Tuesday, December 30, 2008

few steps inside the earth

this place had been hanging somewhere in the top 5 positions of my travel wish list. been planning to go there for almost a year, that is since i saw the 15kb picture of the numerous steps of chandra baoli. the steps looked so graphic surely not like a piece of architecture but rather a drawing from escher's sketch book. the internet could not be of much help in throwing much light about the place or even it's location. all it said was Abhaneri is situated on the jaipur-agra highway around 60kms from jaipur. the confusion was that none of the maps i refered to had this name written on them. probably it's too small a place to be mentioned. anyways for me it made absolute sense to venture out on the jaipur-agra road and try finding this place. even people in jaipur were of no help. the name abhaneri sounded greek to them.

finally on a nice clear winter sunday morning i started on the agra road from jaipur, after around 30 odd kilometres some old gentleman in a filling station did confirm the existence of the place called abhaneri. the first ray of hope i could see. yes i am on the right track. the road was empty and wide. driving at the 5th gear was an easy game. the sun was rising and created hues of purple and mauve's all over, and a thin layer of fog could be seen on the adjoining mustard fields. after driving for around 80kms from the outskirts of jaipur i reached a place called sikandra crossed the toll booth over there and took the left turn from the chowk around 4.5kms ahead reached the pilot chowk and turned right. a narrow village road leads to abhaneri. as i reached the place the sun was showing it's first orangish glow. and it looked splendid as it created a halo around the spire of harshat mata temple.

undoubtedly the temple was much interesting than what it looked on the net. those 10kb pixelated pictures don't justice to the place. actually no picture can do justice to such beautiful places. well here am i witnessing the beauty of this village temple.

a short walk of just a couple of minutes takes you to a small fortress kind of thing, actually it's the outer wall of the chandra baoli, walk in through the stone gateway take a left or a right and there you are. who can imagine that out of the blue in this almost unknown village one could see such a baoli.

it's old, the water is mossy, the walls are greyish but it's so beautiful. the sun rays are yet to enter the depth of the baoli. it was not as big as i expected but surely more magnificent than my imagination.

i started walking down the steps and after a while it was like walking down a maze. not that you will get lost or anything still the structure gives the feeling of an illusion. archaeological survey of india has a decent collection of sculptures around the baoli inside the compound. but once there you would like to see nothing else but admire the architecture of the baoli. the steps are narrow one needs to be careful. once you are half way down the stairs it's like standing inside a deep pit, as if walking down towards the core of earth. i guess absence of sunlight was also making it look a bit mysterious. lucky enough there is a fence and beyond a point you can't go down the steps so no need to be scared of falling in the baolis mossy water in a cold winter morning. the place is neat and clean barring some pigeon shit around the walls.

it's nice to sit there for a while and keep admiring the baoli, when you are actually so few metres deep inside the earth and can see the ground level much above where you stand. yet again my camera can't do justice of showing the beauty of the place, but surely they should be able to inspire a person to make the trip. on one side of the baoli there are arches and below them in the niches are sculptures of mahishasur mardini and ganesh not clearly visible as they are at a distance on the other side of the water and inaccessible. my zoom lense worked as a binocular and gave me a closer look at the sculpture.

mahishasur mardini


once done with admiring the baoli one should just walk around have a look at the carved pillars, arches, the little temple and the ASI conserved sculptures.

once you are over with all this take a short walk through the village,

have a cup of tea by the road side and move on...
...leaving behind a thousand years old baoli. a baoli which would have been the centre of technology, the centre of society, the centre art. a baoli which would have been the provider of water and centre of life.

