A Travellerspoint blog

2 ~ Hong Kong = brief transit

Stretch those legs


View India 18 - 19 on bruceontour's travel map.

Touch down at 3.12pm / 15:12 Hong Kong time or 8.12pm / 20:12 Auckland time.

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A nice walk through the terminal to stretch those legs, sorting out what Starbucks mugs were available for Brenda, then to Gate 29 and catch CX695 through to Delhi.

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As the sun set, pulled back from the gate at 5.20pm / 17:20 Hong Kong time.

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A wait on the taxiway before finally lifting off at 5.52pm / 17:52.

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Posted by bruceontour 01:43 Archived in Hong Kong Comments (0)

1 ~ No queue + unexpected Upgrade

Day 1: Auckland > Hong Kong


View India 18 - 19 on bruceontour's travel map.

Time to head off again.

Back to India focusing on Rajasthan including the Golden Triangle where most tourists head to. Let's see how the next 16 days turn out.

Here's an overview:

Delhi (2) – Mandawa (1) – BikanerGajner (1) – Jaisalmer (2) – Khejarla (1) – JodhpurLuni (1) – RanakpurUdaipur (2) (Christmas Eve) Deogarh (1) – Pushkar (1) - Jaipur (2) - Agra (1) (New Year’s Eve) - Delhi

It should be an "on the go" trip. Not exactly what I want but ...

Flying around Christmas is never cheap. Thanks Eve for the Cathy Pacific’s Premium Economy seats costing only NZ$800 / US$ 550 extra & the same bulkhead window seats 30A both ways.

Two "day" flights going over & 2 "night" flights coming back.

Let's see how the extra leg and seat room etc works out.

First stop will be a 90 minute transit in Hong Kong.

Coming back have a 9 hour layover so it will be onto the Airport Express train back to Hong Kong Island as it's been some 10 years since my last visit.

Honestly, don't know why I'm going back to India and tick off "touristy" Rajasthan.

Been told that I will be taking many, many photos!!! Let’s see.

I couldn't find any small group tours during the narrow window of time that I had to travel this year so ended up with a private tour of "one". Own driver, local guides with a mixture of mainly 4 star & Heritage Hotels. Something quite different to my first India trip earlier this year with G Adventures. No overnight trains, tuk tuks, ferries or public buses and 3 star hotels.

Yes, I could have gone to much cheaper & closer places to New Zealand but would have had to organise everything. Long story why I didn't want the hassle to organise as I could have.

This is what Exotic Tours, a New Zealand agency said. They used Your Vacations in Delhi as their local provider.

"This trip takes you to see the royal heritage of Rajasthan, which has still been very keenly preserved by the erstwhile Rulers, who converted their private palaces, forts and castles into Hotels. This is royal Rajasthan at its best. From the timeless city of Delhi with its centuries old monuments and colonial touch of New Delhi, the castles & palaces of Mandawa, Gajner, Luni, Deogarh and Khejarla, admire the most photographed building in the world – words cannot describe the beauty of Taj Mahal, visit the colourful and royal cities of Jaipur and Jodhpur with their magnificent forts and Udaipur – undoubtedly the most romantic city in India. Excellent program, wonderful sights, world famous culinary delicacies and loads of opportunities for bargain hunters – get ready for a journey into a royal past."

Cathy Pacific had self-check in booths but I was told to see a service agent. Probably needed to see that I had an Indian Visa. All sorted and as a Premium Economy passenger was told to use the Business Class bag drop thus avoiding the long queue for the economy passengers bag drop.

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Gosh, Auckland airport has changed completely in 12 months. Very efficient check in, immigration and security now.

At the gate, knowing what seat I had 30A at the front of the cabin and with just my camera bag, I waited till literally the last of the economy passengers had boarded when on scanning my boarding card it was rejected and was told to go over to the Business Class gate where to my utter surprise I was given a boarding card for 20G = Business Class!

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This is not 30A with my window seat.

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20G

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An hour after take-off, breakfast was served with the orange juice, seasonal fresh fruit and Bircher muesli …

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Being a day time flight, it was non-stop movies to pass the time.

Started off with “Crazy Rich Asians”. A 2018 American romantic comedy-drama film directed by Jon M. Chu, from a screenplay by Peter Chiarelli and Adele Lim, based on the 2013 novel of the same name by Kevin Kwan. The film stars Constance Wu, Henry Golding, Gemma Chan, Nico Santos, Lisa Lu, Awkwafina, Ken Jeong, and Michelle Yeoh. It follows a Chinese American professor who travels to meet her boyfriend's family and is surprised to discover they are among the richest in Singapore. Thanks Mr Wikipedia

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Then “Searching”. A 2018 American thriller film directed by Aneesh Chaganty in his feature debut and written by Chaganty and Sev Ohanian. Set almost entirely on smartphones and computer screens, the film follows a father (John Cho) trying to find his missing 16-year-old daughter (Michelle La) with the help of a police detective (Debra Messing). It is the first mainstream Hollywood thriller headlined by an Asian-American actor. Thanks Mr Wikipedia

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“Destination Wedding”. A 2018 American romantic comedy-drama film written and directed by Victor Levin, and stars Winona Ryder and Keanu Reeves as two strangers who turn out to be attending the same wedding in Paso Robles. Thanks Mr Wikipedia

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“The Darkest Minds”. A 2018 American dystopian science fiction thriller film directed by Jennifer Yuh Nelson, and written by Chad Hodge, based on Alexandra Bracken's young adult novel of the same name. The film stars Amandla Stenberg, Harris Dickinson, Mandy Moore, and Gwendoline Christie, and follows a group of teenagers who are on the run from the government after mysteriously obtaining superpowers. Thanks Mr Wikipedia

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What a difference with the meals and service - so different to previous cattle class offering.

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Lunch was served 3 hours before touch down. Prawns with mango and papaya salsa, Mesclun with oven roasted Roma tomato, creamy balsamic dressing. Followed by Duck, red dates, kailan, carrot and steamed jasmine rice. Cheese and fruits – Creamy Blue, Puhoi Aged Cheddar, Kapiti Double Cream Brie and Seasonal fresh fruits. Finally finished off with Mango panna cotta, passion fruit, mandarin and mint.

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As for the extra wriggle room … certainly can’t complain.

Posted by bruceontour 00:26 Archived in India Comments (0)

Business Class and a lie flat bed in future!

Singapore > Auckland

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Despite having seat 51D which has no seat in front of me so that I was able to stretch out my leg, I had a niggling feeling that something was not right with my right leg when I entered the plane.

It was a restless overnight flight back to New Zealand.

When I left the plane walking through customs my right leg was in even more discomfort. Doctor the next day who ruled out DVT, blood clot, knee or hip …

PS - I was laid up in bed in great pain and discomfort on pain medication for the next week. It took many more weeks slowly reducing my dependence on the pain medication with ever slight improvement each day before it came right. Even now I don’t know the cause. To make things worse, I still had another week of annual leave that I had “things to do” including swimming at my local beach.

I hate to think what would have happened if I did not have seat 51D or a bulkhead seat and had to endure the 10 hour flight with even more restricted leg room!

So perhaps it will be Business Class and a lie flat bed in future!

Posted by bruceontour 02:49 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Shank’s pony through a bit of Central Singapore.

Crosby returned and off we went to see mainly by shank’s pony a bit of Central Singapore.

Aboard the local bus for several stops and breakfast in Chinatown Complex Market (& Food Centre).

Again I will let the photos take you through what I saw.

