The caves of Bhimbetka Hills are near Bhopal in the state of Madhya Pradesh). The forests support tigers and the caves here and further south are saturated with rock paintings and tool production sites that date from the Lower Paleolithic. The best preserved of these drawings and paintings date from the Middle and Late Palaeolithic.
The area of caves is large; but almost certainly you will take a guided 45 minute tour with the custodian. If you are a generous "raja"- you can request a longer tour with extras-such as a 4K trail with 130 caves. Some of the guides are shameless for donations so don't be "cowed".
My guide book said that I could explore the area independently; but I was told this was not true. Most people get to the caves by hiring a car. However, after riding from Bhopal on the Bhopal to Hoshangabad bus and getting off at Obaidullaganj (about half an hour ride) I rented a bicycle from one of the many rental stands, and pedaled out to the caves (40 minutes). On the way, I met three Italians riding bicycles back. I also met a wandering Sadhu and many friendly inhabitants. There is a hotel at the park that looked moderately expensive.
PS: It is necessary to bring water with you (a liter)
This place was washed away in the early 1970's named Dhanuskodi in rameshwaram district of Tamilnadu in India.
U can still see left overs of a railway track and a railway station and a church.
If you want to visit this place then from rameshwaram you have to catch a local fishermans vehicle and then he will take you along the beach into this land.
Many new travellers to India tend to visit the bigger cities (and that is understandable), and their first experience can be daunting and exhausting. There is so much to see- so many people, traffic & chaos. The heat is draining.
Fortunately, there are many small, very interesting towns and villages that one can get to see, and many are just an hour or two drive out of the big cities.
We have found so many interesting things and places by hiring a car and just getting out of the city. Not only is the countryside beautiful, but one can see how people really live, and rural life is very different from city life.
A good example is driving from Udaipur to Chittor- lovely scenery and in Chittor see the mighty Rajput Fort that is there. It can be done in a few hours.
Ranakpur - with its exquisite Jain Temple complex is 2 hour drive from Udaipur
From Mumbai it is 403km to Aurangabad-(overnight by train) and one can see the awesome Ellora Cave Complex. I highly recommend this- it is one of the most peaceful and interesting places in India.
Most guide books will list side trips. So get out into the countryside- it will clear your head and refresh you.
As I mention in my "Colorful Festivals" Tip, I recommend that you spend a little time learning about Hinduism before your visit to India. So much of what happens everyday in India involves 900 million people's relationship and practice of Hinduism.
My wife bought a book while we were in India entitled HINDU GODS AND GODDESSES, and it added a lot to our look and understanding of day-to-day sights. Suddenly, we were able to identify what was being said by the many colorful murals you'd find on private dwellings, at hotels and such. And when we'd come across one of the many humble shrines throughout the country, it made us feel a little closer to local culture to know which God or Goddess a particular shrine may be honoring.
There are also some magnificent Hindu temple structures throughout the country. As is the case with most world religions, visitors to holy shrines are generally welcome, assuming that they are respectful and civil in their visit. Given the opportunity, I would very much suggest that you take an opportunity to visit a few of India's temples, it'll give you a deeper feel for the country's soul.
The photo accompanying this tip was taken in Mathura, which is "almost" a suburb of Agra. There's only a bit of "space" between the two cities as you drive on what I think I remember as NH1 (National Highway 1). Mathura has a special point in Hindu faith, as it is the hometown/birthplace of Lord Krishna, THE most identified and revered God of Hinduism.
I'll admit that when we left for our trip to India, my knowledge of Hinduism was very limited. I knew that their Gods had many forms, and that reincarnation played into the picture.
