26.05.2008 - 03.06.2008 100 °F
So to say that this past week has been easy for us would be a lie. I'm sure there were days when Breezy wished that his wife hadn't drug him to (as he referred to it a few times this week) this hell-hole AKA India. A few things contributed to the unpleasant week. Breezy ended up with a head cold and we all know there is nothing worse than a cold in the summer. He also got our first case of traveller's diarrhoea. The weather also played a huge role in our overall discomfort......daytime temps were between 100-115. Yikes, much hotter than us mountain folk are used to. Then to put the icing on the cake, we were busy dealing with the locals trying to get us to buy this or that, take us here or there or just give them money. Not really what you would call a relaxing honeymoon. But I realize things could be worse.....we could be working
Don't get me wrong, the week wasn't a complete waste. We did get to see some cool palaces and temples in the Madhya Pradesh state of India which is located close to the middle of the country. We were informed by locals that they had not had rain in parts of the state for 3 years and this was obvious by the desolate landscape. It took some serious creativity to image ancient empires thriving in the same places that we were visiting. We left Varanasi for another pleasant train trip 16 hours west and after a short drive we found ourselves in the small town of Orchha. Orchha only has about 8500 people which is tiny by Indian standards. The town was a capital in the 16th century and still has many temples, palaces and ruins to remind you of the days when kings would holiday here from Agra. We spent a few days exploring the different ruins and well preserved structures. We found that we could handle the heat until about 10am and then again after 4pm. In between we would sleep and read in the shelter of our room.
One thing that we have come to appreciate and didn't realize we take for granted in the US is continuous power. We have power 99.9% of the time at home. In India (as well as Nepal) daily power outages are a common thing. In fact, I can't remember the last day in the past 3 weeks that the power hasn't gone out. Which is normally no big deal unless it is over a 100 degrees and you have no A/C, swamp cooler or fan to keep you cool. Again, this could have caused additional stress on us this past week. It sure makes us realize how easy we have it in the USA.
Anyhow after a few days in Orchha we decided it was time to hit the road and head to Khajuraho, home of the famous Erotic Temples and a top 3 destination on my wish list over the past 5 years. To get there we decided to take the bus and spend 200 rupees (about $5 for both of us) instead of a private car which would have been 1500-2000 rupees (about $40-50). We are on a budget and the bus ride was only suppose to take 3.5-4 hours. So it seemed like a no brainer. We left the bus station with a full bus, with tiny seats suitable for smaller framed Indians.....not so much for us Westerners. But not too bad....and after all it was cheap. As we continued to stop every few miles to pick up more people to be crammed into the increasingly crowded aisle we realized this could be a slow trip. As the miles dragged on, the day got hotter (must have been close to 110) and the bus was as full as I could imagine it could get (3 deep across standing in the aisle), with a couple guys practically standing in my already tight seat area with me. So just when we thought it couldn't get anymore crowded, the bus stopped and more people where packed on. We eventually arrived in Khajuraho 5.5 hours later. We have decided what doesn't kill us makes us stronger Needless to say, we opted to take the private car (with A/C) for the drive back.....its the little things in life that bring us the greatest joy!
Khajuraho is famous for its intricately carved erotic temples, built by the Chandra empire as early as 950 AD. The temples were everything I had imagined them to be. The outside of most of the temples were decorated with carved deities, large breasted women, men and animals. The figures carved were in posses reflecting the daily life of the Chandela people. By the looks of some (but not all) of the sculptures they were not a prude society. It is hard to completely describe the temples, but Breezy took a bunch of photos so once we return we will get some photos added so you can all see.
After just a couple days in the heat of Khajuraho we decided that we needed to speed up our trip to get to the salvation of the cool mountains in northern India. So we are currently in Agra, home of the Taj Mahal. We will keep you posted on our time here. For now, we are just content that the weather is a little cooler (in the 90's)!!
Hope you all are well!
Breezy and Toni