards hard onto her rear when trying to get back in the cycle rickshaw. We were taken back to hotel through chaotic Delhi traffic by our skillful coach driver while everybody else went a brief Metro ride, lunch and a vist to another Mughal tomb. Celina hurt more than her pride but appears to be heading towards an uncomfortable few days of not being able to sit. She will rest tomorrow and we look forward to our visit to Varanasi in 2 days time.

Traffic in Delhi

Traffic in Delhi

Delhi Traffic

Delhi Traffic

Cycle Rickshaw in Delhi

Cycle Rickshaw in Delhi

Jami Masjid, Delhi

Jami Masjid, Delhi

DSC_0106

DSC_0106

DSC_0103

DSC_0103

Jama Masjid

Jama Masjid

Posted by acudoc 02:50 Archived in India Tagged india tours scenic luxury_travel Comments (2)

New Delhi Day 1

A walk on the wild side

rain 18 °C

After a refreshing sleep we had breakfast in the famous 1911 Bar. We then decided to walk in the rain to Connaught Place to have an adventure. Forget the maps as they have no idea of scale. We walked in light rain on muddy and uneven side walks and the streets. Passing many people living on the streets or sleeping without protection on the pavements. People washing their clothing in the rain using only puddles of water and scrubbing brushes. We met a good few young men offering us helpful advice and assuring us they had our safety in mind and happy to walk along with us telling they had all been to Australia as students and wanted nothing from us. Eventually we met a young Sikh man who showed us the major Sikh temple on the way to Connaught Place. We finally arrived at a Emporium of handicrafts and expensive Jewellery but disappointed the friendly owners when we bought nothing. We then took a Tuk Tuk through the chaotic traffic and for a 10 rupee fee were dropped off in the middle of nowhere - a couple of long blocks from our hotel.

The Imperial Hotel New Delhi

The Imperial Hotel New Delhi


Celina at The Imperial

Celina at The Imperial

Art Work at The Imperial Hotel

Art Work at The Imperial Hotel

Original art work dating to The Mutiny

Original art work dating to The Mutiny

Lobby in the Imperial Hotel

Lobby in the Imperial Hotel

Raj Era Opulence

Raj Era Opulence

Posted by acudoc 08:57 Archived in India Tagged india scenic holidays luxury_travel Comments (1)

Singapore to Delhi

Tired and weary until Paradise reached.

rain 19 °C

After a 12 hour sleep at the Swissotel The Stamford hotel we were up and about despite the grey skies and heavy rain. We found the Funan Mall which is jam-packed with Camera and Electronic gadget stores and purchased a new do it all lens for Celina's Nikon. Then back to the hotel and a few hours rest before our transfer to Changi Airport and a 21/2 hour wait. We got to meet another 8 of our fellow Scenic travellers who started off by telling us about their various back pain and other problems! Joy oh Joy. We then had a 5 hour flight on a Boeing 777 and had more leg room than ever on the exit row seats we had booked and for which we paid a little extra. Celina and I were entertained by our new found friend Justin who regaled us with tales of his adventures in India as a seeds company executive.
We eventually arrived in New Delhi at 10:30pm local time and were glad to see our luggage eventually show up on the carousel. We were picked by the Scenic group and driven through the extraordinary traffic to our hotel - The Imperial in New Delhi. This hotel was built in the period of the Raj between WW1 & WW2 and only 17 years before Indian Independence. It is full of historical documents and paintings of the 17th and 18th Centuries and shines with marble and exotic timbers. We arrived in our magnificent room at 12 midnight to find the best accomodation we can recall anywhere on our travels. The staff are very attentive and after a good sleep in our beautiful room we are ready to explore. We now know that we will be group of 24 and our tour will begin tomorrow morning.

Singapore by day

Singapore by day

Singapore Marina Sands Hotel

Singapore Marina Sands Hotel

Posted by acudoc 01:11 Archived in India Tagged new delhi luxury_travel Comments (1)

Singapore overnight

52 Floors over Singapore

sunny 31 °C

Arrived Singapore around 4 pm today after a 7 hour flight from Melbourne. Hotel is on the waterfront and overlooks the the Marina Bay Hotel and the new Marina Gardens. We are at the Swissotel The Stamford and although the hotel has seen better days it is located over a major shopping mall and just around the corner from Raffles. We were told at reception the room is on the 52nd floor and was a nice room. The views are fantastic from the balcony. After a meal at the Mall we ambled around for a while and happened on a performance by the Fuzhou theatre company. Then tired and exhausted came back to the Hotel for a spectacular look over the Marina at night.

Singapore 52 floors up

Singapore 52 floors up

Posted by acudoc 07:40 Archived in Singapore Tagged singapore travel india luxury Comments (0)

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