Friday, December 26, 2008


things which are beautiful remain beautiful, even after some distortion and they make other things look interesting by their aura. yesterday i tried looking at some insignificant objects under the glory of jama masjid. and as i said jama masjid made everything else look interesting and beautiful. took a walk from the chandni chowk metro station to jawahar hotel. and on my way i kept collecting pictures of various objects with reflection of the mosque on them. even a small puddle in chawri bazaar jumped into life with the reflection of the spire of the masjid.

the junk of a spare part dealer started making artistic sense once i saw the reflection in a horn hanging there. the upturned mirror got lit by the magic of the mosque.

once in that area almost every where you can see the aura of that mosque, it's deeple embedded in every nook and corner of shahjahanabad. just that one needs to have the will and intention to see it.

surely for the past few centuries the mosque must have been enlightening people by reflecting in their day to day lives.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

firozshah kotla

surely a fifty years back it would have been a splendid place for a picnic. things have changed since then, so has the concept of a picnic. what else could have one asked for than a vast open area, with some old monuments scattered here and there. a jami masjid to pray for the peace of mind and soul. and if things go too hot you find nice shade of trees in the well maintained lawns. kids can run around while the grown ups can play badminton. enough space for playing hide and seek. no scarcity of water as there is a nice baoli in the complex. though some say it's haunted but who knows. one can admire the ashokan pillar for it's size and sheen. how did that guy dare make such structutres so many hundred years back. the pillars haven't yet lost it's shine or is it a dull version which amazes us. but as i said picnics are no more in vogue. people prefer spending the sundays in a mall or watching a movie. things have changed. all you can find now in these monuments are couples who can't find solace anywhere else. they are desperate to be with each other and if luck strikes would like to go a step beyond a casual embrace. thats what you see over here. no more picnics. no more appreciation. no more of the kids playing. only hollow walls providing space for a few couples to embrace each other. i still hope to see a family picnic maybe sometime in yet another visit.

heart of darkness

i don't claim to have seen every other monument in town, yet i have seen a quite a few of them. did i know this sunday morning what was in store for me. never knew that the day was meant to discover yet another monument. something about which i have often read but have been before. was lazy enough to try and look beyond the bushes on the road connecting andheria mod to mahipalpur.
thanks to friend of mine who is a great reference point when it comes to history. i guess she knows it all or else just through a question and surely she will dig through the book for the relevant answer. and today she decided to show me around a monument i had never visited. and thats where the she got the idea to go south of mehrauli towards sultan ghari a bit off the main road leading to mahipalpur lies the beautiful complex of sultan ghari masjid.

It was built in 1231 by Iltutmish over the remains of his eldest son and heir-apparent, prince Nasiru'd-Din Mahmud. it's a walled enclosure giving a faint resemblance to a small fortress. one can see the hindu influence or maybe the pillars picked from some earlier hindu establishment. as we enter in the middle is an octagonal raised platform and somewhere in it's heart a few steps below is the actual grave chamber under the ground.

one can walk down the steps just need to be careful about the low entrance. once inside it takes a while to acclimatise to the darkness inside. the only source of light is a bit of light filtered from the little door and the small lamps lit around the grave, a few candles melting it's way off. but the moment your eyes get used to the darkness, the inside is so beautiful.

i think darkness always attracts me and exactly this is what happened. after a while i realised that i hadn't seen the ground level of the structure. took the steps back to light. probably this was one of the few structures of it's time to have use of marble in it's construction. to emphasise on certain parts of the monument marble had been used and intricate work can be seen on them rest remains of red sandstone.

one can see an octagonal structure with a false dome inside. the carvings where very basic in the dome but resembled hindu architecture.

the place is peaceful non-touristy, no non-sense. even the bird baths were empty and no birds to found nearby or did i scare them away. whatever it maybe, we thought of taking a walk around the mosque, had to wade through thick outgrowth of bushes all around to reach the ruins which where probably some residential settlements.

my friend knew about an extremely interesting short stone pillar over there somewhere among the bushes, it took us a few minutes to hunt for it but it was worth a picture, this had inscriptions which looked really out of place. did look like the grand dad of hindi. who knows what it was, maybe prakrit script.

there is so much more to the place than we see, hope one day i'll come to know the secrets. high time for me to put my pen down. maybe one day i'll write a sequel as and when i unfold the mysteries of the pillar and understand more about the darkness of the heart of the masjid.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

the fort of gold

had been looking forward to this journey for years. a couple of times the plan had been made between me and a friend of mine who ditched at the last moment. its been around 4-5years since. this time i had given myself a date to begin the trip.

sambit intends to join in, even if he ditches this time i'm not going to wait for anyone. i have to go to Jaisalmer.

