Wednesday, March 16, 2011

India (2010), part3: Gwalior



Gwalior (or Gwaliar) is situated approx. 120 km from Agra. It has more than 1.5 million inhabitants. We arrive at 19.30. We find quickly a cheap hotel near the train station, but in the main street, which, unfortunately, will affect us. Here, point of honor of almost every driver is pushing on the horn. One car horn is mixed with another, at night too. Indian cities live 24 hours a day, Indian streets too. 

Sculptures in the fort
We walk into the room. Well, finally we’ll use the paddocks with the code, which we bought in Poland. And I began to think that I wasted money. In many Indian hotels rooms are closed with the paddocks, you should have one on such an occasion – what you guard, God guards.
At night we do a first reconnaissance of the town and eat dinner. We try to book bus tickets from Aurangabad to Goa, it's about 8 hours drive, so I guess it's bearable. This is the only route for which we have no reservation, and we want to try the bus. On the Internet everything is going nicely until it's time to pay. It turns out that only Indian credit cards are accepted. We call to the office, the woman is nice, but unfortunately, can't help us. We try in small tourist offices, there are plenty of them, but there's always a problem. They don't book buses to Goa, or they don't have a credit card to pay. In the end we manage to find a guy who has a card. He takes from us the cash (plus commission) and he pays for tickets with his own card. But there are no more tickets from Aurangabad, only from Mumbai. Willingly or not, we need to go to Goa from Mumbai, a little bit around, but well...

In the Gwalior fort
On Wednesday we visit Gwalior. First we have to withdraw some money. But how? The local ATMs give money only to the natives. They’re obstinate or what? We go to the center and choose the largest bank. Just as we enter, a guy immediately comes to us and leads us upstairs to a room for foreigners. We feel confused that the other people there on the ground are waiting in the queue, but we can go straight to another clerk... 

Sikh gurudvara
The most important and the only attraction of Gwalior is the Fort (Qila). It can be visited daily from sunrise to sunset (entrance: 100 INR). It has a lot of caves with Buddhist sculptures, Hindu temples and sikh gurudwara (temple) - the only place where you can go, eat and even spend the night (up to two days) for free. They don't urge donations, but if you want to give something, they probably won't refuse. It was worth visiting this place and going up to the top of the hill. It was hard, but the memories are unforgettable. 

Time for a coffee in gurudvara
In evening we head once again to the center, but it doesn't impress us at all. We discover that in our hotel there's probably the only bar open in the city, until late, and we have a real beer.

In the center of Gwalior
Women in the street of Gwalior
The next day (21 October, Thursday) in the morning we go to Jhansi, where we arrive just before 9 (ticket: 150 INR). This little town (as for local standards), has about 500,000 inhabitants. This is a good starting point to Orcha, where there are phenomenal compounds of temples. It's really worth to go there. At the railway station in Jhansi we are able to leave backpacks in the luggage room (tied by links, the same as you use for bicycles, there's no problem this time).

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