KAT // FIN

Dream. Do.

Travelling across India

To me one of the best feelings when travelling is the feeling you have when you are actually moving to a new place. At these times you can have the great perception of really ‘living in the moment’. During our 5 weeks in India, we have been travelling from north to south through following cities; Delhi-Agra-Jaipur-Jaisalmer-Jodhpur-Udaipur-Mumbai-Goa-Alleppey-Amritapuri-Kollam-Varkala-Thiruvananthapuram (Trivendrum). Even there has been overwhelmingly lot to see in India, worth mentioning are also different ways of transportation here. Our transportation methods have included many of them – from having our own driver to local trains, sleeper trains (in different classes), sleeper buses, local buses and auto-rickshaws.

Our route in India can be seen here.

What we were told in Delhi, was that booking train or bus tickets might be difficult so we made our transportation bookings via a tourist office from Delhi until Goa. Long distance train tickets from Goa to Ernakulam in Kerala we fixed ourselves on the road. Booking trains in India might seem difficult at first (and stressful especially if you arrive to Delhi…) If you want to reserve tickets in Internet you have to go through difficult log in-systems. What requires more effort but is a bulletproof way – is booking tickets directly from train stations. Sleeper classes fill up well easily in advance so booking as far in advance as possible is recommended. In India there are many different classes to travel: just to mention some of them 1AC, 2AC, 3AC, sleeper and 2nd class seater, AC=Air conditioning. We’ve been travelling in classes 2AC, 3AC and basic sleeper class. For longer journeys sleeper classes are highly recommended and very convenient! Difference between 2AC and 3AC is basically in the amount of conveniences; in 2AC there are beds in 2 storeys, curtains, blankets, bed sheets and own reading lamps. In 3AC there are beds in 3 levels and no curtains nor reading lamps but blankets are available. 3AC was fair enough for us really, 2AC felt luxus, basic sleeper class was ok for one night. Railways in India are in good condition so travelling by train here is actually very reasonable way to travel. There is also great enquiry offices in the stations, where we’ve been asking questios like ‘Are we at the right station?’, ‘Is our train on time?’, ‘From which platform it departs?’ or ‘Can you show our places in the train?’ Asking about the right station is wise – we noticed only 45 minutes before our train was departing from Mumbai that we were in the wrong train station (our ticket said Mumbai CST which apparently could be translated either Mumbai Central Station or Mumbai Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus). We had chosen the wrong translation but luckily made it to the train due to a fast cab driver! :D

DSC_1384 Overview from sleeper class train

DSC_1388Sleeper class beds

DSC_13752AC Sleeper class beds

Local trains are a little bit funnier. While in Mumbai we took a local train a couple of times to travel from our guest house to the city centre. Local trains are way much cheaper way to travel than having a taxi or an auto-rickshaw. Booking ticket from station was easy and people were willing to help with platforms and directions. Only thing that caused some problems to me, was getting into the train. When the train stops at the platform, people just rushes in pushing each other. I was too polite and was left a little behind. Others from our group were already in the train when I noticed that train started to move (fast!) and I had only my hand inside the train handle. Only way was to jump and others helped to pull me in…crazy really but I made it! There are special ‘women only’ cars in trains which aren’t so crowded and are more safe to female travellers. In mens’ cars people were really hanging out from the door holes…there is no doors in trains (natural air-conditioning is working well though).

Sleeper buses that we have took a couple of times have been both good and bad. Roads in India are in equally good condition but the problem is that buses aren’t. Best buses to travel here are Volvos. You can book either sleeper or seater bus. In sleeper buses you can have your small little ‘cabin’ for one or two person. Or like indians do it – the whole family travel in one two-person-cabin. Cabins are okay, the problem is that if you don’t have your cabin or seat from the middle of the bus, the ride will probably be b.u.m.p.y. We had one really horrible ride from Jodhpur to Udaipur when during our 6-hour-ride we had a two-person-cabin from upper level and I hit my head so many times to the ceiling. I couldn’t sleep at all, my head just bumping all the time…But could have been even worse though, some people were sleeping in narrow corridor without any mattresses just some newspaper below them. In sleeper class buses, cabins have soft, leather-upholstered fixed mattresses but no blankets. Air conditioning is normally very hard, so we preferred a non-AC which is obviosly cheaper as well. The only ‘real’ problem with long-distance buses are toilet breaks. I mean it’s not like there isn’t any of them it’s just when bus staff speaks hindi when it’s time for a break so sometimes it’s hard for us to understand if it’s toilet break, food break or if they are just getting in or dropping out some people or if someone just wanted to buy coconuts! (Once we really stopped just because someone wanted to buy coconuts from a fruit stand…) What we noticed lately though…you could have your personal toilet breaks also if you ask bus staff nicely ;)

DSC_1318 Overview from sleeper bus

DSC_1316 Two-person ‘cabin’

Local short distance buses are the best if you want to move between two cities with cheap price and you don’t need to sleep in the vehicle. It is very funny how they act here and in India (and actually in Nepal as well). There is driver and one ‘assistant’ guy on the bus. Assistant guy is normally hanging out the door and shouting the name of the place where the bus is heading. People rushes in and sometimes buses don’t even stop properly…you need to jump in or out when it’s the right place. Normally assistant guy is shouting ‘fast, fast, fast!’ at this time so you can imagine me with my 20kg backpack jumping out of the moving vehicle…

WP_20141126_007 Local buses are our friends!

Good option to move inside a city is an auto-rickshaw…if they work! What happened to us once, was that we were driving with a friend’s rickshaw when the accelerator stopped to work. We were somewhere in the outskirts of Udaipur and suddenly the whole day was spent either pushing or fixing the rickshaw. That made out a good adventure though!

DSC_1360 Pushing rickshaw somewhere in Udaipur

DSC_1361 Fixing rickshaw…

DSC_1352 Driving rickshaw

As a closure I can say that our time in India was full of different experiences. Every day gave us something we didn’t expect to experience in the morning. Travelling in India isn’t always the easiest and you need to develope your nerves to be as good as holy cows walking in the streets have. But we made it with zero food poisoning, robberies, rapings or missed trains… So please put away your negative images and expectations about India. Dont’ believe everything you hear or read in the media. It’s mostly the bad news what catches peoples’ ears and make them fear things. Come and experience yourself. India is truly interesting mix of religion, culture, history and nature. To us India was incredible and there is no doubt that we will be back! India definately left me longing for more.

-Katariina

Kerala highlights

After Goa we headed to the state of Kerala for two weeks. We took a train from Goa to Kochin and continued travelling by local buses to Alleppey, Amritapuri, Kollam and Varkala. Kerala is lush and serene state in the west coast of very southern India. It is pretty wealthy state, people are educated and literature rate is high. In Kerala, you can enjoy beautiful Indian nature as it is home for famous water canals called ‘The Backwaters’. The only problem here is the weather which is super humid and hot according to the finnish standards and you can expect to sweat a lot and your clothes never get dry! It is winter in India now so I don’t want to know how summer will be :D

When travelling in Kerala, first we went to Alleppey for a couple of days. Alleppey is the main place for hiring houseboats or canooes to the Backwaters. We didn’t want to book houseboat yet in Alleppey because we thought that renting one in Kollam wouldn’t be so touristic experience. In Alleppey we didn’t do much. Just got some idea about the backwaters…otherwise it didn’t seem very interesting city. We relaxed after Goa by taking yoga classes from the excellent homestay-restaurant-place called The Lemon Dew and enjoyed their delicious banana pancakes, fish dinners and cozy atmosphere.

Next we transferred ourselves to Amritapuri which is located between Alleppey and Kollam, about 1,5 hours south from Alleppey. Amritapuri is pretty easy to reach by local buses from Alleppey and Karunagapally. Amritapuri is the headquarters for Mother Amma’s worldwide mission with many visitors and devotees of Amma. Amma just arrived from her visit to Vatican as we stayed in the ashram and we were lucky to receive her famous hugs! You can read more about our visit in the ashram from here.

Of course we wanted to experience the famous Backwaters too, so next we went to Kollam in order to do so. Kollam is much more untouristy than Alleppey and there isn’t so many houseboats there. We didn’t have any reservations made in advance, we just basically went to the boat jetty to check out couple of tourist offices to compare prices and boats. It’s wise to check houseboat in advance, there is differences in the conditions of the boats…We rent a houseboat for one night. The price around 8000rs (100€) from 2 persons, included captain, own chef who cooked amazing keralan style meals and an assistant guy. There is houseboats of different sizes, you can rent one with one or more bedrooms. Houseboats (or kettuvallams) have normally nice balcony and terrace where you can enjoy the beautiful views of the Backwaters. We did a trip to Munroe Island, which is located about 30 kilometres from Kollam. We stopped in the island for having a village tour in smaller canals with canooe. We saw fish farms and houseboat building, a lot of eagles and beautiful houses that were built so close to the narrow waterways. Sometimes we needed to kneel down, there were low bridges and even tunnels from which we were going through with actually a quite long canooe. Whole setting in Munroe Island was magical. No other sounds than religious singing from one of the island’s temples. We stopped overnight in Munroe Island and continued our trip back to Kollam when sun rose in the next morning. You can imagine enjoying breakfast there at the boat’s terrace, surrounded by the backwaters, with sunrise in the horizon and no other sounds than the motor of our boat…pure pleasure.


DSC_1395 Our houseboat

DSC_1400 Finnish Independence day celebration 6.12.2014

DSC_1408 Master chef Eric…

DSC_1411 …prepared excellent food to us! A lot of it!

DSC_1417 Canooe trip in Munroe Island

DSC_1434

DSC_1466 Fish farm in Munroe island

DSC_1468 Fish farm in Munroe island

DSC_1470 Munroe canal – sunrise

Closure for our trip in Kerala was one week relaxation holiday in serene and peaceful Varkala beach. Our time in India has included a lot of travelling and we have been changing places often. We haven’t stayed in many places for over two nights so settling down for a week in Varkala felt a very welcome breath-taking. Beaches in Varkala are tiny compared to Goa but positive side is that they are not so touristy. Varkala has main beach and smaller beaches, which all are surrounded by majestic cliffs so the whole setting is very beautiful. Waves are very strong and sun burns easily so there’s some points to consider. There is mainly western tourists in Varkala and the whole place is so small that you will soon start to regognize faces. People are nice and you will hear ‘hi’ or ‘how are you’ from every direction all the time. Varkala is perfect place to spend quiet beach holiday, but it’s also the place to attend yoga courses or classes. Many guesthouses offer ‘pop-in’ yoga classes for 200-300 rupees. Another great thing here is ayurvedic treatments which are also offered in many places near the cliffs. Ayurveda is ancient Indian science of wellbeing by natural methods and herbal medicines. There is a lot of small and reasonable priced guesthouses in Varkala and restaurants have traveller-wise prices as well. If you are looking for a place to spend a peaceful beach holiday with yoga and relaxed atmosphere, Varkala is a perfect option! To me, this place is a paradise.

Some examples of prices in Varkala:

  • accommodation for 2 people with attached bathroom 600rs (~8€) per night
  • breakfast including fresh fruit juice, huge porridge with fruits and coffee pot 200 rs (2,5€)
  • yoga class, duration 2 hours 200rs (2,5€)
  • ayurvedic treatments/1,5 hours x 3 days 6000rs (80€) www.ayushy.in

    DSC_1489 Varkala beach

    DSC_1491 Coziest restaurant in Varkala…

    DSC_1495

      …with ‘I love you’-staircase…

    DSC_1497…which didn’t have finnish version until now!

    -Katariina

  • How I met ‘The Mother’

    After Goa it was time for us to search our spiritual sides. I’d heard and read about Amritapuri Ashram, a headquarters for Mother Amma’s worldwide mission, which is located in Kerala between Alleppey and Kollam. So that’s where we headed for two nights and hoped to receive Amma’s famous hug. As an experience, it was totally something different what we had experienced so far in India…in a positive way!