its the first of august and here we begin. 2 o'clock in the afternoon we are running late by a couple of hours. but now we are on the road. and in next 15 minutes we will be on the highway to ajmer via jaipur. the NH-8 is looking beautiful as its raining heavily. the wipers are on still visibility is low. at 4:30 a solar eclipse is about to begin. we are in a dilemma whether we should be driving around that time or not. i know of people damaging their vision in attemt to see the eclipse with naked eyes. i dont wanna take that risk. just after crossing daruhera sambit spots a wounded dog in the middle of the road. at any moment it could be smashed by a car or truck. we stop our car and sambit picks the dog and put him on the grassy bank of the road. sambit is back in the car got all drenched in the rain. we continue the drive toward jaipur. we have to drive a bit slow because of the rain. we took the first halt for a glass (not cup) of tea after crossing kishangarh it's already a bit more than 300kms since we started. along with the tea we buy a plate of kachori with chole, kachori was really good and much different from it cousins in delhi or mathura in the chole salt was missing. without losing much time we get back on the road. we have already. the eclipse is over by now and we didn't stop driving because of it(it was so cludy and rainy we didn't have to see the eclipse). by 8 o'clock we are in ajmer. heading towards mayo school to meet my friends parents who are resident art teachers in mayo. we spend a good 2 hours over there and off to the dargah. as we walf toward the dargah through the buzzing market selling all sorts of things we are hounded by beggars anyways we make our way through all that and finally reach the dargah. people warned us not take the camera inside as the security is a bit tight. anyways i sneak in with my little digital camera.

this is my fourth visit to ajmer sharif and as always i wonder what a powers does the place hold to be able to draw travelers for centuries, how did thousands of people from all over the world use to come to the dargah when there were no roads and no means of transportation. but we can also see people walking down to the dargah from hundreds of kilometers. no doubt this place has it's own power. there are stories that akbar the great mughal ruler walked all the way from agra to the dargah. we spent some time listening to the qawali.

now we are on our way to pushkar to spend the night. at the last moment we i had to cancel my plans of attending a marriage in ajmer for some unforeseen reasons. pushkar we reached in next half an hour and checked into the RTDC hotel. we took a short walk to The Birds Eye cafe. a cozy little terrace cafe overlooking the pushkar lake. i ordered a tomato and mushroom pizza (pushkar is strictly vegetarian). food was good and very filling. we were lucky to reach there before the last orders were being taken. sitting there i could click a few pictures of the small little town. back to the hotel and off to bed. early morning we are leaving for jaisalmer, yet to decide which route to follow will do that once we will be on the road.

it's still dark very dark and rainy. nobody has yet got up in the hotel. we had made the payments last night or else could have easily sneaked out. we browse through the EICHER Road Map and decide on driving towards Jodhpur. the roads are fabulous and the rain is never ending. the topography has changed a lot since we left Gurgaon. by the time we reach Jodhpur the Aravali's can't be seen anymore. we never enter the town rather take the bypass leading to Jaisalmer. soon we realise that we can go all the way to barmer and yet make it to Jaisalmer by the evening. so let's have lunch at Barmer. and if possible we can go to Munna Bao which is a border town. lunch was great at Barmer some Brahman Bhojanalaya it was. served pure vegetarian rajasthani food. we had tamatar ki subzi, gatte ki subzi and lahsan ki chutney with an assortment of roti's. the food was amazing and very local. the roti's were dripping with ghee.

back on the road, Barmer left far behind us. te road ahead is straight, empty and rainy. summing it up it's beautiful. as we cut through the rain and the road we come across a car stuck in the middle of the road with a flat tyre. we try to help them out get wet ourself and unable to find our own jack to lift the car. well after around 45 minutes of struggle another cab guy help them out. also tells us that our jack is fixed below the co-drivers seat. thanks to the cab driver, we continue with our journey. the landscape is awesome no obstructions at all only barren land and the road. not much have changed over the last couple of hundred kilometres, surely a lot have changed since we began our trip. suddenly we can see some three limbed giants doing kart-wheel at a distance behind a higher ground. have heard about aliens but never trusted their existence, what could these be. as we near we can see the windmills standing on very tall white poles. the windmills where spread over an area of around 25-30 kms. they where an awesome site on the light brownish barren land. a bit before 4 o'clock we could spot the fort standing on a a hill top, no to ways about it being called the sonar-kila or the golden fort it actually is golden yellow in colour. its big and its beautiful and its golden standing on a dark background given by the gloomy clouds.