As the day progressed it was humid and thanks Crosby for guiding me through the mainly air-conditioned alleyways and buildings.

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Chwee Kueh and Chee Cheong Fun

Chwee Kueh and Chee Cheong Fun

Popiah (springroll) and Kueh Pie Ti

Popiah (springroll) and Kueh Pie Ti

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Sri Mariamman Temple (Hindu), Temple Street

Sri Mariamman Temple (Hindu), Temple Street

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Nankin St

Nankin St

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“Heading Home”, bronze sculpture by Lim Leong Seng of a rickshaw puller

“Heading Home”, bronze sculpture by Lim Leong Seng of a rickshaw puller

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Fuk Tak Chi (Hakka Temple) Museum, Telok Ayer Street

Fuk Tak Chi (Hakka Temple) Museum, Telok Ayer Street

Fuk Tak Chi (Hakka Temple) Museum, Telok Ayer Street

Fuk Tak Chi (Hakka Temple) Museum, Telok Ayer Street

Fuk Tak Chi (Hakka Temple) Museum, Telok Ayer Street

Fuk Tak Chi (Hakka Temple) Museum, Telok Ayer Street

Fuk Tak Chi (Hakka Temple) Museum, Telok Ayer Street

Fuk Tak Chi (Hakka Temple) Museum, Telok Ayer Street

Fuk Tak Chi (Hakka Temple) Museum, Telok Ayer Street

Fuk Tak Chi (Hakka Temple) Museum, Telok Ayer Street

Fuk Tak Chi (Hakka Temple) Museum, Telok Ayer Street

Fuk Tak Chi (Hakka Temple) Museum, Telok Ayer Street

Yueh Hai Ching Temple, Chulia Street

Yueh Hai Ching Temple, Chulia Street

Yueh Hai Ching Temple, Chulia Street

Yueh Hai Ching Temple, Chulia Street

Yueh Hai Ching Temple, Chulia Street

Yueh Hai Ching Temple, Chulia Street

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Boat Quay / Singapore River

Boat Quay / Singapore River

Boat Quay / Singapore River

Boat Quay / Singapore River

Boat Quay / Singapore River

Boat Quay / Singapore River

Boat Quay / Singapore River

Boat Quay / Singapore River

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Boat Quay / Singapore River

Boat Quay / Singapore River

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Cavenagh Bridge

Cavenagh Bridge

The Fullerton Hotel

The Fullerton Hotel

The Fullerton Hotel

The Fullerton Hotel

The Fullerton Hotel

The Fullerton Hotel

The Fullerton Hotel

The Fullerton Hotel

Marina Bay Sands

Marina Bay Sands

Marina Bay Sands

Marina Bay Sands

Marina Bay Sands

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Marina Bay Sands

Marina Bay Sands

Merlion Park

Merlion Park

Merlion Park

Merlion Park

Anderson Bridge

Anderson Bridge

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Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall

Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall

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National Gallery Singapore (former Supreme Court & City Hall)

National Gallery Singapore (former Supreme Court & City Hall)

The Arts House at the Old Parliament

The Arts House at the Old Parliament

National Gallery Singapore

National Gallery Singapore

National Gallery Singapore (former Supreme Court Cell)

National Gallery Singapore (former Supreme Court Cell)

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National Gallery Singapore (former Supreme Court)

National Gallery Singapore (former Supreme Court)

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St Andrew's Church (Anglican)

St Andrew's Church (Anglican)

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Bak Kut The (Pork Ribs Broth)

Bak Kut The (Pork Ribs Broth)

It was time to bid farewell and I hope that it won’t be such a long time till we can meet again.

Thankfully Crosby gave me some hard cash, $2 note for the MTR to get me to the airport but on arrival at Bugis Station saw the signs saying that the MTR was not operating due to all day maintenance, but buses were provided for a SGD$1 (no change) to get me directly to T3. So it was a very quick trip to be dropped off at the departure level at the airport.

Quick check in and with boarding pass in hand for seat 51D had time to kill. My timing was good as there was enough time in the airport’s 24 hour cinema before my 7:50 boarding time to see the whole of Hunt for the Wilderpeople, a good old New Zealand film 2016 (Sam Neil and Julian Dennison) which I had not seen.

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Changi Airport Butterfly Garden

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Posted by bruceontour 02:49 Archived in Singapore Tagged changi_airport_butterfly_garden Comments (1)

No Singapore cash, No Wi-Fi and it was getting late

Day 13 Delhi > Singapore

Three of us were flying out this morning / lunch time and Sally had organised an Uber ride. Ngaire and I joined her at 8am / 08:00 for the short and quick 30 minute trip to the airport. So how much did I see of Delhi? Nothing so that means I need to return!

We each had to check in at our respective airline counters and then after security met up inside for an airport breakfast 342 rupee / NZ$7.30 / US$5.30 and our farewells, Ngaire to London and Sally back to New Zealand via a stop over in Guangzhou, China.

Ngaire, Sally

Ngaire, Sally

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Saw some New Zealand wines in the duty free shop.

Villa Maria Marlborough Cellar Selection 2016 Sauvignon Blanc 3,560 rupee / NZ$75.70 / US$54.70 (gold).
New Zealand supermarket costs 780 rupee / NZ$16.50 / US$12.00.

Villa Maria Marlborough Private Bin 2016 Sauvignon Blanc 2,980 rupee / NZ$63.30 / US$45.80 (white).
New Zealand supermarket costs 690 rupee / NZ$14.60 / US$10.60.

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Opposite the departure gate was Starbucks so Brenda will get an India cup to add to her collection.

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The plane was a bit late leaving than its scheduled 12:10 / 12:10 departure time.

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Taking off from Delhi

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Seared Fish Fillet in Herb Veloute

Seared Fish Fillet in Herb Veloute

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Sunset as we headed east

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Touch down at Singapore after the 5 hour 40 minute flight. After getting another password for the airport Wi-Fi made initial contact with Crosby via WhatsApp to let him know that I had arrived.

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The plan was for me to meet him at the Bugis MRT station. With 30 people in front of me in each of the immigration queues, I wondered how long it will take to clear this. So my message to Crosby that I sent to him while waiting in the immigration queue was that I will let him know when I have the MRT ticket in my hot little hands ….

I knew that the airport MRT station had ticket machines which took credit card but would it accept mine? NO! The usually manned ticket counter was closed being so late. Having no Singapore cash on me, what do I do? Go back upstairs to change some money? Thankfully some kind person at the ticket machine brought my SGD$1.65 ticket! I gave her some US$$$$.

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But down in the bowels of the airport MTR station it wasn’t connected with the airport Wi-Fi so it was back upstairs to let Crosby know what was happening but more importantly when to expect me at Bugis station.

Thankfully he had already sent me instructions of how to get to my hotel as when I got to Bugis station there was no sign of him.

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With Maps.Me on my phone in one hand and asking exactly which way I had to go after surfacing out of Exit C made it to G Hotel with no problems.

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Then after connected with their Wi-Fi, messaged Crosby. It was an hour since my last message as to me the MRT seem to take forever to get to Bugis Station even at this late hour of the night. He wasn’t far away so off we went for a late dinner just one block from the hotel at Aroy-Dee Thai Kitchen along in Middle Rd. After some 20 or more years it was a long overdue catch up! I had some fried glass noodles.

Posted by bruceontour 01:56 Archived in Singapore Comments (0)

4 hours for dinner to be served but all good

Day 12 Lucknow > Delhi

We had a 3.30pm / 15:30 train to catch so the day was free. Most of us took up JD offer of showing us a bit more of Lucknow.