    Mata Amritanandamayi Devi, better known as Mother Amma, is one of the most well known femal spiritual gurus in the world. Amma has raised a worldwide organisation which has both spirituos and charitious missions. With donations Amma has built her Ashram to Kerala and with her Missions’ donations many schools and houses have been built in India. When tsunami hit India 10 years ago, Amma’s Mission helped tsunami victims. She has supported catastrophe victims also in other parts of the world. Amma’s main goals is to promote love, peace and wellbeing in the world. It is estimated that Amma’s mission gaines donations for over 20 million US dollars per year!

    130225-Travel-Day-937-2-Amritapuri-Ashram-with-the-Backwaters picture: seetheworldinmyeyes.com

    Amritapuri is built up on the property where Amma was born. The location is serene with Arabic Sea on the other side and backwaters canal on the other. Amritapuri is not only the headquarters for Amma’s worldwide mission but also the spiritual home for Amma’s devotees. Around 3000 people are living in the Ashram permanently. If you are interested in giving up your ‘normal’ life and devoting it to serve Amma and her mission, it costs around 15 000 euros and you can spend the rest of your life in the Ashram. But signing into the ashram means you have to start to follow ashram’s pretty stricts rules. There is strict code of behaviour and rules what kind of clothes are allowed in the ashram premises. Obviously tight, revealing clothes are prohibited, so are any drugs or showing public affection towards another sex. Also photographing was prohibited.

    13-amritapuri picture: amritapuri.org

    Everyday, around 100 Amma’s followers from across India and abroad come here to have Amma’s darshan (hug). Everyone is welcome to visit and spend some time in Amritapuri. How long you want to spend there, is up to you. International visitors need to fill a form in advance in Amritapuri website but nothing more is required. It costs 250 indian rupees (about 3,5 euros) per night to stay in the ashram and price includes simple indian style vegetable curry and rice three times a day. Participating in yoga or meditation courses are free. There is also other indian and western style food, juices, organic products and fresh coconuts that you can buy for a cheap price. We had our own, very simple room which was a surprise as we had waited for a dormitory. Very simple means that there was two beds and attached bathroom but no electricity was working during our stay.

    Amritapuri is huge complex including many dormitory buildings, houses, temples and schools. All work is done by volunteers (= by those who live or visit in the Ashram). Important part of Ashram’s daily life are Sevas. Seva means selflessness work. All the people who visit Ashram more than one night are advised to participate in seva. During our 2 night stay, we worked 3-4 hours doing common dishes in the main canteen. There is plenty of other things to do in Amritapuri as well. Those who spend more time there, are adviced to participate in religious services for example archanas which is singing session about 1000 names of Holy Mother or bhajans which are religious hindu song-singing sessions. It is also possible to do courses in yoga, ayurveda or meditation for example. We took a yoga class and participated to meditation session.

    OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Meditation in the beach. picture: http://whatsupwithsara.files.wordpress.com

    Amma goes regularly abroad and has been in Finland many times as well. Actually there was more finnish people in the ashram that we had seen in total in the whole India during our trip. When we came to Amritapuri, Amma was meeting Pope and other world’s religious leaders in Vatican. Our plan was to spend only one night in the Ashram but when we heard that Amma would arrive on our second day, we decided to extend our staying into two nights to see if it would be possible to have darshan (hug) from her. Amma’s hug is famous and it is said that Amma has hugged 24 million people in her lifetime! Many people have said Amma’s hug given them something they can’t describe. It is said that Amma’s hug can heal both emotionally and physically. I’m glad we stayed because we got to see how Amma arrived to the Ashram with all the people waiting for her. Amma gives darshans normally four days a week but after she is back from her abroad trips no-one really knows when she comes out of her house. It was our leaving day and we had put our luggage to cloakroom and were waiting for the lunch when we heard bells ringing in the main temple. Suddenly all the people run to the temple and there Amma was, sitting in the middle of the altar. It was pretty magical moment. She held half an hour meditation session followed by question-answer-session. After, she gave darshans to people who were leaving during that same day. And did we have the darshans? Yes, we did :) It was propably the most energetic hug I’ve ever had. When it was my turn to have a hug, surprisingly I didn’t feel nervous after all that excitement and waiting. Actually I felt very calm. But afterwards, her hug left my legs shaking and a smile on my face.

