After a most unusual two days in Varanasi, we boarded our boat on the Ganges to take us into town; here we met our car and driver for our onward journey to the airport. Our flight from Varanasi was at 12.30 and the airport was on Red Security Alert, as it was the day after Republic Day. However, it was all handled in a professional manner and we got through without too much hassle, unlike the airport in Kashmir that was a total nightmare! We flew to Khajuraho and at the airport, we met up with our new driver and headed South East, in the direction of Bandhavgarh Wildlife park. This was a five and a half hour drive, even though it was only 240 kilometers.
The roads are poor, but it didn’t seem to matter, as it was so nice travelling through a small part of rural India and witnessing the many towns and villages the farms and plantations. This reminded us of our drive in China’s countryside, last year. We passed through the Panna Tiger Reserve and the town of Panna, famous for its many ancient temples, also its diamond mines. The next interesting town was Mahad, with its mountain top temple that attracts as many as 100,000 worshipers during the October Hindu festival of Navrati. The town is also very well-known all over India for its four large cement works.
But it was the villages that made this drive so special, with their ladies in brightly colored saris, a host of farm animals wandering about, the children playing with goats, the pigs clearing up the debris, the dogs sleeping in the middle of the road and, of course, the hundreds of holy cows, not forgetting the free range chickens! The young boys took the opportunity for a game of cricket whenever and wherever they could and, more often than not, they did not even have a bat, so they used a stick of some sort, and a home-made ball but they were having a lot of fun! The little girls did not seem to own things like pretty dolls, so they just played with one another and used their imagination – however, they took great pleasure in waving at our passing car. People just stared at us, probably because white visitors are not common in the remoter parts of India. Whilst people in these villages were probably quite poor, they seemed proud and more content than the less fortunate people in the cities – in the cities, we observed many homeless people, living rough.
After the long journey, we arrived at the lodge that was to be our home for the next two days and were welcomed with a fruit tea and a refreshing wet towel. We were then shown to our cottage and after thirty minutes, we went for our dinner and guess what we ate?
You got it – curry but it was very really nice, largely vegetarian and extremely tasty
An early night was in order, as we were to get up at 5.30 AM for a 6AM game drive.
We should like to add that Bandhavgarh is renowned to have the largest concentration of tigers anywhere India. So please watch this space!