Another foggy start to the day and at 9C it was chilly to begin with. Soon the fog burnt off and it turned into a lovely day.

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Opposite the hotel - Look at what is being used as wickets

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Rumi Darwaza / Roomi Gate

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Husainabad Clock Tower

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Film crew in action

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Chhota Imambara

Leaving at 8.30am / 08:30 first up was Chhota Imambara where we had 30 minutes.

It is situated near the Bara Imambara and on the connecting road stands an imposing gateway known as Rumi Darwaza. The building is also known as the Palace of Lights because of its decorations and chandeliers during special festivals, like Muharram.

The chandeliers used to decorate the interior of this building were brought from Belgium. Also housed within the building, is the crown of Muhammad Ali Shah and ceremonial tazias. Thousands of labourers worked on the project to gain famine relief.

It has a gilded dome and several turrets and minarets. The tombs of Muhammad Ali Shah and other members of his family are inside the imambara. This includes two replicas of the Taj Mahal, built as the tombs of Muhammad Ali Shah's daughter and her husband. The walls are decorated with Arabic calligraphy. Thanks Mr Wikipedia

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chota_Imambara

http://lucknow.me/Chota-Imambara.html

https://www.holidify.com/places/lucknow/chota-imambara-sightseeing-2647.html

http://www.lucknowonline.in/city-guide/chhota-imambara-lucknow

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An anemometer in the form of fish at main gate

An anemometer in the form of fish at main gate

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Shahi Hamam or Royal baths

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Tomb of Princess Zinat Asiya, Daughter of King Mohammad Ali Shah Bahadur (3rd King of Awadh). Taj Mahal Replica.

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Chhota Imambara

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Chhota Imambara

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Chandeliers

Chandeliers

Floor chandeliers

Floor chandeliers

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The Throne of Muhammad Ali Shah

The Throne of Muhammad Ali Shah

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Pink clock - kind of out of place

Here are some more images from Dr “Google”:

https://www.google.co.nz/search?q=Chhota+Imambara++lucknow&rlz=1C1GGRV_enNZ751NZ751&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjm8feDwo7aAhXDVrwKHU6sBsQQ_AUICigB&biw=1396&bih=668

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Husainabad Clock Tower

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Residency

Residency entrance was 200 rupee / NZ$4.20 / US$3.10. During our short 30 minute stop here it was the door frames and arches that caught my eye. That was long enough to walk through the whole complex. Hardly anyone here so it was a really peaceful relief from the hustle and bustle of the trip.

The Residency, also called as the British Residency and Residency Complex, is a group of several buildings in a common precinct in the city of Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, India. It served as the residence for the British Resident General who was a representative in the court of the Nawab.

It was constructed during the rule of Nawab Saadat Ali Khan II, who was the fifth Nawab of the province of Awadh (British spelling Oudh). Construction took place between 1780 and 1800 AD. Between 1 July 1857 and 17 November 1857 the Residency was subject to the Siege of Lucknow, part of the Indian Rebellion of 1857. The Residency now exists as ruins.

The Residency has been maintained as it was at the time of the final relief, and the shattered walls are still scarred by cannon shot. Even since Indian Independence, little has changed. The ruined building is surrounded by lawns and flowerbeds and is a tourist attraction nowadays. The cemetery at the nearby ruined church has the graves of 2000 men, women and children, including that of Sir Henry Montgomery Lawrence who died during the siege.

There is a weathered epitaph near the grave of Sir Henry that reads "Here lies the son of Empire who tried to do his duty" while another nearby grave reads "Do not weep my children, for I am not dead, but am sleeping here." A light and sound show to display the history of the Residency is also played each evening. Thanks Mr Wikipedia

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Residency,_Lucknow

http://www.lucknowonline.in/city-guide/lucknow-residency

http://asi.nic.in/asi_monu_tktd_up_residency.asp

https://www.roughguides.com/destinations/asia/india/uttar-pradesh/lucknow/lucknow-residency-siege/

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It was Friday so the museum was closed. Wonder if this guy has been here since yesterday and is staying here till tomorrow?

It was Friday so the museum was closed. Wonder if this guy has been here since yesterday and is staying here till tomorrow?

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Chipmunks

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Here are some more images from Dr “Google”:

https://www.google.co.nz/search?q=Residency++lucknow&rlz=1C1GGRV_enNZ751NZ751&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwi50sjMw47aAhUFH5QKHakwDtQQ_AUICigB&biw=1396&bih=668

A quick stop at Mr Brown Bakery for a stand up pastry breakfast 87 rupee / NZ$1.80 / US$1.30 which we ate outside the bakery. Then onto to our third stop.

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Ambedkar Memorial

The short 15 minute stop overlooking Ambedkar Memorial Park wasn’t enough but it gave us a taste of what was down below and inside. It would have been good if we had time to see close up some of the 62 huge elephants on either side of the path leading up to the monument. Word of warning … if you touch the statues equals a fine of 500 rupees. After sunset the place gets lit up so that would be a really beautiful sight to see.

Ambedkar Memorial Park is a public park and memorial in Gomti Nagar, Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, India. It is more formally known as Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar Samajik Parivartan Prateek Sthal (Hindi: डॉ. भीमराव अम्बेडकर सामाजिक परिवर्तन प्रतीक स्थल ) and is also referred to simply as "Ambedkar Park". The park honors the lives and memories of Jyotirao Phule, Narayana Guru, Birsa Munda, Shahuji Maharaj, Bhimrao Ambedkar, Kanshi Ram and all those who've devoted their life for humanity, equality and social justice. The memorial was constructed by Mayawati, the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, during her administration when she led the Bahujan Samaj Party.

The foundation stone of the memorial was first laid in 1995. Earlier, the park was named Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar Udyan. In 2012, it was renamed the Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar Memorial and development work continued until 2002-03. In 2007, the park underwent further renovation and development. It was initially opened to the public on 14 April 2008 by Chief Minister Mayawati.

The entire memorial is built using red sandstone brought from Rajasthan. It is situated in the posh locality of Gomti Nagar, the largest planned residential colony in India. Cost of the memorial is estimated at 7 billion rupees. Its name was changed from Ambedkar Park to Bhimrao Ambedkar memorial in May 2012. Thanks Mr Wikipedia

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ambedkar_Memorial_Park

https://www.nativeplanet.com/travel-guide/visit-the-ambedkar-memorial-park-in-lucknow/articlecontent-pf18207-003696.html

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Babasaheb & Ramabai Ambedkar Statue

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Statue of former Uttar Pradesh chief minister Mayawati

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Here are some more images from Dr “Google”:

https://www.google.co.nz/search?q=Ambedkar+Memorial++lucknow&rlz=1C1GGRV_enNZ751NZ751&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiH0JKPxY7aAhUJoZQKHUdpBRQQ_AUICigB&biw=1396&bih=668

The 3 hours went by very quickly. Even our time at each stop was brief, it was most worthwhile seeing attractions of 3 quite different styles of architecture from the newly built to the ruins.

Lunch at Fork & Spoon – dal makhani 150 rupee / NZ$3.20 / US$2.30, steamed rice 100 rupee / NZ$2.10 / US$1.50, soft drink 40 rupee / NZ$.80 / US$.60. Total = 305 rupee / NZ$6.50 / US$4.70.

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In the afternoon boarded the Swarna Shatabdi Express train through to Delhi.

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Left at 3.30pm / 15:30 heading west.

