India stories

7 years India with breaks, some stories and infos     english - german,    
Onpage: Winter 2oo9- o10, Northindia on cycle, Mixed places

My trip in India winter 2oo9 - o10    

Route: Delhi - Pushkar - Om beach - Hampi - Goa - Mumbai

    I arrived in Delhi start of Dezember, staied there in the wellknown Main Bazar also Pahar Ganj you can find what you need there, countless shops, hotels, guest houses, restaurants and food stores. It can be shocking for newcomers because of the dirt, you can still see cows roaming around in the streets of Pahgar Ganj, but is well known and wanted for its atmosphere by travellers, hippies and freaks. For me it s always enough to stay there for some days for acclimatising, during winter the climate gets moderate during days and in the night it can get quite fresh, during january it can get down to freezing point during the nights.
    Not too far from Pahar Ganj/main bazar you can find the big Jama Masjid, the big Mosque, worth a vist, it gets closed for tourists during prayer times, this was the standard some years ago and maybe that changed till then. Also worth a visit is the area around the Parliament, India gate and the parks around parade road, as well as the famouse Counnaught place which is a huge round about placed around a park similar area and lawns for resting in the center, underground you find a market place for all kind of articles, digital equipment and the more. Around Counnaught place you find areas for shopping, bazars and markets.

    After some days I left Delhi by train to Pushkar which is a good overnight trip, Pushkar is placed not far from Ajmer, a big city, in northeastern Rajasthan. Pushkar is famouse for the holy lake around which the village is placed, the temple dedicated to Brahma in India if not the only one, you can watch monkeys jumping around the bazar, cows, countless pigeons, even some pigs, camels and kingfishers at the lakeside. Sadly the lake was dry during winter 2009/10 and it should be still in this condition, you only find some small lakes at the ghats reserved for the pilgrims, Pushkar is a Vegetarian only (veg only) place and usually you dont get alcoholics there as well, only at some special places you get it. During October the famouse Pushkar fair takes place, which i never attanded because of my fear of the hundred thousands of people, if not milliones. It is Indias largest camel fair and during that time prices for accomodation rise sharply.
    You find nearly everything in the Bazar, from the vegetable marcet to Internet places, souvenirs, arts, restaurants, camal renting, even a small italian coffee shop and the more. After 2 weeks I left Pushkar and spent 2 days on bus and train heading to the south.

    Om beach was the destination, a good stretch of nice beach which is diparted by a small section of cliffs in the middle, all togather is formed as the Om sign, during season it s crowded now and you have to be lucky to find a place to stay, usually the more you walk on the beach away from the parking spot you get more lucky finding accomodation. Early mornings the beach is nearly empty and during days you can hire boats to reach for Paradise and Half Moon beach further to the south. You can also hike there, it may take about 1 hour to the last one Paradise beach, from Om beach.
    Om beach is an excellent area for watching kingfishers, I counted 3 different species some years ago, last time it was just the Pied kingfisher (Grauer Eisvogel), which you can see flying out to the end of the cliffs even in pairs, or see them hunting near the rocks, standing in the sky waiting for the catch, quite impressing birds. For Gokarna hop down

    Next station was Hampi where we got by bus, starting early in the morning from Gokarna, a pilgrim city, in walking distance from Om beach. Hampi was once a flurishing city and the capital of southern India at its time, inhabiting 500 000 people in the 16th century, now you find many old and magnificant temples spread around a few square kilometers, you can walk the area or do some sectiones by bicycle, you can find the old queens bath, the Elephant stables - quite impressiing; the old public bath also a very interesting structure, countless city and palace walls, temples on the hills surrounding the area, old Bazars, and huge temple areas worth a good visit. During the days it gets very hot and youd better not forget to take some liquids with you, the elephant stables are only possible to see with a ticket 500 rupees worth, once the stables were for free, but as the times changed you have to pay 500 now, as for the Taj Mahal, temples in Kajhurao and others. At some sights you get drinks and coconuts for refreshing.