we can't wait to be near it. in next thirty minutes we are standing right in-front of the fort. a fort surrounded by a small city around it. a fort with yet another city inside it. a fort getting drenched in rain. a bright yellow fort. so impressive a fort. after years of wait i am standing outside The Jaisalmer Fort. who knows where i will be tomorrow but today i am outside the Jaisalmer Fort and thats what matters the most at this point of time. i can't stop admiring it's beauty.

how could it withstand the hot desert winds for almost a thousand years. how could it bear the harsh climate to give comfort to the thousands of people staying inside for almost a thousand years. it looks like a fairy tale. cut away from reality. a fort standing in the middle of the desert all alone for centuries.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

A short walk.

So often I travel or else keep dreaming about traveling. Nothing excites me more than to discover new places at times revisit places. Old Delhi my favourite tourist destination places over there I walk so often. There is a constant urge to walk through the lanes next to jama masjid. Every other month I feel like driving down to pushkar. Almost every year I make a couple of trips to Mathura. Travel, travel and more travel that’s all I dream of. But strangely enough few short distances I could never travel for such a long time. It took me around fifteen years to step back those couple of hundred kilometers and revisit my school. The school from where I completed my studies in 1993. Like a loser I left the school building after seeing my marks of my board exams. And that was the day I decided to walk out and walk away. Life had been colourfull ever since. The good came with bad here and there, hiding here and showing up there. Most of it had been good. And I had been trying to go as far as possible from my school days. In attempt to do so I had been able to do so up to some extent. Often I meet old school friends share emails at times a bottle of beer, but I make sure that I never step back to our old school.
That little distance I was scared to travel for years and eventually I forgot about making a visit. I used to cross the street look at the building smile at myself but never enter the gate. Years had past since the colour of the building changed. The colour of the uniform had changed. Students have changed. So had our principal. Still it’s the same old school. The man selling ice-cream outside have changed, now he has grey hair.
What else, what else have changed. Who knows. How will I know if I never enter the building. What is there that I am avoiding who knows. After years of hide ‘n’ seek I gathered the courage last week to walk through those gates. walked all around, met some of my old teachers. Some remembered my face, though they had mostly forgotten. The rest remembered my name. some of them had grown thinner, some had added on weight. But the corridors were the same, the rooms the same, the benches were the same. The the botany lab assistant was the same, the gate-keeper was the same. The play ground was the same. The smile and warmth my teachers showed was the same, as if it were yesterday. Then what had changed.
I had changed. I no more was scared of those teachers, I had no more fear of the play-ground. The stuff written on the black boards were no more of a confusion.
Yes only I had changed. And nothing else.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

long time due

as the title suggest- its been a long time overdue trip to jama-masjid area to grab a bite of the famous dilli ki nihari. not that i've been to jama-masjid area for the first time. the problem is nihari is supposed to be had in the early morning as a breakfast. some how everytime i land up early in chandni chowk by default i had been going to parathewali gali. and in the evenings when i go to jawahar or karim's its past the time to get nihari.

last night i took a pledge to get up at 6:00 in the morning and reach jama masjid by 7:30. good that i kept my promise to myself got down my car near jama-masjid and took a few steps to reach jawahar.

soon a plate of hot nihari was served to me in the cold winter morning. ordered two tandoori roti's along with it. it took them a while to get the roti's as they had to get it from a nearby restaurant since there was still some time to have their tandoor ready.

till my roti's would be served i thought i better take my mind off the plate full of nihari. or else nothing would have been left by the time the roti's arrived.

the people in the restaurant where friendly one sitting behind the cash counter and the other one on a higher pedestal behind big handi's of nihari etc...
on asking these guys told me that they start cooking the nihari a night before and it gets cooked over a slow fire for the whole night. so that it can be ready by breakfast. it is also said that the whole concept of having nihari in the morning was that one doesn't need to be worried about his second meal as its good enough to last the whole day. and people involved with manual work gets enough nutrients to help them last a day.

