Travel through north India I.
The excursion, which was planned - by our three-members´ group - would be passed via places, as follows:
On 6th February 2009: departure from Prague to London, transfer and departure to Delhi.
7th February: arrival to Delhi
8th Fevruary: stay in Delhi
9th February: in the evening travel by train to Varanasi (Benares)
10th February: arrival to Varanasi (Benares)
11th February: in the evening departure from Mugal Sarai (not far distant from Varanasi)
12th February: arrival to New Jalpaiguri, change by bus to Darjeeling
13th February: Darjeeling sightseeing, including environs
14th February: in the morning, departure for trek through Singalil Mountain Range, beginning
of Maneybhanyang (2134 m), continuing towards Toglu (3070 m)
15th February: trek Tonglu-Sandakphu (3636 m)
16th February: trek Sandakphu-Phalut (3600 m)
17th February: trek Phalut-Ramam (2560 m)
18th February: trek Ramam-Rimlik (2286 m)
19th February: change to Darjeeling and transfer by night bus from Siligury to Calcutta
20th February: arrival to Calcutta in the morning
21st February: in the evening, departure by bus to Puri
22nd February: in the morning, arrival to Puri
23rd and 24th February: time relax
25th February: departure to Delhi by morning train
26th February: arrival to Delhi in the evening
27th February: in the morning, departure from Delhi to London, transfer and departure
Frankly speaking, travel plan and our ideas followed predominant part of our journey, the changes during separate days were caused by often train-delays.
For eventual travellers to India destination: we wish to mention, what is necessary (and not to be forgotten) to be taken with. It depends, of course, on your stay length and on a fact how „full of action“ your journey could be. Last, but not least: important notices regarding organization of such journey - finance.
So, what necessary and useful things are recommandable to be taken with:
- packing for rucksack (important: against water-penetration)
- handy rucksack (suitable for small excursions)
- watches with alarm-clock (small digital watches are sufficient)
- battery (ideal is classical „forehead battery“, attention: in India, it often happens that electric stream is cut)
- guidebook (Lonely Planet is ideal, the more actual issue, the better)
- body moneybelt – thin box placed under trousers. It serves mainly for money, passport and air-ticket keeping)
- knife (Swiss made is the best)
- ball point pen and note-book (some picture drawing is suitable in less alphabetical regions of India, and you can also here write your experience)
- sleeping bag (of better quality, provided you intend to visit mountains in the north)
- sandals (suitable for towns), or fixed ankle shoes (suitable for treks and in the mountains)
- long thin trousers
- two or three pieces of tricots (it is possible to buy it on spot)
- underwear and socks (it is not necessary to take many pairs, anyway, you have to takein mind that you have to wash it)
- warmer sweater mikina dress (ideal of flannel origin)
- long pants (Jaeger drawers – ideal for mountains)
- smock-frock of better quality (if you have the intention to go to mountains)
- a cap (suitable for mountains) and cap with bottom (protection against sunshine
- a cape (or poncho – if you travel in monsoon time period)
Hygiene – Cosmetics:
- washing gel (or soap)
- tooth brush and tooth paste
- creme against sunburnt
- toilet paper (recommended more pieces as less, as in India is offered at comparatively expensive prices)
- ointment against insects (mosquitos)
- cream on dry skin (Nivea)
- deer tallow
- plaster and bandaging material
- multivitamins in tablets: (they are excellent into packed waters)
- medicines against high ilness
- slivovitz (plum brandy - as a preventive measure)
- rope or string (suitable for wash hanging, etc.)
- chain - suitable for rucksack - locking during train travelling
- padlock (on chain, suitable for hotel-room locking - the door is equipped with a hasp)
- photo-apparatus and supplementary batteries or a source
- someting against spleen (mostly during travel changes: books, magazines, cards, chess play, mp3, etc).
- return air-ticket - CZK 16500 approx.
- the amount of USD 250,- would be fully sufficient (necessary for cash payment in hotels and for foods), nevertheless, you have to calculate carefully, of course)
- basic insurance for three weeks stay: CZK 900,-
- vaccination - it depends on fact what exactly you wish and for what purpose you have
- money sources - one injection costs CZK 600,- approx.
- entry visa, valid for six monts, costs CZK 1600,-
First day (Friday 6th February 2009):
We fly from Prague to London at 12,35 h, the plane arrives in Heathrow-airport, Terminal No. 2, at 13,45 h. Nevertheless, we have to change to Terminal No.3, from here our fly by Jet Airways to Delhi is leaving. After an hour of going astray and after bus drive (the bus effects the transfer between terminals) we finally get this terminal. Flight No. 9W0121 would start for London at 20,50 h. We let to press our air-tickets to our final destination, however, Jet Airways branch is open since 17,00 h, so we have to wait a while. So, we leave Heathrow one hour later, as expected, and we can see immediately one characteristic sign. The „whites“ in a plane are in minority, the Hindoos form approx. 80% of passengers. Anyway, time shifting between London and Delhi makes + 4,5 hours. During a flight, we consume our last European dinner.