    The village of Hampi where its possible to stay, placed within the ruins and temples, is small but nice and has its own atmosphere with monkeys, goats, cows etc roaming around. Dont buy any food during sunset time on the hills from some locals as cookies or the more, police is up there during sunset and is watching for wired guys and activities, people are asked to leave the hills after sunset, which is usually impressing and shouldn t be missed. Downstream you can have good walks, climbing around the rocks and find some temples here and there, even some stone carvings in the granite. If you are lucky you can watch the Hoopoe in the vicinity of ruins and hills, which has nice colour and a big crest.

    Hampis look changed over last years from 2o12, may houses got razed and rumble. The reason behind is that they want somehow to follow international standards for World heritage sights, thatfor hosues builtin the ruins or main old bazar go razed. It looks now inmany areas like a rumble place, once Vijianagar the Victory city, now a rumble place to international UNESCO standards.
    Even as many archaelogical sights and places were empty of new constructions, in the hills and fields, also the few houses builtin at the center of the once village got razed.

    The atmosphere there got ugly and unfriendly, a rumble place, to follow international standards, lets see what the future brings for the once Victory city and the village people near it today.
    I know of a quite big ruin and tower which got razed in central Europe what seems to be some morons hobby, to raze ruins and hosues even during peacetimes. Somehow they want over yeras to proove their itiotism.

    After about 2 weeks in Hampi, which is a good time, we left by train for north Goa not far from the main town in the north Mapsa (also Mapusa) from where you get to the famouse beaches Anjuna, Vagator, and the less famouse ones Morjim, Mandrem, Asvem and in the north Arambol, all worth a visit. I met old friends and visited the hidden spots and locationes which get less andless hidden over the years.

    Chapora a small village, one of the main meeting and freak hangouts during the season and worth a short visit (only for most). During Monsoon season there are usually no foreign tourists there, the Monsoon very strong and by its own a special experience. The old Portugese Fort Chapora (pic) is also worth a visit for the view you get from there, what is left of the Fort is just the outer walls which are also good to climb on. On the hills, if you re lucky, you can see the beautiful Indian Monarch butterfly, red with white stripe, around monsoon and even before rarely.
What is bad about the parties is that they need to stop playing music at 10.00 pm since a couple of years. Once they played till morning and sometimes over 2 or 3 days .... Yet good party locationes are 9 Bar, Hilltop, Disco valley, Dragon house, Magic Forest, also at White rock and small Vagator beach during the season Infos on parties by fliers, rumours, mouth propaganda etc "yes we can" or "Open ears open eyes !"

    Birds of prey which can often be seen in Goa are kites, Black, Brahmin, Red and others, you can watch kingfishers at Chapora bay, twice I have seen an Osprey (Fischadler) which rarely visits the Laguna for catch. Seagulls, Woodpeckers, wild Peacocks around the hills, Grey Hornbills roaming in small groups during monsoon, the more Oriols (Pirol) and the Ultimate Skymaster Whitebellied Seaeagle, check links at end of chapter. Snake encounters of Goa can be found at science research page.
    Got stuck in Goa for more than a month and left by Mumbai, where you can take daily trains and buses to from Goa. (Pernem, Thivim, Karmali, Margao rlwy stations) Buses the evenings from Mapusa and trains from Thivim station. If you stay in Arambol you can take the train from Pernem station.

more Goa infos, Goa freak, Hampi gallery, Pushkar gallery,

top hop

North India on cycle 1999 - 2000

Cycle route: Delhi - Mc Leod Ganj - Manali - Kullu valley - PARVATI valley - Kasol - Manikaran - Kalga - Haridwar - RISHIKESH - Karanprayag - Joshimat - BADRINATH - Gwaldam - KAUSANI - Kosi valley - ALMORA - Raniketh - Ramnagar/ Corbett nat park - Delhi (offcycle: - Varanasi - Bodh Gaya - Delhi) - Goa

Equipment: Mountain bike, not the most costly but upper class, sleeping bag, small tent, spare parts, cloths, toiletts, water bottles, some plasters and desinfection