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Soon the sun was about to set just after 5pm / 17:00 as we crossed the Ganges River on the outskirts of Kanpur, a large industrial city with just some 3 million people.

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Dinner was provided on board which took 4 hours to serve the various courses.

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Soup

Soup

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Ice cream

Ice cream

It was late 11.10pm / 21:10 when we finally arrived at Delhi and taken to Good Times Hotel for our last night’s stay.

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Hotel security on duty

Hotel security on duty


Posted by bruceontour 03:18 Archived in India Tagged indian_train Comments (0)

1024 ways to reach the roof but only 1 way to come back

Day 11 Varanasi > Lucknow

It was pitch black as we had to get up at some ungodly hour in readiness for the short transfer in pea soup fog to the nearby railway station to catch the morning 5am / 05:00 Varanasi - Lucknow Intercity train.

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Got into Lucknow at 12.30pm / 12:30.

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Lunch at The Mughal’s Dastarkhwan – House of Mughlai delicacies. Kebab Platter 475 rupee / NZ$10.00 / US$7.30, fresh lime soda 60 rupee / NZ$1.30 / US$.90, mughai paratha 24 rupee / NZ$.50 / US$.40, mineral water 20 rupee / NZ$.40 / US$.30 = Total 579 rupee / NZ$12.20 / US$8.90.

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Top Boli
Seekh
Bottom left Galawati
Bottom right Shami

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On route to Bara Imambara

Rumi Darwaza / Roomi Gate

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The Rumi Darwaza in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, India, is an imposing gateway which was built under the patronage of Nawab Asaf-Ud-daula in 1784. It is an example of Awadhi architecture. The Rumi Darwaza, which stands sixty feet tall, was modeled (1784) after the Sublime Porte (Bab-iHümayun) in Istanbul. Thanks Mr Wikipedia

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rumi_Darwaza

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Bara Imambara

Visited the famous Shia Muslim shrine with its ornate Mughal architecture and number 1 attraction in Lucknow. Yes, this massive shrine is a striking sight to behold and deserves it’s number 1 status.

Bara Imambara is an imambara complex in Lucknow, India, built by Asaf-ud-Daula, Nawab of Awadh, in 1784. It is also called the Asafi Imambara. Bara means big, and an imambara is a shrine built by Shia Muslims for the purpose of Azadari. The Bara Imambara is among the grandest buildings of Lucknow.

The complex also includes the large Asfi mosque, the bhul-bhulaiya (the labyrinth), and bowli, a step well with running water. Two imposing gateways lead to the main hall. It is said that there are 1024 ways to reach the terrace but only one to come back. It is an accidental architecture.

The architecture of the complex reflects the maturation of ornamented Mughal design, namely the Badshahi Mosque - it is one of the last major projects not incorporating any European elements or the use of iron. The main imambara consists of a large vaulted central chamber containing the tomb of Asaf-ud-Daula. At 50 by 16 meters and over 15 meters tall, it has no beams supporting the ceiling and is one of the largest such arched constructions in the world. There are eight surrounding chambers built to different roof heights, permitting the space above these to be reconstructed as a three-dimensional labyrinth with passages interconnecting with each other through 489 identical doorways. This part of the building, and often the whole complex, may be referred to as the Bhulbhulaya. Known as a popular attraction, it is possibly the only existing maze in India and came about unintentionally to support the weight of the building which is constructed on marshy land. Asaf-ud-Daula also erected the 18 meter / 59 foot high Rumi Darwaza, just outside. This portal, embellished with lavish decorations, was the Imambara's west facing entrance.

The design of the Imambara was obtained through a competitive process. The winner was a Delhi architect Kifayatullah, who also lies buried in the main hall of the Imambara. It is another unique aspect of the building that the sponsor and the architect lie buried beside each other. The roof of Imambara is made up from the rice husk which make this Imambara a unique building.

There is also a blocked tunnel passageway which, according to legends, leads through a mile-long underground passage to a location near the Gomti river. Other passages are rumoured to lead to Faizabad (the former seat of power of the Nawabs), Allahabad, Agra and even to Delhi. They exist but have been sealed after a period of long disuse as well as fears over the disappearance of people who had reportedly gone missing, while exploring but still the reality has not been checked. Thanks Mr Wikipedia

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bara_Imambara

http://www.lucknow.org.uk/tourist-attractions/bara-imambara.html

https://www.tornosindia.com/asafi-imambara/

https://www.roughguides.com/destinations/asia/india/uttar-pradesh/lucknow/bara-imambara/

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Hans, Sally, Joe, Bruce, Robyn, Ngaire, Tova, Ken

Hans, Sally, Joe, Bruce, Robyn, Ngaire, Tova, Ken

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Here are some more images from Dr “Google”:

https://www.google.co.nz/search?q=Bara+Imambara&tbm=isch

The highlight was wandering around the labyrinth with the 1024 ways to reach the roof terrace but only one to come back that if it wasn’t for the guide I would still be there trying to find my way out!

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Bruce, Ken, Robyn, Hans, Joe, Tova, Ngaire, Sally

Bruce, Ken, Robyn, Hans, Joe, Tova, Ngaire, Sally

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Our local guide

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Here are some more images from Dr “Google”:

https://www.google.co.nz/search?rlz=1C1GGRV_enNZ751NZ751&biw=1396&bih=668&tbm=isch&sa=1&ei=lgm6WsOGK8GZ0gSV7peoAQ&q=labyrinth+lucknow&oq=lab+lucknow&gs_l=psy-ab.1.0.0i7i30k1l2.89771.90550.0.92747.3.3.0.0.0.0.197.393.0j2.2.0....0...1c.1.64.psy-ab..1.2.393...0i8i7i30k1.0.u0H576DOIpM

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Next door was the bouli / royal well.

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Hans

Hans

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Here are some more images from Dr “Google”:

https://www.google.co.nz/search?q=bouli+lucknow&rlz=1C1GGRV_enNZ751NZ751&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiokNSck4zaAhVEn5QKHQj_CCIQ_AUICigB&biw=1396&bih=668

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Rumi Darwaza / Roomi Gate

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Dinner was supposed to be “street” food. To me it wasn’t but going to a fast food outlet – Royal Hut where I choose the pao bhaji for 110 rupee / NZ$2.30 / US$1.70.

The dish originated in the 1850s as a fast lunchtime dish for textile mill workers in Mumbai. Pav bhaji was later served at restaurants throughout the city. Pav bhaji is now offered at outlets from simple hand carts to formal restaurants in India and abroad.

Pav bhaji has many variations in ingredients and garnishes, but is essentially a spiced mixture of mashed vegetables in a thick gravy served hot with a soft white bread roll, usually cooked on a flat griddle (tava).

Variations on pav bhaji include:
• Cheese pav bhaji, with cheese on top of the bhaji
• Fried pav bhaji, with the pav tossed in the bhaji
• Paneer pav bhaji, with paneer cheese in the bhaji
• Mushroom pav bhaji, with mushrooms in the bhaji
• Khada pav bhaji, with vegetable chunks in the bhaji
• Jain pav bhaji, without onions and garlic and with plantains instead of potatoes
• Kolhapuri pav bhaji, using a spice mix common in Kolhapur
• White pav bhaji, with no garam masala or no chilli powder. Thanks Mr Wikipedia

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pav_bhaji

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Then at Naturelo natural ice cream the desert of chikoo ice cream 140 rupee / NZ$2.90 / US$2.20 ended this day.

https://www.facebook.com/natureloicecreams/

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I had in Mumbai at Taj Ice Cream their chikoo ice cream.

