Thursday, 4 September 2008

Travelling India, Stage 1: Chennai - Delhi- Shimla

My first travel blog post, right from an Internet cafe in the Himalayas...

Chennai-Delhi

After an early morning flight to Delhi, from Chennai, we arrived early and with plenty of time to explore Delhi for the day. Old Delhi looks even worse than Chennai, with more people, more traffic, more beggars and more street kids harrassing people. Luckely their historic buildings like the Red Fort ad the Jama Mashid, India's biggest mosque, make up for it and I'm glad I've seen it. We then headed to the Raj Ghat, the place where Mahatma Ghandi was cremated, surrounded by beautiful parks. We made acquintance with one of the guards, a really young and cool guy patrolling in the park. As he posed his semi automic machine gun next to my backpack, we smoked a cigarette together and chatted away for at least half an hour. A nice change compared to the Tamil Police...

New Delhi surely is more modern, though I must have overestimated it. The metro system is impressive but once you get out of it you are undoubtedly back in India. Modern buildings looking nice from far away but that's about it. I also have the impression that Bangalore is even more modern than New Delhi, at least comparing both 'modern' places...

In the evening we made a long walk on the promenade linking the Presidential Home with the Gate of India, and walked around the 'Government Area' to finally head back to Old Delhi for our first overnight train....

Delhi- Kalka- Shimla

From Delhi we took an overnight train to Kalka. In Kalka we immediately boarded on the toy train towards Shimla, at 5 in the morning, allowing us to enjoy the sunrise over the early Himalaya Hills, great! Shimla itself was once the summer retreat of the British governement in Delhi and that's pretty obvious here. Though it's definetely gone glory, Shimla remains charming with its rather European look. We are at 2000m here and the town also has a monkey plague, meaning there are monkeys everywhere, from the mainstreet to our own hotel window. The monkeys (in addition of some Indians) harras tourists and even steel stuff. We observed how a poor sadhu got ripped of his chapatis by one of the hairy creatures....

After a long night of sleeping, today we walked uphill to see the monkey temple on top of the hill. To keep monkeys at a safe distance they rent out sticks for 5Rs, though not really necessary.

We also booked some more tickets to Manali, Amritsar, Agra, Varanasi and Jaipur, hope I'll be able to keep you all updated, with pictures next time!

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