in a place like jawahar its said that the original recipes had been well kept and strictly followed till date. the shop dates back to 1911 probably a bit older than karim's.

the roti's are there and i must dig in to the slurpy syrupy gravvy with chunks of meat resembling some group of islands in google earth. overnight cooking makes the gravvy a bit thick and syrupy as a lot of the meat and marrow gets mixed into broth giving it the texture. even the chunks of lamb meat become really really tender with the overnight cooking, and all juicy till the core. with every bite i looked forward to the next one. i was very tempted to go for a second serving but didn't risk, as i'm not too sure of my digestive system. it was one of the most interesting breakfast i ever had. though its a bit too much to be had as an every day breakfast but surely once in a while its a great indulgence.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

all the way to khajuraho

6 o’clock, Friday the 22nd of December 2007.
i and sambit started driving towards NH-2. It took us a few hours to reach agra and leave it far behind in a jiffy as we headed for gwalior. near dholpur we got stuck as an entire little village had gathered on the highway to performing the namaaz as it was the Eid-ul-Zuha. spend almost an hour relaxing in the sun. as it was a bit warmer than delhi and much pleasant. kept driving down the NH-3 as we moved towards gwalior which must be around 130kms from agra, and the roads were excellent and hardly any traffic. no constructions on the sides of the road, no traffic signals, no jams just the road to be cruised on. The farms we were passing were mostly of mustard. as we neared gwalior the terrain started changing it was no more flat as near agra but small hills started appearing. we could see a small railway track by the side of the road. yet to see a smaller track, must have been the personal railways of the king of gwalior at some point of time. we had no plans of entering the gwalior city, preferred to take the by-pass instead. jhansi must be another 90kms drive, roads were narrowing down, so was the traffic becoming sparse. It was more than an hour past noon, hunger pangs had started interfering with the pleasure of driving. We knew about an MP Tourism’s tourist motel in datiya. stopped there almost for an hour had an excellent lunch of dal-roti, along with our lunch we constantly kept admiring the datiya fort next to a moat.

as time was running past we gave a short visit to the pitambari mandir in datiya, grabbed some laddu from the shop outside the mandir and back on the road to orchha via jhansi.

From a distance one could see orchha approaching as the spires of the temple are way too tall for anything else to hide them. never seen a place like this, straight out of some book which I must have read as a child. As sambit states “the temples of orchha are straight out of the amarchitra katha”.

reached orchha at around 3 o’clock, looked around for a hotel and checked-in in the Betwa Retreat run by the MP tourism people. we got a decent tent for around 1000 rupees/night inclusive of breakfast. It had attached loo and a/c fitted (that was a bit too much to my mind). We dumped our bags and took a short walk towards the tikamgarh forest across the river betwa next to our lodge.

The water level was extremely low and we could very well see the river bed at places. on crossing the bridge one can see a mirror reflection of the cenotaphs near the river. luckily the water level was low and very static, betwa served as a perfect mirror for the beautiful cenotaphs to flaunt themselves. we were in awe of the sight. It seemed to have taken us back a couple of centuries a the least. People were mostly wearing dhoti and kurta’s, cycle still being their main mode of transport. Well surely my father had lived that kind of a childhood. But for me it was something out of 50’s movie. As we walked back the naked bridge (it didn’t have any kind of railings or anything) we could see the setting sun giving an orange glow to the medieval architecture. We paid a short visit to the Ram Raja Mandir, walked around the mandir complex full of life, the locals worship Rama as their King and not just a mythical God. Had a hot glass of milk in the nearby market. It seemed to be a nice mix of a small village market and a tourist attraction. One can easily find out shops selling Korean, Lebanese, Chinese and Italian food. In the same complex you can get the halwai i.e. the original Indian sweetshop selling some of the best peddas and laddus, the peddas in orchha are far better than the over hyped mathura ka pedda.