But what is Chikoo?

Chikoo, most commonly known as 'Sapota' in India, is a very familiar fruit. Chikoo is also called as Naseberry, Mud Apples, and Sapodilla Plum. Chikoo is a delicate brown fruit which tastes sweet and yummy. Chikoo is scientifically known as 'Sapodilla.' It comes from the Sapotaceae family in Central America.

https://mavcure.com/health-benefits-uses-chikoo-sapodilla-fruit-juice/

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Posted by bruceontour 23:58 Archived in India Tagged bara_imambara Comments (0)

Drifting down the Ganges ~ unique way of Indian life

Last up for the day was getting on board the bicycle rickshaw 150 rupee / NZ$3.20 / US$2.30 to get us back to the river for our third river trip. Joe who was better joined us as last night he was poorly and stayed back.

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Ken, Hans, Sally, Bruce, Ngaire, Robyn, Joe, Tova

Ken, Hans, Sally, Bruce, Ngaire, Robyn, Joe, Tova

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Joe and Tova

Joe and Tova

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JD and Hans

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Our boatman besides rowing also flew a kite

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JD kite flying again

Lassi

Varanassi is famous for its lassi. We got off Manikarnika Ghat for a 45 mins break. Passing the piles of timber ready for cremation, in single file because of the winding labyrinth of narrow alleys passing open shops, being passed by bodies as they were being carried down towards Manikarnika Ghat for cremation got to Blue Lassi.

Foreigners / tourists came and went as we were sitting on our tiny stools up inside a small room overlooking the alleyway surrounded by photos and messages left by travellers from throughout the world while we waited for our lassi to be made. Three generations of lassi wallah have sat on the same spot making I wonder how many million lassis have they made.

For me I enjoyed my banana lassi 160 rupee / NZ$3.35 / US$2.50 served in a traditional clay pot. Too much choice but that is not a criticism.

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Blue-Lassi-Shop/116732481739729

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Here are some more images from Dr “Google”:

https://www.google.co.nz/search?q=blue+lassi+shop+varanasi&rlz=1C1GGRV_enNZ751NZ751&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwicmozJ2oTaAhUBVLwKHdYoAl8Q_AUICigB&biw=1398&bih=664

Was rowed back towards the Dasaswamedh Ghat where the evening Aarti had already started. Again we lit our individual candles and placed them in the Ganges each offering our own prayers as they drifted downstream.

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JD

JD

Hans

Hans

Joe

Joe

Ngaire

Ngaire

Robyn

Robyn

Tova

Tova

Bruce

Bruce

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Two and a half hours later at 7.30pm / 19:30 we finished this part of the trip back just below the Harishchandra Ghat.

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Each of the 3 trips down the Ganges was different however I suppose that the first one was the most impressionable being the first time being confronted with everyday life and death besides each other very much out in the open compared to what I am used to. The next two trips after that merely added another layer to the experience of a very unique way of Indian life.

Dinner at El Parador and being a Nepali restaurant how could I not have their Traditional Nepali Meal: rice, dal, veg curry, sauted spinach, battered veg, cornmeal chapatti and yoghurt 400 quickly came to 550 rupee / NZ$11.60 / US$8.50.

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Posted by bruceontour 00:56 Archived in India Tagged ganges ghats harishchandra_ghat manikarnika_ghat ganga_aarti Comments (0)

Silk with rainbow spectrum of colours thrown in front of us

The afternoon was a free afternoon but Joe, Ngaire, Robyn, Sally, Tova and I opted to go to see silk being weaved into cloth. So it was a quick turnaround after getting back to the hotel.

The tuk tuk who took us there also waited for us was 100 rupee / NZ$2.10 / US$1.60 each.

I quickly lost my orientation as we were led into an area of again narrow alleyways turning left and right and left ...

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"Tiger Zinda Hai" the movie that we saw in Darjeeling

"Tiger Zinda Hai" the movie that we saw in Darjeeling

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To me the way that the holes in the patterns are hand punch for the machines was very much labour intensive. Surely a machine would churn out them out in next to no time.

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The noise of the machines clacking away would to me be deafening after a short while. Wonder what the workers’ hearing is like?

1 min 4 sec VIDEO

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Hand loom

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Then the shopping by the others. Somehow I enjoyed the 30 minutes as different quality of silk pieces covering the rainbow spectrum of colours was brought out and thrown in front of us. Eventually decisions were made and everyone left with their pieces to take home.

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Tova, Joe, Sally

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More "Tiger Zinda Hai" posters

More "Tiger Zinda Hai" posters

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Tova, Ngaire and Joe

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Got back to the hotel at 3pm / 15:00, 2 ½ hours after we left and while the others had an hour for a very late lunch at the hotel, JD took me to Varanasi Post Office, 100 rupee / NZ$2.10 / US$1.60 for the tuk tuk, so that I could buy a 20 rupee / NZ$0.40 / US$0.30 stamp to finally send Eve her post card that I got back in Mumbai. Time was running out to post it before I left India. This sending her a post card from every trip started back in when I was in Galapagos Islands 2011/ 2012 when I posted one from Post Office Bay, Floreana and it was hand delivered to her 2 months later by a traveller coming to New Zealand. http://v2.travelark.org/travel-blog/bruceontour/7

http://v2.travelark.org/travel-blog-entry/bruceontour/7/1325766339

(PS. The post card got to her several weeks later!)

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Posted by bruceontour 23:53 Archived in India Tagged silk Comments (0)

Daily ritual of washing bodies & clothes & burning of bodies

Day 10 Varanasi

It was winter and fog is not uncommon so there was no point in leaving early for our sunrise morning boat ride down the Ganges. So we left the hotel just after 7 am / 07:00 in tuk tuks travelling through the near empty roads covered in thick fog for New Bread of Life which was our breakfast stop.

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Skillet Breakfast = Fresh juice, toast, 2 eggs, hash brown, potatoes, tomato, mushroom and filter coffee 250 rupee / NZ$5.30 / US$3.80.

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Arrived at Harishchandra Ghat at 9am / 09:00 to catch the boat for our second trip down the sacred Ganges River.

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Kite flying

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For 2 hours we were rowed while the locals were participating in their dawn ritual of washing both their bodies and clothes plus the burning of bodies down at the river’s edge.

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Our 18 year old boatman

Our 18 year old boatman

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Boat loads after boat loads of locals were being ferried upstream to the temple. Wonder if they each had a life jacket. Silly question!

I think that we were of just as much interest to them as we were to them as out came their phone cameras.

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Soon the fog lifted and the sunshine gave both me a completely different light to use in these photos plus warmth to dry the washed clothes that were either hung or laid out to dry.

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The children were out again with their small kites.

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Joe

Joe

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Posted by bruceontour 01:50 Archived in India Tagged ganges ghats Comments (0)

Time to stop and reflect on the cycle of life and death

Day 9 Mughal Sarāi > Varanasi

It was 12.30 / 12:30 when we eventually arrived at Mughal Sarai. Yes, a rather long time from last night when we left at 7.40pm / 19:40 till now. The low lying fog caused many delays. Plus it was an enforced rest as being on the bottom bunk and with the 2 bunks above me still down meant that I had to also lie for most of the 17 hours. I was too tall to be sitting.

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Joe

Joe

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Continued by van the short distance to Varanasi and checked into the Hotel Vaibhav.