    I started in Delhi and went from there by bus, the cycle was on the roof of the bus, to Mc Leod Ganj, (map, a very nice hill station at the slopes of the Himalayas, from where you can do trekks, also hiking in the woods and adjoining mountain slopes is nice, partly in magic sceneries.
    Mac Leod Ganj is well known for the tibetan community which is located there, since their flight from Tibet, and the surrounding areas and villages. The Dalai Lama, the head of the tibetan community has his residency there, You find all kind of monasteries, partly with huge praying wheels and great decorated buddhist halls.
    On the other side in the woods up the slope from Mc Leod Ganj you find the Vypassana center and Tushitas one of the main teaching center for Buddhists and interested tourists, ( done with Stupas in the joining woods around, the main hall, lecture places, a library and the more, Mc Leod streetmap.
    In the region around you find nice villages in walking distance, set in the nice Deodar woods (Himalaya Cedar) once calm, easy going and relaxed, nowadays more busy of foreign and indian tourists. Dharamkot and Bhagsu are both in walking distance from Mc Leod Ganj, in the woods you can also find flowering Rhododendron trees at times of the years, also buddhist worship places, often decorated with prayer flags.

    In Bhagsu you find a traditional public bath (is gone since 015) and further backside the way to the river you get to the waterfall. The region is best fitting for hikes and trekk, the longer one up northeast the way to Manali takes 1 week, Triund can be reached in half day, also the waterfall up from Dharamkot, Infos on trekks you can get in Mc Leod Ganj, horses get the heavy luggage of groups usually.

    After about 2 weeks I took the cycle on the bus for the part from Mc Leod Ganj to Manali, in the upper Kullu valley, a long dayride usually, today better in Jeeptaxi or cabs.

    After a night in Manali I took my cycle and rode down the old road along the eastern side of the valley which was a kind of magic at that times. The Beas river below surrounded by late autumn paddy fields.

    From Bunthar I rode the way up into the famouse Parvati valley. The main villages on way into the valley are Jari, from where you get into and up to Malana, the secret hotspot for insiders, and untouchable touris. Further to Kasol and some little kilometers upstream Manikaran at the hot baths.

    At the end of the street I raeched Beershani, after some day break in Jari. From Beershani I took my cycle in porter stile over the small bridge to the other side. At that time there was a small magic gorge what changed over the years as the ugly and ever unfinisd construction site, Nakthan power project, got on way which caterpillard the gorge out of the way therefor then. Little people remember the nice gorge, some were not born yet who do now flatscreen mobiles.
    Beershani village, in the Parvati valley where you pass Kasol, which became a freak and Israeli hangout, after Kasol along the street you reach Manikaran the hot bath village, which is a pilgrimage location for Hindus, it takes about two days only o cycle down from Mnaali and into the valley, not much time but good enough for the begin in the Himalayas on cycle.
    Relaxed places in the upper Parvati valley are Pulga (freak hangout), Kalga, Kheerganga (hot springs) and Malana which you reach from Jari, mid valley. Once the street up from Manikaran was not paved and a good trip with the mountain bike, now its less adventurouse, the street got paved and some Hydro power projects (map got brought on way since then (Malana hpp and Nakthan dam) and do the valley a strange effect. Last time, 2006, the project at Jari was nearly finished and the dam near Nakthan under construction.

    Some people say the Parvati valley is dangerouse, I do not keep it as so, it depends what you go for, as long as you do not engage with wired people and do trekking without guides, or take drugs at the wrong place, at the wrong time with the wrong people. Many travel the Parvati valley to get a good puff of Charas, what is easily possible. Many locals sell it during harvest season which is during September- October, in the south of India you get Ganja what is identic with weed or Marihuana, more Parvaty valley infos
    Infos on the vallies Hydro power projects in the german edition

    I left by bus for Haridwar, also "The gate to the gods" with a fascinatig area along the river -the ghats which is usually very crowded during the day, early mornings are nice there, from where I started my cycle trip, about 25km up to Rishikesh (map) where the river Ganga is coming out of the Himalayas and is doing his first smooth moves, it s also possible to raft on the Ganga and camp on its banks upriver.

