And so, on to Sri Lanka

My last blog entry was written in Bangalore so I’ve got a bit of catching up to do.

We got a flight with Air Deccan to Delhi, and spent a couple of days at the Hotel Ajanta having booked a bus ticket to Dharamsala through the travel agent there (after first checking that the bus would be “luxury” and we wouldn’t be given the back seats. “Bus is used mostly by foreigners, sir, is very good bus”).

On Thursday evening we went to get the bus, only to find that the bus wasn’t luxury, it was filthy and at least 20 years old. And they had allocated us… the seats at the back… the ones that don’t recline. We decided to wait until the next pickup (still in Delhi) and then make up our minds what to do. As we pulled up, it was obvious that things weren’t going to get any better as there were loads of Tibetans waiting to get on (and precisely one foreigner!). We jumped off and after a struggle managed to retrieve our bags from the boot. We couldn’t face a 12 hour journey on the back seats of the rickety bus (which had flung us all over the place just going through Delhi, heavens knows what the Himalayas would have done to it!).

So we got off and caught an auto-rickshaw back to New Delhi, and checked into a hotel down the road from the Ajanta.

We decided that we wouldn’t be going to Dharamsala after all, so rearranged our flight to Sri Lanka for Monday. We were both pretty disappointed as we wanted to go up into the foothills of the Himalayas, but we really couldn’t face the journey on those seats in that bus. It was the second time we’d been let down or lied to by the travel agent at the Ajanta so we were pretty angry.

On Sunday we caught an early train to Agra, and headed straight for the Taj Mahal. The entry fee was expensive (Rs.750 each) but well worth it. The building is magnificent, quite amazing, possibly the most photogenic structure I’ve seen. We took 65 photos (will try to upload some of them either today or in the next few days) and could have taken lots more.

The Taj was very busy but it was still possible to find places in the garden which were quiet and shaded.

Our rickshaw driver then took us to a good restaurant which was pricey compared to other places in India, but that’s pretty typical of Agra.

Next was Agra Fort, another Rs.250 each. The fort was nice, if a little delapidated. All of the rooms which the public are allowed in are empty and many have had their decoration removed or vandalised. Still a nice place to visit, but nowhere near as good as the Fort at Jodhpur.

After that it was the obligatory visit to a marble workshop/store where we declined the opportunity to buy over-priced marble inlay, and then back on the train to Delhi.

Today we’re at the airport waiting for our evening flight to Sri Lanka. We’ve got hotels booked for the first 3 nights while we find out how things are there.

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