22 sec VIDEO

Leaving the railway station at Mughal Sarai

47 sec VIDEO

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Our first view of some of the 88 ghats lining the Ganges

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It was another late lunch of boiled rice 120 rupee / NZ$2.60 / US$1.80, dal makhani 200 rupee / NZ$4.30 / US$3.10, fresh lime soda 60 rupee / NZ$1.30 / US$0.90, stuffed paratha 70 rupee / NZ$1.50 / US$1.10 plus taxes = 473 rupee / NZ$10.00 / US$7.30 so that was lunch 500 rupee / NZ$10.50 / US$7.75.

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Leaving at 3.45 pm / 15:45 aboard several tuk tuks for the trip to the Harishchandra Ghat.

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Ghats

Ghats in Varanasi are riverfront steps leading to the banks of the River Ganges. The city has 88 ghats. Most of the ghats are bathing and puja ceremony ghats, while two ghats are used exclusively as cremation sites.

Most Varanasi ghats were rebuilt after 1700 AD, when the city was part of Maratha Empire. The patrons of current ghats are Marathas, Shindes (Scindias), Holkars, Bhonsles, and Peshwes (Peshwas). Many ghats are associated with legends or mythologies while many ghats are privately owned. Morning boat ride on the Ganges across the ghats is a popular visitors attraction. Thanks Mr Wikipedia

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ghats_in_Varanasi

Harishchandra Ghat is one of the 2 cremation sites.

https://www.varanasicity.com/harishchandra-ghat.html

Here are some more images from Dr “Google”:

https://www.google.co.nz/search?q=harishchandra+ghat+varanasi&rlz=1C1GGRV_enNZ751NZ751&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjDktn30YTaAhXLjLwKHd8MCIwQ_AUICigB&biw=1400&bih=665

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Harishchandra Ghat

Harishchandra Ghat

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We motored up stream and after turning the motor off drifted downstream with our 18 year boatman using the oars to keep us on course. It was certainly a relaxing way to take in the sights and activity on the shore as our boatman dipped his oars around us.

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Harishchandra Ghat

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Boys kite flying

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Fishing

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Our boatman - kite flying

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JD kite flying

Hans kite flying

Hans kite flying

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Harishchandra Ghat

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Approaching Dasaswamedh Ghat

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Drifted as far as Manikarnika Ghat which is known by some as the burning ghat and is one of the holiest sites. For some I’m aware that it could often be a confronting site.

Because this was the main cremation site, I could see from the distance the fires and then the smell of the smoke before arriving at the ghat. Sitting out on the water it was time to stop and reflect on the cycle of life and death.

As many Hindus believe the cycle of death and reincarnation will end by dying in Varanasi, this is their last stop.

One report has approximately 200 bodies are cremated throughout a day at the 2 sites. So all day long bodies are cremated on top of pyres on the riverfront steps at the 2 ghats. Finally their remains are sent into the river.

Manikarnika Ghat

Manikarnika Ghat (Hindi: मणिकर्णिका घाट) is one of the holiest among the sacred riverfronts (ghats), alongside the river Ganga. It is believed that a dead human's soul finds salvation (moksha), when cremated here. Thus, scores of the elderly across the whole country seek to walk up to its edges, and spend their last days absorbing the charisma of the ghat - which makes even death painless and insignificant to be pondered upon.

In India, death is considered as a gateway to another life received as a result of our past actions (karma). Thanks Mr Wikipedia

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manikarnika_Ghat#cite_note-1

Manikarnika Ghat, the main burning ghat, is the most auspicious place for a Hindu to be cremated. Dead bodies are handled by outcasts known as doms, and are carried through the alleyways of the Old City to the holy Ganges on a bamboo stretcher, swathed in cloth. The corpse is doused in the Ganges prior to cremation.

Huge piles of firewood are stacked along the top of the ghat; every log is carefully weighed on giant scales so that the price of cremation can be calculated. Each type of wood has its own price, sandalwood being the most expensive. There is an art to using just enough wood to completely incinerate a corpse.

https://www.lonelyplanet.com/india/varanasi/attractions/manikarnika-ghat/a/poi-sig/1321849/356519

Here are some more images from Dr “Google”:

https://www.google.co.nz/search?q=manikarnika+ghat+varanasi&rlz=1C1GGRV_enNZ751NZ751&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjzyffYzYTaAhULVrwKHWGVB6gQ_AUICigB&biw=1400&bih=665

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Was rowed back and joining many other boats rafted up together to watch the nightly elaborate and colourful evening Aarti held on the steps of Dasaswamedh Ghat.

Varanasi Ganga Aarti

The Varanasi Ganga Aarti takes place every sunset at holy Dasaswamedh Ghat, near Kashi Vishwanath Temple. It differs from the aartis at Haridwar and Rishikesh in that it's a highly choreographed ceremony. Although a spectacular must-see, some people consider it to be too much of an artificial and showy extravaganza to have a lot of meaning in a spiritual context.

The aarti is performed on a stage by a group of young pandits, all draped in saffron colored robes with their puja plates spread out before them. It commences with the blowing of a conch shell, and continues with the waving of incense sticks in elaborate patterns and circling of large flaming lamps that create a bright hue against the darkened sky. The movement of the lamps, held in the pandits' hands, is tightly synchronizing to the rhythmic chants of hymns and clang of cymbals. The heady scent of sandalwood thickly permeates the air.

People start arriving very early (as early as 5 p.m.) in order to get a good position for viewing the aarti. A novel and effective way of seeing it is by boat from the river. Alternatively, many shops in the vicinity hire their balconies out to tourists. A maha aarti (great aarti) takes place on a particularly elaborate scale in Varanasi near the end of each year on Kartik Purnima.

https://www.tripsavvy.com/ganga-aarti-india-guide-1539713

Details about Ganges Aarti

A group of young saints dressed up with silky saffron and white robes conduct this ceremony. Each pandit or saint takes up a specific spot in the Ghat and start the ritual by offering flowers to the river. The ritual includes many oil lamps like snake hood lamp which are waved in a synced motion. Conch shells are blown during the ceremony too. Yak tail fans and peacock feather fans are also waved during the ceremony. The priests end the ceremony by pouring a bowl of water into the river. Upon which, the devotees let go of small oil lamps with flowers on a leaf to float on the river.

"Thousands of devotees gather to watch this Aarti and by the end of the Ganga aarti ceremony, you can find thousands of small oil lamps floating on the river that would look like numerous stars on the water".

http://www.visittnt.com/varanasi-tours/varanasi-arti.html

If I am fortunate to return to Varanasi in the future, it would be great to witness this ceremony from on the ghat itself.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dashashwamedh_Ghat

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Sally and Ken

Sally and Ken

Ngaire

Ngaire

Sally

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Ken

Ken

Robyn

Robyn

Hans

Hans

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Tova

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Time to lit our own candles and place it into the water

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Ngaire

Ngaire

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Here are some more images from Dr “Google”:

https://www.google.co.nz/search?q=dashashwamedh+ghat+aarti+timings&rlz=1C1GGRV_enNZ751NZ751&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwibptjByYTaAhVHWLwKHYuiAWMQ_AUICygC&biw=1400&bih=665

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Hans

Hans

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After 3 hours on the water it was time to leave and take in and process what I had just witnessed. I think in two words it would be a “moving experience”.

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Dinner at Annapurna with the Annapurna Special Thali 220 rupee / NZ$4.70 / US$3.40, tea 50 rupee / NZ$1.10 / US$0.80. Plus GST and a tip came to 300 rupee / NZ$6.40 / US$4.60.