    Rishikesh the well known place of worship for Hindus and tourists who participate in all kind of teachings, yoga, meditation, you find some ashrams there and it s a good place to observe the indian traditiones and worshippers, you can see Sadhus, the indian holy men, maybe you find your guru there as the Beatles did. I like it for its atmosphere along the river, you can even swim in the Ganga but should respect the indian traditiones, some few hundred meters up the river there is a sand bank where it s possible to swim in the river, on the right side when you look up the river. Monkeys are as well climbing around at the bridge called Laxman jhula (revisited 013- 017)

    After some days in Rishikesh I started moving closer to the high peaks by cycle the way up along the powerfull Ganga. In hindi a tour up there is also named Yatra what means pilgrimage, which is done by many Hindus and Sadhus, mostly during hot season.
    The region upriver in the high altitude peaks with its nice rivers is named Dev Bumi - "The land of the gods". So I started moving into the land of the gods, what is not an exaggeration, it s the best i ve done in my life till now.
    Up from Rishikesh you can reach the Panch Kedars (5 Kedars), each place is set with temples and shrines, sometimes a small village nearby and each located at one of the sources of the holy Ganga. Famouse pilgrim locations for Hindus and also hardcore Sadhus who exercise along the chilling streams and snow uprange. I chose Badrinat as my final uphill destination at over 3000 meters. So I was starting to cycle only uphill for days .....a strong exercise.

    Following are the places where I staied overnight, always a good day trip apart: Rishikesh- Devaprayag- Rudraprayag- Karanprayag- Joshimat (pic from over J. with three 7000 ders)- Badrinath (3096m)- Karanprayag- Baijnat- Kausani- Almora .... Delhi.

    Guest houses I took on way were mostly run by government for the yatris (pilgrims), by the name "Garhwal Mandal Vikas Nigam" (GMVN). It was offseason time, November, so it was cheaper. Normally I was the only person in the big dorms at that time of the year, sometimes 20 white beds and me, a funny and a space for dreams leaving setting. During peak season its gets more costly then and over last years prices were sharply rising.

    On way up from Srinagar to Rudraprayag, I could once in a while watch the Bearded vulture the huge impressing falconlike looking vulture. Sometimes his big dark shadow moving over the steep ravines before the bird itself got seen. Its distribution range is over the total Himalayan range also to Turky and got resettled since the late 80s in the Alps. It is also possible to see the Bearded near Dharamsala- Mc Leod- Dharamkot area at the Dhauladar range (Triund).
    Years ago more often possible, even from locations like from some of the restaurants verandas during octobers in Mc Leod Ganj. Poisoning carcasses by locals is sometimes a problem to vultures and can cause dropping numbers of ist poulations. The Hymalayan griffon is the big himalayan species which is moving in groups, in contrary to teh Bearded, and very high sailors and often secluded, the Whiterumped are more comon like in Kumaon and Almora region. (pics via Dir 5)

    I reached Badrinath from Joshimat, 25 km very uphill, staied there overnight on the hot stoneplates near the hot springs, mostly special allready during freecing at nights at over 3000 m. Short before I reached Badrinath, the nice fruit carrying Sanddorn with its light orange berries from street was too much ! I had a short break in the zigzag curves and took some of the vitamin C rich berries, best strategy.
    The next day riding down in pleasure back to Joshimat, as well the following days mostly riding fast downhill, easy and windy, later the part up to Gwaldam is again heavy uphill (luggage on cycle) but good views on the highest peaks of India, the great Nanda Devi, further to Kausani from where you have a great view on the Trishul range, (on left).
    The next places from Kausani on way in the region was Almora, the nice big fascinating hillstation with the long Lala bazar, temples, university and great options for hikes and startingpoint for trekks. Further Ranikhet (1829 m) and via Ramnagar at the Corbett national park back to Delhi.

    For the roughly 400 km on indian lowlands back to Delhi I calculated 3 days, which worked out. Getting to Delhi the "Welcome" sign was funny to watch. At that time the big streets were much less crowded than today and cycling even in Delhi downtown was good possible.
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