We are back from our 1700 kilometer road trip – excluding our flight to and from Delhi – that covered more tombs and places of worship than we have visited in all our years of travel! It was an intense roller coaster ride into centuries of Indian history in reverse, from imperial New Delhi to vedic Varanasi.
We are glad we chose to drive, despite the abysmal roads and arid landscapes we passed through, for we got a glimpse, however fleeting, into the lives of people in the Hindi belt. And it wasn’t very pretty. The conditions in a state that has given the country eight of its fourteen prime ministers, and boasts the highest representation in the Lok Sabha (Lower house of Parliament), are tragic testimony to the apathy of our political class. For the first time ever, Chennai didn’t seem as ugly and chaotic on our return as it usually does!
But despair at the living conditions of common people and the appalling state of some of the ‘protected’ monuments (and achy bums from the potholes) aside, our trip was punctuated by many sublime moments.
Having Humayun’s tomb all to ourselves one beautiful morning, people watching in the Lodi gardens, paying our respects to Akbar the Great in Sikandra, witnessing the faded decadence of Nawabi culture in Lucknow, being dumbstruck at the exquisite workmanship of the 2300 year old Lion Capital of Asoka (The state emblem of India), a serene dawn boat ride on the monsoon swollen Ganges in Varanasi………….
And oh yes, admiring the first rays of the sun glint off the pristine surface of the Taj…..that was, quite surprisingly, as breathtaking as hyped!
Shall tell you all about it and more. Until then here is a pictorial summary: