Trip to UP and MP
DAY 1 -23rd May 2008
Travelled by train for the first time today. Ambala to Mathura . If I had known that railway stations are so stinky , this first time would have never come. Met this interesting gentleman on board who was engaged in the shoe industry. Nonetheless I found the seven hour train journey very tedious and tiresome.
We went straight to Bankey Bihariji temple from Mathura. You have to see the little bazaar on the way to the temple. Full of bright colors and hues and so crowded. The temple is beautiful! Just beautiful the whole of it was adorned with flowers. We got a VVVVVIP darshan and the idol of Krishanji was beautiful beyond imagination. The pandit sprayed a lot of holy water on us. We were given these beautiful garlands. I got one of roses and knew that I am a pilgrim of Sri Sri and him alone. After about five minutes ( I think that’s the typical duration) the curtain was drawn lest Bankey Bihariji should go home with a devotee. Later got VIP prasad and more flowers and bouquets. (Saw a cow who was burping. Finally we know what is North Indian overeating all about.) The place was brimming with people and apparently it was closing time. During the day, the temple is much more crowded which I find really hard to imagine. Now am at Hotel Radha Ashok which is quite luxurious, waiting for dinner.
DAY 2- 24th May 2008
It does not feel as if I arrived last night. Early morning we went to Akshay Patram – an ISKCON temples’ branch. A beautiful, serene place. We attended the aarti there and met this amazing person with super glowing skin called Mr. Hari KrishanJ.(What a co-incidence!) We had breakfast at their restaurant called Gopala’s. The entire place was pure sattva. Then we went Krishan Janam Bhumi. A huge mosque is there. All thanks to Aurangzeb L.Anyways we saw the exact place where Lord K was born. A nice place. Then took off to Agra. Went to this place called Kalakriti-an emporium of mainly marble inlay work. Lovely stuff though the pieces were prices were sky high.
Later in the afternoon, went to Sikandra- Mausoleum of Akbar. Beautiful architecture. Very Taj style. The gardens were full of deer, langoors and peacocks. Then, went to this great place called Kohinoor Jewelers. Well, what we saw there were real gems! These were what they call needle paintings by this extraordinary artist- craftsman called Shamsudin. The work is absolutely lifelike and totally beyond imagination. O God! You have to see it to believe it. Roamed around in Sadar Bazaar for a while. Picked a few things from the only bookstore in the city. Went for dinner at a south Indian restaurant called Dasaprakash. The ice-cream was delicious! That’s till tonight.
DAY 3- 25th May 2008
Reached Gwalior by Shatabdi today. Our route did not prescribe any breakfast but a very kind chap next to me got it ‘smuggled’ for himself and me. Very nice Aloo Poranthas. Anyways the best thing I like about Gwalior is the hotel we are staying in- Usha Kiran Palace. It was the guesthouse of the lovely Palace of the Scindia dynasty but now its managed by Taj and trust me it shows! A beautiful building with courtyards, fountains, lawns and lovely interiors. Our room is sort if a suite. I love every bit of it. Enough about the hotel! We went to the Museum of the Scindia Palace. I did not find anything interesting but the great drawing room. Rest of the palace lacked a royal elegance and was rather shabbily kept. Lunch was at Usha Kiran- very bad. Though the dessert was a nice change(warm dark chocolate tart). In the evening we went to see the Gwalior Fort. The main palace is grand. Majestic architecture! Made of dusty-red colored walls with blue tiles. Has all those ancient air conditioning type of things. Later we saw a light-and-sound show about the history of the fort. Also, visited this ancient temple locally known as the ‘saas-bahu’ temple. Apparently, a misnomer for the ‘che-baju’ (six-armed) temple. Very Indian architecture and astonishing craftsmanship once again. All vandalized and disfigured by Aurangzeb the Religious-Tolerant-NOT! Also went to the Gurudwara called Data-Bandhi-chodd Sahib. Nice place. Kada parsad was tasty. Went to this popular dhaba of Gwalior for dinner called Rituraj. Food was comci comca. Came back to Usha Kiran and took a walk in its lawns. Divine mélange of scents of grass, rajnigandha, amaltass and other aromatic plants. Will take shots of it in the morning. Slipping in for a hot bubble bath and that ends my day today.
DAY 4 and DAY 5- 26th May and 27th May 2008
Reached Jhansi in the morning and straightaway went to Orchha- the abandoned capital. Stayed in the resort all day for it was too hot to go outside. It hasn’t rained in this area for 4 years! (maybe Guruji needs to pay a visit here). In the evening, went for aarti at the Raja Ram Temple. The Prasad was interesting. Mithai, paan and itar (perfume). At night we went for a dinner party with Uncle’s Income Tax officers at Amar Palace. Bad bad food. Met an interesting girl Ashima who was an alumni of LSR and DU. Next morning saw the palaces or Orchha- The Jehangir Palace and the Raj Mahal. Both are magnificent but in ruinous condition. I think like the Usha Kiran at Gwalior, these should be made into hotels to maintain their beauty and also make them useful. Now after breakfast we will proceed to Jhansi and take a look at the fort there and then take off in the train for home.