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Posted by bruceontour 01:34 Archived in India Tagged ganges ghats harishchandra_ghat manikarnika_ghat ganga_aarti Comments (0)

From 1,500 metres to 123 metres asl in 34 kms

Day 8 Darjeeling > Siliguri > Mughal Sarāi

Today all we had to do was to drive the 62 km down to Siliguri in order to catch an overnight air-conditioned sleeper train from New Jalpaiguri to Mughal Sarai just out of Varanasi.

Didn’t realise how bushed I was as I couldn’t focus and update my blog. Instead went to sleep at 5.30pm / 17:30 and didn’t get out of bed till 9am / 09:00 though I know that I was awake every 3 hours. So it was a late 10.30am / 10:30 departure from Darjeeling.

55 sec VIDEO

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11 sec VIDEO

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A very late just after noon breakfast come brunch stop at Kurseong Tourist Lodge.

A masala omelette 58 rupees / NZ$1.20 / US$0.90 plus a small pot of coffee for 100 rupees / NZ$2.10 / US$1.50. Add the various service charges and a tip I handed over 200 rupees / NZ$4.20 / US$3.10.

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Kurseong

Thomas the Tank Engine? Wonder where the Fat Controller is?

Thomas the Tank Engine? Wonder where the Fat Controller is?

Then at Kurseong turned right and started the downwards drive along the Matigara – Kurseong Road / Subash Ghisingh Marg / Road. I lost count of the number of switchbacks that we had to take to drop the short 34 kms from Kurseong being at 1,500 metres / 4,783 feet above sea level to finally be at Siliguri just 123 metres / 404 feet above sea level.

What a change in temperature as well.

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To kill time we stopped part way along the journey by a field of tea trees.

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Shekhar our driver and JD

Shekhar our driver and JD

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Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary

Then just 11 km out of Siliguri we stopped at the Sukna Forest Village.

https://indikosh.com/vill/322400/sukna-forest

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Next door was the Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary.

So what can you see in Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary?

Actually lots of flora and animal life in wide variations.

There are 330 different types of plantations that have been recorded in the sanctuary. Amongst forest plantation you will see Khair, sisoo, simul and tropical sal forests. Other major plantations includes teak, udal, champ, lali, jarul, gamar, mandane, bamboos, ferns, orchids, sidha etc.

https://www.darjeeling-tourism.com/darj_000093.htm

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mahananda_Wildlife_Sanctuary

The whole place was a bit run down the put it mildly. We saw no animals.

http://simanachariya.weebly.com/travel-information-of-mahananda-wildlife-sukna-latpanchor-punding-gulma-toribari-seventh-mile-and-latlong-sector.html

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Gin Rummy

Gin Rummy

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Here are some more images from Dr “Google”:

https://www.google.co.nz/search?q=sukna+to+sukna+forest+village&rlz=1C1GGRV_enNZ751NZ751&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjNoPWN_YHaAhUBTrwKHeVMAbUQsAQIVw&biw=1396&bih=662

https://www.google.co.nz/search?q=mahananda+wildlife+sanctuary&rlz=1C1GGRV_enNZ751NZ751&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjIx_Kv_4HaAhWFgrwKHackC7sQ_AUICigB&biw=1396&bih=662

29 sec VIDEO

10 sec VIDEO

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Finally at 4.45 pm / 16:45 got to the railway station at New Jalpaiguri where we said our farewells to Shekhar our driver.

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Hans, Joe, Sally, Shekhar, Bruce, Robyn, Ngaire, Tova, Ken

Hans, Joe, Sally, Shekhar, Bruce, Robyn, Ngaire, Tova, Ken

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When I went to another platform to find the toilet came across a place where they served either eat in or takeaway food. As I saw a tray of freshly cooked biriyani come out, so that was dinner for me 100 rupee / NZ$2.10 / US$1.60.

Back at the platform while waiting for the train got another bottle of cold Thums Up 30 rupee / NZ$0.60 / US$0.50.

Thums Up is a brand of cola in India. The logo is a red thumbs up. It was introduced in 1977 to offset the withdrawal of The Coca-Cola Company from India. The brand was later bought by Coca-Cola who re-launched it in order to compete against Pepsi.

As of February 2012, Thums Up is the leader in the cola segment in India, commanding approximately 42% market share and an overall 15% market share in the Indian aerated waters market. Thanks Mr Wikipedia

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thums_Up

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Yes, it was a basic overnight train. Unlike the first overnight train that was a 4 berth with curtains, this was a 6 berth with no curtain. Short story I ended up again on the bottom bunk, though initially was allocated the middle bunk. I am just glad that I didn’t have the top bunk. You have to be a wee hobbit to get up into that small space.

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Finally 2 hours after getting to the station we pulled out at 7.40pm / 19:40.

Posted by bruceontour 20:27 Archived in India Tagged mahananda_wildlife_sanctuary Comments (0)

Roast chicken on a sizzling plate

Peace Pagoda

As with other Peace Pagodas around the world, its aim is to unite peace seekers to create the calm they hope for.

Peace Pagoda, Darjeeling or Darjeeling Peace Pagoda is one of the Peace Pagodas designed to provide a focus for people of all races and creeds to help unite them in their search for world peace. It is located in the town of Darjeeling in the Indian state of West Bengal. Like most of the other Peace Pagodas, it was built under the guidance of Nichidatsu Fujii (1885–1985), a Buddhist monk from Japan and founder of the Nipponzan-Myōhōji Buddhist Order.

The foundation stone of the pagoda was laid on 3 November 1972 by Nichidatsu Fujii, and was inaugurated on 1 November 1992. The pagoda was designed by M. Ohka, and it took 36 months for constructing it. It houses the four avatars of Buddha including Maitreya Buddha. The height of the pagoda is 28.5 metres / 94ft and diameter is 23 metres / 75ft.The Pagoda is situated on the slopes of the Jalapahar hills of Darjeeling, a few kilometres from the town of Darjeeling. Thanks Mr Wikipedia

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peace_Pagoda,_Darjeeling

https://www.darjeeling-tourism.com/darj_00001e.htm

https://1001things.org/japanese-temple-and-peace-pagoda-darjeeling/

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Here are some more images from Dr “Google”:

https://www.google.co.nz/search?q=peace+pagoda+darjeeling&rlz=1C1GGRV_enNZ751NZ751&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjt39HN0__ZAhWFFHwKHdqdAKMQ_AUICigB&biw=1536&bih=734

Mahakal Temple

This charming temple is situated on top of a hill. Inside, a cave is designated as a holy site for worshippers of Shiva, the Hindu god of destruction. Previously the location of a Buddhist Monastery, it continues to be an important site for pilgrims.

Rising abruptly from Chowrasta is the hilltop. Situated atop is the ancient temple of Mahakal, a form of Lord Shiva. There is a cave sacred to worshippers in the temple. In Sanskrit, the word "Durjay Ling", means "Shiva of invincible prowess, who rules the Himalayas." There is a suggestion that the name Darjeeling could have emanated from this name. The place where the Mahakal Temple stands was once occupied by the Buddhist monastery. It is still a place of great sanctity for the Bhutias. Bells ring in the midst of fluttering flags, which are used to pray in the shrine. Monkeys are seen in plenty at the Observatory Hill. Thanks Mr Wikipedia

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Observatory_Hill,_Darjeeling

https://www.darjeeling-tourism.com/darj_000014.htm

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Here are some more images from Dr “Google”:

https://www.google.co.nz/search?q=mahakal+temple+darjeeling&rlz=1C1GGRV_enNZ751NZ751&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwivhoHVy__ZAhVpxlQKHb9UDGoQsAQIRA&biw=1536&bih=734

Darjeeling Mall

Darjeeling Mall

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Enough airline offices - Sunday and closed

Enough airline offices - Sunday and closed

Sign was not in the usual KFC red but pink

Sign was not in the usual KFC red but pink

Glenary’s

Then a late lunch at Glenary’s. Chicken corn soup 100 Rupees / NZ$2.10 / US$1.50 and roast chicken 350 Rupees / NZ$7.40 / US$5.40 kind of fancied me … I suppose it was the grandeur of the old colonial British setting with its white table cloths and pictures around the wall which lead me to having the roast chicken. Plus it came on a sizzling plate.

