16 December 2016

Gokarna, Karnataka, India

This week I had a couple of days trip out from Goa, on the train down into Karnataka, to Gokarna. Gokarna itself is a small town with a few hindi temples, the main attraction for travellers being the lovely beaches found south of the town. I did visit several years ago, and not too much had changed, this time I stayed on Kudle beach, where cheap beach shack accomodation is still available.
A slightly further walk south, over the rocks and headland is Om beach, here it was still pretty peaceful and good for sunbathing.
The photos first show Kudle beach, followed by different views of Om beach.

11 December 2016

Canacona, Goa, India

So currently residing in Palolem, spending time on the beach and in the beach side restaurants.  This week I hired a mountain bike to get out and around the Cancacona area of south Goa.
My first stop was 8km north of Palolem is the lovely long beach of Agonda, quiet with lovely water for swimming.
A good cycle over 10km south from Palolem is Talpona beach.  To get there it was a wind along a back road, inland to this small bridge, before crossing the river and following it back along to the coast.

The nearest village to Palolem is Chaudi, I visited the market at the weekend to pick up some fruit and see the variety of freshly caught fish on sale too.

21 November 2016

Visakhapatnam (Vizag), Andhra Predesh, India

On the opposite side of the country from Rajkot; about halfway down the coast; is the eastern port city of Visakhapatnam (or called Vizag for short) in the state of Andhra Pradesh.  My main reason for visiting here was again cricket watching, this time the 2nd test match of India vs. England, this time there was quite a few more locals attending with a crowd of over 20000 people over the weekend.
Apart from watching the cricket, I walked along the quiet local beaches north of the city, stopping for street food, shown below, of noodles fried in an interestingly shaped wok.  The local food is more in the southern indian style, and I ate a lot of the southern style parathas that are definitely one of my favourites, they are crispy on the outside yet stretchy on the inside.  After the cricket has finished I will be getting the train across back to the west coast to retreat to Goa for a good amount of time.

12 November 2016

Rajkot, Gujurat, India

Spent the past five days in Rajkot, the reason being to go and watch the first test of Englands cricket tour of India. It was the first time the Surashtra cricket association stadium; about 12km out of the city; has hosted a test match. Due to this distance outside the city there was a pretty low attendance for the match, with the current crisis of large denomination currency notes being recalled to banks also a factor and major inconvenience.
There was some Barmy Army England fans in the city to see the test, but with Gujurat being a dry state (no alcohol available), I think a few gave it a miss!
One morning I had time to see the Kaba Gandhi No Delo - Gandhi's fathers house, so learnt alot more on the history of his life.
The locals were not used to seeing any tourists in their city so were happy to see and talk to us. In one local restaurant I had to count the sheer number of waitors ready to serve us, I counted at least 16! The Gujurati thali served was very tasty. It is said that Gujurati people have a sweet tooth and this was definetely true with some extremely sugary desserts included in this thali.

6 November 2016

Ahmedabad, Gujurat, India

After going back down to Kolkata from Darjeeling, I flew right across to the west of the country, to Ahmedabad in Gujurat state.
Ahmedabad is a massive city with several sights and mosques in amongst the old part of the city. Here is a view of the market situated around the Bhadra Fort.
In amongst the market I found this colourful stall selling a big selection of 'mukhwas', such as 'til, supuri, paan and amla'. These are various chewing snacks; like seeds and candies; to refresh the mouth and perhaps for helping digestion.
Gandhi lived in Ahmedabad from 1917, where he set up the Sabarmati Ashram, it was very educational to read and see the history of his life displayed around the Ashram.
Whilst in the city I had the chance to try local food, in the way of a vegetarian Gujurati thali, this was a particularly impressive one with a great selection of curries to taste.

28 October 2016

Darjeeling, West Bengal, India

Spent well over a week relaxing up in the cooler climate of Darjeeling. From the hill station town there are vast views of the Himalayas, looking at Khangchendzonga (the 3rd highest mountain in the world). The view was especially brilliant from nearby Tiger Hill at sunrise.
Darjeeling is famous for its toy train, which has operated since 1881, with small steam locomotives still running up and down the hills today.
Have enjoyed trying different food up here, as the locals are mainly Gurkhas; originally from Nepal; so there is Nepalese food aswell as Tibetan and Chinese. Here are some alo momos (potato dumplings) that were tasty.
There is alot to see out around the town, with pleasant walks around the hills.  Wandered out earlier in the week to see red pandas and leopods at the zoo aswell as the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute, that had equipment from the first Mount Everest expeditions.  These photos show the Japanese peace pagoda, where again there was great views of the mountains, and finally the Bhutia Busty Gompa monestary.