Its was around 8 in the evening by now, we thought of returning to the mandir and have a look at the arti. All we could see was a crowd gathered in the mandir courtyard and shouting-God knows what! Hope God does know what they were shouting. There was no point wasting in the temple. We pushed of to take another walk and back to our hotel. Time to start a drinking session and intellectualise about the state of Indian villages and small towns. As expected the conversation drifted towards the plight of value system in todays society. By now we were a couple of drinks down and wondering what these bunch of villagers doing on our hotel terrace sitting on the ground in one corner all equipped with harmonium, ektara and another couple of basic musical instruments. In a while we realized they were here to perform some folksongs for the hotel guest in the open air restaurant. We got the privilege to be their sole audience for a while, and get a closer look at their music and dance. We came to know that they are the “bards of bundelkhand” and that’s the way history had been kept alive, a word of mouth phenomenon from guru to shishya. It was an interesting evening as they sung in the local dialect, one of the guys kept translating things into hindi from time to time. Atleast gave us enough dope to talk about.

Nothing to do the town had gone to sleep longtime back I guess. High time we retire too.

As planned we go out for an early morning walk in the Tikamgarh Forest Reserve area. It looks as if the forest is in a perpetual autumn state. No water from the last 3 years or so had lest the entire forest dry.

After a while we decided to walk back to our hotel for a the complimentary breakfast. After the breakfast we walk up to the laxmi mandir. That’s the highest structure to be seen around, and an undoubted beauty. Inside we met the keeper or maybe the cleaner, whosoever he was, was a great help as he showed us around the temple and took us up the spires showing us some awesome views of the town. this temple must be one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen from outside as well from inside. Not much too see inside but lot to remember.

A short walk takes us through the market and to the palace. The palace is in two parts, one is the “Jehangir Mahal”. Built by Raja Bir Singh Ju Deo in the 17th century in honour of the visit of Emperor Jehangir to Orchha. The other part was built earlier by Madhukar Shah and known as the “Raj Mahal”.
The view from the terrace of Jehangir Mahal is stunning, a 360 degree view of the town can be seen. Surely that’s the way the king used to keep a watch on his state. The Laxmi Temple can be seen from the terrace. And one cant miss out the single axis on which the two structures had been constructed i.e a line runs through the exact centre of the Jehangir Mahal and the Laxni Temple. Well that’s not all to be seen in the mahal, in the lower floors there are some beautiful paintings on the walls (Indian frescoes). The rooms are generally kept closed to preserve the frescoes (but the guards are nice and helpful). We were bound to go back to the hotel and check-out as we planned to leave for Khajuraho in a while. Time was short so we could not spend much time in the Raj Mahal, just had a general look around the palace, a part of which had been converted into a hotel.

Back to the hotel. A quick shower. Packing up our bags. Paying the hotel bills. Tipping the bell boy. All this in a jiffy. And a start our journey to Khajuraho. No, its not so easy to leave the town without paying our homage to Munna Acharya, we halt at Munna Acharya’s shop to have our early lunch as we have a long drive ahead of us. Plump old Munna Acharya is happy playing with his grandson as his subordinates keep filling the doona’s (bowls made of leaves of sal tree, extremely eco-friendly). We have loads of poori’s, aalo sabzi and raita. The treat is bottomless quantity of food just for 10 bucks. Are they kidding, how can they survive is it a social service. Hat’s off to Munna Acharya, we head towards Khajuraho with a happy tummy.

A nice drive, a narrow road almost no traffic at all, a few bottles of water, a hot winter, dry forests and the narrow road takes us to Khajuraho. Before entering the small town one is hit by road signs pointing towards a list of five-star hotels, an airport. No doubt that you are entering a tourist hot-spot. We cross all the big hotels and start looking for a cheaper accommodation. At around 2:30 we checkin at Hotel Payal managed by M.P. Tourism. Nice clean rooms for a decent price, but available only for a night. Dumped our bags and took a short walk to the temple complex. It was a pleasure to know that the main temple complex also known as the Western Temple Complex is so close to our hotel, later we figured out everything was so close to each other in the town. Basically the town is built around temple complexes. I think its over hyped about the erotic art, but talk about art and architecture it’s a marvel. It’s not a piece of art but an inspiration in itself. Few of the good old healthy temples are more than a thousand years old, its hard to believe but true. Who knows why the Chandela Rajputs picked up this site and built more than 80 great temples over a span of around century. But they did and thousand year later here am I admiring them.