    Amma-2

      picture: ammaquotes.com

    -Katariina

    Days in the Thar

    After busy sighseeing days in Agra and Jaipur, we finally settled down for a couple of days. City of Jaisalmer, or ‘The Golden City’ is located in the Thar desert near Pakistan border. Whole city is built using only yellow sandstone and the Fort reminds a big sandcastle rising above the city. Jaisalmer itself is pretty small place but what makes it interesting is the fact that the former fort is still in use and around 4000 people lives inside it. It’s full of narrow streets, shops and roof-top restaurants.

    In Jaisalmer, it was also time for us to test another extreme conditions after Annapurna. Thar is the second largest desert in the world after Sahara and obviosly, there’s no point of going so near the desert without actually going to the desert so we booked a camel safari as a part of our staying in Jaisalmer. We drove 45 kilometres from Jaisalmer to Pakistan direction to a village called Khuri to start our one-night-safari. (Actually we noticed that it was only a camel ride to the dunes to see sunset and we returned to Khuri for dinner afterwards…though, it’s also possible to book actual safaris to the desert for more than one night where all the food is prepared by camelmen in the desert as well). Still, we were happy with our safari because after dinner a jeep took us back to the desert to spend a night there. We got to sleep in the sand under the stars having only mattresses and blankets with us. Complete silence surrounded us and the only light we had was campfire. Sky was bright with so many stars. We fell asleep immediately after the fire had burnt out and slept tight all night long. Could have stayed for another night…

    And now slight subject change! During our stay in Jaisalmer, we confronted interesting facts about India. It’s strange, in India as well as in Nepal, you don’t see so many women in the streets. It seems that men are everywhere; in hotels, restaurants, cafés, barber shops, whatever-else-shops, tailor’s, offices, chilling in the streets…Women can be seen mostly when you drove through smaller villages. They are working with household chores or in the farms or fields, carrying water, vegetables or what-so-ever above their heads. That’s due to religion…In India, hinduism is the major religion, islam being the second. When talking to local people and especially to young men, they start to speak easily about the caste system and arranged marriages in India. They have told that most of the marriages here are still arranged: We met a 20-year-old boy who was about to get married with a 15-year-old-girl in couple of months. They both were muslims and due to caste system it’s impossible for them to marry outside their own religion or caste. The boy said he has a hindu girlfriend now, but he must hide her from his parents and meets this girl secretly during night. Of course he has to leave her when he gets married, he admitted. We asked if he knew if his coming wife had a boyfriend as well, he replied that it’s impossible for a muslim girl to have boyfriends. Girls are taken to school and back home by their parents and they are not allowed to go outside these places alone. First time this couple will speak to each other is when they get married. Their parents had chosed them for each others and in case they don’t like each other it’s a real pity – getting divorced is almost impossible in India and at least divorced people aren’t appreciated. So for all the people who can chose love marriage…you are lucky!

    DSC_1227 Fort of Jaisalmer

    DSC_1228 Fort of Jaisalmer

    DSC_1196 Shops inside the Fort

    DSC_1205_edit View over the rooftops inside the Fort

    DSC_1216 View over the rooftops inside the Fort

    DSC_1242 Camel safari with excellent camelmen!

    DSC_1263 My crazy camel chilling…He was littlebit hot-blooded :D

    DSC_1269 Taleban and camel

    DSC_1273 Auli looks cool!

    DSC_1274 Camelman chilling on the dunes

    DSC_1253 Camelman chilling on the dunes

    DSC_1283 Our team!

    DSC_1288 Sunset in the Thar

    DSC_1293 Our night camp in the Thar

    -Katariina

    The Tourist // Agra and Jaipur in pictures

    Picture showcase of our days in Agra and Jaipur. 4 days in these cities were full of sightseeing, sun and polluted air (Agra is the worst so far what is comes to pollution!). Jaipur is the capital of Rajasthan state in India and it´s also called ‘The Pink City’. Buildings in the old city were once painted pink to greet british royals and property owners still have to keep the facades pink these days. Enjoy!