20 October 2016

Kolkata (Calcutta), West Bengal, India

Over five years since I have been to Kolkata, but I remembered I liked the place then so its been good to see more of the city.
Bit of a mix of photos here so i'll start with this shot of rotis beeing made streetside. I forgot how much streetfood is on offer here, I tried beef curry with parathas, tandoori rotis and tarka dahl, chowmein noodles to name a few.
Another common site is the old yellow Ambassador taxis, lining the street here when not in use.
Walking all over the city I saw the Victoria memorial, built to commemorate Queen Victoria's diamond jubilee in 1901 but not actually finished until some 20 years later.
Abit of a different sight was the Park Street cemetary, that had an array of giant tombs dating back hundreds of years. The tombs were for a wide range of important people, from the surveyor general of india, to army generals and commanders.
Finally; I didn't get to see Eden Gardens five years ago as the England cricket world cup match was rescheduled. There was not much of a crowd today for the Ranji Trophy matcj of Delhi v Karnataka, but still very impressive to see the over 66000 capacity cricket stadium (it was once over 100000 before it was all seating!).

14 October 2016

Khajuraho, Madhya Pradesh, India

Had a few days here to see the famous exotic carvings and temples that are a world heritage sight. The numerous temples, dating back to the 10th century, have great examples of very artistic sculptures all the way around the temples. They show numerous gods, warriors and women in lots of poses and dances.

The temples are spread out across the village in a few different groups. I cycled out through the old village to see the Jain temples, where there was a contrast of the old temples against ones that have been restored and painted. Inside the temple here is me in front of the jet black marble sculpture at the centre.

By the old village I stopped by the Narora Sagar (lake) to see some locals fishing. This young boy had caught a small bag of these fish.

11 October 2016

Orchha, Madhya Pradesh, India

After a quiet afternoon escaping the heat in a mall in the town of Indore, I got an overnight sleeper to Jhansi, not far from Orchha,  which is a historic village on the banks of the river Betwa.
There are two 17th century palaces that stand above the village, the Jehangir Mahal and the Raj Mahal. They were great for exploring, and after a maze of stairways I found my way to the top to give this view across numerous other ruins towards the river.

Further along the river are the Chhatris (or Cenotaphs) to Orchha's rulers over the years, here are the views at sunset, and just after sunset on the river.
With Orccha being a little more touristy there were plenty if locals who wanted me to "look my shop", with this guy having all kinds of trinkets and charms on offer.

8 October 2016

Mandav (Mandu), Madhya Pradesh, India

Mandav or Mandu; as its mainly referred to as; is a small village, elevated 600m up on a plateau in the forest. Its home to a world heritage site of 15th century afghan ruins and remains of many temples and palaces, great for roaming around and exploring which I did by bicycle.
As its just the end of the monsoon theres still be quite a few clouds around which have not been great for photography, but the sun did appear yesterday for this shot:
The local children were having great fun jumping into the water around the Jahaz Mahal (ship palace), which was built with many pleasure pools to relax in.
The local food has again been great, with it not being touristy its been proper indian spicy, below is a local chai wallah, serving chai up here for only 6 rupees (usually 10 rupees elsewhere!).
This little temple was still setting up the fairy lights for tuesday's Dussera holiday whilst blaring out some hindi music.

6 October 2016

Maheshwar, Madhya Pradesh, India

Not to far up the road from Omakreshwar (but still a few hours by local bus) is the village of Maheshwar. Its stand out feature is the 16th century fort built high above the river, with steps leading down to the ghats along the river itself. I explored around the old fort and along the river where people come to bath and pray, so its been a relaxing couple of days here. It is currently Durga Puja which is followed in a few days by the Dussehra hindi religious holiday which marks the victory of good over evil, and also explains why they have been playing hindi music so loud and late into the evening!

4 October 2016

Omkareshwar, Madhya Pradesh, India

Continuing in a north east direction coming up from Maharashtra, 3 hours by train a couple more on the local bus and I reached Omkareshwar. Its a holy place for hindi pilgrims where a small island sits in the Narmada River, with various temples and ghats to bathe in the water.
I have not spotted any other western tourists, so its definitely been a truely local experience, with food to match, above is my lunch of puri bhaji.
These photos show Omkareshwar throughout the day, firstly looking down river from the new bridge  that links to the island. Then at sunset viewing the main temple on the left, then finally on the steps down to the river looking across to the holy island, showing the colourful boats that ferry people across.