what amused me the most was not just the execution of such temples but how did someone dare to conceptualise such a vision. It looks to be a dream which can’t be fulfilled, but someone did dare to dream it and fulfill it.

we spent the next few hours wandering in the western complex, till we got tired of walking. Took a break in a nearby restaurant had an extra late lunch. And back to our hotel. Come evening and we were ready for our second innings, another short walk to the western temple complex, and soon we will be sitting and enjoying the light and sound show narrating the history on bundela rajputs leading to the stoty of the temples. The lawns of the western complex were booming with the voice of amitabh bachchan as he narrated the story of the bundelas. The marriage of the lights and sound system seemed perfect as one could see the light traveling through the bushes in sync with the galloping of the horses. Almost an hour of commentary gave us a fair enough idea of why? What? How? Of khajuraho temples. A short walk around the town lead us to a local fair, where we found a sardar serving makke ki roti with sarsoon ka saag. No clue why we took fancy of having Punjabi food in MP, none the less the preparation was authentic. We left the fair. On our way back to the hotel we passed through some tourist offices, where we came to know about a nearby crocodile sanctuary. Well that’s where we should be tomorrow morning. Picked up a bottle of whisky and finished it along with our dinner at the hotel…

got up at 6:30 had to wait till 7:30 to get our complimentary breakfast of aloo-puri in the restaurant of our hotel. An hours drive through some villages to the ken ghariyal sanctuary. The forest was as dry as it could be so was the waterfall, just a little bit of water was trickling here and there. A bit disheartened were we, but things changed we got a good guide to show us around the sanctuary where deers and nilgaiys crossed our path several times. We were lucky to spot a ghariyal basking in the sun. well that was not the end our guide showed us something most unexpected. And surely that’s something we would have missed if the waterfall would have been overflowing. The rocky formation of the waterfall housed an extinct crater which must have erupted long long ago. The rocks around the crater where of five different varieties (it’s been a while and I have forgotten the names) and looked amazing under the blazing sun. leaving behind Ken Ghariyal Sanctuary we headed back to Khajuraho. Had to be there by lunch and shift out of the hotel. We were there on time. checked out of Payal Hotel, from there we moved to some stupid hotel which offered us the worlds worst service. We did not have much choice as most of the places were booked. And this was a cheap place to stay. The good part was that we where spending most of the time on the roads. Once again we dumped our stuff and back to the road using our guide books (we bought the previous day), we started our walk from the museum run by ASI, the museum was right across the road opposite the western complex and housed some sculptures which would have been a part of some of the temples in the past. Once again we walked back to the western complex spend a couple of hours, tried to hit on some pretty woman (managed to spend sometime walking around with her, and that’s all we could manage). Escaped the overfriendly American photographer. Time to have our lunch. A beer followed by some spicy and greasy Indian food.

Time is running out as its our last day in Khajuraho. Drove around the town looking at other temple complexes. The last one we visited was a solitary temple standing against a beautiful mauve sky. Its looked more like a painting. The silhouette of the temple stood brilliantly against the sky. There couldn’t have been a better way to end our visit to the temples. The scene was such I may never forget. Absolutely unreal it was, I guess I won’t be able to see something such again in my life. Drove back to the market near the western complex. Parked our car outside the hotel and walked around for a while. Trying to see and encapture as much as we can in the last few moment of the trip. Standing below an old banyan tree we could hear nothing but the chirping of hundreds of parrots, we couldn’t hear each other as the chirping of the birds coming back home was so loud. For almost fifteen minutes we stood there the sun had gone down by now the birds could not be seen, but the sound still as sharp as it was. A cup of tea at a nearby stall. A short walk here and there. A bit of window shopping. The rented bicycles being towed back on a trailer fitted to a scooter by the owner of the bicyle shop. Lots of things which we had never seen and may not see again. A small pizzeria on the terrace with a wood oven pizza. WOW! Such a thing would have been such a talked about restaurant in delhi social circuit. In khajuraho its just another eatery. Soon these little things ended up the beautiful day to start a new one. Early next morning before day-break we were on the highway. Breakfast in Orchha at Munna Acharya’s shop. Packed some peda’s and laddos for our long drive home.