Friday, July 31, 2015

Crossing the Tropic of Cancer on the way to Sanchi

When we are headed to a tourist destination, we usually do our research about it. We know of the location of famous monuments from the years of well, knowing about them. (India Gate is in Delhi- didn’t you know this from always?) We know why Mumbai, a coastal city, is so close to the western ghats if we paid a little attention in the Geography classes in school. But there are times when certain things and their location surprise us, when we cross our paths unexpectedly.

This was in May 2012, at the peak of the summer season. We were visiting our family friends in Bhopal for a weeklong holiday. Now, we all have heard about Bhopal thanks to the infamous gas tragedy of December 1984. But it wasn’t before this trip that I knew that the famous Sanchi Stupas were located close to this Central Indian city. As we headed to the UNESCO world heritage site of Sanchi, a surprise greeted us on the highway connecting Bhopal to Sanchi- Tropic of Cancer- the famous imaginary line the early geologists and Earth scientists drew for easier location scouting (Do I put it right?)

We got down from the car to take a closer look at the cemented board proclaiming that the Tropic of Cancer passes here. Two parallel strips of white paint across the road showed the exact latitude: 23 degrees 26 minutes North (approx).  The signboard, as is the case with all monuments in India, was defaced by random people.

Tropic of Cancer on the Bhopal-Sanchi Highway, Madhya Pradesh (May 2012)

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Dawn to Dusk: Captured Moods of the Taj Mahal

There is absolutely no dearth of “beautiful amazing glorious splendid magnificent fantabulous” pictures of the Taj Mahal on the internet. When you got your first glimpse of the Taj on entering its gates, probably all the above adjectives “couldn’t describe the beauty in front of your eyes.” That’s how we all like to describe the wonder that is Taj. I have been to the Taj Mahal thrice over the last 3 years since setting my eyes on it for the first time in October 2012. They say “The Taj changes colour through the day”. Here is a set of pictures of the Taj, captured at different times of the day in different seasons.

Look and behold these pictures of the Indian beauty from dawn to dusk. No filters, zero editing- natural clicks. The Nikon/Canon pictures are by my college friends Kshitiz, Sahil and Shivangi during our first trip to the Taj. Pictures you see me in are clicked either by them or my family members in subsequent trips. All the others are by me. Read through the captions...

6 AM, April 2015, Camera: Apple iPhone 5S
My favourite picture of the Taj. Clicked immediately after the gates were thrown open in the morning.
The sun has probably just risen above the horizon. Not a single soul in sight- hard to believe!
Minutes later, the place was crowded. I felt privileged at being there at the specific time and clicking this picture.

Friday, July 10, 2015

How I spent 34 hours on a train without getting bored

This post got featured in the Spicy Saturday Picks on Blogadda.

2318 kilometres, 34 hours, 7 states and a LOT of time for food and sleep, welcome aboard the Bengaluru Rajdhani Express.

I arrived at the Hazrat Nizamuddin Railway Station on Wednesday evening just as the Bengaluru Rajdhani pulled in to Platform #4. With enough time in hand, I decided to take a trip to the end of the train and then come back and take my seat. The 5 digit coach numbers started with ‘11’ and I checked the date at the end of the coach to make sure- yes, this was a 2011 build, brought into service early in 2012. As I entered my coach, I was actually impressed with the neatness of it. I put the luggage and settled comfortably on my seat, waiting for the 34 hour journey to kick off.

“34 hours.”

“34 hours? That’s like I would sleep tonight, wake tomorrow, sleep tomorrow and wake the next day and you shall still be in the train!” My friend had replied in shock earlier in the day.

I laughed.

The Bengaluru Rajdhani waits for its go-ahead signal at the Hazrat Nizamuddin Railway Station, Delhi, July 2015
Exactly at 8.45 PM, as the train began its long journey, the catering and housekeeping guys sprung to action immediately.

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Experiencing a Maharashtra State Transport Bus Journey

“Don’t tell me we will be taking those rickety red buses that ply on the roads here,” I asked my father.

“Yeah, those buses indeed!” he replied.

The only thought on my mind was how I was going to survive a 3 hour trip on one of those old iron buses whose engines make huge noises, the entire bus body crackles and on which I am bound to get motion sickness.

After a much needed respite from the heat, it had rained continuously for the last two weeks. It was a relief to see the sun up in the sky on Thursday morning, the day my sister and I were to leave from Chandrapur for New Delhi. Delay in planning had led to no direct train tickets availability on the route and so, we had got our tickets booked on the Bilaspur Rajdhani Express from Nagpur. This meant we had to cover the 154 kilometre distance from Chandrapur to Nagpur either by road or a local train to catch the Rajdhani.

The Government Bus Stand, Chandrapur, Maharashtra
We reached the Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC) government bus stand in Chandrapur around 3.15 PM and waited for our bus. There are regular services between Chandrapur to Nagpur every 10 minutes, and the buses almost always run with full capacity, my father informed us. I haven’t been on one of these local state buses in many years and was absolutely apprehensive about the journey.

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