    DSC_0966 We’ve seen so many palaces, forts and tombs. Itimad-Ud-Daulah’s Tomb, Agra.

    DSC_0973 Flooring at Itimad-Ud-Daulah’s.

    DSC_0998 Agra Fort

    DSC_1016_edit Taj Mahal was as breathtaking as in the pictures.

    DSC_1024 Seeing a white woman is a big thing to some indians. Sometimes we feel like statues they want to have photographs with.

    DSC_1034 From our hotel’s balcony I saw another side of India. A slum.

    DSC_1046 Fatehpur Sikri, a fort that had been working only for 14 years in the 15th Century and then been abandoned!

    DSC_1059

      Sending wishes by binding strings to Sheikh Salim Chishti’s Tomb in Fatehpur Sikri.

    DSC_1068 Galtaji Monkey Temple, Jaipur. Hindus came to bathe in this holy (dirty!!!) water. This side was for females. Smell was terrible.

    DSC_1097 Ghost Town of Galtaji…only 30 holy men were living here!

    DSC_1081 Monkey Temple, Jaipur

    DSC_1085

      Monkey Temple, Jaipur

    DSC_1091

      Auli feeding monkeys.

    DSC_1099 Elephants in Amber Fort, Jaipur

    DSC_1107 Riding an elephant to the fortress of Amber, Jaipur.

    DSC_1110 Riding an elephant to the fortress of Amber, Jaipur.

    DSC_1127 Amber Fort where Jaipur was once lead.

    DSC_1164_edit Hawa Mahal (Palace of Winds) Jaipur

    DSC_1177_edit Hawa Mahal (Palace of Winds) Jaipur

    DSC_1148 Hand printing textile with wooden blocks in a small local factory, Jaipur.

    DSC_1131 Watching Jaipur from above. Jaigarh Fort.

    - Katariina

    Difficult start in Delhi

    In Nepal, we found traveling relaxed and easy and people reliable. Things changes totally when we arrived to Delhi…We knew that tourist gets fooled here but what confronted us from the very beginning, we didn’t expect.

    Thinks started to go against our plan since we entered out the airport. We had an address of a hostel from Pahar Ganj area, which is the ‘traveller ghetto’ in Delhi full of cheap hostels and restaurants. We took a taxi from the airport. There was a guy who offered us a taxi and with whom we negotiated the price to Pahar Ganj area. He got in to the car (which now seems suspicious but back then I thought maybe he was guiding the actual taxi driver to the right place). We drove to the center of the Delhi but we didn’t had map of the city yet then. (I had been lazy in Nepal and hadn’t downloaded India maps to my cellphone…stupid!) Well when we reached the center, suddenly we saw a road block. These men said it was Pahar Ganj area inside the road block (there were signs of Pahar Ganj, but of course we didn´t know how the area was suppose to look like and believed them). They said there had been a muslim demonstration earlier that day because of a hindu festival going on in Delhi and police must have closed the whole Pahar Ganj area. ‘Ok’, we thought, luckily we didn’t book any hostel in advance, because obviously it was impossible to go to Pahar Ganj area, and we would have lost the hostel deposit.

    What to do? Men said that they could take us to the nearest tourist information centre so that we could solve the thing. We thought that it was fair so they took us to tourist information centre. We got in, the place looked reasonable and we were sat to tourist officer’s room. We asked if he knew about the closure of Pahar Ganj area and he said that there had been other tourists coming to his office telling the same. We asked him help because we needed another hostel to spend couple of nights in Delhi. The officer said that now it was the most popular tourist season in Delhi and it might be impossible to find any hotels here. We told him our budget and he wrote down some names of hostels to which another guy started calling (or that’s what it was said to us). Meanwhile the officer asked about our plans in India. We actually didn’t have any direct plans yet then. We thought we would make them up during our stay in Delhi. When he kept asking we said some names of the cities we had been thinking to visit. He started to make some route schedule to us. Meanwhile the caller guy came back shaking his head – no rooms left from any hostels. There were rooms left only in five star places costing like 300$ per night. The officer suggested that we should leave Delhi as soon as possible. Not only hotels but also many trains were sold out months earlier because now it was the high-season…BUT he could book a cab for us to Jaipur. If we would leave during the same day there was a hostel for us in Jaipur and we wouldn´t have to pay 300$ per night in Delhi. We thought that no way we were continuing the trip straight away. We wanted to rest and think so we left the tourist information place and told to our taxi guys we wanted them to drive us to the nearest internet café. What they then said to us (we were already driving) – there wasn’t any internet cafés in Delhi. What a bullshit, we thought. They offered to take us to another tourist information centre. We said fine, maybe we could use their internet.