This in its heyday would have been one of the places to dine at. It still is.

https://www.darjeeling-tourism.com/darj_000051.htm

https://www.facebook.com/glenarysdarjeeling/

https://www.lonelyplanet.com/india/darjeeling/restaurants/glenary-s/a/poi-eat/449583/356540

View from the restaurant

View from the restaurant

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Here are some more images from Dr “Google”:

https://www.google.co.nz/search?q=glenary%E2%80%99s+restaurant+darjeeling&rlz=1C1GGRV_enNZ751NZ751&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjsjdOg1f_ZAhUGAXwKHcD7AxEQ_AUICigB&biw=1536&bih=734

By now the air was cold so while less than 3kms walk back to the hotel JD, Tova & I got a taxi back.

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Sunset from the hotel

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Posted by bruceontour 20:45 Archived in India Tagged temple peace_pagoda Comments (0)

All aboard the Toy Train: Darjeeling > Ghum

Toot Toot

Climbed aboard and grabbed a seat aboard this charming narrow-gauge vintage steam engine train. It's the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Darjeeling Himalayan Railway and was one of the highlights and attractions for me to do this trip. I wasn’t disappointed … not that I am a train spotter!

The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, also known as the DHR or Toy Train, is a 2ft / 610 mm narrow-gauge railway based on zig zag and loop-line technology which runs between New Jalpaiguri and Darjeeling in the Indian state of West Bengal. Built between 1879 and 1881, with six zig-zags and five loops, the railway is about 88km / 55 mile long. Its elevation varies from about 100m / 328ft at New Jalpaiguri to about 2,200m / 7,218ft at Darjeeling. Although four diesel locomotives handle most scheduled service, the daily tourist trains (from Darjeeling to Ghum—India's highest railway station—and the Red Panda, from Darjeeling to Kurseong) and steam-enthusiast specials are hauled by vintage British-built B-Class steam locomotives. The railway's headquarters are in Kurseong.

On 2 December 1999, UNESCO declared the DHR a World Heritage Site. Two more railway lines were later added, and the site became known as the mountain railways of India. Thanks Mr Wikipedia

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Darjeeling_Himalayan_Railway

https://www.darjeeling-tourism.com/darj_000089.htm

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Ken - 2ft wide guage

Ken - 2ft wide guage

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How close we were to the people going about their day to day life as well as the vehicles and buildings at the side of the 2 foot wide track.

Ken, Joe, Bruce, Ngaire, Sally, Robyn, Ken, Tova

Ken, Joe, Bruce, Ngaire, Sally, Robyn, Ken, Tova

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Here are some more images from Dr “Google”:

https://www.google.co.nz/search?rlz=1C1GGRV_enNZ751NZ751&biw=1536&bih=734&tbm=isch&sa=1&ei=0XqzWtPiNuqF0wLV-ZWoBw&q=toy+train+darjeeling&oq=toy+tr+darjeeling&gs_l=psy-ab.1.0.0i7i30k1l4j0i7i5i30k1j0i8i7i30k1l5.4928.6716.0.8921.6.6.0.0.0.0.263.1196.2-5.5.0....0...1c.1.64.psy-ab..1.5.1195...0i8i30k1.0.d2S-ZcrKvWw

The interior of the train carriages:

https://www.google.co.nz/search?rlz=1C1GGRV_enNZ751NZ751&biw=1536&bih=734&tbm=isch&sa=1&ei=5HqzWrDiFaaG0wKmg76QDw&q=toy+train+darjeeling+interior&oq=toy+train+interior+darjeeling&gs_l=psy-ab.1.0.0i8i30k1.3317.5195.0.6765.9.9.0.0.0.0.348.1282.2-4j1.5.0....0...1c.1.64.psy-ab..4.5.1277...0i13k1j0i7i5i30k1j0i8i7i30k1j0i13i5i30k1.0.t3NToAh3GaY

Posted by bruceontour 00:07 Archived in India Tagged train unesco toy_train world_heritage_site darjeeling_himalayan_railway dhr Comments (0)

No Mt Everest but still a neat orange sunrise

Day 7 Darjeeling

Tiger Hill Sunrise

Drove up to the top of Tiger Hill, famous for its stunning panoramic and view of Mt Everest and Mt Kangchenjunga but will I be lucky? The sky was certainly black with the stars twinkling in the distance. Slowly it turned to a band of orange. Plus it was cold so several cups of hot chai was gratefully welcomed! Thanks JD.

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No view of Mt Everest because of the cloud though Mt Kangchenjunga, India’s tallest mountain and the world’s third at 8,586 m / 28,169 ft was just visible in the distance.

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Mt. Kangchenjunga

Mt. Kangchenjunga


The mountains was bathed in pink light.

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I was surprised at seeing so many people. Mainly domestic tourists and few “foreigners” like us. A huge cheer and rush to see the sun as it broke through the cloud.

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A new concrete grandstand is being built which will certainly help with the crowds especially in high season.

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Tiger Hill (2,590 m) is located in Darjeeling, in the Indian State of West Bengal, and is the summit of Ghoom, the highest railway station in the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway – a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It has a panoramic view of Mount Everest and Mt. Kangchenjunga together.

It is 11 km from the town of Darjeeling and can be reached either by jeep or by foot through Chowrasta, Alubari or Jorebangla and then climbing up the incline to the summit.

At sunrise, the peaks of Kangchenjunga are illuminated before the sun is seen at lower elevations.

From Tiger Hill, Mount Everest (8848m) is just visible. Makalu (8481m) looks higher than Mt. Everest, owing to the curvature of the Earth, as it is several miles closer than Everest. The distance in a straight line from Tiger Hill to Everest is 172 km / 107 miles.

On a clear day, Kurseong is visible to the south and in the distance, along with Teesta River, Mahanada River, Balason River and Mechi River meandering down to the south. Chumal Rhi mountain of Tibet, 135 km / 84 miles away, is visible over the Chola Range. Thanks Mr Wikipedia

https://www.darjeeling-tourism.com/darj_000016.htm

https://www.lonelyplanet.com/india/darjeeling/attractions/tiger-hill/a/poi-sig/449627/356540

Here are some more images from Dr “Google” if the clouds had behaved themselves:

https://www.google.co.nz/search?q=tiger+hill+darjeeling&rlz=1C1GGRV_enNZ751NZ751&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwi5_cjzyP_ZAhUU8WMKHRQQCIEQ_AUICigB&biw=1536&bih=734

Back to the hotel for an 8 am breakfast of macaroni 65 rupees / NZ$1.40 / US$1.00 and a hot chocolate 50 rupees / NZ$1.00 / US$0.80.

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Posted by bruceontour 12:59 Archived in India Tagged sunrise Comments (0)

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