Written by actonsteve on 27 Jun, 2001
I still can't believe we got through in one piece! Today we had, if I was feeling charitable, an adventure. If I was feeling uncharitable then I would say that it was one of the scariest journeys I have ever made in my life. But…Read More
I still can't believe we got through in one piece! Today we had, if I was feeling charitable, an adventure. If I was feeling uncharitable then I would say that it was one of the scariest journeys I have ever made in my life. But we got through it due to my Sureshs' skill at driving and I saw sides of village India today that you simply don't see on a tour or a train window. Everyone has one adventure when they visit India. That is what makes it India.
After visiting Corbett we found that the monsoon increased in ferocity. We had an appointment to keep in Rishikesh over 400 miles away and decided to drive there in one go. The terrain between Corbett and Rishikesh, once you descend from the mountains, crosses the Gangetic plain which is as flat as a pancake. The problem being the run-off from the Himalayas which floods the plain like a tidal surge over sandflats. And we had to cross from one side to the other.
We first had to get out of Corbett National park and followed a bus as it crossed the flooded roads (see photo). But as we hit the flat terrain we saw that the country was taking more rain then it could handle. The paddyfields on either side of the road will filling to capacity and the water was sloshing from one paddyfield to the other blocking all traffic. Villagers would gather to watch cyclists brave the running water or simply roll up their trousers and wade across. Nut-brown children swam in the newly formed rivers and locals spread nets in the ditches to catch any fish that came their way.
Not far out of Ramnager we reached a town, Kandigah, that was completely flooded as the nearby river had burst its banks. The water reached above the doorsteps of the houses and villagers carried their belongings on their heads. Did we risk the village or go back the way we came? We decided to risk the village and called over a tractor that was dangling with farmworkers. For 200 rupees they agreed to tow us through the village. So we afixed a rope to our bumper and they pulled us through the cream-coloured water. Both Suresh, Phil and myself took off our socks, shoes and trousers because we had a feeling it was going to be a bumpy ride. We became anxious when the water reached as high as the windows. The the car started to leak and water came in through the sides we got nervous. We pulled our feet onto the seats just as water began to come up through the floor. Christ! Were we going to drown in this car!
But the tractor pulled us through and back onto solid ground. Then came the hard slog across the Gangetic plain to Haridwar and Rishikesh. Every hundred yards the bursting paddyfields spilled water across the road. Usually Suresh could just plough through splashing camel-carts and bicycle riders clutching umbrellas but about mid-day we met our final big obstacle. The road ahead was so flooded that it was impassable so a great queue of trucks, tongas, buffalo-carts and people blocked the way. Of course westerners sitting immobile in a car become noticeable and soon we were surrounded by mainly male villagers who chattered away and pointed at us. To our relief, Suresh came back and said there was a short-cut back there and a number of cars were taking it. We followed them into the backstreets of a small village and squeezed between the mud-huts followed by excited children. The short-cut consisted of taking a narrow road that was above the paddyfields and this we took with the farm-workers staring at us incredulously. But what happened to us next took some believing.
As Suresh ploughed along the trail a number of lumbering cows were slow to get out of the way. One got hit by the bumper and stumbled away lowing. This was bad enough but suddenly we felt a huge bang to the rear of the car. We turned around and saw a huge brahma bull had charged us. We could see its face as it backed up to have another go. The car wobbled but Suresh put his foot down and we screamed at him to get us out of here! This he did, and we were soon gratefuly back to the main road. Then we were on the road to Haridwar and the glorious sun came out to cheer up our day. Any thoughts of brahma bulls and flooding soon mentally filed away as pub stories that we would tell when we got home.
Written by actonsteve on 26 Jun, 2001
The Hill station is a uniquely Indian phenomenon. Built to escape the building heat of the subcontinent's dry season people gather here to enjoy the cool mountain air, and gaze at the sensational vistas of the Himalaya's.Nainital must be one of the most beautiful, and…Read More
The Hill station is a uniquely Indian phenomenon. Built to escape the building heat of the subcontinent's dry season people gather here to enjoy the cool mountain air, and gaze at the sensational vistas of the Himalaya's.Nainital must be one of the most beautiful, and is set arond a dramatic crater lake 1938 feet up in the mountains. To come here offers a respite from the rigours of Indian travel as well as a festive air brought about by Indian families enjoying themselves. If you are travelling through northern India, make time for Nainital, it also gives me the excuse of showing some of my favourite photo's of India.Hindu legend states that the Tal (lake) was formed from one of the eyes (Naina) of the goddess Sati as she was carried by Shiva up to the Himalayan high peaks. But the British were the first people so build up Nainital and it became a fashionable resort for them as they escaped the sweltering heat of the Gangetic plains. The bungalows of the 'mem' and 'burra' sahibs spill up the side of the lake. A promenade named 'The Mall' (very British) connects both ends of the lake. And at the southern end is Tallital (Foot of the lake) with its bus stops and tour agencies. And at the far end is Mallital (head of the lake) which contains most amusements and the yacht club. Wherever the Victorian British went, snobbery followed soon after and in Nainital it came in the form of the yacht club where the rulers of the Raj would moor their craft. The place was so exclusive that the hunter Jim Corbett, a native to the area, was blackballed for years. You can easily rent a boat to go out onto the lake and I would strongly recommend this as the views of the surrounding pine-encrusted mountains are amazing from its centre.But for me the attraction is the atmosphere.There is a real jolly atmosphere formed by the Indian tourists enjoying themselves as they strolled along the Mall eating Candy Floss or corn-on-the-cob. We must have been the only westerners there and the other tourists were very friendly and we spent an enjoyable afternoon and evening getting caught up in it all. Lining the Mall were bookstalls, trinket-stands, music-shops, musicans, snake-charmers and dancing bears. When we reached the yacht club in Mallital the monsoon cleared and the clouds parted to real an impressive view of the Lake. The sun sank behind the Himalayas and the sky turned grey, then yellow and then pink. And as it finally disapeared; the crowds, bungalows and drawn-up boats were coated in a luminous blue as it slowly turned to night.You may not of thought of Nainital as being on your itinery, but if you brave the journey to get there, you will leave with some fantastic memories. Close