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An Autumn trekking holiday in India.

Part 1: Delhi to Darjeeling.

Days: 1 to 3. . . (23rd to 25th October 2004)

Trek details : Two days in Delhi then travel by plane and 4x4 up to Darjeeling in the foothills of the Himalayas.

Weather : Post monsoon - sunny and warm but rather hazy distant views. Surprisingly high air pollution in Delhi.


Its not often I take pictures of the back of the seat in front but on this occasion I made an exception.

We left Heathrow 9.55 am after a short drive from our daughter's house in Camberley.

The flight was about 8-9 hours, plus the time difference, so we arrived after dark at Delhi. We were met and whisked off to the Imperial Hotel, where we found ourselves ordering room service at 2.30 am.- toasted sandwiches and a glass of wine - it had been a long day !


All we registered that late at night was the inside of a rather plush hotel.

In the morning our impressions were confirmed as we went down for breakfast.

Was the whole trek going to be like this ?


First our group had to meet up in the foyer of the hotel, David, Rod, Matti, Ann and myself. An intrepid band of five.

Four of us had met on the plane but Matti arrived separately. What was he going to be like ?

No problem, the Indian gentleman in the corner reading the paper was introduced as our fifth member.



Now it was time to soak up the atmosphere of Delhi

Our guide arrived on time and we embarked on a guided tour of New Delhi - built by the British on a grand scale. Wide open spaces and grand boulevards.


Above, the Secretariat (Civil Service) Buildings.

Left, the roundabout and lights at the Rajpath Mall.

Below, the Parliament House, complete with phut-phut taxis

It's Sunday and traffic is sparce.


Parliament House

But it's not quiet everywhere ....

This is the street market in Delhi, full of people all browsing the second hand goods on sale, a real bring-and-buy !


Carpets line the pavements as we male our way to Delhi's Red Fort. This was the centre of government. power and authority in the days of India's Mughal Rulers.


Now a shadow of its former self, the fort was nevertheless impressive both for the architecture and the history held within its walls.




The entry to the fort was through an impressive gateway, then through this arcade of shops.

In years past these shops served the ladies of the court where they bought their finery and fabrics.

Now they hold all manner of tourist goodies.


Our lady guide (here in light green) was very helpful and full of information about the generations of Mughal Rulers and their part in the rise and fall of the cities and culture of India.


Amazing carved sandstone arches adorn these huge buildings. The weather here is obviously kinder to the stone than it is back home.


Rod is the one in blue, Dave in the hat,

and ( half of ) Ann in a skirt.

Haven't seen one of those on her for a while !



The Mughal influence on Architecture.

Grand arches of rich sandstone in the Hall of Public Audience.

These were effectively their law courts where the Emperor would discuss everyday affairs and administer justice.

Shah Jahan's Palace, the marble rooms that form part of the Red Fort.



Inside the stonework would have been beautifully carved, painted or inlaid in semi-precious stones.

However most of the finery has long ago disappeared.


The water channel led to an indoor fountain, but is now dry and crossed by a wooden deck.

Even in here there was occasionally a member of the Indian Army Guard to protect the building and hopefully its visitors from any terrorist threat.



From the Red Fort we moved to Humayan's Tomb, a great monument for, and the last resting place of the Mughal Emperor. Building was completed some twenty years before the Taj Mahal, but it is thought that the plans used here had a direct influence on the later building in Agra.

Each of these tombs were built in a garden setting, and each was approached through geometrically perfect series of gateways , gardens and pathways.

The entrance gate.

Humayan's Tomb viewed through the narrow doorway.


The beautiful garden setting for the building itself.


Inside, the peace, quiet and

tranquility of the inner sanctum.

In the centre a stone catafalque

below which the Emperor was interred.


Out of sight - the demanding local who insisted on telling you the history and then demanding Rupees for his or her efforts !





Back to the seething humanity that was Delhi Old City.

What you can't hear are the continual car horns, but never once did we experience any bad feeling or road rage.

The Indian people are quite an amazing crowd in that respect.

Town planners, trading standards, and health and safety personnel seem a rare commodity in India.

Even a short time taken to study the vast number of cables adorning the street will illustrate my point !


Peace, tranquility . . . . I'm a civilised person . . . get me into here !

Afternoon tea came as a haven after the mass humanity that was the city outside the hotel walls.




Next day we flew east and north to Bagdogra.

A two hour flight took us closer to the northern foothills of the Himalayas.

Below us the rich network of fields and irrigation that characterised these lowland plains.


Flaps down to land.



Our Tata 4x4 which would take us on a five hour trip to Darjeeling.

It wasn't that it was all that far - it was more a case of travelling rather more slowly than usual.

Passing through Silguri town.

Cars seem to carry three times as many people compared to the same vehicles at home.

Fine buildings give way to workshops and shanties as we headed out of the town.

We travelled alongside a small rather dilapidated narrow gauge line

which turned out to be the famous Darjeeling Mountain Railway

The line itself has recently gained world heritage status. It climbs from Silgiri right up into the foothills to Ghoom and on to Darjeeling. A major feat of British, Victorian engineering.

A rapid climb up into the foothills, and a short stop to see the view.

After the normality of the flat tarmac roads below, the standard of the roads suddenly took a dive.

The climb involved narrow roads, major hairpin bends, rough surfaces, potholes, and sometimes all four at the same time.

Looking back at a good section of road, narrow but good.


We had a refreshment stop at a local tea room, and watched our first mountain sunset of the holiday. It was dark by the time we reached our destination of Darjeeling. (hotel picture next day)


We dined in style at the restaurant of the hotel that night. In true British tradition all of us got changed for dinner...... except Rod !

His bag with all his clothes, boots, sleeping bag, clean shirt had all been mislaid by BA. in transit somewhere between Manchester / Heathrow / Delhi / Bagdogra and here. No one was quite certain.

Not to worry - he had a toothbrush in his hand luggage!



Morning sun on the terrace of the Windamere Hotel where we got our first view of the hills.


A temperature inversion below and a feint outline of the Bhutan Mountains in the morning haze.


After morning breakfast we ventured out along the terrace (above) to see what had been promised as the finest view from this part of India.


To be continued . . . . . on page 2

- - - o o o - - -

Technical note: Pictures taken with a Canon IXUS 400 Digital camera.

Resized in Photoshop, and built up on a Dreamweaver web builder.

This site best viewed . . . with a current passport.

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