    So another similar looking tourist office who told exactly the same thing: ‘Delhi was super busy, no hotels, only suite costing 300$ a night. No available trains to nearby cities, impossible to book alone. If we would leave straight away, we would be in Jaipur in the same day and in Agra on the next day…’ We said no way, we wanted to have a cheap hostel, there must be some left in the city this big as Delhi. He said he couldn´t help us so we said bye bye and left to the street – this time without our drivers. I tried to call to the embassy of Finland in Delhi but my phone couldn´t contact. We asked a rickshaw driver to take us to the Pahar Ganj. Again the same thing…a road block – Pahar Ganj was closed. BUT he could take us to India Government Tourist Office which was also mentioned in my guide book. Fair enough, we thought so he took us to another tourist office (what we thought now was the Goverment office). The only bad thing was that it looked very very similar than the two others. But what can you do, we couldn´t check from the map where we were and didn´t know the exact name of the streets. So we got in and said straight away to the officer that the only thing we needed was a cheap hostel for two nights in Delhi. This time he did what we asked but suggested us to come back as soon as possible to make booking for the rest of our trip because it was busy and trains and hotels full and blaa blaa blaa. He offered to pick us up from our hotel on the same day or the day after. We said it was okay, we knew their address, they had underlined the Gov. Of India Tourist Office from my map. I said we could manage there ourselves later. The officer said we wouldn´t find it and it was dangerous for two white girls to travel alone in Delhi…he would get someone to pick us up from the hotel on the next day. We didn´t say anything back and took rickshaw to our hotel. In our hotel wi-fi didn´t work so we couldn´t start investigating any facts yet but made a rough plan where we would like to go during our 5-week-stay in India.

    On the next day we had the city map and took a rickshaw to the centre near the Government Tourist Office. This time we could follow from the map where we were driving. On the way we happened to drive past yesterday’s last tourist office and we noticed it was far away from the Gov. of India Tourist Office! We were so glad we hadn’t booked any longer trips in panic earlier and that we had left the hotel alone without anyone coming to pick us up. We headed to café and aimed to use wi-fi but there were problems with the connection…Luckily there was an indian boy sitting next table who politely chit-chatted with us and after hearing our story about our first day in Delhi, offered to help us. He guided us to the Government Tourist Office which was located in the center of Delhi, in Janpath street near Connaught Place. And this time we could see it ourselves from the map that we were in the right location. With the officer we made bookings for the next two weeks in India including Agra-Jaipur-Jaisalmer-Jodpur and Udaipur. It also included trains further to Mumbai and Goa and flight back from Kerala to Delhi in the end of the 5-week-period. We got a driver with whom we would travel the first days. For rest of the day he took us for Delhi sighseeing. After rough start things started to look slightly brighter…Lesson to learn: don´t trust people in Delhi and keep your head!

    DSC_0953 Mughal Emperor Humayun’s Tomb in Delhi

    DSC_0942 Mughal ruler Humayun’s Tomb in Delhi

    DSC_0955_edit Stone writing in Gandhi Smriti (Museum of great freedom fighter Mahatma Gandhi.)

    DSC_0959

      Way to the Martyr’s Column where Gandhi was assassinated.

      DSC_0963 South Block of the Secretariat Buildings in New Delhi…one of the top places of world’s politics!

      -Katariina