On our first night in Delhi, the owner of our travel/transporation contractor (Mr Navin Pandey) gave Bonnie and I a small statue of Ganesh, one of the most important Hindu Gods. He said it was his welcome gift, and also a gift in honor of our 28th anniversary. Navin told us that having a statue of Ganesh in our residence would serve the purpose of "clearing away obstacles" in life. He said that Hindus believe Ganesh' presence and image in their homes just makes things more peaceful and smooth. So, being the sort of guy who likes peaceful and smooth, OUR Ganesh is now on the mantel of our great room fireplace at home in Tallahassee.
The next morning, the night after our arrival, we had coffee (the next morning) with VT member Uma_Shankar. Uma and I had become friends here on VT, and he's really a nice, nice man. In the time that we spent talking, Uma shared some background and overview of Hinduism, which is his religion.
We learned, among other things, that the Hindu religion includes literally thousands of Gods and festivals. From the outside, it appears to be a very complicated religion to understand and grasp. However, the teachings and epics involved in its history and prehistory are quite interesting, and unlike anything I'm familiar with in my knowledge of "western" religions. Uma was so passionate in his descriptions that we decided we'd like to learn more about Hinduism, and we bought a book on Hindu Gods and Goddesses. After Bonnie had read the first few chapters, she had a basic grasp of the more renowned deities in the practice, and would point out various Gods, their images and their deeds, in much of the building artwork and decoration we'd find. It added a lot to our trip to have a small bit of understanding of the religion guiding the lives of so many of our Indian hosts. And, I feel like they were both honored and impressed that we'd taken some time to learn a bit more.
Hinduism is a religion that is practiced, sometimes in small ways, everyday. There are small shrines everywhere, as well as much more massive temples and religious edifices throughout the country. As the Hindu walks through the village, he may well pass a number of small shrines, usually dedicated to a particular God or event in Hinduism's history. Small offerings, be they flowers and such, are often left, as a nod and acknowledgement to the role religion plays in everyday Indian life.
And, since there are thousands of Gods and Goddesses to be honored, that makes India a land of colorful festivals. I remember that when we were staying in Bharatpur, the owners of our haveli decorated the entire structure quietly overnight. We went to be with everything normal outside, and when we got back up, there are flowers and incense everywhere. And almost every evening in Bharatpur, there were small groups of musicians and the faithful celebrating the festival of the day.
When we were in Agra, it was just ahead of Diwali - which is one of the more important Hindu festivals on the calender. We passed, as we drove to our restaurant, a fairly large area where revelers and worshipers were listening to music, and what we Americans might call "preaching" as part of this festival. And, the entire grounds were lighted and surrounded by brightly color lights, much the same way things look at home in America during our Christmas season.
I wrote to Uma after we returned home to learn which festival we may have witnessed being celebrated in Agra. He told me that it was part of what they call Navraatras (nine nights of goddess) and that the final day of this celebration was October 9. (We were in Agra on the 5th and 6th). According to Uma, this nine days festival is celebrated in Eastern India as well, where it is called Durga Pooja. Durga is mother goddess and for nine nights, this mother goddess is worshiped in various forums and by various names.
In Agra and that part of the country, namely Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, New Delhi and such, the festival is also celebrated, but is called Ram Lila. Rama is considered as an incaranation of Lord Vishnu, who is the supreme Lord in Hinduism. Just to give you a glimpse of how complex this can all be, there are ten incaranations of Lord Krishna mentioned in the ancient scriptures, but the incarnations of Rama and Krishna proper are the most well known and "popular". The "Ram Lila" is sort of a ballad based on the epic story Ramayana. Running for nine days, it ends on the 10th day as the victory of Lord Rama is celebrated. (He killed the Evil King Ravana, who was king of what is now Sri Lanka) By his killing of Ravana, this insures that truth wins out.
Exactly 20 days after Rama came back home (after he killed King Ravana), people welcomed him back by lighting thier houses. THIS festival is called Diwali and is one of the greatest festivals of Hinduism.
What we see and picture below are parts of Ram Lila and the celebration of the epic in Agra.
It is very complex stuff, but it's quite interesting as well. I highly recommend becoming a little more familiar with Hinduism before a visit to India. It'll add to the culture of your trip.