Second day (Saturday 7th February 2009):
In the morning, we receive very good rich breakfast, and, finally, at 10,30 local time (hour´s lost was eliminated in the meantime) we land on Delhi Airport. We walk immediately towards a belt, where our luggage would be obtained. However, even after an hour no luggage arrived, so,we march to change the money. After passport presenting, I change USD 100,- and receive INR 4755,- (at exchange rate 1USD = INR 47,55). We recommend you to keep money exchange receipt (as well as other different receipts) as one never knows in India, what could happen.…We turn back to baggage zone, and our luggage just arrive on belt, and shortly afterthat we leave airport complex. We feel immediately horrible hot and closeness. Frankly speaking, this weather in February is missing in our country. We estimate that it could be 25°C in a shadow. We try to organize - in crowds of taxi-cars, cyclo-rickshaws and moto-rickshaws - the departure to city centre - quarter of Pahargan (cost INR 260,-).
This quarter is situated not far from central railway station, our first destination. Here, we have to reserve the tickets for two night transfers and one two-days train transfer. We fill a form, and our turn is quite quick Three tickets of 2nd class, including sleeping beds, cost totally INR 3450,- i.e. INR 1150,- per one person (= CZK 575,- approx.). After standard passport control, the officer on opposite table side issues the tickets. We return towards hotel quarter, where we meet several agents. All are convincing us of the fact that just their recommended hotel must be „very cheap“ and „very nice“. On base of this experience, we accept the third hotel, at the price of INR 700,- for two nights. The accommodation is as follows: one room with one bed and one window and „bathroom“ - small room with wash-basin and European WC, rinsing off by means of bucket. It has no sense to mention romm-cleaness, this is Indian standard. We do not keep here for long time and leave the hotel. Outside, we take a moto-rickshaw, and drive to visit first sightseeing Red Citadel (cost INR 80,-). The transport in India has one rule only: any rules are missing. We drive through chaotic traffic, where all blow, swing with hands to other passing persons, cars, lorries, motocycles, moto-rickshaws, cyclo-rickshaws, foot passengers and animals.
Red Citadel is one of most important sightseeings of Old Delhi, known also as Lal Qila. Its majestic walls from red sandstone with many small towers are jutting out over wide ditch. The fortification was constructed within 1639-1648. You can see here many building and ornamental elements – public accessible spaces, such as private halls, palaces with vaulted ceilings and marbled arcades, Mosques and beautiful gardens.
You find here also vast irrigation system, made nearly through all buildings, however, you cannot see streaming water now. Entrance fee.: INR 250,- for foreigners, INR 20,- for local people. However, tickets for reduced prices are impossible to be obtained. The sightseeing tour takes one hour approx. When you leave the Citadel, you walked to Sikh Church, situated nearby. You can enter, but you have to take off your shoes and socks at first, and put a handkerchief on your head (they lend it). Before you enter the church, you have to walk through pool of water, in order to enter fully „pure“. The church-interior is made predominantly from marble, the floor is covered with carpets, where praying Sikhs are sitting. Three men, sitting at the altar, are drumming and loudly singing. Except of them, all persons are fully concentrated in their meditations. On our return way to the hotel, we check in one travel agency, how there are time as well as financial possibilities regarding Tadj-Mahal visit. Very pleasant officer informs us (in very good English) that an excursion from Delhi to Tadj Mahal takes the whole day, and the entrance ticket costs INR 750,-. You can travel there by bus or by car with a driver (this way of transport is more expensive, of course - it costs EUR 75,-), but quicker at the same time and more comfortable than bus (it costs INR 700,-). Anyway, group of three persons (as we are) the way by car is worth to be effected. Nevertheless, we decided to do this excursion at the end of our trip in India. In the meantime a dusk arrived, so we decided to look for some good restaurant, in order to take some good dinner. We walked through several small streets, where each person is crying, in order to take notice of him. Nevertheless, when you immediately look at shop-owner, you hear other sentences, such as: „Hello, my friend!“, „Wanna buy something!“, „It is very cheap for you!“, „Where are you from?“, and so on. Finally, we take a seat in one restaurant, order Coca-Cola (classical execution, 300 ml in glass) and start to study the menu. I do not have any idea what the names of meals mean, so I ask Olda (he is not here for the first time). So, we all order „Thali“, presented with score of rice, with four sorts of sauces, mostly very burnt, on a plate. You can receive other portions of sauces (free of charge), if you wish. Waiter gives you the added quantity with pleasure. After rich dinner (cost INR 30,- i.e. CZK 15,-) we walk through busy night town. Our state of mind is rather spoiled with security officer, he does not allow us to enter public park, owing to the fact, that we have photo-cameras with. It was evident that he did not loved „white faces“. So, I unpack my sleeping bag later, and after a ceremony (called washing in Indian way) I go to sleep.
Text/photo: Jakub Štantejský - Infoglobe redactor
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