Munnar (Karala State) is in cool rugged mountain tea country (about 100K east of Cochin)- There are a number of routes for hiking (see Tourist Office) such as the Eravikulam National Park, and elsewhere overviews of the vast and hot plains of Tamil Nadu at Top Station. This is an excellent place to relax and regroup. Note: The Mattupatty Lake area is not exceptional- better hiking lies closer to Munnar. The Tata Tea Plantation is a good half days hike and although taking pictures of the quaint 40's era dam is a violation of national security laws- who can resist!
If you ever dare to board a crowded local train, especially during office hours, you will come across an exprience of lifetime. People on you, people under you, people to your right, to your left, on your back, people standing on your feet, and so on. Look at the pictures of people hanging from the doors of running trains due to the heavy crowd inside. that's a regular affair for office goers in cities here.
During my last trip to Bengal villages, I took time for the first time to see how it feels like holding a calf or a baby goat or a duck. I never had pets, so this was my first experience with holding animals.
Here are some photos taken from ageold rituals in the villages of India. Young children carrying water on decorated structures and walking barefooted uphill to pour that water on the head of a deity. This takes place every year and band of little boys playing certain musical instruments like drums, follow the procession of little girls dressed in saree.
Shoe shinemen are very common to see in India, on roadsides, railway platforms, outside super markets and malls and everywhere. They diligently do their work, putting every effort to ensure that your shoe shines like new and what they get in return ranges from Rs 2 (1 euro cent) to Rs. 5 (2.5 euro cent) per pair depending upon the cost of living of a city.
A sight of manual labourers carrying loads on their heads is not rare in India, be it villages or be it cities. Tourists have also looked amazed at the existence of hand pulled and paddled rickshaws in India. Some photos
Some photos of children here. twin sisters looking curious, two little boys playing their favourite cycle tyre game (running the tyre with a stick) and a teenage girl returning home with a load of grass on her head for the cow.
Here are some people at work. A candy seller protecting himself from rain with a pulythene packet on his head, looking for the next bus to board for selling his candies, an old begger women looking for coins, a bamboo artisan busy preparing a bamboo structure, a tired handvan puller giving all his efforts towards pulling the van loaded with rice bags and a women returning from the field after her day long work of cutting grass
Kanya Kumari is in the state of Tamilnadu(Madras or Chennai(new name) is the capital of Tamilnadu)Kanyakumari which is at the tip of the Indian peninsula can be reached from Kerala and Tamilnadu by road or by train.
It is both a touristic place as well as a pilgrim centre.It is famous for the Kanyakumari(virgin Goddess) temple.Of special mention is the nose ring of the deity in the temple that shines bright as a flame.In olden days it saved many a ship from getting wrecked on the shore,since it saved the purpose of a light house and warned the approaching ships of the shore nearby.
One could take a boat ride to the Vivekananda rocks which is in a small island located at a very short distance from the mainland of India,near Kanyakumari.
Kanyakumari is also a special place to watch the sunset and sunrise.It is indeed a sight to behold the sunrise and sunset along the Indian ocean.
No, this is not a construction left over from a movie by Fellini. This is an assembly/theatre structure. Sonagir is a MAJOR pilgrimage site for the Jain- an offshoot, like Buddhism, of Hinduism. It's a small detour off the tourist route that runs south from Agra to Gwalior to Orchha to Kajuraho. Use the train connecting New Delhi through Gwalior to JHANSI - The crossroads of central India- and get a connection to SONAGIR. From the Sonagir train station you will see the towers of DOZENS of temples and shrines set on a craggy outcropping. There are many tribals living in the area which boasts the largest concentration of elephants in India. You can walk around the entire city of temples on a special trail (about an hour). The surroundings are impressive as are the changing views of the different buildings rising out of the cliffs above. Of course, you are welcome to visit the temples too.
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